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?


41 thoughts on “Provocation

  1. Becoming Observant says:

    So, if a Malign Narc (someone who states that, in the strictest sense, he is a malign narc) provokes a fight, is it better to react emotionally (to sate him), or to ignore it (then he continues over time, waits for poker-tells, to see if you are close to breaking)? Are you saying not to let it build up, and to respond? I am unclear which strategy you suggest, sorry.

    This is a very interesting (provocative?) post. : )

  2. Oops says:

    3 weeks escaping under the radar. I’m getting Hoovers in the form of random texts on what he’s cooked, “nite” and video of my cat he won’t let me have saying “I love you mommy”. Along with provocation and veiled threats. ” You know what they say about free will. “Your free to make your decision but you have no choice in the consequences”.

    It’s like he thinks I’m on some kind if twisted vacation. I have no doubt I’m being tracked somehow. I haven’t committed to complete no contact. Right now, for my safety, I feel I can monitor his intent via his messaging.

    Therapy is helping somewhat. Therapist stated that based on my account, he seems to be a sociopath narcissist with psychopathy. “An interesting study”. He’s suggested not getting a restraining order right now to prevent a trigger, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

    I’m dealing with random recovered memories popping up and wondering how on earth did I forget something like THAT. I bounce from guilt, pity, missing the life I had but at the same time hating it and being repelled by it.

    I did send him this article and asked him if he knew he’d done ALL of this. He replied “Sounds like anyone that makes an off hand comment is a narcissist.. At least your therapist is earning his money and doing what they do. Making you see it their way. ”

    He then promptly used this article picture for background on his facebook page and sent me a friend request.

    People who know me saw my change into what drove me away but still don’t understand how someone like me fell for this (7 years of it). I score extremely high in assertiveness and have cut people off for much, much, MUCH less.

    On the upside, I’m creeping back into the real world again, having fun, getting comments about how I’m seeming to be me again, smiling more.

    HG: Thank you for this site, I discovered it a few days ago and it’s helping me realize I’ve met, lived with and am surviving your evil twin (so far)…..

    I’ve been through worse, I’ve got this.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Oops, welcome on board and I am pleased you are finding my work of such use.

  3. Jane Hall says:

    I find that He always plays up worse when I am tired – after work. When I am already down and tired he gets the boot in. I realised very early on that I shouldn’t share too much info on my weaknesses with him as he had previously used something I had said AGAINST me.

    I have learnt not to believe the NICE things he say or the NASTY things.

    I have learnt to be my own person, believe in me and leave him to his tangled thought processes and crazy musings.

    I used to feel like he would wait – until I was relaxed and least expecting a drama – then BOOM he would just go crazy.

    I have learnt in all the years I have survived with him – to find my own joy, my own friends, my own life. He cant destroy that.

    I never believed that I was weak, stupid, or anything else negative he said about me or my family.

    when my dad was in intensive care last year – he died 8 weeks later – I wasn’t that surprised that he would start to create drama and complain that HE felt stressed. Zero support and then switching to hug me.

    I have told him that our marriage died 5 years ago. When we broke up, he wept and cried and just would not go. He promised change and has TRIED….end of the day he is still him and I am still me and the marriage is still dead.

    Bottom line is – once you are stuck to a narc its very difficult to get away. I still haven’t managed it. Sometimes I think ITS TILL DEATH PARTS ONE OF US. And lately I have felt too tired to even try.

    HG has it spot on and has helped me and many others to see that narc is more than vanity (as I used to think it was) it is self preservation and a shallow soul.

    Thanks for listening. x

  4. jenna says:

    Thx 1jaded. I don’t mind if her brain shrivels up either!

  5. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

    I’m so bad lol. I was on the phone a little while ago – reading the blog, listening to music and re-wrote some Ciara lyrics lmao – didn’t finish it cause I was multitasking – pure ADHD I know….(Indy I know you get my ADHD reference lmao)

    I’m the biggest nerd everrrrr

    Thought you might find it amusing…

    Ignore the rants
    (yawn at Em’)
    Cut off the cash
    (annoy Em’)
    Lie to him
    Fast like em’
    Girl don’t react like ya don’t give a fuck bout anything
    (Remember what HG’s talkin’ bout’)
    Security codes on everything
    Phones on silent – airplane mode so your phone don’t ever ring
    (Make sure ya have at least 5 email accounts)
    Join a couple of dating sites he don’t know about

    First we’re gonna switch up the roles
    Cut the fuel – go no contact
    Not tell you I love you
    Disappear when ya call and never get back
    Would you try and hoover me?…
    Like where my fuel at?
    Cause I’m ignorin ya text at 4 in the morning
    While I’m on HG’s blog scrollin
    Pullin my own strings

    What if I?
    Had a shit load of pride?
    Didn’t cry?
    Gonna change the rules up
    so you don’t know what they are and when they apply
    Gonna play it all coy
    Frustrate you and treat you like a toy

    Can’t be get’n mad!
    What You Mad?
    Can’t Handle that!

  6. sues423 says:

    Ugh, I’ve lived a life of this!!! All of it is so true.. I used to say to myself all the time, ” He doing this to provoke a reaction but why?” I never really understood it..

  7. Tappan Zee says:

    “Discovered” you out of necessity. Avid follower. Priceless information here. Never fails to deliver. Packed with a punch. Truth hurts. And untangles the knots. Thankyou.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you TZ, you are most welcome.

  8. Cjf says:

    Ah spot on but a Hoover from a covert is so much more tricky. Done to entirely make it look like they did nothing and you are just crazy.

  9. E. B. says:

    From my experience, narcissists will especially increase their provocations when their targets are in a position of vulnerability. It is hard to stay strong and to avoid giving them any fuel during difficult times but the knowledge and understanding I am gaining from this blog is helping me to achieve this.

  10. 1jaded1 says:

    Yes. He did that. Ugh. No more.

  11. Tiny Dancer says:

    I’m in a Hoover. All I love you so much I miss you so much (we are married two kids,on the brink of divorce in June) and the old behaviors are just now resurfacing. I can identify them mostly now and more or less see them for what they are but still.

    I see where it’s going and why. I just wish I didn’t feel anything anymore.

    I can’t tell anyone IRL it’s a roller coaster just for two right.

    I’m dumping here. I hurt. I wish I were stronger. I wish I were smarter. I want out. It all feels so crazy.

    Provocation – being out of town and MIA last text hours ago I miss you like crazy. No response to my response.

    Thank you for listening forum.

    1. Windstorm2 says:

      Tiny Dancer
      Sharing, venting, ranting is very helpful. We will always listen and often we can learn from others comments and experiences.

      Based on what you said and my own experience, I think it all feels crazy to you because it is crazy. They deliberately work at keeping us off balance and feeling crazy to make it easier for themselves. I had to move out and separate myself from the narcs before I could make any sense out of the situation.

      Narcissists create dysfunction. When we live with them, we get caught up in that dysfunction automatically. Someone told me once that’s it’s like living inside a bubble. No matter how hard we try, we can never truly see it for what it is until we’re on the outside of it looking in. Then we can see it for the bubble of crazy that it was all along.

      Keep learning and sharing. This is definitely the right place to do both!

      1. sues423 says:


      2. sues423 says:

        EXCELLENT Windstorm3

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You’ve been upgraded WS!

          1. Windstorm2 says:

            Upgraded? Ha, ha! Probably attempted bug-fixes. 😜

        2. Windstorm2 says:

          Thanks, Sues423!

      3. sues423 says:

        Hahahaha!!! I’m sorry. Wrong number !!

        Too funny!!

      4. Tiny Dancer says:

        Thank you! Truly 🙂

    2. sues423 says:

      Oh Tiny Dancer,
      I sooo understand how you feel. It’s so hard to deal with ..
      You ARE strong and you ARE smart!!!!
      You’re normal!!! You’re trying!!
      You’re going to fall. And it may be many times, but you just keep getting up and don’t give up. Keep reading ..
      try to catch yourself before you react to anything, texts, phone calls etc.
      Avoid people who think you should “just get over it” because all that does is make you feel weaker than you already do. And it’s extremely hard to turn off your thoughts and emotions when you are a caring individual .
      Good support is imperative.
      Hang in there TD.. ❤️❤️❤️

      1. Tiny Dancer says:

        Thank you!

  12. jenna says:

    Hello everyone. I have been MIA for awhile because i was denied internet access (long story). Then i was slowly trying to catch up with all the articles. I do not like to miss even one.
    I miss everyone here and HG tremendously. This is a place that feels like home to me, where i find peace and comfort.
    Thank you HG for all your enlightening articles. Thank you for taking time out of your extremely busy schedule to moderate. And thank you for being here for us. I wish i could give you a hug but i know you hate hugs.
    And that lady who copied your writings on youtube not giving you credit, shame on her. Glad things are settled. Pls do take legal action next time if you haven’t already done so. If i could, i would guard all your writings wearing armour lol.

    1. MLA - Clarece says:

      Jennnaaaaaa you’re back!!!! ❤❤

      1. jenna says:

        Thank you dear clarece! I’m so
        glad to be back! Did i read correctly in the comments of the other articles that you are NC w JN? If so, how is that going? And if not, i apologize for the misinformation.
        Btw, you’re killing it as a blonde! Gorgeous!! 😍😍😍

        1. MLA - Clarece says:

          Hi Jenna! Almost 4 weeks now with no back and forth exchanges with JN. So I guess that is progress, right?
          Thank you for the compliment. I went strawberry blonde for summer. I change hair color frequently. You never know what you’re gonna get with me. lol

    2. 1jaded1 says:

      Wb Jenna. Well since I’m not an empath, I hope her brain shriveles up. *ducks and hopes karma passes by*.

    3. Indy says:

      Hi Jenna!
      Welcome back! We missed you😊

      1. jenna says:

        Thx indy! Hugs right back! 💖

  13. Happy Feet says:

    Am I glad that I am out. I just feel sorry for the new supplier of fuel. She must be hooked on the sex just like I was. Hope she finds you soon!

  14. Miss Teri says:

    Thank You Sir HG Tudor…I am ‘Unprovable’!… God Bless You ‘Sir ‘Your’ Greatest Fan! Love You ‘Most’!…Seattle, Washington ‘Got nothing but ‘Love’ for You’ 1 block east of ‘ ‘Complex’! …You have made ‘This’ Great Grandmother’ here’ Bad’ like ‘Michael Jackson’! Watchout Now! Loving You Sir HG Tudor, with ‘Your’ Fine’ Self…

  15. Lisa says:

    HG, despite me now having a pretty reasonable understanding of narcissists and how they operate and the reasons for this and I do understand what fuel is and I do have your book fuel. I still cannot understand why you need this , I get what fuel is and I get that somehow you feel better with fuel but why , what is the reason that narcissists need this . I can’t actually understand this bit of it . Particularly since they are emotionless and not bonded or attached ( I know they have negative emotions )
    It’s like a car that does not need petrol to operate and operates very well without petrol but goes around looking for petrol all the time ???? I can’t understand this aspect of it ?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Have you read Fury?

  16. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

    I love the picture above the article (and the article duh).

    1. Watermelon says:

      Me too, it always makes me laugh.

      I know too well the provocation, and when you finally say something out comes the standard ‘wow, you have anger issues, you are very aggressive and that worries me’.

      1. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:


        Hahahahaha omg so true!!

        Funny how all the ex girlfriends have anger issues and he conveniently forgets that too … because after all I’m the only one he’s ever had this problem with 😜 !

      2. Indy says:

        Hi Doc,
        Girllll!! Look at your hot self! Nice pictures!

        Yes, I love this pic of the provocateur, too. It makes me think of this current song I like and listen to when I think of certain a-holes.

      3. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:


        Aww thank you! I wonder how you pictured me in your head…

        Where have you been? I feel like I haven’t see your posts in a long time! I miss you!!!!

        It’s coming up on 1 yr for me August 5th. It’s gonna be a rough week….

        1. Indy says:

          Hi Doc!!

          Congratulations to your upcoming one year anniversary of no contact!! That is a significant milestone, and please do something to celebrate if you can and some serious self pampering 🙂 I know, it is hard when it brings of memories and such, I will be thinking about you (((Hugs))

          Me? Oh, I have been dropping a few lines every now and then, and reading when I can. Work has me a bit slammed and with my home still being repaired from the flood, it has been a lot of juggling. Looking forward to a vacation in August 🙂

          I just got a weirdo hoover from the recent ex’s parent last night (his parent sent me an emoticon of a big single eye ball). I know I am supposed to block all ways to contact me, though I have consciously made the choice not to block to keep two steps ahead of stalker behavior by having a heads up and battening down the hatches. (And to report to police, if needed). He hoovered quite intensely last year when I left and engaged in various types of spying/stalking and I remained strong through it, so I am not worried about breaking no contact. I have started feeling pretty safe again, though I am watchful, always. (Last year he threatened breaking into my home, stealing my cat, and approaching me at my job–300 calls and texts in one week). Now, I am debating the usefulness of allowing myself to be open to contact for that info. I have no temptation to contact at all and i do not allow them to know i have read it (no read receipts on any of my texts/emails) to avoid the thought fuel it would give him. However, it does open me up to increased hyper vigilance. So, I am debating my choice. I definitely would never recommend this to anyone tempted to respond to hoovers, though I am quite strong in my lack of need to re-establish contact. I have been stalked by two prior individuals and I learned how to disappear and not respond to hoovers like a champ. I can actually get quite cold, detached and hard core once I make a decision to leave. Anyway, still debating this. I submitted a question to HG about it and am definitely interested in what others think too, if they have other opinions on how I should proceed. I am trying to tell myself it is just a stupid eye emoji and not something serious at this point. Could have been a butt text? Nah….who butt texts eye balls? Probably was a hoover.

          I saw you made a comment about ADHD, LOL!!

          You know I get you on that, I am pretty ADHD myself, though more of the inattentive and mildly impulsive type and less of the hyperactive type. Currently, I am treating mine with coffee as the medication sends me through the roof.

          Anyhow, other than a few bumps, I am doing well. How is your summer unfolding for you?

          The kids have already begun here this week!

          Hoping sun and low humidity find you up in NY 🙂
          Hang in there this week, you got this!


      4. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

        By the way Indy I love the song!

        Oh it speaks to my ODD soul lmao

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.