Narcissists are all about power and control. They want everything to go their way, and if it doesn’t they throw a fit just like a little child. They can’t stand living in a world where people don’t obey and worship them. They can’t stand that they can’t get what they want and need. And they have a problem with delayed gratification, so they need everything NOW, not later. So they are quick to punish you when you derail from the path that they have drawn for you. They want you to walk on eggshells. Narcissists think it’s a good idea to punish an adult human being. The act of punishing itself can stem from different reasons but the end result is that they want to control you. Punishment is meant to program your mind, erase your autonomy and coerce you into acting as they please.
Narcissists want to train you to be a pushover. They want to make you feel powerless to feed their ego. They want to change you just like a person molds clay into any shape they want. With narcissistic punishment, the victim is left feeling on edge. You don’t know what would set them off. You don’t know when the next punishment will be. People with narcissistic personality disorder are unpredictable and they have a short temper and they can be triggered so easily due to their fragile disordered inner core. Any little criticism can set them off, then the mask slips and you see their true manipulative, raging, disordered true personality. The worst part of narcissistic punishment is that most of the time, you don’t know what you did wrong. They can give you the silent treatment for weeks without even explaining what’s bothering them! And punishment can be more cruel and extreme than silent treatment.
Why would a narcissist punish you? There may be several reasons:
They are raging due to a narcissistic wound.
Narcissists are oversensitive and they can’t take criticism, they might react with narcissistic rage. One personality trait that shows emotional maturity is the ability to take constructive criticism as a gift to improve oneself. Not for narcissists. They have an emotional capacity of a child. Inside the bigger-than-life exterior, there is a child with a narcissistic wound that didn’t heal. They have been through trauma and neglect as little kids so they didn’t develop the capacity to be a normal human being. And they don’t even recognize this as they lack self-awareness and insight. If you try to point out any character flaw, they react with blind rage. They can’t comprehend that they are less than perfect.
Narcissists react badly to any real or imagined slight. So if you gave them the same treatment as everybody else, in their wicked imagination, they see it as a sign that they are ordinary and even inferior which hurts their fragile ego. You can be punished for such obscure and illogical reason. You can’t reason with such disordered individuals. Their unpredictable emotions and hatred stands in the way.
They covet something you have
Narcissists are very jealous of other people and they think others are also jealous of them. It’s straight from the DSM criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. They can covet anything you have that they don’t. Be it materialistic or not. When I bought a new, better car than my narcissist’s, he immediately started acting weird. As if I was a better human being than him because of a shiny car. He started by first criticizing my car and comparing it to his car in every way possible. Then he gave me a big lecture that materialistic things don’t matter in a relationship! If only he could understand what he was lecturing about and apply it to himself, his problems wouldn’t exist. But narcissistic people don’t have the ability to look inward and recognize their shortcomings.
He gave me the silent treatment for a few days but I was glad he didn’t try to destroy my car or key it. He has done childish acts like this before!
You have become autonomous, they fear losing control over you
Narcissists always want you to be dependent on them. Being autonomous and independent hurt them because they want to feel needed. They want to feel that they have control over you. They see people as toys to play with, or children to teach their rules to. If you ever try to break free and be independent and strong without them, the narcissist will freak out and might try to punish you for it. They would feel alone and left out like they lost their child. This pattern is especially true for narcissistic parents and how they treat their children. They fear the day they become independent and they loath it when they make decisions without asking for “permission”. They will always try to suck their children back in. They might even try to sabotage their life or career to make them dependent on them at all time. They might be threatened by their independence and achievements. They might try to punish them by not speaking to them for long periods of time.
They want something you won’t give
Narcissists expect you to be able to read their mind and do exactly what they want. If you didn’t they become upset like a child and they punish you. You won’t even know what happened or why they are acting like this. Narcissists don’t open a healthy channel of communication like normal people do. They always use manipulations to get what they want. And they try to force you into doing things you don’t want to do. They want to force you into total submission. They might use sex as a tool to control you and they might force you into uncomfortable sex acts and if you refuse their demands they might punish you by withholding sex altogether. To them, sex is just a tool of power and control not a way for an intimate, deeply emotional connection. So, if you are not obedient and totally submissive, expect punishment from them.
One of the things narcissists really need is for you to treat them like royalty. Not making them center of attention would result in them punishing you. They want to be the most important people in your life. They will try to isolate you from family and friends so that you don’t have a network of support. They want you to be totally dependent on them.
When you first start a relationship with a narcissist, they will treat you very well and love-bomb you and rush into the relationship. In this phase they treat you as a perfect human being. After the love-bombing phase ends, they begin to see faults in you. They begin to see you as defective. They would rate you as “Not quality supply” and they will try to change you into exactly what they want. Narcissists want you to act like they have told you, dress like they want; they want to control every aspect of your life. If you don’t give them total control of your life, they will punish you for it.
They are testing boundaries
Narcissists will try to test your boundaries in the relationship. They want to know how far they can go with their abuse and punishment before you say enough is enough. They will punish you in different ways to see which is the most effective way to control and humiliate you. They want to see how far they can get away with their abuse. And they won’t stop until the boundaries between you and them are very blurred. They want you to be an extension of them not an individual human being.
You should learn to set solid boundaries and know where to draw the line.
How are they able to punish you? They prey on your wounds and weak spots
They know what buttons to push
Narcissists can be really good at reading people. They have been training themselves all their lives trying to know how to get to people, how to manipulate them and feed them lies. So, after some time with the narcissist, he knows what buttons to push to get a specific reaction from you. And they feed on the drama and chaos they cause in your life. If you tell a narcissist a personal secret, it’s only a matter of time before they can use it against you. It’s like they punish you for confiding in them and trusting them. They violate all trust bonds. Nothing is off limits. It’s like what the police say when they arrest someone: “everything you say can and will be used against you”. The same thing happens with a narcissist, they seem to have a strong memory for all the secrets you want to be tucked away. That’s what makes them successful at punishing you. So, never share too much especially at the start of the relationship!
They prey on your trauma
If a narcissist knows that something bad had happened to you, they can use it against you. They can reopen the wound you have been trying to heal for a long time. This tactic can have a major effect on your wellbeing. It can cause you to relapse into a state you don’t want to be in. A narcissist is heartless and they can use this to punish you.
If the narcissist knows that you, for example, have trust issues they would gaslight you into thinking that they are not cheating. YOU are the problem here. They would tell you “go seek help, you have issues”. Of course one type of trauma is the narcissistic abuse itself; they can exploit this by hoovering you back into the relationship that you had ended. Then the abuse cycle starts again and more and more wounds will be created.
They prey on your fear of abandonment
Fear of abandonment and rejection is one of the most common and horrible fears someone can go through. If the narcissist knows you have this fear he would surely tap into it to keep you on edge. He would vanish for days to punish you knowing that he is doing much damage to your emotions. He would vanish and come back as if nothing has happened. A narcissist is a pathological liar so he would tell you any reason to get you to take him back. Toying with emotions like this can lead to a traumatic experience because of inconsistent intimacy levels.
They prey on your need of love and intimacy
This is why love-bombing works really well. Every normal human being needs an intimate relationship and bonding in their life. When the narcissist love-bombs you it’s actually a type of abuse because they will devalue you later and their level of intimacy would be way lower than the love-bombing phase and it would greatly affect your self-esteem. A narcissist would deny you intimacy to punish you and have control over you at all times. This cruel act would leave you feeling rejected and lonely and at the mercy of the heartless narcissist. Narcissists don’t have a real capacity of love but the can fake it really well at first, and then they would vanish or give you the silence treatment to punish you and deprive you from love and intimacy because when they know that you are already in love with them. When they come back after this punishment, they expect you to cater to their needs and do what they wanted.
Methods of punishment
Silent treatment is one of the tools of narcissistic punishment that can be very devastating. It hurts because as human beings, we are wired to communicate with each other. The narcissist doesn’t want to solve problems; he just wants to punish you in the cruelest way possible by cutting all communication between you and him. You would be left feeling alone, rejected and devastated. Psychologically, it can lower your self-esteem too.
If your narcissist is using silent treatment against you, don’t beg them for communication as this would fuel their sadistic behavior even more. Don’t give them the pleasure to control you like this; Go No Contact and don’t let them hoover you back into the relationship after what they did.
Narcissists are masters at vanishing without a trace. They could be somewhere out there cheating on you or they could be just punishing you. And they would come back as if nothing has happened! If you ask where they have been, you might end up with a fight as narcissists get angry when questioned. They want to go in and out of the relationship when they please, which is totally unacceptable behavior. Don’t put up with such a stormy relationship and end it if you can!
Verbal abuse and name calling
Narcissists can be masters at calling you the most insulting names. They know what gets to you and hurts you the most. They know what you are insecure about and they will attack without mercy. It can be subtle and hidden remarks about your character or appearance or your competence. They will deny that they meant to insult you but you know they are lying! Don’t tolerate this kind of abuse and learn to set boundaries.
This is where you should draw the line if you haven’t already. This is one of the most painful and humiliating way of punishment you can go through. Never let anyone lay a hand on you even if it’s just shoving or light punishment. You are not a kid being disciplined in a dysfunctional family! Report this type of abuse to the authorities before it leads to real damage. A person who resorts to physical punishment is not worth it EVER.
Gaslighting is one of the narcissist’s favorite manipulating and punishment techniques when a narcissist denies what happens and tries to distort your reality to make you question your own sanity. It can be very subtle and hard to detect but it leaves great psychological damage which can be a form of cruel punishment over a long period of time.
A smear campaign can be the last form of punishment after the relationship has ended. The narcissist wants to destroy your reputation and drag it through the mud. You should go no contact at this point and move away from the narcissist if you can and cut all ties.