Wondering what to expect when a narcissist knows you are onto them? Maybe you’re thinking of outing them to the people they know?
What could be more vindicating than letting the narcissist know you’ve figured them out? That you’re onto their game and you’re not going to take it anymore?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but here’s a little secret: it’s NOT going to go down the way you want it to.
When the narcissist knows you know, they exude manipulative behaviors. The narcissist isn’t going to cower in shame or finally see the light of reason. They’ll never allow you to have closure because their entire personality relies on having the upper hand in every interaction.
When a narcissist knows you are onto them, things go from bad to hell before you can even process what’s happening – but that’s exactly the narcissist’s strategy.
What Happens When a Narcissist Knows You Are onto Them?
If you’re committed to exposing a narcissist, please read the list below before following through. In many cases, exposing a narcissist can backfire and make things much worse for you.
Does this mean you should put up with their abuse? Absolutely not.
However, you should weigh the pros and cons of letting them know you’ve figured them out.
Narcissists define the word “reactionary.” When a narcissist knows you’re onto them, they dial all their worst toxic and abusive qualities up to 10 and go full self-destruct Samson mode.
Plan your exit strategy first and then decide if it’s worth it because narcissistic rage like you’ve never experienced is coming.
1 – Gaslighting
The narcissist’s specialty: gaslighting. As you start to expose the narcissist, they’ll do everything they can to convince you that you’re wrong.
“You’re remembering things incorrectly. That’s not what happened. You’re crazy!”
Gaslighting is their specialty as the first line of defense. It’s much easier to use lies and manipulation to convince you that you’re wrong instead of actually owning up to their abusive behavior.
2 – Baiting
Narcissists rely on something called trauma bonding to keep you hooked. When a narcissist knows you’re onto them, they’ll immediately bait you into a fight with extreme insults on your character.
The goal is to get a rise out of you. To a narcissist, screaming, yelling, and crying are all signs that you still care about them.
Don’t fall for it. The best thing you can do is remain emotionless.
3 – Fear and Manipulation
Keep in mind that the narcissist has spent months or years breaking down your very identity. They know more about you than you know about yourself.
“You’ll never find someone like me and you’ll die alone.”
“How can you do this after everything I’ve done for you?”
As you expose them, they’ll turn to your deepest fears, flaws, and guilt to break you down and manipulate you into capitulation.
4 – Projection
You fool! Can’t you see? They’re not the narcissist, you are! (Or so they’ll try to convince you.)
Brace yourself because the narcissist is going to project all their abusive qualities, insecurities, and flaws onto you.
The narcissist knows that you’re not like them. You experience normal emotions like guilt and compassion – they don’t. They’ll project their abuse onto you because they assume you’ll accept it and apologize.
5 – Leveling
How can you call the narcissist a bad person when you, too, have done some terrible things?
Who are you to evaluate the narcissist’s abusive behavior? You’re not a psychologist. What gives you the right?
When a narcissist knows you’re onto them, they’ll resort to something called leveling to bring you down to their level.
They’ll attack your integrity and your past shortcomings to make their abuse seem normal and make you think you have no ground to stand on.
6 – Devaluation
Narcissists always turn to devaluation during the relationship but when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out, the gloves come off.
Expect to have every slur and insult in the book hurled at you with hate bombing. Even if the narcissist wasn’t physically abusive previously, now might be the time the physical violence comes out.
Yes, it could get that bad.
7 – Victimization
If you haven’t noticed yet, the narcissist is always the victim.
If you attempt to expose them, they’ll attack you for bringing up all their flaws after they had “the worst day” at work. They’ll blame their abusive behavior on a previous relationship or sob story about their upbringing (which probably isn’t even true).
Even if you think the situation is a clear-cut case of the narcissist hurting you and doing something wrong, they will miraculously wriggle into the position of a victim.
8 – Blackmailing
Get ready to experience a level of vindictiveness like you could never imagine – especially if you expose the narcissist and refuse to cave after their initial outburst.
Narcissists are absolutely not above making you homeless, cleaning out your bank account, publicly posting your intimate photos, intentionally crashing your car, or withholding access to your own children to get what they want from you.
In fact, those are their specialties.
9 – Smearing Your Character
If you go public with exposing the narcissist to gain the upper hand, get prepared for massive damage control because the narcissist is an expert at destroying your name.
They’ll tell blatant lies about you to all your friends and even your family. If they see a therapist (usually as a formality, for validation, or to “prove” something to you), they’ll do nothing but talk smack about you.
These extreme reactions (like smearing and blackmailing) are why you should rethink your idea to expose the narcissist.
10 – Discarding
Then again, when a narcissist knows you’re onto them, they may decide that you’re not worth the effort anymore.
They’ll simply discard you as you expose them, spread lies about you, and find a new supply.
What to Do When a Narcissist Knows You Are Onto Them
When a narcissist realizes you are done, they’ll gaslight you every chance they get in their effort to pull you back over to the dark side. Don’t let them. They might threaten to hurt themselves to get back at you; there’s no telling what will happen because of their sheer lack of empathy and remorse.
It’s highly recommended to seek help as soon as possible–it could save your sanity. You must stay clear-headed and calm because they’ll use every trick in the book to make you believe that you’re wrong and try to get a reaction out of you.
Now is the time to cling to your support system for dear life because you’ll need them as the narcissist implodes.
When the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out, that’s your cue to leave and never look back. Going No Contact at this point is critical because the elevated level of abuse isn’t going to subside.
Is exposing the narcissist worth it?
Consider this: they’ll never allow you to have closure so get that idea out of your head. Exposing them or letting them know you’re onto them accomplishes nothing except providing the narcissist with an opportunity to rope you back in with an emotional fight.
Unfortunately, that’s the best-case scenario. In the worst case, they can turn violent and extremely vindictive. That’s why it’s typically not worth the short rush of calling out the narcissist.
How does the narcissist react when they realize you no longer care?
When they realize you no longer care, the narcissist will turn your family and friends against you, especially if they realize that the relationship is coming apart. It’s essential for those in this type of situation, where leaving would be difficult due to the narcissist having an emotional hold over them, to take steps towards getting help before things get worse – either by seeking professional advice or just talking through what needs addressing with someone who can give honest feedback without being emotionally invested in one way or another.
What happens when a narcissist is exposed?
Exposing a narcissist can have dramatic, even dangerous, effects. Aside from this, narcissists have an almost supernatural ability to respond to your stories in a way that makes you look like the unstable one. This is especially true when attempting to warn the new supply about who the narcissist truly is. While this may turn out okay in rare instances, it usually backfires in such a devastating way that it takes months or years to recover from it.
How To Get Started On The Stages of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse
Imagine how powerful it would be to know how to handle the narcissist and stand impervious against their appalling behavior.
Can you imagine what it would feel like to reclaim your life?
This is the outcome that I love helping people accomplish…to be free to have joyful and nourishing lives without being confused and crippled by the narcissist’s games.
If you’d like to take your lucidity and your life back, no matter what you’ve been through, or if you’re simply tired of living a nightmarish version of Groundhog Day, then join me and other wonderful thrivers in my therapist-approved program for narcissistic abuse recovery. You will learn real-life ways to develop new and empowering habits that heal – AND are backed by psychology and neuroscience.
This nurturing program includes a wonderful private community that assists and supports all people detaching and healing from narcissistic abuse, no matter who the narcissist is (such as family member, spouse, partner, friend, etc.) and regardless of the circumstances involved.
I truly hope you understand that you’re not powerless and that there are truly remarkable ways that you can stand up to the mind games and finally break free from the nightmare.
The Bottom Line
Everyone has the innate capacity to heal themselves. But, it’s likely you will need external support to heal the traumas that get in the way of your ability to tune into this gift.⠀Helpful tools and resources can assist you in developing effective ways to break free from narcissistic abuse.
Explore The Break Free Program here and see what students and mental health professionals have to say about it.
As always, I look forward to answering your questions and your comments below.