The coronavirus pandemic has been both a gift and a curse for narcissists – and survivors of narcissistic abuse.
If you’ve managed to escape narcissistic manipulation and have begun a new life on your own, you may have noticed a certain someone has started creeping into your DMs.
Even worse: Maybe the long-gone narcissist has suddenly left random essentials at your door.
They’re just trying to help – right? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, narcissists are taking advantage of the quarantine to hoover and exploit the vulnerable position of their past targets.
Any contact from the narcissist is a tactic to manipulate your psyche, emotions, and concerned state of mind. Here’s how to spot the most common hoovers and fight back.
10 Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics to Watch Out for During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Narcissists may not show it but they’re not doing so well during lockdown either.
Narcissists thrive on control, both for themselves and everyone around them. Forcing them indoors and restricting their movement completely upsets their world. They’re grasping at straws to wield power through narcissistic manipulation.
They also know you’re dealing with the same situation. Narcissists will exploit this to form fake connections, love bomb, and reel you back in. Here are the hoovers and narcissistic manipulation tactics to watch for during COVID-19.
Offering to Cover Your Rent, Food, or Expenses
Never let a good crisis go to waste, right? During a crisis, you can guarantee one person will be there to exploit it by offering assistance supposedly with “no strings attached.”
If the narcissist knows you’re out of work, they’ll no doubt be right there to offer help paying for your rent, food, or other vital essentials. Expect them to tug at your heartstrings, especially if you have kids.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to come through with any form of financial assistance.
Just “Checking In” in the Name of Safety and Concern
No one shows concern more than a narcissist hoovering (false concern, of course.) They’ll send texts or phone calls asking questions about you or your family.
If your family has suffered a COVID-19 death or diagnosis, you can expect the narcissist to pour out their heart to you. Make no mistake: This is a ploy to exploit your vulnerable emotional situation in the worst way possible.
Using the Uncertainty to Exploit Your Emotions and Start Fresh
We’re all living in unprecedented times. No generation alive has experienced something like this. We’re all living life day-to-day, often frustrated, worried, or annoyed.
Narcissists know this. They’re experts at contriving situations exactly like this, such as moving you out of state away from your family.
During coronavirus, a narcissist will reach out with love bombing. A flood of texts could enter your inbox with apologies, the admittance of past transgressions, and promises to make it all right. Don’t fall for it.
Falsifying a Positive COVID-19 Case in Themselves or Family
Narcissists will justify any lie they manage to cook up. It absolutely wouldn’t be above a narcissist to falsely claim someone in their family has been diagnosed with COVID-19 – or even succumbed to the illness.
They may even claim they’ve been diagnosed with the illness themselves. Unsurprisingly, they might not pull through!
The goal is to grab your attention and play the victim: the narcissist’s specialty.
Not only that, but narcissist manipulation also relies on controlling your emotions.
It’s entirely possible the narcissist could contract the virus due to their delayed acceptance of social distancing and lockdowns. However, don’t believe them at the outset. The narcissist would love to fear monger through a false COVID-19 diagnosis.
The “Oops Didn’t Mean to” Narcissistic Manipulation Text
In Italy, Facebook usage skyrocketed by 70% during the lockdown. Surely, you’ve seen your share of Facebook surveys and Tiger King memes by now.
People are stuck indoors with nothing to do, including narcissists.
Narcissists will scroll through their phones looking for old targets to subject to narcissistic manipulation. You might get a “hey hot stuff” followed by an “oops that wasn’t meant for you, sorry!” message.
They’re simply feeling out your response – and any response is good (to the narcissist.)
If you respond, that means they’ve got your attention and the ball rolling.
Flooding Your Phone with Text Messages
Instead of stooping to an “oops” text, a narcissist may simply flood your phone with texts:
- How’s it going?
- Haha, I’m so bored.
- My family is so annoying.
- I already did all the spring cleaning AND started a new project.
- How’s your mom?
- Are you following social distancing?!
- Need any PPE?
Of course, this flood of texts will come in before you’ve responded, perhaps without even opening a single message.
Sending a Third-Party to See Who You’re Quarantined With
It’s common for narcissists to send a third-party mutual friend to see what you’re doing, if you’ve moved on, and who you’re spending time with.
During COVID-19, these habits don’t change. You might get a random text message from a mutual friend asking for random personal details. They may ask who you’re stuck in quarantine with, your relationship with them, your financial status, or other details.
Of course, the questions may seem more casual than obviously intrusive. Make no mistake, however, the narcissist has sent them to check up on you.
Creeping into Your Social Media Posts for Narcissistic Manipulation
Have you opened your Facebook or Instagram and saw a flood of notifications? Oh look, they’re all from the same person: The narcissist.
Unless you’ve blocked them, they know you’ll see the notifications.
The narcissist is praying you’ll reach out before they have to send a direct message. If you ignore their flood of likes and comments, expect a DM in your inbox soon.
It’s also possible that by the time you respond, they will have blocked you already.
Randomly Dropping Off Groceries and Essentials at Your Door
This is the pandemic equivalent of dropping off random flowers or chocolates.
The narcissist isn’t being creepy – they’re just following social distancing protocol!
You open your door one day and see a pack of toilet paper and (your favorite) groceries on the porch. There may or may not be a note but you know exactly who it’s from.
Don’t feel obligated to reciprocate or allow the narcissist to call you. After all, you didn’t request that they reinsert themselves back into your life. Let’s not forget why they are out of your life to begin with.
Educating You About “What’s Really Happening”
Narcissists are very smart. Smarter than anyone else in the world. (Or so they think.)
The narcissist may start sending you random links about “what’s really happening” with coronavirus.
Their goal here is to demonstrate how intelligent and woke they are while making you feel stupid for believing anything different – a classic narcissistic manipulation tactic.
Don’t fall prey to believing you can have an intelligent conversation with the narcissist. They don’t converse with people to swap news updates or offer helpful advice. They converse with people so they can try to one-up them and make the other person feel foolish.
How to Fight Back Against Narcissistic Manipulation During Quarantine
Since they’re also on-edge and vulnerable, expect the narcissist to react irrationally and violently to any assertive response you give them. Under normal circumstances, a narcissist may continue love bombing through their hoovers even if you shoot them down the first time.
With their power and control completely lost during quarantine, a narcissist will immediately lash out at any negative (assertive) response on your part. Here’s what you can do:
- Ignore them. Don’t respond to texts (they should be blocked, anyway). Don’t talk about them to mutual friends. They don’t exist.
- Throw their gifts in the trash or give them to a needy neighbor. (Make sure to wash your hands right away.)
- Block them on social media.
Ignoring a narcissist isn’t easy. They know how to push your buttons and force a reaction from you – especially while emotions are already running high. Block, mute, or do whatever you have to do to keep them out of your life.
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