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,ย  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 faรงade – 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?


41 thoughts on “Provocation

  1. Jail mightbebetter says:

    H.G., Do you get a vicarious fuel hit from our tales of victimization? Will you compile a cautionary book of greatest narc moves that have been perpetrated based on your readers’ stories? Are there any contests for most devious narc provocations, most egregious deceptions, (with separate categories for cerebral and somatic), or most damaging explosions short of murder-suicide?
    No house of horrors or bad acid trip can be as frightening as the information you provide on this site when applied to my own life. Thanks, I guess.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No because I did not cause them.

  2. Flickatina says:

    !!! I’m telling Anonymous!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      That’s okay, they are still hiding from Guy Fawkes.

  3. mistynolan01 says:

    For people who like to conserve energy, narcs sure do work very hard! Made me tired just reading this.

  4. Tiny Dancer says:

    We have two small children together and she will use threats of hurting them to provoke me since I’m not as easily bothered by her now. Her latest was saying she’s getting rid of the new puppy we’ve had for three weeks. I said you can’t (meaning morally as the kids of course love the puppy) and she said I bought it, I can do whatever the fuck I want with it. That’s my life for the next 15 years…

    1. gypsylee73 says:

      Tiny Dancer, have you heard of Grey Rock? I wish I’d known all this YEARS ago but I gave him primo fuel until quite recently. I still seethe but I have a few “safe” outlets now and he gets Grey Rock.

      1. Tiny Dancer says:

        Without having a name for it, that’s pretty much what our interaction has become. It’s good to know I am on the right track, thank you.

    2. K says:

      Tiny Dancer
      Female narcissists are awful! I am so sorry that you have another 15 years to go. It is heartbreaking to think about it.

  5. gypsylee73 says:

    I’ve been stuck with this behaviour for years because we have a child together. I see it as a prison sentence (I’m up for parole soon) and cannot wait to be rid of him. I have an app which counts down the days to her being 18; that’s how much I loathe being forced to associate with this man.

    A few years ago a Psychologist said to me “you have two teenagers” and she was right. I dare say my daughter is actually more mature than her father by now.

    Surely this need to provoke (and the need for fuel in general) is a sign of immaturity. I sometimes envision my ex as a toddler in a grown man’s body and it helps a little. Mature people can generate their own fuel because they’ve learned to tame the ego somewhat. In fact even as a child I was more self-contained than my ex is, in his late-40s.

    I’m mainly just venting here, but I’d also argue narcs are less “evolved” than empaths. Carl Jung would say they are stuck in the egoic Denial and Projection phases, unable to face their Shadow material at all. Self-Actualisation can only be achieved once the Shadow is integrated and transmutated. Just something to think about ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

  7. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

    Narc affair – after I got over my Fred and Ryan thing I moved on to bigger and better things: Jared Leto and Gavin rossdale lol

  8. jenna says:

    “Not only are we ensuring that we get to bathe in your overflowing fuel… ”
    You actually bathe in fuel? ๐Ÿ˜‚

    1. Brian says:

      I wasnt supposed to tell you this but he has his own pool of fuel in his back garden. The taps in his bathroom are actually connected to a fuel line.

  9. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

    The last time he provoked me something like this happened…

    And then…. I broke up with him over text, mailed his shit back, and never said a word again……..

    Like a boss lol

    Love – I know this video screams I graduated hs in 05 because this is like middle school era for me lol!

    1. Narc affair says:

      Love limp bizkit! My kiddos were born in ’05 my favorite year ๐Ÿ˜

      1. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

        Aw how many little nuggets do you have?

        Confession: I definitely had a crush on Fred durst when I was like in the 7th grade and Ryan Philippe cause I was obsessed with cruel intentions lol.

      2. Narc affair says:

        Hi Dr Harleen… i have two nuggets. Double trouble lol approaching teenage yrs eek!!!

      3. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

        Narc Affair,

        Aww that is so cute! Teenage years are …eventful lol….

    2. Love says:

      This was my song around that time

      1. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:


        Omg love it lol!! Throwwwww back lol!

        I remember dancing my ass off to this gem at house parties lol….

      2. Narc affair says:

        Evanescence is a fav!!

  10. Narc affair says:

    Then there’s provoking for drama bc the narcs bored and low on negative fuel. Today my narc showed me a post he did on a White House site and it was done to provoke liberals. It had over 300 replies and he boasted how a few trolled his personal fb. He laughed over it and took pride in the reaction it caused. I said to him to be careful bc there are unstable people out there and again laughing and he replied he wasn’t afraid and enjoyed the conflict. It’s really hard to react to this without feeling awkward. What kind of person thrives off of conflict…oh yes a narc! It’s disheartening bc he can be incredibly sweet and fun to be around but this mean spirited side I really can’t stand. It’s so strange the two are the same person. They love to provoke reaction and create drama to fill their empty shell. It’s entertaining to them.

    1. sarabella says:

      I had someone friend me when I was still reeling from the narc. She learned of thr story and had some good insight. One was the depth of emotiness he must have. Me, being full always of so much emotion of one type or anorher had a hard time grasping the idea of being empty inside. Well, something happened between her and I. I was pretty clear she deliberately informed me of something the narc did as she knew it would upset me. To provoke a reaction as I had been pulling away from talking about him anymore.

      Well, since then I sometimes visit her public FB page and am rather shocked to see what I didn’t see before. Posts deliberately meant to provoke and dig on people. I read them all with all new eyes.. And I have reviewed our relationship and am also shocked to find that she had been calling me names in a disguised manner, putting herself in a one up position and provoking me in subtle ways. I could just never see it so clearly until I ended that friendship. And oddly, as she described her life, social media is all she has, ine way she feels alive. How telling is that? Trying to escape one narc, I walked right into another and she even told me why they pick me but at the time, I was more interested in her perception of my oersonality, not how she knew about the personality traits that make me a target.

      But her pattern to provoke, publicly shame people, smear people (though she doesn’t use a direct name) is so bizarre now to see. I ended the friendship the day she told me how I am as a person, but that she and another mutual friend like me that way. Thanks to HG, I identified immediately what she was doing (triangulate, putting me down but making me ok for her, showing me she is a friend while implying others might not like me) and cut her off.

    2. windstorm2 says:

      Absolutely true Narc Affair. Boredom and negative fuel. They get bored sooo easily! Mine loves to play games with people, preferably without them even being aware till afterwards. Thankfully he’s got his dream job – prosecuting attorney in family court. He gets to jerk fellow narcissists around thru the legal system. He still gets his negative jollies and takes pressure off the rest of us. He’s even doing a public service for abused women and children. Win-win all the way around!

      1. Narc affair says:

        Windstorm2…it is boredom and that equates feeling empty. The chaos and fuel fills that. My narc told me jokingly he thought he was attention deficiet bc he gets bored easily. Another thing he said yesterday in relation to the online fued he got started was that it didnt bother him in the least and once his computer was shut off it was forgotten. I think this was a huge admission on his part. He keeps showing me who he really is and i keep turning a blind eye. This ties into the boundary breaking. Part of their power is breaking your belief and moral system and have you accept it. I dont accept it but its futile as ive tried to tell him how negative this is. Why rehash election fueds. Its over be haply your prez won and leave well enough alone. That wouldnt be any fun tho in his mind. He thnks its comical. I dont get it other than boredom and the need for negative fuel.

  11. Watermelon says:

    I had an ex boss who was a grandiose narc. He actually liked me but still got off on winding me up. Anything the Labour govt did was my fault (he was a staunch Liberal supporter), the oddities of the English language was my fault (he was Austrian). At first I’d take the bait and fight with him but by my 30’s I was too knackered. I’d just say ‘you’re not drawing me into a fight’. He would walk out and then come back 3 minutes later with more to wind me up with. Once I saw he just liked getting me stirred up I stopped doing it. I spent less time wanting to strangle him ๐Ÿ™‚

    Of course it was easier with him as I wasn’t emotionally engaged.

    What I do now is picture a chart in my head. If I do X what will happen? All roads lead back to ‘you will be sworn at, called names and put down’. You can’t reason with them so no point. They want you stirred up.

  12. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

    What’s even more hilarious is he would put his hand up in my face and say “mirror! Mirror!”

    1. Giulia says:

      Like Snow White’s mother

    2. Star says:

      OMG!! Dr HQ my ex did the same!!! Except to himself in the mirror while getting ready in the morning!But really he wasn’t all that esthetically pleasing, In fact the majority of my friends and family didn’t see what I was attracted to. But at the time there was a certain energy and confidence about him that eventually made me see him the way he wanted me to. Now that the spell is broken…I just shake my head in bewilderment

  13. Matilda says:

    You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    If you do react, they will give Oscar worthy performances of victimhood, reeling in support from the “see not/hear not/speak not” with their fabricated tales of woe, which are spun to DEFLECT and DISTRACT from their wrong-doings.

    If you do not react, they will continue with their manipulations and lies, spinning their stories to fit their agendas, re-writing history.

    So, what is one supposed to do?

    1. HG Tudor says:


      1. Matilda says:

        Easier said than done, I am allergic to liars… but yes, that’s probably the most reasonable path to take. Thank you.

    2. E. B. says:

      Hi Matilda,

      If those provocations are not malicious (such as hurting children and pets, property/financial damage), what has helped me stop the emotion rising in me was to understand why narcissists do it (fuel). Their need to fill their emotional void is just like any other addiction and it is their problem, not yours.

      The more you understand that their baiting is like a game they need to play (to get fuel) but you do not have to play with them because you are not addicted to fuel, the more you will see their problem from a distance and you will finally *feel emotionally detached* from them and their addiction.

      1. Matilda says:

        Hi E.B.,

        I have experienced this many times throughout my life, and it has usually culminated in exposure of the culprit, though quicker and less emotionally laden the older I get. In my experience, the situation gets worse the longer you do nothing. Offenders get more *brazen* over time!!

        Provocations such as character assassination, spreading false information, gossiping etc. are just as harmful as the more malicious methods you mentioned. If you do not speak up immediately and with full force to stop this in the bud, the easily fooled majority will believe the liar. That’s just unbearable to me.

        I hear you, and intellectually, I understand why they are doing it and what one ought to do, namely ignoring it. By staying silent however, you give them the power to paint a false picture of you. One could ask “who cares?”, but it does matter…

        That’s what is tormenting me every single time I meet another BS-er!! That’s why I generally prefer books to people!

        1. E. B. says:


          When I wrote about provocations, I meant the narcissist’s baiting only, like those examples in the article. I am glad to hear that you were able to expose them to stop the smear. This is very difficult to achieve. Congratulations!

          Smears and character assassination is what I have been experiencing for almost two decades on three different fronts, along malicious hoovers. It gets worse when there is no possibility to have people on our side. Yes, they get bolder over time. They feel safe if they can control the victim.

          It is not always possible to speak up immediately, unless someone tells us the smear campaign has just began. It can take years until we figure out what is happening. Narcissists know how to influence people. Persuading people who can be turncoats is counter-productive and we will not always know who is taking the narcissistโ€™s side. I was astonished when I realized what was going on behind my back. I find the book Smears very helpful.

          It hurts to see people distance themselves from us. It can lead to our social death. I know I cannot control other people and I do not want any of the Turncoats in my life anymore.

      2. Matilda says:


        I digressed, sorry! Yes, the book provides very good guidance on what to do when you are being smeared. Sorry to hear this has been done to you for so long. It must be exhausting!

        Keeping silent or speaking up, either way you pay a price. Yes, there is no space in one’s life for traitors or fools. ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. E. B. says:


          It seems that you and I have similar experiences. Yes, it is very exhausting. People who have not been through it cannot understand the impact it has on our psyche and on our health.

          I have come to despise the so-called normals more than the narcissists who are targeting me. If it were not for them, who are the ones who spread the rumours and lies and distance themselves from the victim without letting her tell her side of the story, the narcissist’s smear would never be successful. Even though not everyone in the audience is supposed to have a NPD, they have zero empathy and they are as guilty as the narcissist for taking part in the smear campaign. They are dysfunctional people. Their empathy is only pretence.

          I can understand that you prefer books to people. If you can connect with pets, you will feel comfortable with them. Pets are soothing, they have feelings and their behaviour is not malicious. I have a long-time cat friend, who visits me regularly and comes to say hi when he sees me. If you feel you cannot deal with the smear and the pain, please do not give up. You can ask HG in a private consultation.

      3. Matilda says:


        Oh, I deal with smears in a thorough way: I collect evidence, I expose them, for everyone to see, and then I leave. Let the liars try to frantically scramble to regain their credibility. And Good Luck with that!!

        There are repercussions, of course, of the long-lasting kind, too. But it feels so much better to stand up for yourself than to put up a brave front while you’re **DYING** inside.

        Like you, I despise those who do nothing to help, those without a back bone, without any sense of what it right or wrong! They can go to hell, along with the liars!

        I am socially pretty much shunned now, but that is okay with me, I welcome it. At least, they know I am not to be messed with. I have rid myself of each and everyone of them, and my life is peaceful now, save for the occasional “Little Miss Know-It-All-Know-Nothing”s that come along. Peanuts in comparison to what I dealt with.

        Much like I would never speak with a therapist, I would never consult with HG… though his advice would be indefinitely more helpful than any shrink’s wisdom.

        Yes, I connect with animals, they are a joy to be around. Your mention of your feline visitor made me smile ๐Ÿ˜€ … that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Enjoy the little moments of serenity, surround yourself with those you hold dear and do what you’re passionate about, find your way. We only have this one life. We could die today. We should not waste our time on the undeserving.

  14. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD says:

    My ex used to ALWAYS say “GET MAD GET MAD” lol!! It could be over something so minute and ridiculous. I would just stare at him in disbelief – thinking wtf is wrong with you? lol

    I remember always saying “Why the hell did you think that was the appropriate response the big ball of crazy you just threw at me?”

    I would say “well I wasn’t mad at all and now you’re actually irritating the hell out of me!”

    He would force people (through his behaviors) to act in certain ways that would confirm his bizarre beliefs.

  15. Watermelon says:

    I do love the images you use. That one made me laugh.

    Great article by the way. Spot on, this is exactly what ex narc does. Then when I finally lose it, not only does he see those emotions but he also gets to lay the boot in. Swearing at me, calling me names (aggressive, narc, bunny boiler, threatening, bitch, idiot) and remind me how pathetic I am and how busy/much stress he is. And then he will follow up with ‘never contact me again’. To which I slink off, and he gets back in touch after X weeks.

    Awful awful stuff. But getting so much better at not taking the bait. I figure if we’re not talking, I’m not being played, so it’s good when he pisses off.

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