narcissistic manipulation

10 Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics to Watch for During COVID-19

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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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Get Started On The Stages of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse

One of my greatest passions is helping previously victimized people become empowered. If you are ready for this astounding upleveling, the best thing you can do is join the Break Free community. 

My best recommendation is to find an online program to keep you on track and to offer support.  The Break Free Program has been vetted by therapists and neuropsychologists as an effective step toward getting over narcissistic abuse. Aside from keeping you safe from narcissists, it also empowers you to go out into the world with confidence.

Join Break Free and learn to:

  1. ✅ Dramatically overpower your addiction to the narcissist so you can stop being their victim
  2. ✅ Get to a place of acceptance so you can stop doubting yourself over your decision to heal your life
  3. ✅ Set limits and create stronger boundaries against emotional manipulation that has caused you to act out of character
    + so much more!

Just click the link to join:

👉 Join now with a sliding scale and lifetime access.

I created Break Free for people who sincerely want to take action and begin healing so they can finally stop the crippling pain, heal, and live the lives they deserve. 

Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

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carol says January 27, 2021

Lock down we didn’t badger our son just every so often wanted to know how he was getting. At the time partner was pregnant weeks would go by no reply. Then we managed to track him reluctantly he met up after a lock down lift. I remember that day because I had missed him so much so happy to see him,. To my astonishment and this has never happened before dirty looks looking me up and down as to what I was wearing a straw hat long dress then another filthy look as he turned to lock his car door. I just couldn’t understand who I was dealing with it hurt. This was all before a conversation started. After the child was born his partner said to me that they were blissfully happy in lock down and never thought possible our son said he had never felt so isolated in his life. I was pleased but mixed feeling me and my husband missed him so much i was in a very bad way worrying about the world ill diabetic husband and daughter our daughter bad heart condition plus they knew all this never contacted to ask how all were and my husband was dealing with so many job loses he had a break down. iI the new year our sons best mate contacted us told us our son said they had moved and never given a forward address had they had the baby. Our son informed us that his partner had told him his best mate had made a pass at her and that they had cut him off. Very odd considering that this had never been mention even though she liked to gossip, His best friend denied it and said he didn’t. She constantly fantasied about men fancying her . She called me up during lock down and asked if I ever had sex with my husband when pregnant out of the blue! But within that phone call never asked how all were .No filter at all. Something happen in that lock down no doubt in our minds.

Linda says October 26, 2020

It’s as if you all have been watching n have repested watching us….

Anonymous says September 1, 2020

What if they really fool you into thinking they have genuine concern for your well being? Though I have managed to keep some distance lately, I find myself day dreaming that he might actually care. They know how to say all the right things sometimes. I might be in denial about how he has treated me but then I remember how he has treated others. Like his mother who has helped him again and again and paid his way when he had no money. As soon as he is on his feet again he verbally abuses her through text and only recalls how she has supposedly wronged him in life. He is just capable of so much hate. When someone cannot serve a purpose he needs them to, they are verbally abused and many times a bridge is burned. Who really acts that way I have to ask myself?

Mary says August 22, 2020

Kim, thanks so much for providing telltale narcissistic manipulative ploys to expect during the pandemic. “If only the horse can be led to water & will drink it.” The jobless Narc offers all manner of non-monetary assistance to my hoodwinked sister. He guilt-trips & love-bombs my high-salaried sis into reciprocating his hobosexual handyman efforts with paid restaurant meals, free rides in her car, paid sightseeing excursions, free storage of his belongings at her home, & who knows what else. The Narc claims only recently being “separated” (despite failed promises of impending divorce from his wife for decades). Like a glib ConMan, he’s: No Action, Talk Only (NATO).

Anonymous says August 20, 2020

I went no contact and it has been maybe 4 or 5 years. He still tries to keep in contact but all he get is DELETE. He tried coming over when I got out of work but he caused his own narc injury by smiling and being happy to see me and all I did was walked on by like he wasn’t there. He is dead to me.

    Kim Saeed says August 21, 2020

    Couldn’t help but hear the song, Walk On By, by Dionne Warwick playing in my head when you said all you did was ‘walk on by’. Good for you 🙂


Lisa says August 20, 2020

Hi Kim,

My ex was the worst Narc ever. unfortunately, it cost me dearly and took 16 years to break away and try and recover while single handedly raising our only daughter. The saddest part of all of this Is how close my daughter and I had been for 30 years. Now, it’s blatantly clear she inherited his narcism and it’s taken over. I’m so heartbroken and demoralized and have never been so far apart from her as we have been the past 9 months. I don’t even know her anymore and she has exhibited the worst of narcissism only to hurt me over and over. I would never be in another relationship with a Narc but this one s my only child – my only family and it’s not the same as ex husbands or boyfriends or bosses. Of course she doesn’t know her character traits have changed not for the better. Until now, I always believed she was the best thing you had ever done. And I don’t even have that anymore. It feels like the worst betrayal imaginable with no direction to take.
Sad and alone mom
I want my daughter back ……

Elisha says August 14, 2020

This article is do gracefully true. Everything my ex did was false

Angela says May 13, 2020

Omg!!! So funny! This is exactly what happened to me. I hblocked my ex but then got a new phone and it didn’t transfer blocked calls. It’s been 2 yrs since I last spoke to my ex. Lo and behold he texted and asked how I was doing w all this virus stuff going on. I was in shock but also knew he wasn’t texting bc he cares. I responded. He even asked how my parents were doing just like you mentioned in your article. He of course only talked about himself and blah blah. After texting for a few min, I didn’t really care much but then the next week all my negative emotions came flooding back. I was having nightmares again and feeling triggered then feeling angry. I blocked him again but I just couldn’t understand what his point was in texting me. I know he was trying to reach out to see if I was vulnerable but I know his games and know all his manipulative tactics. Don’t ask why I replied but I did which sucks. It is what is it is and I had to work on forgiving myself and letting that go. It’s crazy how a simple texts triggers a tsunami of intense negative emotions and all the horrible memories of what they’ve done and they will NEVER be sorry or care.

Angela says May 13, 2020

Omg!!! So funny! This is exactly what happened to me. I blocked my ex but then got a new phone and it didn’t transfer blocked calls. It’s been 2 yrs since I last spoke to my ex. Lo and behold he texted and asked how I was doing w all this virus stuff going on. I was in shock but also knew he wasn’t texting bc he cares. I responded. He even asked how my parents were doing just like you mentioned in your article. He of course only talked about himself and blah blah. After texting for a few min, I didn’t really care much but then the next week all my negative emotions came flooding back. I was having nightmares again and feeling triggered then feeling angry. I blocked him again but I just couldn’t understand what his point was in texting me. I know he was trying to reach out to see if I was vulnerable but I know his games and know all his manipulative tactics. Don’t ask why I replied but I did which sucks. It is what is it is and I had to work on forgiving myself and letting that go. It’s crazy how a simple texts triggers a tsunami of intense negative emotions and all the horrible memories of what they’ve done and they will NEVER be sorry or care.

Sara says May 5, 2020

I am dealing with a narcissistic boss who is running a smear campaign on me. I don’t know how to get rid of these people. I don’t want them in my life anymore.

Cano says May 1, 2020

Hi Kim, thx alot…
She left me in these days and I am very greatfull N thanksfull she did, Strait blocked her from all my contact N forever. .

Joy says April 28, 2020

I originally didn’t think my ex was a narc. But the more of your posts I read, the more things make sense. Thank you for that.

Fortunately the only way he can get to me is through email. And despite being told on numerous occasions to leave me alone, he never does. I sometimes get “you win, I’ll leave you alone”. But then a week later I’ll get more emails checking on me and making sure I’m ok. Or wishing me “good luck” – like I can’t cope without him.
Unfortunately I have to work with him. And as I’m furloughed and he’s not, he’s determined to try and get me to gossip about what’s going on at work. Or to threaten my career or suggest that my behaviour is making other people not want to be friends with me. And I should explain to them that being flirty is “just how I am and just doing my job”.

But I’ve been holding off for the last month. As much as I want to rant and rave at him, there’s no point because he doesn’t listen, still doesn’t think he’s done nothing wrong. So I’m saving my breath, keeping my temper and ignoring him.

Best of luck everyone.
And stay safe xx

Barbara says April 25, 2020

My daughter is dealing with a narcissist father to her children who inflicts mental abuse on them to hurt her. No one will listen to her, he always gets what he demands, even though he is breaking all the parenting contract rules. It is just maddening that he is allowed to be near them let alone all he has mentally done to them.

anonymous says April 23, 2020

Out of the blue, after 2 years of no contact following the N’s doing something horrendous to me (really really horrendous), my N-mother and N-sibling contacted me by mail and telephone. When I received the letters I didn’t open them. I felt immediate fear, guilt, and confusion. My mind filled with thoughts that they need me, they have to tell me something important, or they were contacting me to apologize. After thinking about it I realized I had changed but knew they hadn’t. I couldn’t have them mirror back to me bad things I am not. They never thought anything good of me so I was constantly defending myself and trying to prove myself to them. Try doing that with two N’s who act as a tag team to scheme and drum up drama together. I knew I wasn’t mentally or physically capable of going through that again. Yes, it’s a very sad choice to make, but there isn’t any other option.

Mia says April 22, 2020

Thank you for the information. Very insightful. Most points apply to romantic relationships. My narcist is my dad and we got in a fight last week. He has continously try to push me and obsess with a job he thinks is right for me..which is giving me alot of anxiety. I yelled and said stop being an ahole to me and pushing me and that triggered him into silent treatment with me. It’s so upsetting to pull silent treatment at the time when support and caring is needed the most during this time. Makes me very sad and anxious for many reasons. Just don’t know how to deal with this when I want to reach out and make sure he is ok etc and he should feel the same. Any suggestions?

Ina says April 21, 2020

I have blocked him everywhere, so he sent an SMS asking how I was doing, and that he’s always available in case I need any help! I ignored it.

Judy says April 21, 2020

Oh Kim,this is so right on. He texted and offered a N95 mask. I was looking for a mask for my 71 year old sister and her husband who has heart disease. I told him to put them in a baggie at his door and I would pick it up. But of course he had to come out and meet me at the car. I didn’t say a thing ,not even thank you.I just took the masks and left. I really didn’t even want to do that. I found out that he was giving N95 masks out to certain neighbors and friends . His MO is to always look like the Hero or savior ,the good neighbor . It is a good act to give masks out but he doesn’t care about any of them .He is only doing it to look like a good guy.

sally says April 19, 2020

Your advice is very wise. If a narcissist sends you a card, letter, or gift – discard it or donate it as their intentions are unclear. If a gift comes from a place of love you know it immediately as that person is kind to you, respects you, and wants to see or hear about your reaction to their gift. If a narcissist sends you a gift it is for narcissistic supply. They are out to hurt you in some way. Sending gifts serves them, not you. So just discard it or give it away.

Anonymous says April 15, 2020

You are right on! One day after reading this I receive a letter, because every other way of contact is blocked, saying if I don’t unblock my phone then I am possibly missing out on the last time we talk if Covid-19 takes him. Not unblocking… Thank you for the support Kim.

    Jane Do-Re-Mi says April 18, 2020

    The language they use is so theatrical and over the top. Mine said he was bedridden and that he “was not long for this world” when he doesn’t even have the virus and knocks on my door daily. Unbelievable drama. If their hoovering wasn’t so persistent and menacing, it’d be laughable.

Anonymous says April 15, 2020

Two former narc boyfriends contacted me within the same 24 hour period. One texted, I’m bored, exactly as the article above said. It’s like there is a Narc manual that they all follow!

    Kim Saeed says April 16, 2020

    I am not at all surprised. As you said, it’s like they have a manual. They’re trying to fake a connection when, in reality, they are incapable of connection…but they know we aren’t incapable, so they try to exploit that. They are thieves.

Rugia says April 15, 2020

Kim dear thank yo so much for this article.
My clever narcissist hooverd a while ago with some supplies! It’s been nearly a year I haven’t heard from him and there he was out of the blue.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
nevertheless, I wasn’t moved.
You are right indeed, they are full of tricks.

    Kim Saeed says April 16, 2020

    Goodness, but aren’t they predictable! They all see this pandemic as the Grand Opportunity for hoovering and retargeting previous sources of supply. I am glad to know you stayed strong, Rugia. We’re going to get through this and you definitely want to maintain your freedom. Xo

Jermena says April 15, 2020

Hihihihi interesting piece. I enjoyed reading it.
Thank you Kim.

    Kim Saeed says April 16, 2020

    You’re welcome, Jermena! 🙂

Reefsun says April 15, 2020

Don’t worry. Many, many generations of humans have lived through pandemics, plagues and other situations like this. Even World War 2 was like this. Humans have nearly been wiped out by plagues in history e.g. the Black Death in the 14th century wiped out 60% or more of Europeans. We can survive this.

    Kim Saeed says April 16, 2020

    I agree, Reefsun. This too shall pass.

Monika says April 15, 2020

Well, my now ex-narc does none of this as he is far nastier than what you describe here. In early March, I phoned him to ask him if there was any hand sanitizer in his neighborhood, one hour away, and he called back a whole nine days later, and did not even leave a message!! Another slap in the face. When we finally did speak, he downplayed that, and offered some b.s. and also said he did not even care if he got the virus, or if I have it, and I should immediately come over an break self-quarantine! He is a 73 year old, drooling porn addict who is now watching more of it than ever, in new chat rooms, etc. He does it all. His new fave thing and he sent me the photos of the 20 and 30 somethings in this chat room: these are young, pretty transsexuals, boys who have become girls, who f….k their fathers and there are photos, videos, and graphic verbal descriptions of their incestuous sex acts. He is very excited about these scenarios, and he very enthusiastically said he really wants to f…k these transsexuals, and I said why don’t you, and he said, he cannot as they live in distant states. I had asked him not to look at porn when speaking to me on the phone, as it is disrespectful, and he just laughed. The next night, he called and simply aid, “I don;t wanna!!”, and hung up. The same thing happened last April, 2019, too. I have had enough of this devaluation. So, no lovebombing for me in the time of Corona – he has plenty of cheap, much younger VIRTUAL supply for jerking off, one of his major pasttimes, even though he has wicked E.D. I have not hear from him since he left that childish tantrum on my machine and hung up.

Free as a bird says April 15, 2020

You’re spot on Kim!
I’ve had the offer to move back in to his big house where he has everything I could ever need in this time of crisis. Wouldn’t it be a better place for our child to be at this time? Big garden etc..
Oh my! Nooo. I left that toxicity nearly a year ago and wouldn’t take a million bucks to go back!
He is not practicing social distancing and I know it, but am sure that his friends won’t let him near their families at the moment. He can rattle around that big house alone. Except for the new supply of course.. she will be there sometimes and the poor thing has no idea what devils lare she has stepped into.

    Kim Saeed says April 16, 2020

    You are so strong, Free Bird! I am so glad to know you didn’t go back. You will be especially happy once this pandemic passes and you are still free. That will feel wonderful. Xo

cori says April 14, 2020

My heart goes out to you. So tough that you nearly made it out but this now has you trapped. As if discovering the narc in your life isn’t traumatic enough! You WILL get out and WILL recover. Stay strong, sister.

Survivor Nomad says April 14, 2020


My heart goes out to you as I know from experience how tough it is when the narcissist knows you’re leaving. There are some important things to remember:
1. Family
2. Friends
3. Ask someone if they would be willing to take you in if you quarantined for 14 days prior to interaction.
4. Safety First- You May need to run away and seek non traditional help such as churches or old school friends.
5. Last but not least it is going to take a lot of prayer to get you through this one. Hide in the closet and pray if you need to but lean of the promises of God.

I make YouTube videos for victims of abuse. Watch any videos not just mine and comment. Stay connected to the NPD survivor recovery community.

Anonymous says April 14, 2020

This article on narcissists during the quarantine crisis was very helpful! In my current situation it helped guide my decision making. this article really helped to make me aware of things I was overlooking. background knowledge of their thinking in situations such as this is definitely important!

Joy says April 14, 2020

Oh gosh Jane that sounds like a nightmare. I was there too so just know this is temporary and the life you’ll have after will be so much better even if you can’t see it now. One lesson I learned is that you never announce your plans to a narc just like to any abuser. If the reason he knew is because divorce papers were filed then that makes sense. Now that the cat is out the bag survival is your main concern. And I don’t mean from coronavirus. You can go grey rock and be unemotional in your responses during this time because they feed off emotions. But still plan your exit plan (make all your moves in silence). Even if you were leaving there should be a separate bank account, plans of a new place to stay unless you’re getting the house, new passwords, keeping a record of everything abusive he does and says in case you need it in court, and really an exit plan for everything that can legally and digitally be done online without him knowing (erase your online history). Online therapy would be great, they have some where you can chat via messenger if you’re afraid he would listen in. Not ideal but better than suffering in silence. If nothing else use the time to take the course and read up on life after narcs because the healing after will be one of the most difficult – but amazing – things you’ll go through. Virtual hugs to you, just remember “this too shall pass.”

Orlando drug rehab says April 14, 2020

Hello! I did not even know that these were tactics of narcissistic manipulation. I have not heard much about this, but there have been times that I have fallen for these tricks. Do they do it unknowingly? Thank you for sharing this, this is really important information, I will know how to avoid such situations. Blocking and ignoring often do not help because such people sometimes write to my friends and acquaintances to reach me. I ask you not to respond to this. I will adhere to your advice, have a good day!

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