7 Backhanded Provocations of the Narcissist



We are masters of the back-handed compliment, the flattery which is actually a form of provocation, the kings of seemingly pleasant comments which are really put downs. We appear with that radiant and broad smile as we then slip a stiletto knife between your ribs with deft ease. Nobody else sees us do this. It appears to everyone else, as we stand there with our false smile plastered across our faces, that we are giving you a loving hug. Our outside appearance to the world and the maintenance of our façade remains intact as we slip through your defences and land a blow against you. We revel in seeing you smiling in return, your eyes lighting up with delight at our benign manner towards you only then for you to realise the import of what we have actually said. As the metaphorical dagger pierces your skin, you realise what is actually meant by what we have said to you. It appeared as a compliment but in actual fact we have told you something which will trouble you, upset you or anger you. Your eyes narrow with confusion and we see that look of uncertainty cross your face as you cannot quite believe what is happening. Did you hear what we said correctly? Have you misinterpreted the comment that we made? Did we really just say that? We can see how you are torn between wanting to accept the supposed compliment and then that sinking sensation as you realise that we have just made a barbed comment which appeared to be a pleasant one. The look on your face is akin to the look of bewildered astonishment that one might see on a wildebeest as it is brought to ground by a hungry lion and is eaten alive from behind. It cannot quite comprehend what is happening and neither can you.

What makes it worse is that to everyone else we appear to be smiling, hugging you and being pleasant. You want to react. You want to push us away from you. You want to chastise us, lash out and reprimand us for what we have just said, but the way that we framed this back-handed compliment means that you would appear mean, ungrateful and churlish if you did so. Just as we remain close to you, holding you, dagger still lodged between your ribs as we slowly twist it, you can do nothing but remain where you are as everyone else looks on thinking that we are being pleasant to you. We know that because you are a decent and pleasant person you are conditioned to accept the compliment and not rail against it, even when you realise that it is actually hurtful. This allows us to see just how strong our control over you is. If you react to the barbed comment and lash out at us, crying or shouting at us for our remark, then we gain fuel. If you remain silent and confused by it, unable to mask your hurt and disappointment, we still gain fuel but we also derive a significant indication of our power over you. We are able to make a hurtful remark seem like a compliment and have you accept it. This is a useful way for us to put you down whilst appearing to be pleasant. It also allows us to reinforce our perceived superiority over you through the application of this control. This technique also utilises our favoured mechanism of plausible deniability. There is a degree of ambiguity whereby if you attempted to pin the blame on us for precisely what we have intended to say, we would be able to reject that assertion. We are able to accuse you of reading too much into it, twisting our words and over-reacting. All favourite methods of rejecting you intended blame and of stoking the emotional fires further. We can feign hurt by stating we were paying you a compliment and you have taken it the wrong way. Again. We then want you to apologise, soothe us and feel guilty for trying to suggest that we would do anything other than be pleasant to you. Of course, this technique where we come with smiles as we plunge our critical knife into you, is one which we revel in deploying and is just part of our arsenal that is designed to mess with your thinking. Did we say what you thought we said? What did we really mean from that comment? Are you in fact over-analysing it or should you trust your initial judgement here? All of these factors unsettle, confuse and undermine you, eroding your confidence and clouding your judgement. It is all par the course and entirely why we behave as smiling assassins. There are numerous ways this is done and here are seven of the often used back-handed provocations.

  1. Condescend

We will talk to you in a condescending tone for the purposes of belittling you, making you feel inferior and causing us to look far better by comparison. We offer unwanted advice, talk to you from the position of always knowing what is right and what is best. Of course, should you challenge this overly paternalistic approach to the way we deal with you we will point out that we only want what is best for you, that we are only trying to help you and so have your best interests at heart. Is it a crime to do that for you?

  1. Insider Jokes

We will engage in making comments which cause members of our devout coterie to laugh and giggle but you are left in the dark as to what is so funny. We will use terms that amuse us and our followers considerably but seem meaningless to you. This will make you feel uncomfortable and isolated and if you should commence some kind of protest we will point out that we have not involved you because you would be bored by the silliness (thus inferring you have no sense of humour but making it seem as if you are above our schoolboy sniggering and this is a good thing) or that you would not be interested in our style of humour because you are too highbrow for such base comments and observations.

  1. Our Ex

We will repeatedly mention that our ex is still in love with us, indeed he or she still tries to contact us and they leave messages and have telephoned us a few times. Of course we tell you that you have no need to worry because that was in the past and we are with you now, you are the person that matters. This is designed to make it appear like we can brush aside the presence of our ex because we are in love with you. In fact, although it sounds like this, we use it as a means of securing carte blanche for mentioning the ex on many occasions so it unsettles you. Of course you are hamstrung from saying anything because that would make you seem insecure and you do not want to show that this is true. Thus we feel free to keep making mention of our ex and continue to triangulate them with you.

  1. Ignoring You

We ignore you and dole out a silent treatment with all of the fuel providing and control ramification which arise from this particular manipulation. Should you even begin to protest we point out that we are so glad we are with you because you understand our need for space and some time to ourselves. This appears like a compliment and is designed to flatter you into allowing us to keep doling out these silent treatments as and when we want in order to ignore you because we can then focus on gaining fuel from other parties when we are apart from you.

  1. The Ex Again

We talk incessantly about the qualities of the ex, highlighting all of their many wonderful attributes (which of course is a sudden change from when we were calling them demon spawn when we first seduced you but that’s all changed now). We babble on about how marvellous they are, the funny things they said, how beautiful they looked, the achievements they secured and so on before telling you that we are so pleased that you are so understanding that we can talk about past relationships with you. This supposed compliment restricts you from commenting adversely but we know that inside you are fuming and desperate to reprimand us in some way. How we delight in knowing this and seeing you trying to maintain a pleasant smile when inside we know you are dying.

  1. Flirtation

We flirt shamelessly and we know you see us doing this. We also know how it hurts and angers you but we fire a compliment your way by telling you that it is refreshing to be with someone who allows us to be ourselves, someone who is not jealous and someone who is so trusting. These compliments are designed to keep you quiet as we get on with doing what we please. We draw fuel from those we flirt with and all the while we keep casting backward glances to the trusting you seeing the gathering anger in your eyes.

  1. Spending Time with Others

We spend time with other people. It may be chatting someone up in the bar, hanging out with our friends, chasing down new prospects, wowing the crowd at a work function and so on. This blatant fuel-gathering is crucial to us and when we wander in later after our third consecutive night out we head you off at the pass by praising you by saying how lucky we are to have someone who understands that because they get all of our attention most of the time, we need to be able to spend some time with other people. Once again, this comment is designed to back you into a corner and have you standing, arms crossed and fuming, teetering between our control and providing us with even more fuel.

24 thoughts on “7 Backhanded Provocations of the Narcissist

  1. Kelly B says:

    Asked a acquaintance to give me a ride. My Mercedes got a flat tire and it was late. Too late to get a tire to be ordered. I had a feeling this guy was a narcissist. That night later he sent a message. He wished he could sleep with me. “Gross” not even on a drunk night. Before that he was showing me pictures of his ex so creepy. Next time I will use a Uber.

  2. Sarah Jane says:

    Claire, could that possibly be because he’s ‘working’ other women at this stage and keeping his options open? Maybe he’s hanging on for a better fuel provider.

  3. foolme1time says:

    Karen, Your not an idiot! They are just that good at what they do! It isn’t until we are away from them or have finally let go of them that we realize just how boring and empty they truly were. Be good to yourself sweetie. 🤗

    1. Sarah Jane says:

      ‘You’re not an idiot’, thought HG’s mind.

      ‘Fuck it’, said HG’s finger tips.

    2. Sarah Jane says:

      Karen has got a not an idiot?

      I want to play with it!

  4. This one hurts. John is a very bright man when it comes to his job (upper management), but when he would talk about his ex, forget my birthday every single year, flirt with the waitress, etc, I always thought he was socially ignorant. He was so smooth about it. I never mentioned any of this to him. I guess if I cared more about the relationship I would have cared more that he did all of these things. What hurts most is that I tried to leave over and over again just to be pulled back in by fake future plans. Idiot. The more I learn the less appealing he is.

  5. marinathemermaid3 says:

    This one is so spot on!

  6. Caron says:

    Perhaps you know what happened to me, HG. My ULN would scream obscenities and insults and throw full glasses of beer at my feet in his rage, and I didn’t get mad back. I would look him in the eyes, at his face distorted with fury and tell him I loved him. Sometimes it worked to soothe the beast, but more often than not he would continue until he discarded or until I went supernova and then he discarded.

    When he discarded, it got worse and worse for me over the course of our relationship. Once I even had a panic attack trying to figure out what to do because he always controlled everything we did. I would beg and plead with him and go to where he was staying and camp out if he discarded. He never completely stopped contact. I did, but he never completely discarded me.

    Patience was my mother’s super power, but I have perseverance as mine. When my kids were young and would get angry at my discipline and shout things at me, I would pull a little switch in my mind and instead hear, “Good job, Mom,” or “I love you, Mom, thank you.” I didn’t exactly do this with my narc, but it is like most of his insults, for a time, I could just let roll off. Some did damage, some didn’t, but I just loved him, and none of his ugliness made me stop loving him. I didn’t fight back or return anger or insults (except in supernova mode), and when he hit me, I didn’t hit him back. He terrified me so much one time that I pulled my gun out, but I didn’t point it at him, and I still didn’t yell or insult. I could never convince him that anything he did or thought or said was wrong, but I patiently tried, tried something else, adjusted my approach, tried again, continued to try.

    I always fought before, with others. I could always break up. How did he subvert my self-defense instincts? How did he earn my love so completely that even after all of the abuses I didn’t want it to end?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      In a word ‘addiction’. Need to understand more fully then do organise a consultation with me.

      1. Caron says:

        Dang. All my long-winded, dramatic ramblings and you give me one word. And it has to be that word, too. If this is the case, I can honestly say I have never been addicted to anything before. It’s enbarrassing to be so devoted to someone who harmed me with abandon.

        Aren’t you worried I will fall in love with you? And why wouldn’t you just lie and tell me what I want to hear during this consultation? Is it a Skype? Will it help me get over it?

        1. foolme1time says:

          Caron, HG takes his consultations very seriously. He is very professional at all times and he has no reason to lie! He is the only one that can help you understand and move forward from your situation. Honestly he is that good! Take care and good luck! 😊

          1. HG Tudor says:

            True and thank you

          2. foolme1time says:

            You are welcome HG. Not sucking up, I’ve know need too! It’s all true, I wouldn’t of gotten this far without you!

          3. Claire says:

            Just do it Caron. You won’t fall in love with him dear—he’ll help you fall in love with yourself though.

          4. foolme1time says:

            Claire, perfect!

          5. Claire says:

            Foolme—one of best friends is well aware of my situation and we had a long talk last night and she’s a total magnet for **dysfunctional men I shall say. Her current boyfriend won’t allow photos on his social media of them despite a long term relationship. She looks like a Barbie doll—not kidding—she’s astonishing at times. I have kept my thoughts to myself mostly aside from suggesting it’s nonsense.. She told me she was afraid to talk to HG and asked me if he was mean! She then said she was really more afraid of the truth..

          6. foolme1time says:

            Claire, aww, The truth will set her free! But you and I know how hard it is to take that first step! Perhaps if she did an email consult first? That way when the results come back you could be there with her. It sounds like she already knows what HG is going to say. Your a good friend Claire. 🤗

          7. Sarah Jane says:


            I’m hoping he’s different with every one.

        2. Joanne says:

          The consultation is so helpful. I submitted a 1,200 word summary of what was happening and asked 4 questions. HG got back to me via an audio file with a “diagnosis” of my situation and answered my questions. It gave me a lot of resolution and understanding that I was not getting from my attempts to talk with my narc. I listened to that audio file at least once a day for five weeks to help ground me into reality and get my emotional thinking in check. It didn’t make me fall in love with HG. It’s not like that. It is answers, insight, explanation. I highly recommend it. I had mine before I really dug deeply into HGs blog material, and it’s even more clear now how everything he explained to me tied together.

          1. HG Tudor says:

            Thank you Joanne, that’s an excellent application of my work

          2. Joanne says:

            Thank YOU for helping me sort my life out! 😅

          3. Caron says:

            I believe you. I will do it. Just have to find the time. Thank you.

  7. Sarah Jane says:

    Many online ‘jokes’ with his inner circle lieutenants, who thought the sun shined from his arsehole. I’d be left, reading them and trying to fathom them out from afar – him knowing I couldn’t comment.

    I’d text him about them and, funnily enough, they increased. Then he would post digs on his instagram, the context being about ‘nosy’ people.

    The truth for me on what lies beneath is way funnier than being in the midst of all that back then. Naive or what.

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