10 Unintended Consequences Of Your Responses To The Narcissist



The law of unintended consequences applies to much in the world and is just as applicable to the world in which you have been inserted by our kind. In terms of unintended consequences arising from an act committed or a step taken, there are three categories. There are the unexpected benefits. For instance, aspirin is used as a painkiller but has also been found to be an excellent anti-coagulant and is used to assist those with heart and circulatory problems. There are the unintended drawbacks. For instance, Prohibition in the United States during the 1920s suppressed the alcohol trade. Its unintended consequence was to drive alcohol provision into the hands of organised crime which resulted in those organisations becoming wealthier and better funded to expand their criminal activities. The final category concerns the perverse result. I have two favourites examples in this regard. The first became known as the Streisand Effect whereby the actress and singer Barbara Streisand took legal action concerning the online publication of a picture of her home. Prior to legal action only six people had downloaded the picture. Following her legal action 420 000 people downloaded it as a consequence of the coverage of the case. There is much to be said to not drawing attention to something by complaining about it in the first place. The second example of a perverse result concerns the then British government’s handling of venomous cobras in Delhi, India. It was decided in order to encourage the local populace to hunt down and reduce the number of cobras that a bounty would be offered for each cobra killed and handed in. Enterprising individuals decided it was easier just to breed the cobras than hunt them down, kill them and hand them in. Once the government realised that this was happening, they withdrew the bounty. The populace then released the now worthless cobras. Thus the number not only was not  reduced but actually increased.

The unexpected drawbacks and perverse results are also applicable to you in terms of your dealing with our kind. Owing to the fact that most people do not know what they are dealing with, how we think, how we regard the world and why we do as we do, these people approach any issue concerning us with what they think are sensible and well thought out intentions. They believe that dealing with us in a certain way will bring about a desired result which will prove beneficial to them. This lack of understanding, incomplete analysis and attempt to control something which they do not actually know how to control, results in unintended consequences of the unpleasant variety. Here are ten examples of that at work.


  1. Giving us a dressing down

Intention – to put us in our place so we know you are displeased so we do not repeat the behaviour.

Unintended consequence – you provide us with fuel and we do it all the more as we realise how well (from our perspective) you react


  1. Mirroring our behaviour

Intention – it will stop us doing what we are doing

Unintended consequence – we will shift to a different manipulation and apply it with greater vigour against you





  1. Telling everybody how awful we behave towards you

Intention – people will believe you, support you and turn against us

Unintended consequence – you are seen as The Crazy One, your position is eroded and ours becomes stronger


  1. You try to reason with us

Intention – we understand the error of our ways and will correct them. You feel satisfied

Unintended consequence – you ignite our fury through this criticism of us by suggesting we are wrong in some way and you become frustrated and upset at your failure to make any headway


  1. You turn to one of our friends for help

Intention – we may not listen to you, but we will listen to our best friend won’t we? The problem will be resolved

Unintended consequence – you are feeding information to our lieutenant. You are seen as treacherous and this helpful intention will be turned around and used against you.


  1. You tell us everything about yourself

Intention – by opening up yourself to us you hope we will do the same and therefore there will be mutual trust and understanding.

Unintended consequence – you are handing us bullets which we will later fire at you based on what you have disclosed to us about your fears, weaknesses and vulnerabilities

  1. You second guess us, anticipate and dedicate yourself to avoiding upsetting us

Intention – we will be pleased, you will not set us off in any way, there will be peace and harmony in the household

Unintended consequence – you may achieve peace and stability but at the cost of your sanity, reason, sleep and nerves and the period of stability never lasts.


  1. You play hard to get with us

Intention – by treating us mean we will be keen, yes?

Unintended consequence – you are criticising us. We will lash out at you and go and find someone else to triangulate with you who does what we want.


  1. You tell us what we really are

Intention – you gain the upper hand by letting us know that you know, you also hope to cause us to reflect on our behaviour

Unintended consequence – we deny what you are suggesting, we will not accept it and we lash out at you for having criticised us in this way


  1. You beg and plead for us to change

Intention – since we apparently love you, this emotive display must surely go noticed and we will respond in a constructive fashion

Unintended consequence – we drink up this delicious fuel and keep pumping it out of you by hurting you further


44 thoughts on “10 Unintended Consequences Of Your Responses To The Narcissist

  1. Michelle says:

    I have tried most of these, mostly with the one narcissist I had the misfortune to date. There are two facts about narcissists that clear up most of these delusions permanently — they are not capable of self-reflection, and they do not need you. If you believe that any of your actions calculated to make them “see what they have done” or “miss you” are going to be effective, think again. My Narc Ex used to keep a journal of the wrongdoings of his other ex so that if he started to miss her (fuel), he could reignite his fury against her. In the end I have to believe that my life is so much better for not having that person in it, and that he will someday get his just desserts, but it won’t be from me.

    1. Kathleen says:

      Funny – I kept a list when I was discarded to keep reminding me of how awful it was to be involved with the narc and to help me not feel bad. I wonder what was on your narcs list-

  2. Kate says:

    Hi HG,

    Have you ever considered making audio versions of your books?

    I think that would be great! Thanks.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, it will be done when I have time to do it.

  3. SMH says:

    I did #9 and Excel responded in exactly the way HG says. It didn’t matter as that was the last time I planned to see him. And it was the last time. But I must admit that when he denied it and lashed out, I wasn’t prepared with a zinger, which I will always regret.

    1. Kate says:

      I’m entertained you’re now calling your ex-“Excel”!! Lol.

      1. Kate says:


        1. Kathleen says:

          Yes- -for now there is-
          I had had 2 profiles going /active somehow and the Kate one is the one that I kept /logged in as. This login on this is kinda odd. My name is truly kathleen but kate is short form.
          When i get time I’ll edit my profile again and pick a more obscure bame

      2. SMH says:

        It’s perfect, Kate!! It makes me laugh every time I use it. Plus there is so much we can do with it – for instance my Ex-cel (like in-cel). I am sure he’s not getting as much or as good quality “fuel” as he would like. Ex-hell – thank god that is over, etc.

        1. Kathleen says:

          Yes-the many creative applications of Excel-😀

  4. Joanne says:

    Ugh, #4. I chased my tail so many times just trying to reason with him, aka get closure, have an adult conversation about what happened between us. Total waste of time. There is no reasoning, just a circular ride of denial, gaslighting and stonewalling.

    All very good points highlighted, though. Nice and crisp action –> consequence summaries. It’s all just a lose-lose.

    1. Mercy says:

      Joanne, that circular ride is exactly what kept me going back so many times. Trying to change the ending so I could walk away feeling like I didn’t waste the last 7 years on a illusion.

      1. Joanne says:

        Mercy, 7 years….
        That is just awful. But so easy to see how it can go on and on. The ups and downs and back up again. So confusing 🙁

  5. Sniglet says:

    I have friends who do all of those: try to reason, plead, beg, show the narcs who they really are. Such a waste of time. I’ve tried to explain to my friends the errors in their approach and they won’t change their reactions towards their narcissist. It’s like I speak a different language. They nod but I sense there is no comprehension. Since they don’t understand my point of view I leave that subject alone. Many empathy help create or help worsen their situation. Now I detach myself from that personal conversation with them. I hear them speak but I don’t listen any more. Like HG always says emotional regulation is key. Tone it down. I think there is a key element to understanding narcissism and that is feeling their output via actions, words, body language, silence etc. Understand their frequency and even predicting their moves. Fuel is their subconscious mantra.

    I’m not offended if a narc uses me for fuel as long as I am not damaged in the process where I would need to invoke retaliation or revenge. ‘Damaged’ meaning greatly offended and my threshold changes daily but not to unreasonable levels.

  6. WhoCares says:

    This is an excellent article, HG – one that is great to share with those who have just discovered they’re with a narcissist and are coming to terms with who they are dealing with.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you.

    2. Kathleen says:

      Ditto! Excellent and succinct. A definite top 10!
      I’ve done all of these to some extent! And in retrospect the outcomes were just as HG dictates!
      I never said “you’re a narcissist “ But I did say “ I understand you, I understand everything that happened “ – I think it was met with silence.
      Oh HG, if only we could figure out the magic bullet to get our ‘justice’.
      GOSO still feels like failure to me in some ways.

      1. HG Tudor says:

        That is emotional thinking causing you to think that GOSO is a failure, so your breach it and try to find ‘justice’ through engaging with the narcissist. You are being conned by your ET. Recognise it ; halt it.

      2. Mercy says:

        Kathleen, I think it feels like failure now because there is still an emotional attachment. Once that is gone (only achieved with GOSO), we win.

    3. Maddox says:

      Yes agreed who cares. I have known my narc will do a thing more if he knows it bothers someone. I understand why now is tacked on the list of reasons i think he is a narc. Along with every single other one listed here

  7. AnIceKnight001 says:

    How about critical insults? In particular to a cetebralish: “Damn Jim, you’ve gotten fat.” Delivered matter of factly, walk off shortly thereafter?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The problem is that if you deliver such a comment to us in person, you are highly likely to provide fuel because

      1. The words are an insult in themselves, thus they provide fuel.
      2. You may not deliver the words with emotional tone – therefore that element provides no fuel.
      3. There is a risk that your body language, facial expression and the look in your eyes provides fuel because it is very hard, often impossible to regulate that.
      4. The interaction increases emotional thinking because it is an engagement with the narcissist.

      Therefore GOSO.

      1. nunya biz says:

        Recently told him he looks older and it engaged him with me I think. I wasn’t trying to deter him though, I was just annoyed. I am starting to see things better and I can see how this could spur interaction. Helps me with my responsiveness to others as well I think.

  8. Claire says:

    I believe I’ve done all with these intentions. Again—is there anything you have yet to think of that you have not thought of?

  9. Mercy says:

    Number 5. I have never done this and never will. Actually I do not speak his name to anyone at all especially people that know him. 1) I do not trust anyone because I’ve seen the way people kiss his ass and 2) I do not trust myself to keep their secrets when I’m under his influence.

    1. Bekah B says:


      It is so funny to me that the first comment on this post says, “Number 5. . .” and expresses the complete opposite of what I have done and how I feel about it.. When arriving to Number 5 while reading the article, I literally laughed out loud because it is soooo true.. In 2017, I suffered a life-changing experience at the hands of my narc and reached out to talk about it to a mutual friend (that I met first and was cool with FIRST, before my narc befriended him).. This guy had a whole seemingly genuine conversation with me about the situation.. Over time, I came to realize it would always be futile to converse with this guy about my daughter’s father because he was a lieutenant..

      1. nunya biz says:

        Ugh…Bekah B. The utter fucking bullshit.
        Lieutenant blech, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been one inadvertently (due to pressing, neurotic imploring, and such), I practice keeping my mouth shut at present and I avoid lieutenant behavior in others if I pick up on it because they probably don’t know, but it is still self-serving, isn’t it.

        1. Mercy says:

          Nunya Biz, that’s exactly why I said I don’t trust myself to keep their secrets. I never knew I was doing lieutenant duties for him. Every conversation had ulterior motives and other victims would get caught in the crossfire. I remember toward the end one of his IPSSs wanted to talk to me. I refused because I didn’t want her to confide in me. I didn’t trust myself with her secrets. I also knew anything I said to her would be used against me to gain favor with him. It’s not worth it.

          1. nunya biz says:

            Absolutely, Mercy. Good for you, I really have difficulty keeping my mouth shut sometimes. In multiple ways, I mean as far as divulging weaknesses and things. I’m learning to be more cautious, but also just knowing some people are trustworthy and keeping my eyes open. I would probably be really averse to talk to IPSS also, that sounds very tenuous. Also I naturally dislike gossip, so when I’ve opened up I know that’s not my motivation, it’s usually honesty, support, anxiety relief, etc… N’s will take the information and use it totally differently than the intention. So strange.

        2. Bekah B says:

          Hi Nunya Biz,

          I’m with you on just keeping entirely quiet now.. Don’t wanna fall for inadvertently leaking information..

      2. Mercy says:

        Bekah, I was thinking about you yesterday wondering how you are doing. Hope the pregnancy is going well.

        I think it’s normal to want to reach out. When we don’t know we’re dealing with a narcissist, we’re unaware of their lieutenants. They are so good at making other people want to do their dirty work. It’s very strange that I was able to pick up on it early but BS triangulated almost from the beginning. There was always red flags and I never fully trusted anything. I think that may be one of the reasons I’m here. I was cautious but still got caught up in it all.

        1. SMH says:

          Mercy, I was thinking of you this morning. I don’t have time right now to look for the comment I wanted to respond to (flying by the seat of my pants so to speak with work) but I saw something briefly yesterday that you were feeling down and missing your narc over of the weekend. I hope you are feeling better. I suddenly felt everpresence this morning for the first time in ages – I felt him, he was there – but it passed quickly.

          1. Mercy says:

            SMH, thank you for responding. I can’t say what has triggered all these thoughts but I’m keeping it under control. It’s not so much that I miss him, it’s that he was my person. I miss the companionship. I miss the emails I’d wake up to or his calls while I was on lunch break. Having plans on the weekends, BBQs, road trips. Those things don’t make me want to contact him though. It’s the realization of certain things he did. Flashes of events that took place that I’m now realizing my questions and doubts at the time were valid. I want to reach out and say “I knew I was right”. It won’t do any good though.

            I know what you mean when you say you felt him. I have those moments too and the white noise is still there. I feel like he lives inside me.

          2. SMH says:

            Mercy, Those things will fade with time. I used to feel that Excel lived inside me all the time but that feeling is very rare now and even the other day it only lasted a second or two. I was worried coming home tonight because I have to shift gears now (working a lot) and I was afraid those old feelings would take over. But that has not happened. I am going to sleep and have plans for the whole weekend, and then I am traveling next week. I don’t have time to dwell on it. I also read the last few pages of the notes on ‘moods’ I used to keep where I chronicled how much he was bothering me and how ridiculous he was acting post escape and I remembered how I felt then. We tend to only remember the good parts. It’s helpful to remember the alienated or even repulsed feelings too.

          3. Mercy says:

            SMH, I have a mood journal too but I can’t read it. No way haha. I’m actually doing much better. It was just a couple of days but I’m over it. I will be glad when they are just glimpses like yours. I agree that staying busy is needed to stay distracted. I’m freaking tired though haha. I’m always working on something to keep my mind occupied. I just commented on another thread about the narcs obsessions but maybe it’s true for us too. First we obsess about them, then we find other things to obsess about to stop obsessing about them. I’ve always had an obsessive mind. Example, I need a box for some maps I want to store. I know exactly what I want. Any free time has me googling, searching, shopping for this box. Can’t find it. Guess what my project is today? I’m making the stupid box. It’s obsessively insane!

          4. SMH says:

            Mercy, I think you have a point there. I am obsessive too, though I don’t think I’d go so far as to make the box. I’d probably roll the maps up and put a rubber band around them! But I am very persistent and focused once I set my mind to something and do things to the point of collapse, when I then might explode/lash out/hibernate. I actually quit a job some years ago because of burnout (well, I got a buyout and walked away). I wonder if there is a connection between being attracted to or staying with narcs and being obsessive. Maybe we are control freaks too. Hmmm. Anyway, glad it passed. Step by step.

          5. Mercy says:

            SMH, I notice this about you too. I wonder if our focus on a particular thing, whether it’s a box or a job, is a coping mechanism.

          6. SMH says:

            Mercy, It probably is a coping mechanism but it makes me awfully productive and I find that satisfying. Just don’t get in my way when I am fixated on something! hahaha

            I do think Excel was like this too, though he never seemed to collapse. Both of us were type A workaholics, though my workaholism took a back seat because he made things so complicated.

            I don’t think I knew that your kids’ dad left you all three times you were pregnant. What a shitty thing to do. Glad you finally saw him for what he was. And Bekah B, good luck to you!

          7. Mercy says:

            SMH, yea he was a real winner too. I think he’s currently in his 3rd terminal Illness but I’d have to ask the girls to be sure haha. I had no Idea he was a narcissist until I put it together this year. He’s definitely a lesser.

          8. SMH says:

            Mercy, My exH was too and I also did not realize it until I got here. Two in a row for me as well (though Lesser is not my son’s father). I was just out with one of my brothers (I have crossed the pond), and he was talking about taking a break from his family life (no judgment – he has good reasons). I told him that I will never live with anyone again, and that is because of Lesser.

          9. Mercy says:

            SMH, is this the same ex you danced in the room when he left? If so, I completely understand. Leaving a lesser is like how your face feels after a facial, or walking out of a smoking room and taking a fresh breath. Haha it’s like vacuuming out the car after a long winter. If they are like mine was, leaving a lesser is cleansing.

          10. SMH says:

            Mercy, My Lesser was a hypochondriac too, as well as a hoarder.

        2. Bekah B says:

          Awww, thank you so much, Mercy, for your thoughts.. I am doing okay and my pregnancy is progressing very nicely.. Only 15 and a half more weeks to go!!

          Yes, I agree it is a normal tendency to want to reach out to others, just to seek some clarity or insight into a particular situation.. I was so clueless to how this whole narcissistic dynamic worked back then.. Never again will I be so gullible or trusting.. From now on, I will always be vigilant, cautious, and very mindful of who I disclose certain information to..

          1. Mercy says:

            Bekah, I was clueless as well. I may not have trusted his friends but didn’t listen to the warnings about him. Thank the stars above we know now and know what to look for.

            I’m glad you are doing well. I know you have alot in your plate right now and wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you. I’m not sure if I told you, but my kids dad left me all three times I was pregnant. After that third baby something changed in me. He was easy to leave then. His opinions, wants, needs no longer mattered because I saw him for what he was, beneath me.

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