how does a narcissist react when they can’t control you

When a narcissist perceives that they are losing control over you, they often resort to a common tactic known as gaslighting to reclaim their power. Gaslighting is a manipulative technique frequently employed by narcissists to make you doubt your own sanity, memories, and perception of reality.

Gaslighting involves the narcissist strategically undermining your confidence in your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. By doing so, they aim to regain dominance and control over your emotions and actions.

This insidious tactic is named after the play “Gas Light,” where a husband intentionally manipulates his wife into questioning her sanity by altering the gas lights and then denying any changes in illumination.

When the narcissist starts to feel that their attempts to control you are failing, they turn to gaslighting as a means of maintaining their influence. Some common ways they employ gaslighting include:

  1. Denying the Truth: The gaslighting narcissist outright denies events, conversations, or promises they made, causing confusion and doubt in your mind. They may insist that you’re imagining things or accuse you of lying about your memories.
  2. Blaming and Deflecting: To avoid taking responsibility for their actions, narcissists shift blame onto you or others. This tactic undermines your confidence in your own judgment and perceptions.
  3. Invalidating Emotions: Gaslighters often belittle your feelings, dismissing them as invalid or unwarranted. This leaves you second-guessing your emotional responses.
  4. Twisting the Facts: Narcissists are skilled at manipulating information to suit their narrative. They twist facts, add false details, or take things out of context, leaving you unsure about the truth.
  5. Projecting Their Behavior: Another gaslighting tactic involves projecting their own negative traits onto you. For instance, if they are lying or cheating, they may accuse you of being dishonest or unfaithful.

The impact of gaslighting can be profound and harmful. Victims may experience confusion, isolation, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even depression as a result of this manipulative behavior.

To protect yourself from gaslighting, it is essential to recognize its signs and employ strategies to safeguard your well-being. Trust your instincts, maintain healthy boundaries, seek support from trusted individuals, document incidents of gaslighting, and prioritize self-care to build resilience against this manipulative tactic.

In conclusion, when a narcissist feels their control slipping, they often turn to gaslighting as a means of reclaiming power and dominance over you. Gaslighting is a manipulation technique designed to make you question your own reality. By understanding this tactic and taking steps to protect yourself, you can maintain your sense of self and emotional well-being.

How Does a Narcissist React When They Can’t Control You?

Dealing with a narcissistic individual can be emotionally draining and challenging. Narcissists have an insatiable need for control and dominance over others. However, when they encounter someone who resists their manipulative tactics and refuses to be controlled, they tend to react in specific ways. In this article, we will explore the reactions of narcissists when they are unable to control those around them and how this behavior impacts relationships.

Understanding Narcissism

Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy towards others. Individuals with narcissistic traits have an inflated sense of their own abilities and achievements and often believe they are unique and deserving of special treatment.

Narcissists’ Need for Control

Central to a narcissist’s personality is their need for control and power over others. They crave attention and validation, and to maintain their self-image, they seek to manipulate and dominate those in their social circles. When they encounter resistance or independence from others, it challenges their fragile ego.

Reactions When Losing Control

Defensiveness and Anger

When a narcissist faces a situation where they can’t control someone, they often react with defensiveness and anger. The inability to bend others to their will threatens their self-perception of being all-powerful and superior. Consequently, they may become verbally or emotionally aggressive to reassert their dominance.

Manipulation Tactics

Narcissists are skilled manipulators, and when they feel their control slipping away, they may intensify their manipulation tactics. Gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and playing mind games are common methods they employ to regain control and make the other person doubt their own judgment.

Emotional Withdrawing

In some cases, a narcissist may withdraw emotionally when they can’t control someone. They might resort to the silent treatment or emotionally distance themselves to punish the person for not complying with their desires. This tactic aims to make the other person feel insecure and dependent on the narcissist’s approval.

Impact on Relationships

Intimate Relationships

In intimate relationships, the behavior of a narcissistic partner can be highly damaging. The constant need for control can lead to emotional abuse and a toxic dynamic where the other partner feels powerless and unimportant.

Family Dynamics

Within the family, a narcissistic parent may try to control their children’s lives, decisions, and accomplishments. This behavior can stifle the children’s growth and autonomy, leading to strained parent-child relationships.

Friendships and Social Circles

In friendships and social circles, a narcissist may try to assert dominance by belittling others or monopolizing conversations. This behavior can alienate friends and create a hostile environment.

Coping Strategies

Setting Boundaries

One effective way to deal with a narcissist who seeks control is to establish clear and firm boundaries. Setting boundaries helps protect one’s emotional well-being and prevents the narcissist from overstepping their limits.

Seeking Professional Help

If the impact of dealing with a narcissist becomes overwhelming, seeking the guidance of a mental health professional can be beneficial. Therapists can provide valuable insights and coping strategies to navigate challenging relationships.

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Building Supportive Networks

Having a support system of friends and family who understand the dynamics of dealing with a narcissist can be crucial. Lean on these supportive individuals for emotional validation and encouragement.

Recovery and Healing

Overcoming the influence of a narcissistic individual and regaining one’s sense of self can be a challenging process. Healing involves self-reflection, rebuilding self-esteem, and learning to trust oneself again.


In conclusion, dealing with a narcissist who can’t control you can be a daunting experience. Their reactions to losing control may vary from defensiveness and manipulation to emotional withdrawal. Understanding the impact of their behavior on relationships is essential for setting healthy boundaries and seeking support when needed. Remember, healing and recovery are possible, and with time and effort, one can break free from the toxic influence of narcissistic individuals.


Can a narcissist change their behavior?

While change is possible, it is challenging for a narcissist to recognize their behavior and seek help. Most often, they resist acknowledging any flaws or needing assistance.

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a narcissist?

Establishing a healthy relationship with a narcissist is incredibly difficult due to their need for control and lack of empathy. In most cases, it is better to prioritize one’s well-being and consider setting boundaries or seeking distance.

What are the long-term effects of dealing with a narcissist?

The long-term effects can include emotional trauma, low self-esteem, anxiety, and a negative impact on other relationships.

Why do narcissists struggle with losing control?

Losing control threatens a narcissist’s self-image and challenges their belief in their superiority. It also triggers feelings of vulnerability, which they desperately try to avoid.

Is it possible to coexist peacefully with a narcissistic individual?

Peaceful coexistence can be challenging, but setting boundaries and minimizing engagement with their manipulative tactics may reduce conflicts. However, it’s essential to prioritize self-care and well-being.

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