Narcissists are incredibly dangerous. They want to destroy your life. They will stop at virtually nothing in order to do that.
The trick is to root them out before they get the chance.
But that’s easier said than done. Because they are the veritable chameleons. They can even appear meek, mild and saintly.
They change their tactics in response to the environment.
The personality you see is the one they believe you’ll like.
They are masters of disguise, even able to fool trained professionals. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to identify a deceitful person at the outset of a relationship.
But there are clues. Take them seriously. Try not to explain them away.
How To Protect Yourself From Narcissists
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Given the lack of a definitive way to spot a dangerous person, there is one thing to look for, according to Dr. Martha Stout, PhD., author of The Sociopath Next Door.
One tell is the sympathy card. This is generally played early in the relationship. It’s the only reliable indicator she’s found.
So proceed extremely cautiously if you see the sympathy card plunked down on the table.
I’m not a mental health professional. But one thing I’ve noticed. An inflated sense of entitlement is a bad sign too. It doesn’t always mean you’re dealing with a malicious person.
But entitlement and narcissism go hand in hand.
Narcissists show their best face when you first meet them. Actually, it’s just a mask, which eventually slips.
So it makes sense to take new relationships slowly. That way you will (hopefully) notice cracks in the facade before you get to involved.
Be aware that adult female narcissists exist. They can be very dangerous. Not all women are motherly and nurturing. This earlier post explains how to (hopefully) spot a grown up female bully at the outset, before she turns your life upside down.
Also, there’s such a thing as covert narcissism. This is a perpetrator who comes across as meek, mild and non threatening. Watch out for them.
Keeping Narcissist Out Of Your Life
Education has been my best protection. Ever since I realized that some people are capable of causing enormous destruction, I’ve tried to educate myself about narcissism.
From the perspective of a survivor. Not a professional. (I’m not a mental health professional. So everything you read here is my personal opinion only. Don’t make major life decisions based upon my blog posts.)
Increased awareness of narcissism has served as a deterrent. I honestly believe this knowledge about personality disorders has kept at least two troubled people away.
Because they somehow sense that I know they have a personality disorder. (Narcissists read people really well, almost like they have a super power.)
This takes all of fun away. It also sends the message that you’re on to them. So don’t try anything.
Once you realize someone is potentially dangerous, their power over you wanes.
So they tend to head for the exit. (This is the very best outcome.)
How To Narcissist Proof Your Life
Most of the damage a narc inflicts happens after they gain your trust and you let them into your life. You consider them a soul mate. You open your heart.
However, this is a grave mistake.
Sharing any personal information, or worse, and deep, dark secrets, gives a disordered person all the ammunition they need to blow your life up.
But if you can smoke out a narcissist beforehand, you know not to bare your soul.
How To Narcissist Proof Your Life
So look for the warning signs – sympathy card early on, inflated sense of entitlement, incessant gossiping about others, stories that don’t add up, etc.
Better yet, don’t share personal information too easily. With anyone. Especially with people you don’t know too well.
But this is often easier said than done. How well I know.
Also, remember this. Narcissists have an astounding ability to manipulate situations.
This means they know how to extract personal information. They know how to put you on the spot. This makes you more likely to answer their probing questions.
Narcs have perfected the art of the stare. I read somewhere they can hold a gaze longer than the average person.
So they’ll stare you down, until you answer.
Don’t fall for it.
So, in addition to guarding your secrets, look for signs that someone is morally bankrupt.
This is what I do now. After an encounter with a malicious person who destroyed my life (but only for a time) as well as my health.
So, if you suspect someone has moral bankruptcy, keep your secrets even closer. Don’t share any personal information whatsoever. Even something innocent.
Stay watchful. Look for patterns. Gossip is a big red flag. Especially if it involves people close to them.
(We’re supposed to love our loved ones, not talk badly about them.)
At the same time, we should be open to new relationships. If we’re not, we miss out on life.
However, narcissists walk among us. So it’s important to know that. Strive to strike a balance. Welcome new people into your life. Don’t be too trusting.
- Don’t share too much personal information with a new acquaintance.
- Be alert for warning signs of disordered behavior.
- Watch out for that sympathy card.
- A sense of entitlement probably means you’re dealing with a difficult person, at the very least.
I hope these tips can help you stay narc free going forward. I’ve also written two books on narcissistic abuse. One describes the problem of adult female narcissists, which many people assume don’t exist. Because, after all, women are supposed to be kind and nurturing.
My other book is How To Forgive A Malicious Person. Difficult as it is, we still have to do it. For ourselves, not for the person who hurt us. Because, in the end, forgiveness is the only thing that will set us free. My book describes how to forgive without an apology. Narcissists hate the apologize. Even if they do, it’s probably not sincere. Or they may turn the tables and get you to say, “I’m sorry.”