narcissist backup supply

4 Bad-Faith Tactics Used by Narcissists

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Ted is married to Marcy, but he’s wanted to break it off for a while.  He doesn’t believe they are compatible, so after several years of treating her unkindly, he moves out.

Though he doesn’t want her as a wife, he allows her to stay in the marital residence while he moves into a new apartment.  In less than a month, he’s moved in a new girlfriend. 

However, the relationship doesn’t last and he has a series of short-term relationships with several women.  Whenever one of these relationships ends, he is so tortured by loneliness that he turns to Marcy until someone more suitable comes along.  All the while, he continues to give Marcy hints that they will eventually reconcile and he will move back into the family home. 

Marcy’s reaction is to put her life on hold and remain in a state of perpetual readiness for him.

Ted is a narcissist.  As such, he continually engages in bad-faith actions with Marcy, keeping her stuck in life.  Ted doesn’t see it that way because he has allowed her to stay in their home, citing this as evidence of his generosity.  However, if he really cared for Marcy, he would provide for her in a manner that doesn’t keep her bound to him – perhaps with a generous divorce settlement or deed to a townhome.  Instead, he selfishly refuses to let her go – keeping her on hold as backup and insurance against loneliness.

According to Wikipedia, bad faith is “double-mindedness or double heartedness in duplicity, fraud, or deception.  It often involves intentional deceit of others.  It is equated with a sustained form of deception which consists in entertaining or pretending to entertain one set of feelings, and acting as if influenced by another, and is synonymous with disloyalty, double-dealing, hypocrisy, infidelity, breach of contract, unfaithfulness, tartuffery (a show or expression of feelings or beliefs one does not actually hold or possess), bigotry, and lip service”.

Narcissists are among the most manipulative personalities.  They use bad-faith tactics to accomplish two things simultaneously: 1) conceal their true intentions, and 2) invite you to believe they are having doubts or in the middle of a crisis when, in reality, they are keeping you in the queue because they have alternatives they want to explore. 

Therefore, they resist making permanent decisions, such as making a clean break from a once-stable relationship, because to do so cuts them off from possibilities.  Choosing one partner means relinquishing control of others, while simultaneously giving up a sure thing, such as the case with Marcy. 

The more Ted faces limits, the more he’s faced with surrendering personal specialness, unlimited potential, and freedom from the dynamics of a normal, mutually loving relationship. 

Does this sound familiar?  Are you the recipient of bad-faith tactics, someone’s insurance against loneliness?  Recognizing these schemes and resisting them are the keys to personal empowerment.

4 Bad-Faith Tactics used by the Narcissist:

1.  Excuse Making / Justifying – When narcissists make excuses for their behavior, they know what they’re doing.  They’ve merely created a façade to justify their unacceptable actions; things that most everyone would regard as wrong.  But although they know it’s wrong, and that their reputation could be affected, they remain resolved to do it.  In fact, they believe they are justified, going so far as to attempt to get people on their “team”; defying standards they know society wants them to implement. 

More importantly, they’re also trying to get you onboard; their only problem is with your perception of their behavior.  Narcissists favor this kind of tactic over open defiance because it not only helps disguise their true intentions, but at once helps them maintain a more positive social image, encouraging your submission and acceptance.

2.  Torn Between Two Lovers – Did your narcissistic partner put on a convincing performance of how you forced them into the arms of another lover, and then pretend they are so “addicted” to you that they can’t leave you alone?

Reality – They don’t have the new supply hooked yet.  Therefore, while they’re with the other person, the narcissist is giving them all their best:  love-bombing, awesome sex, fancy trips, gifts, introducing the new supply to their circle of friends. 

While they have you believing they’re still hooked on you, they’re telling everyone they know that it’s over between the two of you and slowly infiltrating the new supply.  Once the new partner is emotionally dependent on the narcissist, you’ll possibly become the “other lover”.

Or, perhaps the new supply doesn’t fulfill all of their needs, so they keep you on the side to procure what’s deficient in the new person.  Either way, they have you as an alternative supply source and insurance against loneliness.

3. False Remorse – False remorse is a good part of any skilled narcissist’s behavioral toolkit.  However, this bad-faith tactic is typically used during hoovering attempts.  During hoovering, they pull out all the stops, showing previously unseen regret about how much they hurt you (perhaps squeezing out a tear or two). This can seem quite convincing, especially to altruistic and empathic types.

So how can you detect whether the narcissist is feeling genuine remorse, versus false remorse?  Research on the subject indicates that signs of false remorse include:

  • A greater range of emotional expressions
  • Swinging from one emotion to another very quickly
  • Speaking with greater hesitation

What does this look like in the case of the narcissist?

  • Going from “regret” and/or kindness to cruel and nasty – example: receiving a text that they are sorry and when you don’t respond, immediately calling you a loser, piece of sh*t, trash
  • Stumbling and mumbling when you ask for an explanation for something they did – example: You:  “Why did you tell me you weren’t seeing that girl from the office when I saw the two of you together?”  Narcissist: “Well, um, see…well, she just had a, um, death in the family and…well, I was just…I was trying to make her feel better.  Maybe I went a little, um (long pause)…overboard, but I um, wasn’t…wasn’t thinking clearly at the moment.”
  • Frequent shifts between positive and negative emotions, with fewer displays of neutral emotions in between – example: From showing up at your door with a bouquet of flowers and a tear in his eye to telling you (in less than thirty seconds) that he always knew you were bad news.  Everyone tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen.  Then, saying the two of you are destined to be together for life (seriously, he’s received signs from God.  Ironically, he’ll alternate between divine endorsements for your relationship to signs that it’s doomed). 

4.  False Promises – As with the case of false remorse, false promises are typically offered during hoovering.  If the narcissist feels you’re serious about leaving this time (because you’ve shown herculean strength during your latest attempt at No Contact), he or she will use the bad-faith tactic of the seductive dangling of carrots.  Remember that new car you mentioned a few months ago?  He takes you to the dealership to look at cars.  Had the two of you discussed marriage?  He encourages you to shop for rings.  Did you express your desire for a house in the near future?  She’s suddenly talking to realtors and bringing you the latest copy of “Homes for Sale”.

Don’t fall for it.  The narcissist has absolutely no intention of following through.  When this becomes clear and you call them on it, they’ll resume the character assassinations and lead you to believe it’s your entire fault.  This is only a scheme to take the blame off of them and make you feel responsible for the destruction of your hopes, as well as the relationship.  Don’t fall back into submissive behaviors in hopes they’ll keep their false promises.

Avoid falling for bad-faith tactics or settling for being someone’s Insurance against Loneliness 

To avoid becoming the narcissist’s insurance against loneliness, cease all contact (or implement modified contact in the case of shared custody), set firm boundaries, don’t flatter them, don’t be a “yes” man, and don’t engage if they break through your barriers and become nasty.  Engaging with them only rewards their behavior. 

Further, reaching out via email or text to tell them how hurtful they’ve been or how cruel they are only invites them to ignore you (though inside they are elated).

In most cases, they’ll come back hoovering when they feel you’ve fallen for yet another bad-faith tactic – pretending they want nothing to do with you, and swooping in like the love of your life during a moment of epic weakness on your part, setting you up for a self-loathing extravaganza.

**Narcissism knows no bias.  The use of the pronoun “he” is for reading ease only.  Females can be narcissists, too.

Liberate Yourself from Narcissistic Trauma Today

You don’t have to be a chronic victim of narcissistic abuse. It’s not easy but you can make it out stronger than ever before.

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Like someone suffering from substance abuse, you need a narcissistic abuse recovery program that can help you avoid relapse by learning about yourself, habits, and triggers.

The Essential Break Free Bootcamp may be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

I know what you’re going through and I’m here to help. Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

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Sam says May 31, 2015

I have to wonder what type of narcissist I’m dealing with after reading many articles. He seems to be more cerebral and I don’t think he’s ever cheated on me. He admitted he cheated on his previous wife who was already bi-polar but was driven madder by his behavior. They say narcissists will mirror your strengths and weaknesses and I’ve never cheated in previous relationships. I have also noticed there is a new breed of narcs who are doomsday preppers. He has spent thousands of dollars purchasing storage food that is gathering dust and bugs. I found out a few years after he purchased the food that I’m gluten intolerant and cannot consume the wheat he bought. He really is in the “fight or flight” survival mode still and ended up buying a small farm that we live isolated from everyone. He told me he’d be perfectly happy living alone yet why does he have a wife and kids? So many contradictions with these narcissists. I am slowly trying to drag myself out of this hole I allowed him to create for us by asserting myself, especially financially since I had to give up my career to lead this prepper lifestyle in a poverty-stricken area with children.

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Izzy says September 6, 2014

Is there anyone I can talk to on here? I know many on here will understand what I am going through. I thought I was doing well for myself but I just faced a set back and am really struggling.

sallyamore2014 says September 5, 2014

Once again Kim, your post is right one and eye opening. After reading several of your blogs and comments, I am considering myself to be one of the lucky ones. My x N. met a woman who offers more benefits than myself, so once he met her het cut me out like a bad stitch. I’ve not heard from him in over 3 months, and I moved clear across the country to heal and do an expressive therapy program. My focus now is on healing myself, and examining exactly why I would invest so much of myself in a relationship that I knew was not the real deal. Anyway, I love your posts and look forward to reading more.

    Kim Saeed says September 6, 2014

    Thank you for your very kind and encouraging words, Sally!

    Like you, I had to do a lot of self-inquiry to determine why I stayed in the relationship and basically accepted my ex’s abuse and normalized behaviors that were far from normal. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past few years. Glad to know you are following a similar path <3

Kim Saeed says September 4, 2014


Great to see you here! Thank you for your input. Many people have gotten relief from Melanie’s system, though I agree recovery often requires combining it with other healing methods. I have an older article where I listed EFT as a method for exploration, along with several others. I have found that recovery often requires a trial and error approach. I experimented with several different methods, as it seems you are doing.

Aura E Martinez says September 3, 2014

Love, love, love this post! It’s very informative and very accurate of what a narcissist. These people are human vampires. They don’t suck your blood out, but they do suck out your energy, your self-esteem, your self love and your soul if you last any longer with them. Thank you so much for this post!

    Kim Saeed says September 3, 2014

    Thank you, Aura! I can relate to the depletion of energy and self-esteem. I once felt like an emptied Capri Sun pack.

    But now, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I’m happy to say.

    Thank you for stopping by and for commenting! 🙂

Grant says September 3, 2014

Hello Kim. Thank you for another insightful case study, this one highlighting how the narcissist thinks (i.e., rationalizing their bad-faith tactics on the basis of believing that they are being altruistic to their partner). I learned recently about the “altruistic narcissist”, which describes the person with whom I had a three-year relationship. They are more difficult to identify, but their were signs, including that she told me she went on eHarmony two weeks after her husband’s death, as she had “so much love to give”. She found a new sexual partner on within a week of my ending the relationship with her (probably due to being “tortured by loneliness”, as I ended the relationship and did not agree to her request that we be friends, as “you need to trust your friends” I told her). I ended the relationship from a position of strength, because I saw the bad-faith acts, and chose no longer to accept them. That has helped me to move forward.

Having had a telephone consultation with you two months ago, I continue to be impressed with your intelligent, thoughtful blog posts. Please continue your excellent work.

I also want to encourage those experiencing mixed feelings about ending a relationship with a narcissist. I was able to move from thinking about her behavior to my future by realizing that there are many narcissists our there. We cannot control their existence. What I decided this week that I could control was using what I had learned, from you and others, to engage in new relationships slowly, with my eyes wide open for the “love bombing” and “bad-faith” acts that you describe. I may not find the relationship I “fantasized” having with her, but I remain optimistic about finding a meaningful life.

    Kim Saeed says October 20, 2014

    Thank you for this insightful comment, Grant. Both for highlighting common behaviors of the Narcissist, and for giving hope to others who are considering ending their own toxic relationships.

    I enjoyed our previous conversation and have great expectations for your future. It sounds like you’ve learned to set healthy, mutually beneficial boundaries and that’s what it takes in moving forward and beyond…

narcopathcrusher says September 3, 2014

Learned helplessness too. She keeps staying in the house. One of the common brainwashing tactics that work long term is to cultivate the belief a woman who has been in a long term relationship is either unable to survive financially on her own or incapable of finding a better partner. If you compine all this with deceit and false promises it is no real surprise why those abused women stay.

    Kim Saeed says September 3, 2014

    Excellent observation, narcopathcrusher. I think most of us end up steeped in learned helplessness. I sure did.

    Until I changed those false perceptions. We all have infinite power inside of us, it’s just a matter of recognizing it…

    Hugs <3

      narcopathcrusher says September 3, 2014

      I would like to ask for a post about how someone can change limiting and false perceptions please. If it’s not too much trouble
      Hugs back <3

        Kim Saeed says September 3, 2014

        I already had that in mind after reading your comment 🙂 Thanks for the blog post idea!

          narcopathcrusher says September 3, 2014

          You are welcome 🙂 I am sure it will be an awsome post!

        Grant says September 3, 2014

        In response to how to change limiting beliefs, I would recommend two options. The first is finding a person qualified to use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). A recent review of published studies found ETF to be effective. Additionally, Schema Therapy addresses underlying beliefs. You will find information and the research evidence online. Hope these are helpful.

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