In this article, I’m going to teach you how to turn the tables on a narcissist but before that, it’s very important to understand that turning the tables does not mean becoming more aggressive than the narcissist or being in a position to abuse the narcissist. Instead, you will learn how to have the upper hand and stay in control whenever you are facing the narcissist, rather than always being on the receiving end of abuse.
Trying to directly reverse the situation and dominate the narcissist would cause a lot of problems. This is because the narcissist would feel like you’re putting them in an inferior position. This would make them fight back aggressively. Narcissists in general suffer from inferiority feelings and they compensate by trying to control and dominate others. Trying to turn the tables by challenging a narcissist and making them feel like they are not superior will certainly make them respond in an abusive manner.
The Right Way to Turn the Tables on a Narcissist
Below are 5 ways to turn the tables on a narcissist.
- Learn to be assertive without being aggressive: assertiveness is the ability to express your emotions without being aggressive. When a narcissist criticizes or abuses you, they expect you to either become submissive and be ashamed of yourself or explode and respond insanely. Assertiveness is not about showing the narcissist that you can shout and it’s not about scaring them but it’s something between being aggressive and being passive. This will not only show the narcissist that you are confident and in control, but it will also change how they see you.
- Minimize your dependency on the narcissist: when you depend on the narcissist for emotional support, financial support or acceptance, they feel that they have control over you. In a relationship, it’s normal for both partners to depend on each other to a certain extent. You shouldn’t try to completely eliminate your dependency on the narcissist if you still live together. Instead, you should try to minimize your dependency on them by having supportive friends or being financially independent. Having a good support system will not only make you less needy but it will also make the narcissist realize that you are less vulnerable.
- Make them dependent on you: in my article “how to make a narcissist emotionally dependent on you” I explained how narcissists are usually needy and in need of emotional support even if they try to hide it. Making a narcissist dependent on you is not limited to emotional dependency alone. If you can make them dependent on you in a different way, that would also work well. If you manage to make a narcissist dependent on you, you can easily turn the tables and gain the upper hand without trying to directly challenge the narcissist’s authority.
- Avoid being defensive: you can’t turn the tables on a narcissist if you are always on the defensive. Most often, a narcissist will antagonize you or harshly criticize you in order to silence you, control you, and make you ashamed of yourself. When this happens, you should avoid turning defensive. Don’t try to give explanations of what you did and don’t try to prove yourself innocent, especially if you know that you did the right thing. Turning defensive will only encourage the narcissist to keep criticizing you.
- Collect more power: there are several ways to empower yourself. For example, if you depend on the narcissist financially, they may use that opportunity to control you or abuse you. On the other hand if you are financially independent, or if the narcissist is the one who depends on you, they will think twice before mistreating you.
Indirect Power Struggles in a Relationship with a Narcissist
When both partners are trying to take control of the relationship, there can be a lot of arguing, and conflicts. These indirect power struggles are common even in normal relationships. Since narcissists are usually hungry for power, you shouldn’t expect to win against them in these power struggles without problems. That’s why you should use a non-aggressive approach when trying to solve this problem.
Unless the narcissist is abusive, there’s no problem in allowing the narcissist to feel in control of the relationship. This does not put you in an inferior position. The fact that the narcissist will depend on you to feel in control means that you have the power to make them lose control. (See: how to outsmart a narcissist)