when a narcissist knows you are onto them

10 Things to Expect When a Narcissist Knows You’re Onto Them

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Are you preparing to let the narcissist know you’re onto them?

What could be more vindicating then 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.

The narcissist isn’t going to cower in shame, cry, 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’re 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 a wave of abuse 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.

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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.

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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 the Narcissist Knows You’ve Figured Them Out

First, stay calm.

When a narcissist knows you are onto them, they’ll gaslight you every chance they get in their effort to pull you back over to the dark side. Don’t let them.

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.

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15 comments
Matthew Gerome says February 28, 2020

I completely agree with everything that you have stated.Its All so true!
I wish that I had had such insight and guidance prior to becoming involved with a narcissist.I had no clue!
No doubt most who read your posts would agree.
Who would think people could be so intentionally cold ,cruel and brutal to someone they claim to love?
No one! So We learn the,hard way!
Unfortunately I did the opposite of what you wisely recommend to Not do.
I actively fought to expose the the low down,dirty,rotten behavior and treatment that I experienced.I am currently still debating if it was worth it or not.I Have Paid a steep price for my not keeping quiet. A Narcissist knows of no mercy.You Will pay dearly for your efforts to expose them! I don’t feel as though I could have kept quiet.I felt compelled to” war”. I wanted everyone east of the Mississippi to know what happened to me.To hell with being embarrassed ,appearing foolish or crazy!
I would not tell another person in the same position to do as i did because you Will pay.I do not have children.Most of my family is either gone or lives elsewhere. The only two people that I cared about how they thought of me were her two little girls.My love and friendship with them was used as a tool to inflict emotional damage immediately at my discard.
I felt as if I didn’t have much to lose.This was proven quite erroneous.We always have something to lose. If you choose to confront and expose a Narcissist you will lose things that you may have not been aware of until you realize that you have lost them.I have lost so much.
A Narcissist will leave you with nothing but Loss for your allowing them into your life.I am now broken and badly damaged for my initial trust and allowance.
I don’t know if all of my time, energy,and loss will help to prevent anyone in the future from experiencing what happend to me but if it does then I will know that it was worth it.
You Are quite correct in telling people to not confront. But if you do be forewarned that regardless of the outcome you will gain nothing.You will lose!
This is the hardest thing to learn about Narcissists.
There are no winners.
Everyone loses.
Be thankful to have survived.
As survivors we should do what we can to bring this insidious behavior to light.
Kim you are doing that and I thank you for your efforts.

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47 and Fabulous says February 18, 2020

I detailed what I knew, all the tactics that he employed and the red flags (I missed/didn’t want to see), and sent a text. I gave him “options”on why he may have done it…trauma in his past or a simple desire to be cruel…or both and told him he didn’t break me and that I was still whole and standing. I told him I knew it was painful being him and that I was so sorry for him(he hates pity). That I could see how unsatisfied his life was and that all his life failures must be difficult to face. I told him that he is gutted by the root from my spirit and to get help, and that I didn’t need a response. I blocked him from all social media, and made bread for my family. I got it out, said my peace and was done with him. Oddly my mind ran on him quite a bit this past weekend, and as my son and I loaded bikes in the truck, he passed by my house. Our eyes locked for a moment, and I broke the gaze with the closing of my door. You can’t get to anything from my street. I don’t know what he could have hoped to gain by driving by.

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Anonymous says February 18, 2020

I detailed what I knew, all the tactics that he employed and the red flags (I missed/didn’t want to see). I gave him options on why he may have done it…trauma in his past or a simple desire to be cruel…or both and told him he didn’t break me and that I was still whole and standing. I told him I knew it was painful being him and that I was so sorry for him. That I could see how unsatisfied his life was and that all his life failures must be difficult to face. I told him that he is gutted by the root from my spirit and to get help, and that I didn’t need a response. I blocked him from all social media, and made bread for my family. I got it out, and was done with him. Oddly my mind ran on him quite a bit this past weekend, and as my son and I loaded bikes in the truck, he passed by my house. Our eyes locked for a moment, and I broke the gaze with the closing of my door. You can’t get to anything from my street.

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Gina says February 10, 2020

Dear Kim, whenever I start doubting my decision to break loose, I read one of your inspiring and informative texts. Thank you so much! Our Narc kept 1400 people hostage and most of them did not realize the lure and the hidden cruelty of this almost incapable boss. Wishing everybody strength and lucidity, XXX

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Jon Rhodes says February 4, 2020

Hi Kim. It’s not really worth exposing a narcissist. Like you say, they’ll NEVER hold their hands up, come clean, and change their ways. They know attack is the best form is defence, so you just get dragged into a toxic war.

Whenever I’ve spotted a narcissist, I don’t say anything to them. Most are undiagnosed anyway. And they certainly won’t admit anythings wrong with them.

I just keep them at arms length, or avoid them altogether if I can. And I make sure I don’t rise to their bate, which I know will be coming. I have also privately advised others and warned them about particular narcissists. And given them advice on how best to handle them.

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    Kim Saeed says March 1, 2020

    Sounds like you have things under control, Jon 🙂

    Reply
Alana says February 2, 2020

I have a hard time trying to figure out if it’s me that’s the narcissist or my significant other or both of us… just tired of the toxicity. And I just blame myself for every bit of every we’re currently going through and have been through. I just don’t know what to do at this point…

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    Kim Saeed says March 1, 2020

    Hi Alana, if you are wondering if you’re a narcissist, you’re tired of the toxicity, and you blame yourself for everything…then those are three big indicators that you’re NOT a narcissist. You are probably just being accused of being the abuser or the toxic one, which you may have begun to internalize.

    Hope that helps!

    Kim

    Reply
Hilary says January 30, 2020

I needed this advice a year ago. On my own I learned hard way not replying to ANY comments or photos was the only way to get peace. Thanks

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Sara says January 27, 2020

“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.”.
This and ALL 10- Stages, ARE ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY TRUE!!!!
For any Man, Woman, &/or Children if you think that you have
fallen PREY(YES, PREY)to Abuse
from a Narcissist? Then make your exit plan and DEFINITELY DON’T CONFRONT them! Make the QUIETEST, CLEANEST Exit possible and NEVER look back!
It has been almost a year since I caught my husband & Father to OUR only child CHEATING. Caught as in had the address and lured him out of her apt. While I video taped him bumping into the
bumper of my car. In 11 mos. I have been arrested 2x and have NOT EVER been in trouble with the law. I am currently homeless & without a vehicle… therefore any job is out of the question. Estranged from my family…and have paid a Divorce Lawyer $3200 owe $1000 more and still have NO Signed Separation filed with the Courthouse. Just so you know, State of NC requires Documented Separation for at least a full year before a Judge will sign off on any Divorce. There
is no financial support of any kind. I have about 2 friends that I completely Trust, thank God and I am currently “couch surfing” between the 2. I am going back to school, I have reconnected with a friend that I grew up with &
He lived next door. And he is trying to SHOW Me just what REAL LOVE & DEVOTION are. I had NO Idea, that REAL LOVE & DEVOTION could feel this GOOD! Thank You to the Handful of Friends that have fed Me, given Me a warm bed or couch, and any other little everyday necessities that y’all have sometimes struggled yourselves to provide for Me. And Very Special Thank You to Anne with an ‘E’ ALWAYS My Bitch having my back, & to Special ‘K’… YOU were sent by my Grandmother! She always had the idea that we should be together. We got here messy, but all of the PAIN, Anger, all of it I am Grateful for because it LED ME straight back to YOU!
For anyone that has suffered from the Abuse of a Narcissistic Partner, you will EXPERIENCE HAPPINESS & JOY in your life AGAIN. Don’t give up on yourself.
STOP feeling GUILTY and LOVE the person you are growing into!

Thank You,
Sara P., NC

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Anonymous says January 21, 2020

Quietly get away and get your health back. Don’t feel the need to expose them. They’ll show their own true colors eventually anyway. You have the advantage just to have them out of your life for good and that is winning big. It doesn’t matter if they move on. They are bound to mess up every relationship ever. It’s just a matter of time. They suffer for their own choices and behaviors. God is fair. Having to have revenge sounds like the abuser, not the abused. Freedom is the ultimate reward.

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    Lynn says January 25, 2020

    Amen!!!

    Reply
Fern says January 21, 2020

Great video and article. I can see that I experienced a string of miracles. Went no contact in mid July as he dumped me while I was in the hospital with a severe injury. I was not in a community hospital so navigating the hospital phones is something most do not know how to do. I could not get cell phone coverage and my number had to change. I was house bound 2 months and in January am just getting where I can drive more than 10 miles. I am not in touch with his best flying monkey as I don’t work with her anymore. He did some stalking, but I changed my number for good and he has found driving all the way to my house to stalk is not his cup of tea. Just lots of things happened to keep me apart from him. I am so grateful. I think he would have been physical. He would have been rough on me. Somehow, even if he aggressively reaches out, I am isolated from him. He can’t be vindictive or play mind games with me. Seriously, a string of blessings. Adverse conditions, but the rest of my life was saved. This session just pointed that out. Everything you said is so true. This is not my first narcissist, but it sure will be my last. I can spot them in the first 2 minutes thanks to you and others in the field over the years. Wow.

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Sandra Hoerle says January 20, 2020

Dear Kim—I found that if one records their rages and outbursts and discards, they disappear as soon as one informs them of that. I sent a transcript of the last discard, I did this in a letter, and also said that if anyone said to me again that they never saw that side of him, I’d play the recording. Never heard another word. I suppose they would only have to believe there’s a recording…!

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Olivia says January 20, 2020

I experienced this recently- ironically it was the teacher on my counselling course, who was certainly toxic if not a narcissist. She was lovely in public but snappy and bitchy one to one. She was very passive aggressive, pretending she couldn’t read my email address and ‘forgetting’ to send me information. I’m not sure if she did this with the other students but she definitely singled me out.
I made the mistake at first, of thinking she was snapping at me because of something I’d done wrong, and wrote it all down in my weekly journal, which she marked! That must have alerted her that I was a ‘whistleblower’ and she didn’t get nicer but slightly nastier.
I passed the course though, which was my objective. No doubt her teacher targets prevented her from failing me. But I did NOT continue with the next course.
At least 3 other people realised she was passive aggressive but they didn’t make the mistake of writing it down! Lesson learned- don’t let them know you’re onto them (if the narcissist is just a temporary person in your life)

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