We often hear about the ways in which kindness can change the world, one tiny act at a time.
But what about when it’s exploited by those with… less than noble intentions?
Believe it or not, your altruism and benevolence could actually be making you a target for those with narcissistic tendencies.
And if you’re someone with a pure heart and good intentions, you probably don’t see this half the time when it’s happening. Or at least until it’s happened and you’re walking away from the ashes of another relationship.
So, let’s get your defenses ready to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
The 11 techniques listed below are favored by narcissists, who employ them to subtly manipulate you and take advantage of your kind nature.
1) They exploit your empathy
As a kind person, you naturally empathize with others.
You understand their pain, and you genuinely want to help.
Narcissists, however, can see this empathy from a mile away. They have a hawk-like gaze which hones in on such tender opportunities to manipulate you.
Often, they’ll share sob stories (largely fabricated or extremely over exaggerated) in an attempt to draw you in and create a sense of pity and unison.
They know your empathetic nature won’t allow you to turn a blind eye to their ‘supposed’ suffering.
Hence why this is one of their most cunning yet strategies to take advantage of your kindness, and it’s crucial to be aware of it.
2) They demand your attention
As someone who is kind-hearted, you always try to make time for people – especially when you know they’re in extra need of a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand.
And yes, narcissists exploit this opportunity given any inkling of a chance to do so.
They often demand your undivided attention, monopolizing your time and energy with their needs and desires.
They may present their issues as urgent or dire and far more important than the problems anyone else is facing; creating a sense of crisis that compels you to drop everything else instantly and sprint to their aid, white-knight style.
This constant demand for your attention is just another way they manipulate your generosity, leaving you drained and distracted from your own needs and goals, let alone anyone else’s.
3) They praise your kindness excessively
Narcissists are known to flatter and charm people to get what they want. A lil’ love bombing goes a long way in their machinations.
Their unique sense of relationship establishment requires a distinct process of give and take in just the right amounts, to keep you coming back and wanting more.
Picture a donkey chasing after a ripe carrot swinging between his eyes, tied to the end of a stick.
Yes – you’re the donkey.
In your case, they might heap excessive praise on your kind nature. This obsequious flattery being the carrot with which you’re fawned after.
And whilst it’s nice to be appreciated, this constant adulation can often blur the boundaries of a healthy relationship.
They use this tactic to keep you invested in them, making it harder for you to spot their manipulation and maintain a necessary distance.
Moreover, this excessive praise can create an unhealthy dynamic where you feel obligated to live up to their portrayal of you as the exceptionally kind person, never allowed a day off from assuming this saint-like status.
4) They make you feel guilty
Even if you’re the kindest person on earth, you can’t always be there for everyone at all times.
You’re not a superhero, nor do you have a wind-back-time-clock that allows you to be everywhere, all at once.
More importantly, you have your own life, needs, and responsibilities.
However, narcissists may try to make you feel guilty when you prioritize these things over them. Or prioritize your own needs over theirs – good heavens!
They’ll imply that you’re being selfish or uncaring, using your own kindness as a weapon against you.
And this nasty guilt-tripping is another manipulative tactic they use to exploit your generosity and obliging nature against you.
5) They play the victim
Playing the victim is a classic tactic narcissists use to exploit your kindness.
They portray themselves as helpless, misunderstood, or unfairly treated – knowing that your compassionate nature will motivate you to come to their aid.
Like a tiny puppy in distress, the more they whine and wail, the more they know you won’t be able to resist reaching out to try and comfort them.
This constant victim mentality is aptly designed to keep you engaged and involved in their lives, allowing them to control and manipulate you according to how they see fit.
It’s important to recognize this strategy for what it is – a way to take advantage of your empathetic nature.
Equally, it’s important not to label every ‘sob story’ or traumatic life history shared with you as someone’s attempt at labeling themselves the victim.
People can live through hardship, acknowledge it, and share it appropriately without using it as means to control or manipulate the kind and pure-hearted amongst us.
6) They resist reciprocation
In any relationship, there’s an expectation of give and take.
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours and so on.
However, with narcissists, you may find that this principle doesn’t hold true.
They are more than happy to receive your kindness (and have their backs scratched), but when it comes to reciprocating, they often fall short.
So no back-scratching for you, unfortunately.
This one-sided dynamic is another way they exploit your good nature, taking more than they give and leaving you feeling unappreciated and depleted.
7) They undermine your self-esteem
Kind people often have a strong sense of empathy and understanding, making them sensitive to the feelings and emotions other people experience.
Narcissists can exploit this sensitivity by subtly undermining your self-esteem.
They might downplay your achievements, compare you unfavorably to others, or dismiss your feelings.
Gaslighting, smoke-and-mirrors, false accusations – you name it, it’ll be coming your way.
The employment of these tools can lead to masses of self-doubt and insecurity, making you far more susceptible to their manipulation.
And although it might be hard to remind yourself of this when it feels like your walls are being torn into, remember: your kindness is a strength, not a weakness.
You deserve to feel valued and respected, and to receive all the love and goodness you give out in return..
8) They use your kindness as a shield
Narcissists are skilled at using your kindness as a shield to protect themselves from criticism or accountability.
When they do something wrong or hurtful, they’ll quickly remind you of how kind and understanding you are, subtly implying that you should forgive and forget all their transgressions.
Because who are you to even call yourself kind and forgiving if you’re trying to hold them accountable for nasty actions or pathways they’ve decided to take.
This is a truly calculated move used to exploit your forgiving nature and avoid facing the consequences of their actions by tossing your kindness back at you.
It’s a hard truth to swallow, but recognizing this tactic is crucial in protecting yourself from their manipulation.
9) They create a sense of obligation
Narcissists have a knack for making you feel indebted to them, even when you’re not in the slightest.
They may remind you of the times they stood by you or helped you, making it seem like you owe them for their past ‘kindness’.
So yes, that one time they helped you carry your groceries upstairs will mean you’re basically indebted, for life.
This sense of obligation is just another way they control and manipulate you, making it difficult for you to distance yourself or say no to their demands. Your generous heart wants to comfort them and help them, even when your gut feeling tells you something is off.
It’s important to remember that true kindness doesn’t come with strings attached in any scenario, and try all they might in saying otherwise, you don’t owe anyone for being treated with basic respect and decency.
10) They feed off your energy
Narcissists have a way of draining your energy, leaving you feeling exhausted and worn out.
They’re wonderful energy vampires. Very selfish, too.
They suck suck suck by constantly demanding your attention, time, and emotional resources.
And you grow paler and more tired and weary as you try and hold them up, whilst also sustaining yourself and all other relationships too
They’ll make their problems your problems, expecting you to always be there to support and help them and making you feel awful should you be unable to come running to their whistle, whilst rarely – if ever – returning the favor.
11) They twist your words
Lastly, narcissists may take advantage of your kindness by twisting your words.
They can turn even the most well-intentioned comments into perceived slights or attacks, making you feel like you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t.
You end up shocked as something you said which was intended to be a compliment is taken as a full frontal attack by the narcissist. You grow to doubt yourself, and end up begging for their forgiveness.
This can lead to constant self-doubt and anxiety, as you become hyper-aware of what you say and how it might be misconstrued.
Be wary – this is a manipulative tactic designed to keep you off balance and in their control, further exploiting your kind nature.
Building up an anti-narcissist defense system…
By recognizing the above tactics employed by many narcissists, you can better work to protect yourself from being taken advantage of by their wiley and self-motivated ways.
Always remember that your kindness is a strength.
Wear that badge with pride and never turn your cheek from helping someone truly in need.
However, know also of the importance in setting boundaries and prioritizing your own emotional health, especially if you think you’re dancing the tango with a narcissist.