Are Narcissists Controlling?

Are Narcissists Controlling?

If you're asking the question, "Are narcissists controlling?" then you probably suspect that someone you know might be a narcissist. 

You may also suspect that this person is trying to or succeeding to control you.

The quickest answer is yes. 

Yes, narcissists are very controlling

In fact, the clinical definition of narcissism lists controlling as one of the ways narcissists gain control over others.

Narcissists are driven by self-obsession. 

They care only about their own needs, image, desires, goals, and experiences.

Because other people don't exist for them, narcissists have difficulty dealing with independence. 

They see others as a reflection of themselves. Or, as a means to fulfill their own goals.

This leads to narcissists controlling those around them.

There are particular tactics that narcissists use to control others.

Recognizing those tactics is a great first step to understanding how narcissists are controlling.

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Are Narcissists Controlling? Love Bombing

One tactic that narcissists use for controlling others is love bombing

. They begin by seeking out people with codependent qualities, such as a fear of abandonment and rejection.

Narcissists control by taking advantage of these fears.

They "bomb" or shower the other person with love and make them feel extra special and appreciated.

They begin the relationship by making you feel better than you've ever felt. 

They might flatter you with words or shower you with attention. 

They might say that you're special or that the way they feel about you is special.

Some narcissists mimic the people they're trying to draw in for control. 

They might pretend to read the same things you read or like the same kind of music.

The desire to feel special and loved is one of the most natural emotions that humans experience. 

Narcissists don't feel this universal vulnerability.

This is why they use it to control others.

Are Narcissists Controlling? Hot and Cold

Narcissists begin controlling in a relationship through love bombing. 

Then, they might begin to retreat in order to begin exerting more direct control.

For example, you might be on a high from receiving so much love and appreciation.

Then, the narcissist takes that attention away from you.

This places you in a more easily manipulable position. 

And it places the narcissist in a position of control.

Since narcissists prey on people with codependent qualities, they are often the people most likely to be manipulated through a fear of rejection. 

Are Narcissists Controlling? Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a way that narcissists control the narrative. 

Since they don't acknowledge independent thought, narcissists must control the narrative.

They will control how you think, feel, and perceive events. 

This is intended to undermine the victim's confidence and self-trust.

A narcissist won't allow you to have your own experiences. 

They want you to have their experiences.

If you ever confront them about their behavior, they will deny that it happened. 

Are Narcissists Controlling? Minimizing

One way narcissists are controlling is through minimizing. 

Once they deny that something happened - or, they can't deny that it happened - a narcissist will move on to minimizing.

They do this most strongly with things that might make them look or feel bad.

Narcissists care extremely about their image. 

But, they also care about protecting their feelings. 

They minimize their behavior so that they can continue to pretend that they're perfect.

This is also a controlling tactic.

Not only do they gaslight, narcissists control by denying and minimizing as well.

There is often a double standard involved. 

A narcissist won't acknowledge hurting others but will feel devastated if accused of hurting others.

This means that they will often overreact to perceived slights. 

You may feel like you're always walking on eggshells around them. 

You may never be able to predict when they're going to lash out again.

Are Narcissists Controlling? Shaming

Another controlling tactic used by narcissists is shaming. 

Clinicians argue that narcissism is driven by shame. 

The inability to deal with this shame drives a lot of the narcissist's behavior.

And, a desire to deny this shame drives a lot of a narcissist's controlling behavior. 

They don't want to experience their own shame, so they project that shame onto others.

Projection is accusing someone of doing what you're doing and it's one of the hallmarks of narcissistic behavior.

They will be quick to point it out when others fail or struggle. 

They will often seem as if they are enjoying the difficulties that others may experience.

If you're in a controlling relationship with a narcissist, then they'll seek out ways to undermine your confidence and increase your feelings of shame.

This makes them feel better about themselves. 


Narcissists are controlling. It's one of their primary characteristics.

And, they use these manipulative tactics to exert their control and dominance over others.

People in relationships with narcissists start to feel out of control because the narcissist has taken that away from them.

If you identify with any of the tactics described in this article, you should seek help.

Professional help can help you retake control of your life back from a narcissist. 

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