In order for a narcissist to feel emotionally stable, they need to get as much narcissistic supply out of you as possible. To do this, they also need to remain in power and control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs for as long as possible. One of the most common ways that they make this happen is by isolating you.

Narcissists isolate you with manipulation tactics that are designed to control your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs such as gaslighting, narcissistic rage, triangulation, flying monkeys, and financial abuse.

This article is a thorough exploration of the manipulation tactics that narcissists use to isolate you.

Gaslighting

When someone doubts or denies your reality, it is called gaslighting. For example, imagine you introduced your narcissistic partner to your family for the first time. You think everything went well because everyone was getting along.

But the moment you get in the car, the narcissist turns to you and says, “I can’t believe that you let them ambush me like that. Why didn’t you tell me that they hate me? I knew that they didn’t want us to be together.” This would be considered gaslighting.

A narcissist gaslighting his partner.

What is happening here is the narcissist is trying to use gaslighting to manipulate you into believing that your family doesn’t support your relationship.

If this type of manipulation is allowed to continue, the narcissist will put you in a position where you have to choose between your “mean” and “unreasonable” family members and the “charming” and “charismatic” love of your life.

This brings us to a very important point about gaslighting. It is important that you know that gaslighting is much more than just manipulative lies and deceptive wording.

What makes gaslighting, gaslighting, is the environment that you’re in. There typically are dozens of manipulative behaviors that coexist in gaslighting environments and they all help the narcissist manipulate you into questioning your sanity and doubting your own reality.

Manipulation tactics that narcissists use to isolate others.

Take the scenario about introducing the narcissist to your family for the first time for example. When the narcissist turns to you after a nice first meeting and says, “I can’t believe that you let them ambush me like that. Why didn’t you tell me that they hate me? I knew that they didn’t want us to be together” they are gaslighting you.

But what is also very likely to be happening is they are using manipulation tactics such as mirroring and future faking to get you to believe that they are the “perfect” person for you.

When you try to build a bridge between the narcissist and your family, “I spoke with my parents and they said that they loved you so I don’t understand where you are coming from.”

A woman trying to speak with the narcissist in her life.

They are going to add on with the gaslighting by saying something like, “Of course. They can’t just openly admit their hatred for me because they are f*cking cowards. You have to choose between me or your family. I know we have an amazing future together but they are going to hold us back and I just can’t have it anymore.”

Can you see where this can get extremely confusing for you?

Here you have a narcissist who is gaslighting you into believing horrible things about your family. But it is really hard to dispute anything that they are saying because they are also using powerful manipulation tactics to get you to believe that they are the person that you were meant to be with.

It is very common for people who are being abused by a narcissist to end up isolating themselves because of the gaslighting. And this is true for all types of narcissistic relationships as well.

For example, this could be a narcissistic parent who is gaslighting her child into believing that getting an education is a waste of time because he/she doesn’t want their child to move away. But at the same time giving the child anything that he/she wants to lure him/her into a false sense of security.

A narcissistic mom using money to isolate her daughter.

Gaslighting is a powerful manipulation tactic that narcissists often use to isolate you. There are six different types of gaslighting that you should watch out for. If you’d like to learn more about them, click here to download our free resource that guides you through all of them.

Suggested Readings:

If you are unfamiliar with the terms “mirroring” and “future faking” please read our articles How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring?andWhat Is Future Faking?” because they are some of the most powerful manipulation tactics that narcissists use to trap you in the abuse cycle.

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic rage is an unpredictable, explosive, and unjustifiable response that narcissists often have when they experience a narcissistic injury. It can manifest in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, and/or neglect.

It is very common for narcissists to isolate you through narcissistic rage. For example, imagine that your narcissistic parent goes into a rage on a regular basis. You are constantly walking on eggshells around him/her because you are utterly terrified of their rage.

A drunk narcissistic father.

When this fear is combined with self-doubt, confusion, helplessness, powerlessness, and other difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissistic abuse creates, it is very unlikely that you will have the courage to tell someone about your situation or find a way to escape their grasp.

Of course, this courage can, and with the right guidance, often does come with time, but in the moment, this is how narcissists isolate you with narcissistic rage.

A Quote from One of Our Community Members

“I was married to a narcissist for 20 years. I knew he was a narcissist 4 years into the marriage but stayed for the remaining 16 years because of fear. The fear of being physically hurt. The fear of one of my family members being physically hurt. It was insane. I am just happy that I got out safely.” – Tammy

Triangulation

When a narcissist turns a one-on-one situation into a two-on-one situation by involving a third party, it is called triangulation. For example, imagine that you are having a private argument with your narcissistic boss because they have been having you work late but refuse to compensate you for it.

There is no explanation for this situation. Your boss is wrong for having you work late without compensation.

Your boss realizes this and uses triangulation to create a power imbalance by calling one of your coworkers into the room and saying, “Can you please tell (your name) that staying late is part of the job. Everyone does it at one point or another.”

A narcissistic boss using triangulation.

The coworker agrees with the boss because he/she is scared of upsetting the boss and losing their job, “Yeah (you), the boss is right. Everyone has done extra work here. It is just part of the winning culture that we have here. This is triangulation.

Triangulation can happen in all different types of situations. It could be conversations, arguments, disagreements, feuds, etc., but the point is that the person recruiting a third party is trying to create a power imbalance so they can dominate the situation.

It is a very common tactic narcissists use to isolate you so they can gain power and control over you.

Flying Monkeys

A flying monkey is someone who a narcissist manipulates into helping them abuse and/or manipulate another person There are three types of flying monkeys that you need to be aware of: Manipulated Flying Monkeys, Forced Flying Monkeys, and Natural Flying Monkeys.

The three types of flying monkeys.

You can click here to download our free guide to all the different types of flying monkeys but in this section we are going to focus on how narcissists use flying monkeys to isolate you.

Suggested Reading:

Flying monkeys are designed to silence, isolate, and discredit other people. Our article How Do Narcissists Use Flying Monkeys?has a lot of information about this that you may find helpful.

A narcissist will use flying monkeys to isolate you by cutting off your lines of support. You see, when a narcissist recruits a flying monkey, they target the people close to you. They know that your family, friends, close coworkers, etc., are the people who will help you escape their power and control.

Remember, narcissists need the supply that they get from you so they do not want to lose power and control over you. To prevent this from happening, they will whisper in the ear of those close to you to get them to turn against you.

The reason that narcissists are so successful with flying monkeys is because the people that they abuse are often the only ones who know how abusive the narcissist really is. Everyone else just sees the narcissist’s charming, charismatic, successful, and articulate public persona.

Suggested Reading:

If you would like more information about how narcissists are able to turn people against you so easily, our article How Do Narcissists Get Flying Monkeys? has a ton of helpful information that will help you grasp a better understanding of it.

Flying monkeys are one of the most common manipulation tactics that narcissists will use to silence, discredit, and isolate you.

Financial Abuse

One of the most common reasons people who are experiencing narcissistic abuse can’t escape the narcissist is because of financial abuse. There are three types of financial abuse.

1. Employment sabotage is when a narcissist uses emotional and/or physical abuse to manipulate you into quitting your jobs or to prevent you from finding a job.

8 signs of employment sabotage

2. Economic exploitation is when a narcissist intentionally destroys your financial resources or credit.

3. Controlling the finances is when a narcissist uses emotional and/or physical abuse and/or manipulation to gain power and control over the financial stability of the relationship.

Financial abuse is very common in narcissistic environments because narcissists know that money gives them an unlimited amount of narcissistic supply. When a narcissist gets control of your financial stability, it is very difficult to escape their grasp and it is very common to become isolated because of it.

Someone texting a narcissist.

Suggested Reading:

Our article “The Three Types of Financial Abuse That Abusers Use to Control Othershas a lot of information about financial abuse that you may find helpful.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Narcissists isolate you with manipulation tactics that are designed to control your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. They are very good at doing it so it is important that you take the time to learn about narcissism and narcissistic abuse so you can know the behaviors, spot the signs, and escape or evade their power and control.

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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.

References:

Lempert, Lora Bex. “Women’s strategies for survival: Developing agency in abusive relationships.” Journal of family violence 11.3 (1996): 269-289.

Karakurt, Günnur, and Kristin E. Silver. “Emotional abuse in intimate relationships: The role of gender and age.” Violence and victims 28.5 (2013): 804-821.