A commonly asked question by people trying to surround themselves with supportive people after experiencing narcissistic abuse is, “How can I spot a flying monkey?”

10 Signs of a Flying Monkey:

  1. They tell the narcissist what you’re up to.
  2. They pressure you to reconcile with the narcissist.
  3. They invalidate you.
  4. They guilt-trip you.
  5. They consistently defend the narcissist’s actions.
  6. They spread rumors or lies about you.
  7. They display narcissistic behaviors.
  8. You feel uneasy or unsettled around them.
  9. They keep in touch with the narcissist.
  10. They act as the narcissist’s messenger.

In this article, I will walk you through each one of these signs to help you determine whether or not you have a flying monkey in your life.

1.) They Tell the Narcissist What You’re Up To

The first sign of a flying monkey you should watch out for is when someone collects information about you and then passes it on to the narcissist without your consent.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They ask pointed or probing questions about your personal life.
  • They are only interested in your feelings or actions concerning the narcissist.
  • They remember and bring up minor details you’ve shared in the past.
  • Conversations with them often circle back to the narcissist.
  • You hear from others that they’ve shared your private information.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “I heard you’ve been doing well lately. Tell me more about that.”
  • “I was just talking to [narcissist’s name], and they asked about you.”
  • “Do you still see or talk to [a mutual friend or acquaintance]?”
  • “How did you feel about what happened at the last gathering?”
  • “Oh, you’re seeing someone new? Tell me more!”
A flying monkey snooping around.

2.) They Pressure You to Reconcile with the Narcissist

The second sign a flying monkey should be aware of is when someone tries to get you to reconcile with the narcissist, knowing the damage they caused.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They frequently mention how much the narcissist misses or cares about you.
  • They minimize or dismiss the hurtful actions of the narcissist.
  • They frame the situation as a misunderstanding or blame it on external factors.
  • They guilt you with phrases like “Life is short” or “Family is everything.”
  • They show impatience or frustration if you’re not ready to reconcile.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “Don’t you think it’s time to bury the hatchet?”
  • “They’re your [relationship, e.g., ‘mother/father/sibling’], after all.”
  • “They did apologize. What more do you want?”
  • “Everyone has their bad days. Can’t you move on?”
  • “They’re hurting without you. Can’t you see that?”

3.) They Invalidate You

The third sign of a flying monkey that is important to know about is when someone invalidates your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or needs.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They dismiss or minimize your concerns
  • They compare your situation to others, implying you should feel differently.
  • They interrupt or talk over you when you express your feelings.
  • They change the subject or become defensive when you bring up your emotions.
  • They seem uninterested or make light of your experiences with abuse.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “I think you’re blowing this out of proportion.”
  • “Why can’t you just let things go?”
  • “You always seem to take things the wrong way.”
  • “I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this.”
  • “I think you’re just overreacting.”
A flying monkey gaslighting someone.

4.) They Guilt-Trip You

The fourth sign of a flying monkey you should pay attention to is when someone manipulates you into feeling responsible or at fault for the abuse.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They remind you of past favors or good times as leverage.
  • They imply or state that your actions or feelings are causing them distress.
  • They play the victim, emphasizing how much your actions have hurt them.
  • They use overblown responses to manipulate your emotions.
  • They bring up unrelated mistakes or flaws to make you feel indebted or wrong.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “After everything they’ve done for you, this is how you repay them?”
  • “I can’t believe you’re still holding onto this grudge.”
  • “You used to be so close. What happened?”
  • “You’re tearing the family apart with this attitude.”
  • “It hurts me to see you two not talking.”

Suggested Reading: 10 Tactics Narcissists Use to Make You Feel Guilty

5.) They Consistently Defend the Narcissist’s Actions

The fifth sign of a flying monkey is when someone automatically stands up for the narcissist when their abusive/manipulative behavior is criticized.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They seem to have an excuse ready for the narcissist’s behavior.
  • They shift blame away from the narcissist onto you or external factors.
  • They downplay the narcissist’s negative actions or words.
  • They frequently bring up the narcissist’s good deeds or intentions.
  • They become aggressive or hostile when you criticize the narcissist.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way.”
  • “You know how they are. Why do you let it bother you?”
  • “I think you’re misinterpreting their intentions.”
  • “They’ve been under a lot of stress lately. You should be more understanding.”
  • “It’s just their way of showing love.”

6.) They Spread Rumors or Lies about You

The sixth sign of a flying monkey is when someone circulates false or exaggerated information about you to support the narcissist’s narrative.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They often relay tales that distort or exaggerate the truth.
  • Their accounts frequently mismatch with known facts or events.
  • Others usually identify them as the source of rumors or stories.
  • Their narratives consistently favor or defend the narcissist.
  • When questioned, they dodge or are unclear about their information’s origin.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “You know, everyone’s been mentioning how different you’ve become lately.”
  • “It’s funny how many people think you’ve been badmouthing [narcissist’s name].”
  • “A lot of whispers going around about you being the real troublemaker here.”
  • “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t heard from others about what you did.”
  • “Several folks have told me to be careful around you. Wonder why that is?”

Suggested Reading: How Do Narcissists Use Flying Monkeys? (10 Ways)

7.) They Display Narcissistic Behaviors

The seventh sign of a flying monkey you should be looking for is when someone displays narcissistic behaviors.

If you have someone in your life who mimics the harmful patterns or actions of the narcissist, it is a sign they are a flying monkey, or at the very least, narcissistic.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They gaslight you, making you doubt your perceptions or memories.
  • They often belittle or mock people, either directly or behind their backs.
  • They display excessive jealousy or possessiveness in relationships.
  • They seem to lack empathy, dismissing or ignoring others’ feelings.
  • They use guilt, obligation, or fear to control or manipulate situations.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t do this.”
  • “You always make things about yourself.”
  • “You’re lucky to have people who put up with you.”
  • “It’s always someone else’s fault with you, isn’t it?”
  • “I’ve done so much for you, and this is how you treat me?”
A flying monkey guilt-tripping someone.

8.) You Feel Uneasy or Unsettled Around Them

The eighth sign of a flying monkey you shouldn’t ignore is when you feel discomfort or distrust when in the presence of someone.

Behavioral Signs (within yourself):

  • Conversations with them leave you second-guessing your words or actions.
  • You find yourself ruminating on their comments long after they’re made.
  • You often feel a sudden need to be on guard or defensive around them.
  • Interactions cause a visceral discomfort, like a knot in your stomach.
  • After encounters, you may feel unusually anxious, fatigued, or overwhelmed.

Things You Might Think to Yourself:

  • “Why did I just say that? I usually don’t overshare like this.”
  • “Did they really mean that compliment, or was there an ulterior motive behind it?”
  • “I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells around them.”
  • “There’s something off. Why can’t I just relax when I’m talking to them?”
  • “Every time I speak with them, I end up feeling drained or questioning myself.”

9.) They Keep In Touch with the Narcissist

The ninth sign someone in your life is a flying monkey is when they keep in touch with the narcissist despite knowing the damage the narcissist caused you.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They frequently mention their interactions or conversations with the narcissist.
  • They prioritize the narcissist’s opinions or feelings over others.
  • They’re quick to share the narcissist’s views, even if not asked.
  • They may act as a mediator, often pushing the narcissist’s agenda.
  • They’re secretive about the nature of their relationship with the narcissist.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “I was just on the phone with [narcissist’s name] yesterday.”
  • “You know, [narcissist’s name] says you’ve been avoiding them.”
  • “I think you and [narcissist’s name] need to sit down and talk.”
  • “They’re really upset with you. I think you should reach out.”
  • “I’ve been trying to keep the peace between you two.”

Suggested Reading: Can You Be Friends With a Narcissist?

10.) They Act as the Narcissist’s Messenger

The tenth sign of a flying monkey you should pay attention to is when someone in your life acts as a messenger for the narcissist.

Behavioral Signs:

  • They frequently relay messages from the narcissist, even if you haven’t asked.
  • They enjoy or emphasize their role as the intermediary.
  • They may twist or exaggerate the messages to provoke a reaction.
  • They pressure you to respond or react to the relayed messages.
  • They use their messenger role to manipulate or control you.

Verbal Indicators:

  • “[Narcissist’s name] wanted me to tell you…”
  • “I’m only telling you this because they wanted you to know…”
  • “They asked me to pass this message along to you.”
  • “They said you’d understand if I told you this.”
  • “You really should hear them out. They’ve got something to say.”
A flying monkey taking sides.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

Flying monkeys can be challenging to spot, but as a general rule, ten signs you can be on the lookout for are:

  1. They tell the narcissist what you’re up to.
  2. They pressure you to reconcile with the narcissist.
  3. They invalidate you.
  4. They guilt-trip you.
  5. They consistently defend the narcissist’s actions.
  6. They spread rumors or lies about you.
  7. They display narcissistic behaviors.
  8. You feel uneasy or unsettled around them.
  9. They keep in touch with the narcissist.
  10. They act as the narcissist’s messenger.

I hope this article helped you grasp a better understanding flying monkeys. 

Thank you for taking the time to read it!

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.


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