How to Make a Narcissist Miserable

How to Make a Narcissist Miserable: 12 Things They Hate

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You probably spend a great deal of time feeling defeated and frustrated by the narcissist in your life. You see how they treat other people (and yourself), and it’s appalling.  You certainly know what you don’t like in your relationship. But have you ever wondered how to make a narcissist miserable or what makes them afraid or triggered?

Just for the record, trying to make a narcissist miserable might have its place for a short period of time, but I don’t recommend focusing on it for too long as this will inevitably have an effect on your mental health and energy levels.

But, if you need a quick fix, let’s get into the top 12 things all narcissists hate. 

How to Make a Narcissist Miserable

1 – Lack Of Acknowledgment

It’s no secret that most narcissists revel in admiration and validation (except for ‘closet narcissists’). They depend on constant approval to maintain their sense of intrinsic worth. To achieve this goal, they absorb (or steal) the energy of other people to feel good about themselves. 

Do you ever wonder why narcissists don’t seem to mind the negative attention? It’s because negative attention also fuels their narcissistic fire. The negativity is still attention, and any form of attention gives them the incentive to keep going. It gives them the motivation to keep proving themselves. 

In fact, they often like negative attention better because if you’re still bothered by their relationship crimes, they can exploit this in order to deepen the trauma bond and keep you hooked and entangled!

Therefore, a lack of acknowledgment is a real threat. To a narcissist, indifference is even more of an issue than hatred. They’d rather you have a negative opinion than have no opinion at all.

Narcissists can’t stand when no one is paying attention to them. They don’t know how to feel important or special if they aren’t the center of the universe or consuming someone’s thoughts.  This is also why the traditional Grey Rock method is often pointless and why complete avoidance is the best route (or extreme modified contact if you share children with them).

2 – When People Speak Factually 

Have you ever paid close attention to how a narcissist speaks? They use excessive, long-winded language charged with grandiose emotion. They skew reality to meet their worldview, and they believe their truth is always the truth.

Additionally, through the use of cognitive empathy, they’ve spent their entire lives observing the emotional language of other people and using it to their advantage.  So, when you speak in facts instead of using emotion, they intuitively understand they have less of an upper hand.

Therefore, they hate when someone challenges them with facts instead of emotion. They will usually retaliate with more arguing or hysteria. This childish response simply shows that they feel out-of-control. They attempt to elevate the conversation’s intensity by throwing an emotional temper tantrum.

If anything, this dynamic only highlights the narcissist’s immaturity. Their inability to absorb facts demonstrates their incompetence in approaching most adult interactions. They are not skilled in the language of facts because they are always lying and hiding things, so speaking factually throws them completely off-balance. 

3 – Authority

Narcissists detest authority. That’s because they resent having to answer to anybody but themselves. Any sense of authority threatens their inherent desires for power and control.

It’s not uncommon for narcissists to have issues at work, school, or with the law. Has the narcissist in your life had multiple jobs? Are they frequently getting reprimanded for their behavior?

While narcissists can be intelligent, they often come across as combative and unfit in professional environments. If confronted by their inappropriate behavior, they tend to deny or rationalize their part. 

Of course, it’s no surprise that most authority figures dislike working with narcissists. Supervisors find them unruly and unreasonable. They can’t understand why the person can’t follow basic directions without such volatile reactions.

4 – Being Told No

Of all things a narcissist hates, being told no (and actually following through with it) tops the list. Narcissists are used to manipulating and weaseling their way into getting what they want. 

Often, they’ll pull all the stops to accomplish this task. They’ve spent their whole lives charming people to meet their needs. They never stop to think about how your feelings impact the dynamic. 

That’s why telling them no- and being adamant on your stance- often causes such an angry reaction. A narcissist isn’t just upset about the denial- they’re downright confused by it! 

Narcissists can’t actually fathom why someone would refuse them. Because they lack real empathy, they can’t understand what must be going on in your mind. Moreover, even if they try to comprehend it, they refuse to accept this reality.

5 – Implementing Consequences

Have you ever tried to set a boundary with a narcissist? How well did it go? Most likely, you tried to implement a limit, and they reacted in one of three ways:

  • Dismissing you altogether and gaslighting your feelings
  • Acknowledging their mistake, promising to change, and then doing nothing to change
  • Reacting with intense rage, threats, or even physical violence 

Narcissists can’t accept any real consequences. They can’t see when they’re wrong, and they can’t understand how someone would ever think they’re wrong. And even if the narcissist understood this, they simply wouldn’t care.  As a result, they tend to react disproportionately to boundaries and serious conversations as a means to intimidate you and force you into compliance.

Unfortunately, many people simply give up on trying to implement consequences with narcissists. Because they want to avoid a potential conflict, they surrender and dismiss their feelings. How many times have you avoided setting a real boundary because that’s just how they are?

6 – Losing At Anything

Have you ever observed young children playing a board game? If so, you probably witnessed plenty of cheating behaviors and dramatic reactions to losing. It’s acceptable when the players are three years old, but what happens when you’re referring to full-fledged adults? 

Narcissists can resemble toddlers, in that they tend to be extremely sore losers. They struggle to accept losing, and they also tend to lash out when it happens. A few scenarios may occur:

  • They repeatedly proclaim the person in charge (boss/referee) was incompetent
  • They attempt to defame or humiliate the winner
  • They pretend they didn’t care about winning
  • They insist that they “let the other person” take the spotlight
  • They refuse to accept that they lost and awkwardly act as if they’re the actual winner (you may have experienced this by hearing, after you’ve left them, that they’ve told everyone they’re the one who left you!)

7 – Public Humiliation

Because they are sore losers, narcissists can’t handle real or perceived public humiliation. They just can’t tolerate the threat of failure. To them, public humiliation is the ultimate form of defeat.

We all know that narcissists have incredibly fragile egos. When they believe someone is making fun of them or if they’re not the perceived expert or authority in a public setting, it jolts their existence. As a result, they’ll do anything to protect their fragile ego. Some common responses include:

  • Making violent or emotionally-charged threats
  • Attempting to one-up the audience by turning on them
  • Screaming or yelling
  • Walking away with obvious anger
  • Laughing it off in public only to lash out later on loved ones later 
  • Making up lies about anyone who is a real expert

8 – Expectations of Commitment

Most narcissists are terrible with commitment. Although they believe they deserve all senses of loyalty, they don’t usually provide it themselves. As a result, when they get into relationships, they don’t consider other people’s needs. They’re only accounting for their own emotions, impulses, and desires.

Unfortunately, many adoring partners hold onto wistful hope about their narcissist changing. They listen to how the narcissist praises and adores them. They hold onto fleeting promises that this time will be different.

Yet the narcissist makes all the rules. They decide what they want to do, and they do it when they want to do it. Therefore, they can break and change the rules in ways that suit them. 

9 – Vulnerability And Emotional Expression 

Narcissists often use cognitive empathy to feign interest in other people’s emotions. Real, emotional empathy means putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We take on the feelings and experiences of the other person.

Cognitive empathy, on the other hand, is far more insidious and manipulative. Think about the money-hungry salesman who preys on your ambivalence about buying a new car. Think about the general contractor who convinces you that you need to upgrade your appliances.

Cognitive empathy means tapping into someone’s deep emotions and feelings. This tactic requires having an initial connection. Narcissists use cognitive empathy to “gain entry” into your vulnerability. They establish this sense of trust and rapport using false kindness and compassion.

At the same time, they loathe vulnerability and emotional expression. They perceive it as a sign of weakness. Therefore, they use it to take advantage of you when your defenses are down.

10 – 99% Of Other People

How many friends does your narcissist have? Probably very few. Usually, their only friends are other people who validate their narcissism. 

Subsequently, how often do you hear your narcissist complain about other people? More times than you can count, probably! That’s because a single wrongdoing often results in lifetime resentment. One mistake tarnishes an entire reputation. 

Narcissists struggle to get along with anyone who doesn’t fit into their falsified worldview. They can’t stand to be challenged. They can’t tolerate the ideas that other people may know more than them. 

If they’re a cerebral narcissist, they are convinced that they are unique and should only associate with other special or high-status individuals. In fact, when confronted with anything that contradicts their sense of god-like stature, you can bet that their reaction will be explosive and malicious.

Therefore, narcissists can’t tolerate people who actually live in reality. That’s why you rarely see people with strong boundaries tolerating narcissists for very long. They recognize that the narcissist can’t provide mutual respect, connection, or love.

11 – Your Own Clarity

Above anything, the narcissist hates the idea that you might remember life before you met them. This concern is their greatest fear, and they’ll engage in many manipulative tactics to prevent it from manifesting.

Narcissists use love-bombing to keep you captured and intrigued. They’ll win you over with their charm and wit and cognitive empathy. They’ll make you feel special in ways you’ve never felt before (all through the use of cognitive empathy, of course).

But the narcissist never wants you to think for yourself. If you start doing that, they’ll react. They’ll attempt to break you down and sabotage you. They’ll make you doubt your capabilities and question your motives.

Their goal is to reprogram your mind- and they’ll do whatever they can to maintain their preferred status quo.

12 – When You Change The Status Quo 

Narcissists hate change when it’s out of their control. But when you stay with a narcissist, you remain in a defeating pattern full of resentment and frustration.

You deserve better than riding on their crazy train. You deserve freedom. When you choose yourself, you choose to remove yourself from this abuse. You choose to live your life without needing to walk on eggshells every day.  You deserve to focus on your healing once you understand how to make a narcissist miserable.

If you are trying to leave a toxic relationship, my testament to you is that as horrible and crippling as it feels in the beginning to leave, there is an end to it.  The body and mind have enormous wisdom.  They know how to heal themselves if you create the conditions in which they can do so.  Give them that opportunity by working on yourself – healing your wounds and altering those of your traits that left you vulnerable to narcissistic abuse.

There are so many people just like you who have taken a stand against their abusers.  They’ve gotten a taste of the good life–and that taste of freedom is too sweet to turn back to the lives they had before.

If you’re ready to take control of your life, download the free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap. You’ll get a 14-day series of emails with emotional support and encouragement and a list of 16 empowering beliefs to live by. Plus, you get complimentary seating to the masterclass, 7 Proven Steps to Break the Narcissistic Spell.

Recovering from narcissistic abuse is hard, and it’s okay to admit you need help. If you’re ready to go deeper now, check out the #1 therapist-approved online program for narcissistic abuse recovery. Thousands of people have benefited from this program that’s practical, proven, and reliable.  It’s the best place to begin a journey toward renewed self-worth and an end to feeling worthless.

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Leave a Comment:

Claire Beckett says September 23, 2020

My father is a narcissist and l am 43. I dont live at home but visit him and my Mum regularly. Its my Mum l feel for as l can leave the house but l have to leave her there 😔

linda says September 21, 2020

l am happy to have come across this list today. I was shocked when my best friends daughter cut off all contact with her mother. When I reached out to her, she talked about abuse and her mom being a narcissist. After reading the description in a psychology journal a. lot of things made sense to me for the first time. I have known my friend for 40 years and chose to ignore the negativity.

We have had a few conflicts that resulted in her giving me the silent treatment for months at at time. Both were because I defended my own daughter from her criticism. She never directly put me down, she instead expressed “concerns” about people in my life. She meddled and gossiped and I was blind to it.
She is very angry with me now but puts on a sweet face. She has stopped talking to or contacting me photos that I took of us on a road trip together have been removed from my Facebook account.

She has been called out on her behavior. I am so sorry that I didn’t figure out how her daughter was abused. I should have called child protection. There is no making up this “fight” she created. I am done.

Ashley says September 17, 2020

Dearest Anon, you are NOT alone! Your ENTIRE comment is written as if I had posted it myself! In fact, I have said these exact words to his friend in hope that he would understand what I’m saying – heaven forbid anyone reads anymore, so forget sharing an article that CLEARLY defines this person and answers SO MANY questions! Yeah, narcissism is a mental/personality disorder but it seems as though their significant others are corrupted into becoming all the same type of victims with the same type of mental anguish! The cherry on top? I fell HARD for this person! Of all people, WHY?! How could I be SO clueless?! Now my poor baby has a broken home and she’s not even three years old…. my heart is destroyed.. everything that makes me ME is a forgotten memory. He stole everything from me and STILL blames me because “I did it to myself…”

I am completely broken.. am i even still a person?

    G says September 21, 2020

    You are a person do not even think you are not. These people steal everything you can give them and place all the blame on others. You are so smart to get out. I grew up with a dad like this and the verbal and mental abuse you are saving your child form will be worth the heartbreak right now. You are amazing and do not let any self absorbed person take that from you. THEY ARE NOT WORTH IT

SG says September 15, 2020

How scary is it when you know they would prefer to be widowed than divorced. It looks so much better to their next victum.

Kate says September 9, 2020

These are excellent and very on target! It’s great when you give examples of behavior that so many people tolerate and overlook. They never change never ever ever. They do the same thing with every person they are involved with.
It’s a mental illness and personality disorder that’s why they’re all the same it’s a brain issue that is not fixable. Don’t waste your life thinking they will change because they will not

sharon small says September 8, 2020

Really awesome wow

Anonymous girl says September 2, 2020

I really need advice! I divorced my ex narc husband and have a child with him. There is tremendous amount of post divorce abuse and him withholding finances / neglecting child etc. He lives overseas and I am in the states. His family tries to reach out from time to time to speak to my child who is still a toddler – knowing they are toxic and I have no legal barring why should I allow his toxic family to speak to my young child? Or should I for the bigger picture? Please can you advise?

    Kim Saeed says September 23, 2020

    Hi Anon girl,

    As you said, there are no legal obligations, so the best course of action would be to protect your child from this toxic family. There is no “bigger picture” where narcissistic dynamics are concerned. This is one of those scenarios I talk about where we were programmed to believe we are obligated to keep people in our lives, whether or not it’s healthy to do so. The more you can protect your child from these people, the better off you and your child will be.

Beverly says September 2, 2020

Oh, I am so glad I found this website. Most of the time I feel like I am crazy…but HE’S the crazy one-oh, yea, I’m crazy for listening to his nonsense-you got me there. But, now I know I’m not the only one! Thanx. Bev

Sharon Magennis says August 28, 2020

My Narcicistic ex lives 5 doors away from me now with a new victim. I have to see him most days and I’m sure he’s done this on purpose. He’s on and off with her breaking up getting back together . I just want to warn her and tell her he’s dangerous

    Kat says September 9, 2020

    Don’t try to warn the new one. They won’t believe you and you’ll end up looking like the crazy person. This is very typical in this situation. Try hard not to- You could get dragged into it and if he’s really dangerous he’ll know it was you and he could decide to deal with you in a negative way… They always win -they have boundless energy for crazy behavior.
    The only way is to delete them 100% from your life

Anon says August 26, 2020

I am in this situation, have been for the greater part of this marriage. He can do whatever he wants, but when I retaliate the only way I seem to know how, by telling his family about him in the hope that they can help…he turns up the heat and plays victim, as if i cheated, lied, had anger outbursts and all sorts against him.
He always only remembers us when he has no one around him and when he needs a punching bag.Other than that, he is too busy ” putting the family first” with his friends, his alcohol, his business etc etc. When I out him, he feels like i am destroying his character, and worse still NOBODY sees this side of him.
Everything I do for my sanity is seen as a blight against him…
Am I mad, is he really a person with narc tendencies or is it just me…he makes me feel as if i am the narc…
He has removed my power, my self esteem, my ability to breathe, and my ability to achieve, to be my former self…he has instilled fear into me over so long, I dont even know any other emotion

gracie says August 25, 2020

I ditched the narcissist by getting disgusted and saying to him “you are not an introvert,
you are a narcissist that uses women and I don’t trust you”. what are the chances that this ill schmuck will try to contact me. I am committed to remain happy!!!

Ann says August 25, 2020

The 10 Narc Manipulation Tactics are SO RIGHT ON!!!
I’ve experienced them all.
So predictable, wow. Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad to be free of my toxic relationship.

Akanksha says August 19, 2020

My husband is having Narcissistic personality disorder,help me so that I will live my life peacefully

    Kim Saeed says September 23, 2020

    Hi Akansha,

    I am sorry for your situation. I wish I had better news, but there is no way to make things work with a narcissist that isn’t incredibly painful. We can’t change narcissistic people and we can’t stop them from being abusive. The only thing we can control is ourselves and our own behaviors. Usually, the best way to stop the abuse is to leave the marriage altogether.


Lisa says August 18, 2020

I’m terrified to leave. I have animals that I love and it breaks my heart. I can’t leave them.

    Kim Saeed says September 23, 2020

    Hi Lisa,

    Can you leave and take the animals with you? Seems that might be a good option.


JD says August 14, 2020

Here’s another:

Innocently ask a question that, if answered truthfully, would reveal a hidden agenda that they put effort into keeping a secret.

I learned the hard way about that one. The conversation went from peaceful to off the meter rage in .10 seconds flat.

Anonymous says August 14, 2020

Narcissist relationships are hell. How does a person become so hateful.

Anonymous says August 13, 2020

Thank you! Thank you for daring to send such candid information that is helpful in moments of distress. Every article I have read has contained pivotal information that I can’t find so directly from other specialists in this area.
I find every article you send valuable. Thank you for being so generous with the information!
The articles inspire me to send good thoughts and hopes to the so many who struggle in these situations. And you inspire hope in me! Thank you very much for what you do.

    Kim Saeed says September 23, 2020

    You are such a sweetheart 🙂 Thank you for your kind words regarding my articles. I’m so glad to know they resonate with you.

    Sending hugs!


Anonymous says August 13, 2020

Thank you ! for daring to say this and give us another tool, even if short term.

Anonymous says August 13, 2020

I dont dont know how to walk away from a nacisist, I feel sorry for him and when he push the button then his soft sides is out.
Just think that i am going backwards and backwards .

    Anonymous says August 14, 2020

    I feel sorry for mine too.

      Anonymous says September 1, 2020

      I’m a survivor of narcissistic abuse. He was my first love. My first kiss. My first everything. He was my one and only. He made me believe we were soulmates and that we would grow old together. After 8 years of escalating emotional, physical, and verbal abuse, I was driven to the point of trying to commit suicide. Fortunately, a friend saved me and I was able to get the psychological help I needed to understand what I was up against.

      He had made me believe that I was paranoid and crazy. He had made me believe that I deserved the abuse. He had made me believe that my heart and soul could only ever belong to him and that no other man would ever want me. He would break down in tears in a way that alwaaays made me feel sorry for him and want to heal his wounds — and he made me believe I was the only one who could heal him.

      Time and time again I kept going back to him — even after my suicide attempt. No one could understand my addiction to him; not even me. I just thought it was “true love”. Only after my suicide attempt did I find out that he always had a fantasy that someone would “love him enough to kill themselves” and had purposely tried to manipulate me to that end. (The night before I tried to commit suicide, he drugged my drink, called in his friends, and had them gang-rape me — knowing that it would drive me over the edge because I had always kept myself only for him. It was such a traumatic experience for me that it took many years for me to even recall the incident. Never, never, never throughout even all of the abuse would I have ever believed him capable of such sadism and horrendous betrayal. But it was his secret fantasy, and he was playing god to see it become reality.) You never know what secret fantasy a narcissist is attempting to realize through you. Be so careful. Learn from my story. And don’t think you are an exception, or that you are invincible, or that the narcissist you know could never possibly be so sadistic. They live in their own world of fantasy. And you don’t know what secrets they harbor. You don’t understand their mind. And you know I’m right even as you read these words.

      The last time I went back to him I trained myself to break the brainwashing cycle. Every time he made me feel self-doubt and self-hate, I mentally turned the blame back onto him. So it was no longer self-doubt, but doubt in him and what he was saying and doing. No longer self-hate, but hatred towards him and how he treated me and made me feel about myself. It was a mental exercise akin to ripping him off a pedestal and smashing him on the floor. I devalued his opinion in my own eyes. Within 2 weeks I walked away without the slightest hesitation. Without a twinge of remorse — for him. My only regret was letting myself be hurt for so long when I had the power all along to save myself. After I left him I went to a friend’s house and sat on the floor in front of a mirror and just looked at myself in the eyes and cried. For the first time in 8 years, my tears were not for him. My tears were for me. In that moment I knew the addiction was broken. I began telling myself all the things I had ever wanted to hear from him. You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You deserve only the best in life. I love you more than anything in all the world. I support you. I believe in you… And the self-healing finally began.

      6 years later I still sometimes struggle with PTSD from the things he did to me. But I am now married to a man who genuinely loves me and reminds me of it every single day. Four years strong, and he never lets me forget how valuable and special and deserving of love I am. My husband turned out to be the light at the end of the tunnel I was always searching for from the narcissist. It’s an amazing and almost other-worldly feeling to be genuinely loved, valued, and supported after experiencing the black hole of narcissistic abuse.

      All of that story just to say… I understand feeling sorry for the narcissist. But right now you’re just living inside of a dark tunnel with no end in sight. At some point, you have to start feeling sorry for yourself too. Self-preservation, darling. You need to change your self-talk when around that narcissist. Every time you start to feel sorry for them, mentally twist that feeling into feeling sorry for yourself instead. Every time you doubt yourself, your sanity, and your value you need to mentally turn it back on them and see them for what they truly are. Doubt THEM. Doubt THEIR sanity. Question THEIR value. Once you take back control over your mind you’ll start to see that you’re the victim that deserves pity. NOT them. Darling, YOU are the victim. YOU are to be pitied. And YOU are the only one who can save yourself and obtain the happiness you’re fighting to earn right now. You have a divine, human right to be happy, to be genuinely loved, and to not feel the way you do right now at their hand. Keep reminding yourself of that. You are being abused. You don’t deserve to be abused. You don’t deserve to be hurt. You don’t deserve to be unhappy. Save yourself. You’re stronger than you know. You’re more valuable than you know. There are people who love you and need you and value you, and they want to help you. Just give them a chance.

      Next time you’re around the narcissist just start saying these affirmations to yourself and the rose-colored glasses will come off, the fog of self-doubt will dissipate, and the monster before you will come into full view and scare you out of your wits — and straight into self-preservation mode.

      Save yourself. Only you have the power to stop being a victim and start being a survivor and thriver. You deserve better. Remember that. Say it to yourself over and over and over. Chant it: I deserve better than this, I deserve better than this, I deserve better than this…

      There is light at the end of the tunnel… but only you can walk out of that tunnel and into the light. Narcissists thrive in the dark, but you are meant for the light. Keep saying it… I deserve better than this, I deserve better than this…

      The moment the true meaning of those words sink in, the phoenix in you will rise and be empowered to move on to the better things meant for you. You can do it… I believe in you.

        Anon2 says September 23, 2020

        Thank YOU. So much. I feel like you know me and wrote this comment to me. You made me cry. It’s been so long since anyone has said such genuine caring words. I can’t remember if there was ever a last time. I don’t think anyone in the world cares. Really. To hear words of tenderness from an anonymous stranger is so powerful I just can’t imagine what it would feel like to hear them from someone near and dear. I will read this over and over like a love letter because that’s what it is. Thank you.

Anonymous says August 13, 2020

I absolutely enjoyed this article Kim. Thank you for healing us.

Carroll laneulie says August 13, 2020

Kim… I have an amazing back-up story I really need to share … would there be someone I could talk with?

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