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.

65 thoughts on “7 BackHanded Provocations of the Narcissist

  1. Pati says:

    He started touching me under my pants at the gas station in front of all these people standing in line. He never does that. He did in randomly or should I say instinctive.

  2. Violetta says:

    Dorothy Parker wrote a short story about a woman getting a visit after what is almost certainly a (then-illegal) abortion. It’s a textbook demonstration of what GH has described.

  3. Liza says:

    As always the article is amazing.
    but why do you have to show me such a tasty looking cup cake? i’m not supposed to eat sweets in the middle of the night, or i’ll gain weight T_T

    1. Pati says:

      I agree, I dont feel like eating my Birthday cake today after seeing this either . I hope the inside is not green.

      1. Liza says:

        i didn’t notice the brocolie thing at all ( makes more sens with the title), it’s a wonder how i can finde my way home sometimes.
        happy birthday pati!!!!
        if you need help with your cake, worry not, i can rid you of it any time, it takes more than a green coloration to stop me from eating a cake.

        1. Pati says:

          Hahaha thank you for the bday wish 💓 I am always willing to share a piece!

          1. Liza says:

            you are welcome

          2. FoolMe1Time says:

            Happy Birthday Pati! I hope you had a wonderful day! 😘💜

          3. Pati says:

            FM1T, thank you so much . My bday was ok.
            My husband took me for lunch . No big deal,he was hungry . Then our family went out for coffee,and I went out for drinks with friends. My adult daughter came too,my husband texts her instead of me . I think she is his lieutenant. So it was alright .

      2. AR says:

        Happy Birthday Pati!!!🎂

        1. Pati says:

          Thank you so much AR! 😁

          1. AR says:

            My pleasure:)

      3. E. B. says:

        Belated Happy Birthday, Pati!

        1. Pati says:

          Thank you so much E.B.!

  4. House of Heart says:

    Please make you posts rebloggable , they are too good not to share!

  5. MB says:

    Look Lorelei! A broccoli cupcake. Yum!

    1. Lorelei says:

      Oh My MB—I just saw this about a broccoli cupcake! You know—I’m picking my daughter up from cheer and she’s breath taking and her life is on the right track. Thanks to all of you—not just HG or me or anyone but all of you here. Never could the events of last spring have been shifted without this platform. So, broccoli it may be but it works. MB—I just saw this post but funny I just posted awhile ago that I want broccoli cheddar soup. I think Bob Evans has it.

      1. MB says:

        Lorelei, Panera sweetheart. Panera. Bread bowl if you’re having a bad day and need more comfort than the soup alone can provide. You’re welcome 😊

        1. Lorelei says:

          I’m all better and ate two breakfasts. Couldn’t eat last night. I ate 1/4 of the veggies on my counter-top with a heap of goat cheese. Not kidding.

          1. MB says:

            You and that goat cheese 🤢

          2. Lorelei says:

            MB—it’s delicious like crack I think—except I’ve never had crack. I do know that if I did like crack I’d eat this and never use crack again though. Crack feels dirty but this feels clean.

          3. NarcAngel says:

            Just eat clean crack. Sounds like a winning tagline.

          4. Lorelei says:

            Yuck. Is there a clean crack?

          5. Pati says:

            What is clean crack? Have I missed something lol

          6. HG Tudor says:

            Gusset fresh.

          7. Pati says:


          8. Lorelei says:

            Clean crack is cocaine at a high end party where you slip in and out of the bathroom doing lines every half hour. Ask HG. I know nothing about it.

          9. HG Tudor says:

            Every half hour? Is there only one bathroom?

          10. Lorelei says:

            What! Or on a mirror with a credit card in a bed with a narcissist somewhere. Fucking narcissists make that happen.

          11. Pati says:

            I thought that clean crack was someone having a clean butt crack lol

          12. Lorelei says:

            My kids think I’ve tried pot once by the way—nothing else ever ever!

          13. HG Tudor says:

            Sure they do!

          14. Lorelei says:

            Nope they know nothing else and just living down “one time” with pot was like a sin. I should have said nothing ever.

          15. Pati says:

            My neighboor is smoking pot right now since it now legalized. I can smeil through my window .

          16. Pati says:

            Now I get it thank you !

          17. NarcAngel says:

            Better yet…

            I love to eat clean crack.

            Put that on your dating profile and crash the app.

          18. Lorelei says:

            I’m actively in a store looking for a little black dress! But not for a date site!

          19. MB says:

            You make me laugh Lorelei. You’re such a character.

          20. Lorelei says:

            I’m absolutely in heavenly bliss. I bought a smashing red outfit with a black fur wrap! I’ll wear heels that hurt my feet. But I won’t smoke crack.

          21. MB says:

            The heels are always worth the pain Lorelei. Have fun!

          22. Pati says:

            Sounds like a sext outfit , I know my feet still hurt wearing high heel boots dancing last night.
            My feet are still.paying the price . I prefer flip flops and running shoes.

          23. Lorelei says:

            It’s more classy than sexy by far. The fur is the Big Bang. It’s for a holiday event.

          24. Pati says:

            It will look nice for the event I hope.you have fun

          25. Violetta says:

            As long as we’re talking about addictions, can someone please explain why avocado toast became a “thing”?
            I like avocados well enough, and I know they have nutritional value, but I don’t understand the fuss. It doesn’t count if you have them in salad or dip. It has to be toast.

          26. Pati says:

            Violetta I only like them in guacamole.

          27. NarcAngel says:

            It’s because avocado toast (english muffin is better) is quick, delicious, and better nutritionally than grabbing a muffin or much worse. No excuse not to have breakfast. You can eat it on the go. Put an egg on it for a protein boost.

            An avocado was harmed as a result of this exchange.

          28. Lorelei says:

            I don’t eat bread Violetta— unless it’s for a reason. As a portal for avocados it would be quite rare. I like guacamole a ton though.

          29. Violetta says:

            Pati: it’s some kind of Hippie Luxe.

          30. Liza says:

            surely because one morning, some girl with thick eyebrows and wearing a yoga outfit said so on Instagram.

          31. Violetta says:

            Liza wins it!

            Sorry, NarcAngel, your explanation is too practical.

            The thick eyebrows must be drawn on, not natural, like Cara Delavigne or Brooke Shields. Extra points for the trout pout.

            The way Hipsters manage to combine hippie eco-smugness and back-to-natureism with expensive brand names and conspicuous consumption is a post-modern art form. the

          32. Lorelei says:

            My eyebrows are waxed!

          33. Liza says:

            i won?! since you are an actress, in this kind of occasions i must read my thank you speech, right?
            then, i’d like to thank my bitterness and jealousy of the toned bodies of those girls and my total inability to keep a healthy diet, i will stop here because i’m too moved to continu, thank you .

            haha i have a friend who keeps sending me photos of those Insta grils telling that they “inspire” her, i’m impressed by how she manages to get inspired by someone who paintes their face to go do sport.
            as for the hipsters ….well, when someone calls themselves with such a name, you can only blame yourself if you expected anything logic comming from them, they announced the color from the start.

          34. Lorelei says:

            Who are these Instagram yoga girls?

          35. NarcAngel says:

            Insta Chicks? Morally corrupt whores who eat avocado toast and wear yoga pants to demonstrate how meaty and bangable their vulvas are.

          36. Lorelei says:

            Ugh NA! But yes a morally corrupt whore. I need to stiffen up and pull myself together!

          37. Liza says:

            i have a good and a bad news:
            the good one, it seems that there is plenty of them, and they are the dominant population on instagram.
            the bad news, although they all look alike, i don’t know them by name since i just recieve the photos on facebook.

          38. Lorelei says:

            Really? And they all wear yoga pants. I wear them too but not on IG.

          39. Liza says:

            haha it’s not that they wear yoga pants, i wear them too, i don’t know how to explain it, but evrythings seems so forced and unatural, evry lilttle move becoms an event.
            and they all look the same, at least the ones i saw , it’s like an army of glamorous stormtroopers.

          40. Lorelei says:

            “Glamorous storm troopers!” My children are embarrassed by me if I’m not dressed like a queen. I’m not sure why. They don’t want to be seen with me unless I’m made up head to toe which is nonsense. I’m not high maintenance on my day to day trudge through the mud.

          41. HG Tudor says:

            Drag queen?

          42. Lorelei says:

            Me, a drag queen? Just a diva.

          43. Pati says:

            Just tell them not to call you mom in public lol. I tell my older ones just say I am your friend . That’s how my daughter introduced me to her crowd when we went for drinks the other night . They didnt know the difference lol.

          44. Lorelei says:

            If I have a drink in front of the children it’s a sin and they comment endlessly. It’s funny how they forgot I was drinking loads of wine for a long period of time to cope with their father. One has a vague memory of me putting wine in a coffee mug but that is it. I tell her she’s mistaken as it’s uncomfortable to discuss but she isn’t dumb.

          45. Liza says:

            My mother and my aunt are always buying me glamourous cloths and jewelry hoping that one day i’ll wear them, they didn’t arrive yet, and i must admit, they are tenacious, if i had half the energy they use to bother me, i would already be at Zuckerberg’s place.
            just joking, i love them, i’d just wish they’d forget about me a little bit.

          46. Lorelei says:

            I have an event to attend—I don’t normally need a red glamour outfit with a fur throw! My friend is involved in a charity that does three (?) fashion shows a year. We went in the spring and this is the big one. They are a blast. Loads of fun. I’m afraid I’ve gone rogue. I have a library book I keep getting late notifications for—I’m ignoring them! I love the thrill of evading the library.

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