11 things a narcissist will do to undermine your confidence

Narcissists are nasty pieces of work.

Few people have gotten out of relationships, friendships, or upbringings with a narcissist with their sanity and self-esteem still intact.

Why? Because almost everything a narcissist does can undermine your confidence and chip away at your self-worth.

Their lack of empathy and uncontrollable fear of abandonment often causes them to lash out at those closest to them.

If you’re an understanding person (which narcissists often gravitate towards), it can be all too easy to explain away their poor behavior.

But you’ll feel the effects of their toxic traits on your own confidence.

Let’s take a look at the 11 things a narcissist will do to undermine your confidence – so you can cut them out of your life before things get too bad.

1) They’ll excessively brag about their own accomplishments

Have you ever spoken to someone who always tries to one-up you in conversation?

Whatever you’re doing, they’re doing something better – and they have to tell you about it immediately.

Well, this is how most conversations go with a narcissist. Because they have an incessant need for validation and admiration, they love talking about themselves.

It inflates their ego and makes them feel superior, according to experts.

Which, over time, can make you feel inferior.

Usually, this outcome isn’t intentional by the narcissist. Sure, they relish putting others down to make themselves feel more powerful.

But most of the time, they’ll brag about their accomplishments to big themselves up – and you feeling inferior from it is just collateral damage to them.

2) They’ll find your troubles “weak” or insignificant

One of the most renowned traits of a narcissist is their lack of empathy.

Because of this trait, they can’t make you feel seen, validated, understood, or accepted, according to experts.

And they’re often not very good at hiding it – especially if you’ve been in a relationship for a long time.

You’ll get the sense that they don’t care about your feelings from the way they act when you talk about your troubles.

You’ll also probably hear them say that they find your emotions dramatic. Or that you’re weak for being troubled by “so little” (according to them).

3) They’ll tease you and put you down

Another common behavior of someone with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) is antagonism, according to experts.

They love to tease and mock you for your words and actions.

Why? Because there’s nothing a narcissist loves more than a reaction.

And when you react to their teasing or harsh comments (whether positively or negatively), it fuels them and makes them feel powerful.

While teasing can sometimes be funny (depending on your sense of humor), the type of teasing from a narcissist often won’t be a game or a joke to you.

It can start out as one, but it can gradually turn spiteful and controlling – which can quickly chip away at your self-worth and self-esteem.

4) They’ll gaslight you

Gaslighting has become a very popular term on social media and online.

More people are becoming aware of what gaslighting is and how common it is in the people they know.

While anyone can gaslight anyone, it’s one of the most common behaviors of a narcissist – with some experts coining it the “hallmark of narcissism”.

If you don’t already know, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s designed to manipulate you into believing you are wrong or confused when you’re not.

And it’s a tactic used by narcissists to make you question your own reality so they can benefit from it and feel superior.

5) They’ll play hot and cold with you.

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Narcissists can be extremely charming when you first meet them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone with NPD to lovebomb you when you first get into a relationship.

They may shower you with love, compliments, gifts, emotional support, and affection.

But, according to experts, this is all an act.

Narcissists enjoy fantasy and grandiosity, so they enjoy making a relationship or friendship seem like a fairytale at first.

But there will be cracks in the foundation.

Their true colors will shine through once the golden period is over. But they’ll cover it up with hot and cold behavior.

They’ll shower you with love sometimes, then quickly take it away by saying something cruel as a way to control you.

Because when they’re nice, you’ll get an adrenaline rush and remember the “old them” that you fell in love with.

And, combined with their gaslighting, you’ll question how bad the bad times really are when things are going well.

6) They’ll never admit to being wrong

Because narcissists have an inflated ego, they’re known for being arrogant – according to experts.

And their arrogance will never let them apologize for something they did.

Everything will always be your fault (according to them) and they’ll try to make you feel guilty – even when it’s something they did.

Like if they cheated on you, they’ll tell you, “You made me do this because you’ve gained weight”.

Or if they make you cry, they’ll say, “It’s your fault for being so sensitive”.

In the rare times they do apologize, it won’t be genuine or it’ll be backhanded.

They may say, “I’m sorry you’re too sensitive to handle it” or “I’m sorry you can’t control your emotions”.

7) They’ll criticize you if you distance yourself from them

Because narcissists crave love and adoration, they despise it when you withdraw from them.

Say you call them out on their toxic behavior or try to break up with them, they’ll quickly lash out and turn nasty.

They might criticize you, gaslight you, or make you believe you’re not worthy of any better treatment than what they’re already giving you.

As one Reddit thread says, when you try to break up with a narcissist, they’ll say something like:

“You’ll never find anyone better than me” or “You’ll be lost without me”.

And it’ll be a final attempt at manipulating you to get you to stay with them.

8) They’ll talk over you all the time

When you’re speaking to a narcissist, you’ll probably find yourself unable to get a word in edgeways.

Every time you do speak, you’ll be interrupted, talked over, or undermined.

Narcissists have an excessive need for praise, so they prefer to be the talking point over you.

Because when they are speaking, they have the chance to get sympathy, praise, and affection from you – something they crave, according to experts.

Combined with their lack of empathy, they genuinely don’t care about how it makes you feel when they talk over you.

All of which can chip away at your own self-confidence and self-esteem.

9) They’ll believe that they are better than you

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Because narcissists have a deep need for admiration and a sense of entitlement, they genuinely believe that they are the best people in the world, according to experts.

To them, you are just a small fish who could never reach their level.

So they’ll make sure that you know how much better they believe they are compared to you.

And it’ll show in most of your conversations and interactions.

10) They’ll be obsessed with your appearance (and not in a good way)

Narcissists have a love-hate relationship with themselves, according to experts. They know they’re different and they lack self-esteem because of it.

But you’d never know they feel this way deep down. They put on an act that they are the best person in the world and that they are worthy of the best.

And because they’re obsessed with perfection, they hone in on people’s appearances.

They’ll spend hours in front of the mirror to make themselves look good. And they won’t like it if they think you aren’t meeting their high standards.

Anything they don’t like about you (or don’t think others will like), they’ll highlight, criticize, and shame you for it.

And it’s these types of criticisms that can undermine your confidence the more time you spend with them.

11) They’ll patronize you and make you feel small

Some people with NPD are very overt with their criticisms of you. But others will be much more subtle.

They’ll undermine your confidence slowly and gradually through their constant patronization.

When speaking to you, they’ll often belittle you or make you feel small.

If you ask them a question, they’ll make it obvious how foolish you are for asking such a question (especially if it’s in front of a crowd).

And if you share good news with them, they’ll make you feel childish or silly for being happy about such a thing.

According to experts, they do this to make themselves feel more powerful and smarter than you – and their condescending behavior will only get worse the more intelligent they think you are. 

Final thoughts

Dealing with a narcissist isn’t just an inconvenience – it can be downright soul-destroying.

People with NPD only truly care about themselves, so they’ll happily wreak havoc on your life (and self-confidence) for their own gain.

The first step to cutting a narcissist out of your life (or limiting their control over you) is to make yourself aware of their toxic behavior.

Once you know what’s manipulative, you can regain control over the narcissist’s impact on you and start rebuilding your own self-confidence.

Picture of Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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