We repeatedly provoke. The act of provocation is one which is designed to cause a strong and often unwelcome emotion in the recipient. On one level, it can be said that everything we do is provocative because we are always looking to cause you to be emotional, to react in an emotional fashion to what we do and as a consequence give us the fuel that we need. Thus when we tell you that we have finally found our soul mate, we are provoking you into generating an intense feeling of being loved (or at least thinking that you are being loved) which causes you to exhibit your love towards us and thus we gain our fuel. We pay a friend a compliment in order to provoke that person into at least thanking us, thus a small dollop of positive fuel or more hopefully (and indeed more likely because this empathic secondary source is well-mannered, honest and decent) we pay them a compliment so they will pay one to us and thus more fuel is garnered. There is no unconditional giving with our kind. We only give to receive.

Thus all of the things that we say and do, the manipulations, the chicanery, the machinations and the mind games are all designed to provoke you into giving us fuel. However, in its strictest sense, we provoke you in order to generate that intense response and one which is negative in nature. We provoke you so that you will explode in anger, erupt in a stream of profane insults and vent your frustration through a slap to the face or a mug hurled towards us.

We will push and push and push. Yes, many of you have a remarkable capacity to absorb these pointy sticks which jab you. Your kind are well-versed and skilled in the turning of the cheek, the adoption of the high ground and the making of allowances. You will bury the hatchet and we will dig it up again in order to give you a dig from the sharp point. You will let bygones be bygones and we will resurrect the memory of an age-old issue in order to rankle you.

Nothing is off limits in terms of provoking you. It might be focusing on a vulnerability of yours that we know about (having acquired this information when we seduced you) so that we remind you of a frightening episode from your childhood or capitalise on your terror of spiders. It might be homing in on your sensitivity about the size of your nose, the shape of your head, the bright red of your embarrassment. If you owe us money, we shall remind you of it and comment on your poor financial position. We may flirt because we know how much you hate the notion of us being unfaithful. We may repeatedly turn up late because you are an advocate of punctuality. We may criticise your parents, your choice of film, your culinary skills, your attempts to loser weight; whatever we have identified as a means for causing you to erupt at us we will do it.

We know which buttons to press. We have a knack and an instinct for doing so. This is because we are able to gather information about you when we seduce you which will be stored away and used against you at a later stage. This is also because empathic individuals are more likely to respond in an emotional fashion. Yes, you will soak it up at first by making allowances for our behaviour and indeed making excuses, exhibiting this selfless understanding for which you are famed. This will not dissuade us. We know that everybody has a limit of what they can take before they snap. Sometimes it is bursting into tears, running from the room or screaming. Other times it is exploding with a volley of curses, coming at us with flailing arms or shouting and screaming at the top of your voice about how awful we are.

Push, prod, niggle. Aggravate, rile, irritate. Ruffle, vex, bug. Irk incense and annoy. We will chip away at your defences, jabbing and poking as we look to make your blood boil, get on your nerves, get under your skin,  work you into lather and try your patience until you can take no more. We can sense the emotion rising in you. We notice the slight tells, the narrowing of the eyes, the rolling of the eyes, the sighs, the shake of the head, the hands on the hips, the raised palm, the jutting jaw and so on. The more you try to tell us that we are not getting to you, the more we are encouraged. We know that your emotion is building up inside of you. We know that it is increasing and no matter how much you are trying to maintain that cool exterior, we understand what is building up.

We not only have a medley of ways by which we provoke you, but we are experts in choosing precisely the best (worst) time to engage in this behaviour. Do any of these instances seem familiar?

When you are trying to get ready to go out.

When you are trying to have a telephone conversation with somebody else.

When you are trying to cook.

When you are trying to perform some chore.

When you are trying to get to sleep.

When you first come through the door after a long day.

When sat next to us in the car on a long journey.

When sat across from us in a restaurant.

When at some event of your choosing.

We will pick an inopportune time to commence our provocation so that you are caught off guard, when you are tired, when you are hungry, when you are anxious or stressed. The moment must be right for us and wholly inappropriate for you and then we can unleash the relevant form of provocation. We know what really gets to you. It may be the subject matter. It might be the way of conveying it, for instance patronising you or acting in a condescending fashion. It could be jabbing you with a finger on the shoulder to punctuate or words or giving you a dig in the back as you lie on your side in bed, after each savage sentence.

Eventually comes the eruption. You can only take so much and invariably when this provocation comes allied with an emotional state which makes you more susceptible to our provocations the explosion is all the more satisfying. Copious amounts of negative fuel fountain from you as you shout, scream, bang doors, slam your hand on the work top, swear and so forth. Inside we are soaring with the power that comes from the provision of this most excellent fuel. You, the paragon of virtue, the most patient of saints has been brought to boiling point and we achieved it. You have responded to our control. Our superiority is once again affirmed, we are the puppetmasters, we are omnipotent in our actions and you have responded as we wanted. Such marvellous fuel that sprays from you and we relish every drop.

Of course as it fountains and flows from you we will not want it to stop and the provocation will continue. Not only are we ensuring that we get to bathe in your overflowing fuel, we are using this eruption as evidence of how unhinged you are. Do not be surprised if this niggling, poking provocation occurs where others will see it. You can expect the whispered and insidious provocations to be used, the acts which are open to interpretation (although we both full well know exactly what was meant by our remark, our look or our gesture) and our good friend plausible deniability will be given an airing.

“Who me officer? I did nothing. She just exploded. I get this all the time, she has an anger management problem. John here will confirm she just went mental and started hitting me.” (Cue obliging Lieutenant).

“I don’t know what gets into her dad, she just erupts. You saw what she was like at mum’s birthday party. That is what I have to live with.”

“I feel sorry for you Mrs Johnson, having a daughter with a temper like that.”

We will provoke you. We will draw the delicious fuel that you will provide to us and then we will use your eruption against you as evidence of your unhinged mind, nasty temperament and unbalanced mental state.

Provocation is a mainstay of our behaviour. It comes in many forms, it is used in many different ways and on a range of occasions but its effects are always the same.

  1. The provision of a massive dose of negative fuel from a primary source;
  2. The exertion of control over you;
  3. The reinforcement of our image of superiority, lack of accountability and omnipotence;
  4. The creation of an emotional state in you which hampers your ability to think clearly and logically;
  5. The creation of a situation where you can later be made to feel guilty for erupting in the way you have at us;
  6. The manufacturing of a scenario which is used to reinforce our façade – we were calm and bewildered by this outburst.
  7. The manufacturing of a scenario which is used to smear you to third parties.

Provocation is a very useful tool to us. It is used extensively and repeatedly. Know why it is being used. Do not try to outlast it and exert your capability for patience, tolerance and understanding. You are just goading us to try harder. Remove yourself before your threshold is reached to avoid giving us points 1-7 above.

Provocation will always be used against you.

Anyway, who do you think you are looking at?


21 thoughts on “Provocation

  1. Lydia says:

    Excellent description of provocation. I now understand exactly what was done to me. Narc mother would constantly provoke in smaller ways. She upped the ante when I stopped responding to these, until she found the one thing I would still respond to, and that was her doing dangerous things in front of me. When I finally did respond in the manner she wished, she proceeded to smear me to everyone she could as unstable and crazy. None of the siblings supported me and soon afterward I broke contact with them all.

  2. billie80 says:

    This is the best one yet…. especially for scapegoated adult children who have been scapegoated by a parent over and over again for reaching boiling point in the first place. What follows is so traumatic……as a scapegoat I went from narcissistic partner to narcissistic partner only to have this happen again. I left an entire family after being scapegoated 5 years ago after once provoked to boiling point again. Four narcissistic partners later and I am done with being provoked.

  3. Silvia says:


    1. Silvia says:

      Mine was provoking since days and yesterday I broke down, screaming at him and insulting him. I feel so ashamed for my behaviour. I cannot stop crying. I now get the silent treatment, he blocked me and doesnt respond to any of my texts or calls to say sorry. Will he ever talk to me again or is it over forever?

      Can I do anything to heal the narcisstic injury I inflicted on him? I am broken, just sitting on my sofa and crying.

      He pressed all my buttons, which is mainly my age. I feel like I am gonna die from shame. I had an almost borderline outburst. He has told me since days that I am dirty, that my flat is dirty, that I am lazy, that he will put pressure on me until I finally do not care about his whereabouts anymore, all the while I should still take care of him. And that he is doing what he wants and having s.x with whom he wants, not with me of course, because I am old and dirty. But he wants me to see him doing it with someone else and wants to see my pain and suffering…
      after my breakdown this was all just a joke and I now am guilty of hurting and breaking him.

      1. billie80 says:

        Please don’t feel ashamed of your behaviour silvia. I have done this many times after enduring a psychopathic brother, narcissistic mother and four narcissistic exes. These people are seasoned provokers. I feel so sad after reading your comment. There is nothing wrong with you Silvia. This is a normal reaction to a crazy person.

  4. choleesa says:

    My narc provoked me on Friday night on our way out to dinner. He threw accusations, called me names, told me I made him lose his appetite. So I opened the car door and walked out in the dark rainy night. Ive been ignoring him since. Did my getting out of the car cause him injury or give him fuel?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You stopped giving fuel and by ignoring him since you walked away, you wounded him.

      1. Cindi says:

        I walked out on mine too during this all too familiar game. He hasn’t seen me since. He couldn’t get me worked up enough since I’ve been on to him for awhile so he tried the “fuck you” phrase…and I just stood up grabbed my bag and walked out of his life forever after almost 3 yrs. 3 weeks later…his new profile pic…him embraced in a kiss with a new supply. At our restaurant wearing a shirt I bought him. So typical it’s funny.

  5. Teresa says:

    My narc provoked on our way to dinner on Friday night. He threw out accusations, name called. So I opened the door and got out in the middle of a busy street, in the rain. I have been ignoring his calls and texts ever since. Did me getting out in the rain give him fuel, or cause him injury?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You walked away and stopped giving him fuel. This also amounted to ignoring him and thus wounded him.

  6. Bruised says:

    I love the free anonymous (idea) pic on top . Joining Milion Mask March this year 🙂

  7. Brian says:

    I’d say this is the most valuable article here.
    Contrari-Wise is another, I think there was another one, can’t remember it at the moment.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you Brian.

  8. NoNarcs says:

    Thank you HG, the timing of this post is perfect me. Just when I think I have outlasted the N, he returns to push more of my buttons, and he’s patient…waiting until the time and the conditions are just right for catching me off guard. 100% no contact has not been possible yet because of kids, but even more so, because of the financial/business connections we share.

    To anyone who has not yet co-mingled their assets with the narc, please don’t, ever! Soon I will have cut my loses, which will be substantial, to be rid of him. Damage control is no fun.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome NN.

  9. Brandi says:

    Master puppeteers is an understatement. I have found when narcissist has upped his level of malicious provoking against me he is in midst of triangulating & enamored with/seducing new source. I always walk when I find out cuz if he has new source you don’t need me (lol, like narc can ever have enough fuel), but I ALWAYS come back placating his lies, that he was just playing game with her, that he really didn’t mean his words to her “he is waiting patiently waiting for her to finish her divorce because he is determined to have her in his life and be with her”. Actually it isn’t lies because he is absolutely not capable of real relationship in the conventional context, he IS playing a game with her, only I’m sure she thinks otherwise, her words= he’s ‘such a sweet lonely gentleman that she nervously/excitedly can’t wait to be with.’ & I too continue to play his game waiting for the inevitable discard so he can be with her. Pathetic at it’s best. Narcissist are damn good at what they do!

    1. sarabella says:

      Doesn’t sound so good. Sounds really bad to keep playing in that sandbox.

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