The lies that a narcissist will tell to convince friends and family members of their twisted perception of reality is one of the clearest manifestations of their unfathomable delusion. Nevertheless, many people believe their narrative to be true, leaving victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse contemplating whether or not the flying monkeys the narcissist has created will ever see the truth.

Eventually flying monkeys will see the truth because they’re simply a tool a narcissist uses to temporarily protect their fragile ego. Once the flying monkey has served their purpose, the narcissist will discard them as they do everyone else. 

Having to deal with a flying monkey can be just as traumatizing as the narcissistic relationship itself because flying monkeys are often the friends and family members that the victim or survivor was once close with.

But the real question is, after the flying monkey has learned the truth, will they actually care about betraying you?

There are three very different types of flying monkeys: flying monkeys who have been forced into the role, flying monkeys who have been manipulated into the role, and flying monkeys who volunteered themselves for the role.

It’s up to the victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse to determine which flying monkeys are genuinely going to be apologetic for their betrayal and which flying monkeys will continue to be toxic. 

A victims of narcissistic abuse in a green skit choosing which path she wants to take.

How to Respond to a Flying Monkey Who Has Seen the Truth

The most important skill one needs to learn after escaping a narcissistic environment is how to manage the fallout of narcissistic abuse. There are some huge obstacles one must overcome to have a successful healing journey and determining which relationships should be rebuilt and which relationships should be left broken is one of them. 

Step 1: Determine Which Type of Flying Monkey You Are Dealing With

Managing a flying monkey who has just learned the truth is always going to be hard. Half of you is going to feel hurt because of their betrayal, and the other half of you is going to feel confused about how you should move forward with this person you once trusted.

It might be really tempting to cut them out of your life and never look back, but some flying monkeys are victims of the same manipulative, exploitative, and malicious form of abuse that you’re trying to heal from.

Ok… but they turned their back on me… why should I care?

Healing from narcissistic abuse without a support group is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It doesn’t matter how much information you learn, how hard you work in therapy, or how badly you want to become indifferent to narcissistic abuse and let go of the trauma, there are going to be days where you’ll need someone to lean on.  

So, healing a relationship with someone who was manipulated or forced into the flying monkey role might be something you want to consider because navigating the healing journey alone is one of the quickest ways to end up back in the narcissistic abuse cycle. 

Understanding the Three Types of Flying Monkeys

  1. Flying Monkeys Who Are Forced Into the Role
    • In group settings narcissistic abuse often frightens those who witness it so severely that they’re forced into becoming the narcissist’s flying monkey out of the fear of becoming the target of the narcissist’s wrath if they don’t. This is very common to see in family settings, friend groups, and workplaces. 
A narcissistic mother triangulating her children.
  1. Flying Monkeys That Are Manipulated Into the Role
    • Overtime narcissistic abuse will cause one’s mental and physical health to deteriorate. Narcissists are very good at spreading lies and gossip designed to weaponize the victim’s poor health and manipulate friends and family into becoming flying monkeys by making them concerned for, angry at, or disappointed in the victim. 
A narcissist telling lies to recruit a flying monkey
  1. Flying Monkeys Who Have Volunteered Themselves For the Role 
    • People who have low conscientiousness, high level of extroversion, and high levels of agreeableness, are often so self-absorbed, impulsive, extroverted, and susceptible to manipulation that they naturally gravitate towards the role of a flying monkey. This type of person could be narcissistic themselves or they could just be attracted to drama filled environments.
A person willingly participating in the smear campaign of the victim.

Step 2: Decide Who Gets to Stay In Your Life and Who Needs to Go

Once you’ve grasped a comprehensive understanding of the different types of flying monkeys, it is time to decide who gets to stay in your life and who needs to go. This is a very difficult task because narcissistic abuse is designed to make you feel like you don’t have the right to make these type of decisions for yourself.

While the abuse you experienced is not your fault, letting go of the limitations that your abuser placed on you is your responsibility. It’s not an easy task and you’ll likely need the guidance of a medical professional to do so, but taking it step by step will teach you on a subconscious level that you have the right to be in control of every single aspect of your life.

Step 3: Journal to Hold Onto Your Reality and Set Healthy Boundaries

Ok. You’ve determined the types of flying monkeys in your life and decided whether or not it was safe to rebuild the damaged relationships, now it is time to protect yourself from gaslighting.

There are going to be times where the ex flying monkeys you’re trying to rebuild a connection with will gaslight you by accident. It could manifest on something quite small like questioning something or it could manifest in something very big like attempting to justify their betrayal.

A flying monkeys gaslighting the victim of narcissistic abuse

Using a journal to keep track of your thoughts, emotions, feelings, needs, and things that have been said, makes you far less vulnerable to manipulative techniques like gaslighting that are designed to either pull you back in or keep you trapped in the narcissistic abuse cycle.

Setting healthy boundaries and using a journal to validate your version of reality makes you and your healing journey unstoppable.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.