The Smiling Assassin


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 that 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 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 do 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 your 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.

8 thoughts on “The Smiling Assassin

  1. singasongy says:

    So confused after reading this. My Narc does every single one of these things to me. It infuriates me. BUT I do all of these same things to him right back! I don’t understand! I do them instinctively because I’m not consciously thinking about the reasons for doing them but immediately recognize what it does to my victim and then I am doing it on purpose to keep getting those reactions. I don’t feel guilty about it at the moment but boy do I feel guilty later. SO guilty that I will apologize to that person at a later time if not immediately.
    My favorite thing to do to my NARC (LB) right now is have inside jokes with other people in our group. I blatantly tell LB oh its just between me and so and so. This infuriates him! His eyes turn black. He holds his breath trying to balance his reaction. Most of the time I do these things is when we are in public so he has to process them while he keeps his cool. The thing is, he can’t help himself and will badger me endlessly trying to find out the “secret” I THRIVE off of this. I LOVE having this power over him. and then just when I know he is going to crack and he starts being mean I give him some information, (what I deem he can have not all of it) and soothe him. telling him, that now he has even more inside information, I’m giving him stuff that the other person isn’t even aware of. He loves this and settles down and now he will flood me with all sorts of his thoughts on this. Now, he will go back to treating me the way I like.

    Damn, maybe I’m the narc and he’s the codependent? No, he absolutely feels no remorse for anything. I can do this stuff when I feel mad. I have no problem hurting certain people that I feel deserve it. But afterwards there is much remorse. I think I just manipulate to get what I need same as him.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The ability to hurt others is caused by a temporary reduction in emotional empathy towards that individual and is often occasioned, although not exclusively, by being the victim of abuse.

      1. singasongy says:

        Yep. I don’t do it unless I feel like I’ve been slighted or I see him committing a wrong on someone or something else. It just makes me so angry. I get haughty A LOT. It could just be me seeing him and him looking down on his phone when I say hi. fuck you. I will go find one of your people and I will talk to them. Works every time. He’s such jealous fuck.

  2. cogra002 says:

    I also have seen this, but what do u do in the moment while it’s happening? You’re wrong to say anything or to let it go. This article here makes me so glad the Narc is LD and I don’t deal with this much. I have though in the past…. Narc family members

  3. Marcia says:

    I love reading this. Escaped after 30 years of being put down on exactly this way. You only see it, when you’ve got out. And I love reading this, because I know the new ‘wife’ is being treated exactly the same way now. I have a great smile on my face, because I’m relieved of this monster and she who had been smearing me and helping him with all the legal procedures, is undergoing this kind of horrendous treatment, being put down, not able to react, because anything she says, will be and shall be used against her.

    She doesn’t know why she’s becoming more and more unhappy and thinks: if the ex is out of my way, I’ll be happy with him. He’ll stop talking about her.

    Keep dreaming baby.

    The only one who is truly happy now, is me: no contact, got out and will stay out for ever. I’ve a wonderful loving life with great family relations and loving friends. Every day I realize I’ve escaped from someone who was out there to kill me on a spiritual level. He almost succeeded, but I got out, just in time.

    Thank you,HG. You describe this in a great way, I know how difficult this kind of abuse is to put your finger on. I always wonder how someone like you is able to see this from the perspective of the empath, because your description of our feelings is so adequate. You don’t feel it, but you ‘know’? You see our reactions on our face, our pain, but you only realize this on a intellectual level? How do you know these are our feelings, because you don’t feel them?

    And is this kind of awareness limited to the greater narcissist?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome Marcia. This kind of awareness is limited to the Greater and the Ultra. I know because I observe and listen and study, even though I do not feel in that way.

  4. MommyPino says:

    So true!! And it’s not just unnoticeable from the outside but even the victims themselves do not realize that they were being maliciously subjected to covert bullying until the effects on their self esteem and emotional health have already taken a toll. And then after being subjected to this victims end up being suspicious to others or being extremely anxious about accidentally hurting someone with their remarks. I went through both. When I was extremely anxious about my remarks accidentally hurting someone I used to tell my husband what I said and ask him if it could be interpreted this way or that way and what if that person got hurt because they interpreted what I said this way. And he always told me that I am overthinking too much. I can not control what people would think.


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