Narcissists deliberately invalidate, devalue, humiliate, dehumanize, and abuse their victims. They will pretend to not know the difference between right and wrong but they are smart enough to know that they need to be abusive “behind closed doors” so that they can maintain a charming public image. Narcissists deliberately hurt you, there’s no doubt about that, but it is really important to understand why they do it.

A narcissist will deliberately hurt you to make you feel weak so that they can feel superior, to regulate their emotions by projecting all of their negative one’s onto you, and to bait you into an argument so that they can get more narcissistic supply.

This article is going to guide you through the different reasons that a narcissist will deliberately hurt you and we’ve also created a short video below with 11 signs that the narcissist in your life is capable of homicide to help you draw the line between a narcissist being narcissistic and a narcissist being life-threatening. We strongly encourage you to contact the proper authorities if you notice any of the signs below in your narcissistic relationship!

A Short Video With 11 Signs That a Narcissist Is Capable of Homicide

Narcissists Deliberately Hurt You to Make You Feel Weak

Narcissists have an extraordinarily fragile sense of self. It is believed that this is caused by an unhealthy/abusive upbringing with primary caregivers who were unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent. This means that the narcissist never had their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs mirrored so they didn’t get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that one needs to develop a realistic sense of self.

When this happens the child is forced to search for the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to develop a realistic sense of self from their external environment instead of their internal environment. 

A simple example of this would be a child prioritizing their achievements in school over their connection with their primary caregiver because the praise they get in school gives them more validation, admiration, and reassurance than their unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers do.

This causes the child to have a horrible cognitive development, leaves them with a ton of emotional inadequacies, manipulates them into developing a deeply rooted hatred for themselves, and makes them heavily reliant on the validation, admiration, and reassurance from their external environment.  

The reason that narcissists deliberately hurt you to make you feel weak so that they can fulfill their sense of superiority has a lot to do with their emotional inadequacy and deep rooted hatred for themselves. 

The deeply rooted hatred that narcissists have for themselves originates from a misguided belief that their true identity is unloveable, abandonable, and the reason that they couldn’t get validation, admiration, and reassurance from their primary caregivers. 

To avoid feeling the tremendous amount of shame, humiliation, weakness, fear, and hate that they have inside of them, a narcissist will create a falsified identity to suppress their true identity, and all of the negative emotions that come with it, deep within their psyche because their emotional inadequacies make them incapable of using healthy forms of emotional regulation.

a narcissist deliberately hurting their victim

Unfortunately, the falsified identity that they’ve created is incredibly weak and vulnerable to any form of authenticity because they’ve built it out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they receive from their external environment which is often the most superficial, materialistic, and trivial aspects of life. 

It is the reason that narcissists value social media, money, appearances, and social status over emotional closeness, friendship, honesty, trust, and many other important aspects of life. To keep their falsified identity, also known as their grandiose sense of self, “strong” they need a constant source of validation, admiration, and reassurance from their external environment but they also need to maintain their sense of superiority. 

By deliberately hurting you a narcissist is able to obtain a tangible representation of their “greatness”. It makes them feel like they are better than you, which validates and reassures their grandiose sense of self, because they can see that you are in a weak and vulnerable position. In other words, they are projecting their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities onto you by deliberately hurting you.

It is one of the most emotionally immature and inadequate behaviors that narcissists regularly take part in but it is very much a “see I am not the weak and vulnerable one, you are” type of situation. By deliberately hurting you a narcissist is able to maintain a grandiose sense of self by having a tangible representation of their sense of superiority.

Narcissists Deliberately Hurt You to Regulate Their Own Negative Emotions

Outside of a steady flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance, the reason that narcissists seek out victims is to turn them into repositories for their own suppressed negative emotions. 

We mentioned this in the previous section but the unhealthy/abusive upbringing that narcissists had with unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers left them emotionally immature and inadequate with a ton of negative emotions about themselves. 

They don’t have the emotional capability to use healthy forms of emotional regulation to regulate their emotional instability because doing so would require that they contradict their falsified identity by acknowledging their shame, humiliation, weakness, fear, and self-hate.

The most common way that a narcissist will regulate their emotional instability is by projecting their negative emotions onto others. Projection is when someone takes elements of our sense of self and identity that we find unacceptable and place them onto someone or something else. 

a narcissist projecting all of her emotions onto her scapegoat.

A simple example of this would be someone who doesn’t like that they are overweight but instead of acknowledging their discomfort, they ridicule and criticize other people for being overweight. A common example of this in the narcissistic realm would be a narcissist cheating on their partner but instead of taking responsibility for it they project their internalized shame onto their partner by accusing them of cheating.

Projection is a defense mechanism that we all use from time to time but narcissists over rely on it because they don’t have the emotional capability to acknowledge things that they don’t like about themselves. A narcissist will deliberately hurt you to project all of the negative emotions that they have about themselves onto you. 

This is most commonly known as scapegoating. A scapegoat is someone who gets the worse of the narcissistic abuse when compared to the narcissist’s other victims and they are ridiculed, mocked, shamed, and humiliated for all of the narcissist’s shortcomings, vulnerabilities, insecurities, and fears.

A Narcissist Will Deliberately Hurt You to Bait You Into an Confrontation

As mentioned before, one of the biggest reasons that narcissists form relationships of any kind is for validation, admiration, and reassurance. In the beginning stages of the relationship the narcissist will use a variety of manipulative techniques, like mirroring, future faking, and love bombing, to make everything feel natural.

But as time goes on, the narcissist will become more and more open about expecting the victim to neglect their own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs to ensure that they get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they feel entitled to. 

It might take months, years, or even decades but there will be a time where the victim emotionally or physically checks out of the relationship. If the victim intentionally checks out of the relationship, they’ve either acknowledged that what they are experiencing is abuse and left the relationship or started using the grey rock method.

We spoke about this in our articles How to Use the Grey Rock Method on a Narcissist and Does the Grey Rock Method Work but it is a technique that victims of narcissistic abuse can use when they are trying to limit the amount of validation, admiration, and reassurance that they are providing the narcissist in their lives.

This means that they will refuse to have any significant conversations with the narcissist. When the narcissist tries to use their vulnerabilities and insecurities against them, they won’t engage.  When the narcissist criticizes the victim, they won’t try to defend or explain themselves. They won’t share good news with the narcissist. The victim’s demeanor will always be very neutral around the narcissist, like a boring grey rock. 

a victim of narcissistic abuse using the grey rock method.

When a victim of narcissistic abuse unintentionally checks out of the relationship it usually originates from a sense of helplessness or hopelessness. They aren’t going to engage with the narcissist in their life at the same level, like one would if they were using the grey rock method, but it doesn’t have the same effectiveness as someone who is intentionally disengaging with the narcissist because they can be easily manipulated back into the narcissistic abuse cycle.

This manipulation is often done through hoovering and intermittent reinforcement, but narcissists will also deliberately hurt the victim to get them to re-engage with the relationship. This is called baiting, when a narcissist uses you vulnerabilities and insecurities against you to provoke you into a confrontation.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

A narcissist will deliberately hurt you to make you feel weak, to regulate their own emotions, and to bait you into a confrontation. With that being said, the reason that they deliberately hurt you doesn’t matter because it should serve as a constant reminder that they do not deserve to be in your life and it should motivate you to figure out how to escape the abuse, heal from it, and rebuild your sense of self and self-esteem.


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. 

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