How To Make A Narcissist Miserable — 15 Things To Do

Unhealthy Relationship | | , Copywriter & Writer
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how to make a narcissist miserable

A narcissist is amusing to observe, exhausting to talk to, infuriating to work with, and toxic to date. Given that they have egos the size of a football field and are completely bereft of empathy, being in an intimate relationship with a person high on the narcissism spectrum can make you miserable. You may, in turn, wonder how to make a narcissist miserable.

The trick lies in using everything narcissists hate to your advantage. Provoke the provoker, seek revenge, and wound their precious pride. That’s the key if you’ve been wondering how to outsmart a narcissist. To succeed, you must act quickly and swiftly before a narcissist damages your self-esteem and leaves you riddled with doubt to be able to manipulate you the way they want.

However, none of this is going to be easy since narcissists are extremely smart, high-functioning people, with oodles of charm and charisma, along with debilitating tactics like gaslighting, in their arsenal. That’s why we’re here to help you figure out how to turn the tables on a narcissist and regain control of your life, in consultation with counselor Nishmin Marshall, who specializes in offering counseling for anger management, depression, and abusive marriage.

Who Is A Narcissist?

To be able to decipher how to make a narcissist miserable, you need to first understand who a narcissist is and how they operate. According to research, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of grandiosity, fantasies of unlimited power or importance, and the need for admiration or special treatment.

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), many people can occasionally display narcissistic behaviors, however, not all of them are narcissists. A person can be considered to be on the narcissism spectrum if they display the following behavioral tendencies:

  • Lack of empathy
  • An usually high need for praise and admiration
  • Unhealthy jealousy
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Grandiosity
  • Ability to exploit others for their own benefit
  • Lack of accountability
  • Need for control
  • Lack of boundaries
  • Being unable to handle criticism
  • Arrogance
  • Difficulty with attachment and dependency
  • Manipulation
  • Need to always be the center of attention

So, who is a narcissist? An individual with an inflated sense of self who needs constant admiration, can’t handle criticism, has an astonishing sense of entitlement, and loves being in the limelight. People on the higher end of the narcissistic spectrum are classified as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) whereas those on the lower end are known to possess narcissistic traits.

Irrespective of where on the spectrum a person falls, it is not only frustrating to be around them but can also be damaging to your mental health. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize if you’re dating a narcissist and take steps to protect yourself.

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Signs you’re dealing with a narcissistic partner

You already have the answer to who is a narcissist. Perhaps, you found that description highly relatable in the context of your partner. Even so, before we delve deeper into your quest of how to outsmart a narcissist, it’s prudent to be doubly sure that you’re, in fact, dealing with a narcissist. Given how casually the term gets thrown around these days, it can’t hurt to be doubly sure.

After all, you don’t want to channel all your energies into working toward exposing a narcissist, when your partner doesn’t even fit the bill and the problems in your relationship stem from a different source altogether. To that end, Nishmin shares some tell-tale signs you’re dealing with a narcissist partner:

  • The entire relationship revolves around them and they never tire of talking about themselves
  • Your partner shows utter disregard for your needs, wants, and desires
  • They also have no respect for your boundaries
  • They’re the textbook example of a controlling and manipulative partner
  • They resort to gaslighting, often leaving you doubting your own sense of reality
  • They can lie, deceive, become defensive, rude, and argumentative to avoid taking accountability for their actions
  • Your relationship with them goes through unimaginable highs and lows, as you transverse the narcissistic relationship patterns, from love-bombing to discard

15 Things To Do To Make A Narcissist Miserable

If you found the traits and signs of a narcissist relatable, and are more convinced than ever that you’re in a relationship with one, it’s time to take your how to make a narcissist miserable quest forward. From ignoring them completely to focusing on living your best life, there can be different answers to how to confuse a narcissist and take back control from them.

“It’s easy to get under their skin and make them feel miserable. However, be aware that they’ll likely have a dramatic reaction to any sort of pushback,” says Nishmin. So, when you’re trying to decide how to torment a narcissist, you have to think about what they are capable of doing to push back and then decide an appropriate course of action. Here are 15 tips on how to make a narcissist miserable that you can choose from (use the ones that you think will work best for your specific circumstances):

1. Don’t give them attention

how to upset a narcissist
Starve a narcissist of attention

If you’re wondering how to upset a narcissist, well, remember, narcissists really want and thrive on attention. They simply LOVE basking in the adoration of the people around them, especially their significant others. This comes from the need to be validated constantly. The first thing you can do to make a narcissist miserable is cut off the narcissistic supply by not giving them the attention they so desperately crave.

Let them lash back at you by resorting to silent treatment or drop as many hints as they want, let them brag or resort to tricks to get your attention, but do not walk into the setup that leads to you complimenting them. Nishmin says, “A narcissist craves attention, and most people just give in and appreciate them. But don’t do that. The best thing you can do is hold your ground and convey, “No, you do not impress me. I will not fawn over you.” The answer to how to torment a narcissist can be as simple as that since they can’t conceive why someone wouldn’t like them.” 

Related Reading: 8 Signs Of Covert Narcissist Hoovering And How You Should Respond

2. Practice saying no to a narcissist

I say practice because it’s not easy saying no to a narcissist. They can be quite persistent and charming. Consequently, they always end up getting their way. They aren’t used to people turning them down, and this is precisely why you should. The request can be big or small, maybe even something as trivial as, “Can you hold my bag?” Say no.

They’ll first be a little stunned. Then they’ll have trouble understanding why you would reject their demand. If you were wondering how to confuse a narcissist, here’s your answer. You have to stop giving too much of yourself if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist. 

Infographics How To Make A Narcissist Miserable
The secret to making a narcissist miserable

3. Ground them in reality

What are narcissists best at? Self-conceit. And how does self-conceit make them talk? Like they’re untethered from reality with an extremely inflated sense of self-importance. That’s why one of the best strategies on how to upset a narcissist is to ground them in reality.  

“Countering their creative fantasies with hard facts is a good tactic. Narcissists need to be reminded that what they say can be verified and that people won’t just buy their stories.” Nishmin says, “Your facts need not be presented with hostility. Just lay them out in a composed manner. A narcissist needs to know you’re not stupid.”  

4. Think straight and sharp

As I said, narcissists are charmers with a very fragile ego. It’s easy to be taken with them. If you fall under their spell, you’ll end up validating them. This is how most people find themselves trapped in emotionally abusive relationships with narcissists. To be able to protect yourself from that risk, you need to think straight and operate from a place of conviction. This can easily throw a narcissist off their game. So, if you’re wondering how to outsmart a narcissist, here’s what you can do:

  • Stay objective
  • Don’t fall prey to guilt-tripping for saying no to a narcissist
  • Be clear about what you want to do and don’t let them induce self-doubt
  • Recognize manipulative tactics
  • Identify if you’re being gaslighted with statements like “you’re overreacting”, “you’re too sensitive”, “learn to lighten up”, “it’s not a big deal”

Related Reading: 7 Reasons Why Narcissists Can’t Maintain Intimate Relationships

5. Set and enforce boundaries

One of the effective tips on how to upset a narcissist is to make them see that their actions have consequences. As we’ve already discussed, narcissists abhor taking accountability for their actions. So, if you want to make a narcissist miserable, you need to start setting and enforcing boundaries — both verbally and through your actions. This is also vital if you’re wondering how to make a narcissist respect you. For example,

  • If your narcissistic partner lies to you at the drop of a hat, tell them you will stop engaging with them unless they commit to be honest. And the next time you catch them in a lie, disengage
  • If your narcissistic partner has been resorting to gaslighting, call them out when they make you doubt your sense of reality and tell them you will resume the conversation once they’re ready to focus on facts
  • If your narcissistic partner is love-bombing you, tell them you want the relationship to move forward at a pace you’re both comfortable with. Be prepared to take a step back if they don’t stop with the grand gestures meant to sweep you off your feet

Nishmin puts it best when she says, “You have to stop trying to please a narcissist. Because it will never get better, you’ll never be enough. Instead of spreading yourself too thin, try to draw healthy boundaries. You have to protect yourself, even if it means confronting them.”

6. SURPRISE them!

Losing control of situations, in most cases, is a narcissist’s nightmare (they’re a little bit of a control freak). They love things going their way because that enables them to always be in the spotlight. That’s why, a simple yet effective tip on how to make a narcissist miserable is to spring an occasional surprise on them.

It will serve as a reminder that you, too, are in control of things. If your narcissistic partner wants to take you out to lunch, make it a double date without telling them. Surprise! If your narcissistic boyfriend thinks they’re staying over at your place, have your friends come over for a sleepover. Surprise! Spontaneity can be the answer to how to upset a narcissist. They won’t have time to calibrate how to take control of the situation since it’s not what they had in mind.

how to torment a narcissist
Be unpredictable if you want to torment a narcissist

7. Make a narcissist miserable by making them lose

The most enjoyable experience I’ve lived through was watching my friend’s narcissistic boyfriend, Dennis, lose at Pictionary. His face got all red, and he kept trying to peg it on the “inherent unfairness of the game”. He was a sore, sore loser and I managed to click a picture of him when he was sulking. Unbeknownst to him, my boyfriend and I had rigged the couple’s game to win! (*winks*)

Since narcissist’s self-image is far from their real personality, they think they’re champions at everything they do. Making them lose at something is a good way of telling them they’re fallible. What’s that line from Game of Thrones? “We all need to be mocked from time to time, lest we start to take ourselves too seriously.” The next time you want to learn how to hurt a narcissist, hand them a defeat to remind them that they’re mere mortals who can make mistakes. It’ll be fun for you and a lesson for them.

Related Reading: “Cut Him Off He Will Miss You” — 11 Reasons It Almost Always Works

8. Call them out

If you often find yourself wondering how to hurt a narcissist, here’s some advice from Nishmin: “Calling a narcissist out in public taps into the thing that scares them the most — people thinking badly of them. Public humiliation will be a lesson they’ll remember for a while for all the bad things they’ve done. Don’t be afraid of sounding mean; just do it.”

Point out their errors in front of a group of people. And do this by calling obvious attention to them. They’ll try to cover it up by backtracking or they’ll admit their error reluctantly. But in both cases, a narcissist will get super conscious of the eyes on them. However, a few things to keep in mind when you do this are:

  • Choose the right setting
  • Provide legitimate evidence
  • Stay resolute and confident
Is my husband a narcissist?

9. Mirror their behavior

It may sound somewhat juvenile but it is an effective answer to how to make a narcissist miserable. You can really throw a narcissist off and make them unsettled by simply mirroring their behavior:

  • If they deny, you deny
  • If they deflect, you deflect
  • If they brag, you brag

Yes, it can feel unnatural, and even awkward, to mimic such narcissistic behaviors, especially since they don’t come naturally to you. However, your reactions and responses are bound to leave a narcissist confused about what just hit them. That can be so satisfying. So, if you want to understand how to upset a narcissist, giving them a taste of their own medicine can be the way to go.

10. Banish all the excitement

How to torment a narcissist, you wonder? Here is an answer that might surprise you: bore them. Narcissists love excitement and thrill, and anything mundane is a threat to them. They abhor routine and vanilla relationships, so you can bore them for the fun of it. Launch a monologue about barrels or geography, take them to a dry lecture, or introduce them to a dull person. You’ll have them sighing in exasperation very quickly.

Related Reading: 12 Signs You Are Dating Someone With A God Complex

11. Establish your authority to make a narcissist miserable

Nine times out of ten, narcissists are intimidated by authority figures. This is why they often struggle with power in relationships. That’s why taking charge and establishing authority is a great way to show a narcissist their place. Nishmin weighs in, “Approach them from a place of power. It will show that you’ve had this power all along but were nice enough to not use it. Maintain eye contact, and keep your voice steady. Be assertive as best as you can.”

more on narcissism

12. Take care of your happiness

A narcissist is envious of others’ happiness, and that includes their significant others. Since narcissistic tendencies stem from a void within, people afflicted by it can’t bear to see fulfillment in the lives of those around them. So, if you’re wondering how to torment a narcissist, the best way to do it is by being your happiest, sunniest self. Also, instead of walking on eggshells and downplaying your skills, achievements, and qualities, wear them like a badge of honor.

“If you have any accomplishments, you could use those to generate jealousy within the narcissist. As a rule, anything that makes you happy will make them uncomfortable,” says Nishmin. She adds, “In making them feel guilty for hurting you, you should not get carried away to the extent of self-deterioration. Don’t become bitter. Keep it light.”

Related Reading: 21 Signs Of A Narcissistic Husband And How To Cope

13. Redirect the limelight

Narcissists have a self-obsession that is fed by the spotlight they shine on themselves. You could very smoothly redirect that light on yourself, or anyone, honestly. For instance, if at a dinner you’re hosting for your friends, your narcissistic partner is going on and on about how well the wine they picked out goes with the meal, and then, goes on to talk about their taste for finer things in life, steal the limelight by saying, “And what does everyone think of the salad I made.”

Or better yet, ask a friend to steer the limelight away from them and toward you by complimenting the meal or how you look. They’ll likely get upset or pick a fight with you later, but you have to be prepared for such backlash if you’re sure you want to try your hand at figuring out how to hurt a narcissist.

14. Try the grey rock method

The grey rock method is a tried and tested approach to making a narcissist miserable by taking away from them the ability to manipulate and control you. The essence of this approach lies in becoming unremarkable like a grey rock strewn about and can be effectively used to limit the influence a toxic, narcissistic person can exert on you.

The premise is a narcissist’s actions are always a means to get attention. If you stop giving them the attention they need, the toxic behaviors may stop as well. Here is how you can use the grey rock method effectively:

  • Limit the time you spend with the narcissist. Even if you live in the same house, find avenues to keep yourself occupied so you don’t engage with them
  • Stop yourself from reacting to a narcissist’s words or actions from an emotional place. When they do or say something that angers, hurts, or upsets you, remind yourself he/she is doing this on purpose just to get a reaction out of you
  • Keep your responses limited to ‘okay’, ‘yes’, ‘no’ so that there is no room for a narcissist to draw you into an emotionally charged conversation

15. Unfollow, block, and delete the narcissist from your life

Sayonara once and for all. If your situation permits it, completely cut off the narcissist from your life. Even if this is the person you love or an ex, don’t waste time and energy trying to figure out how to make a narcissist come crawling back or how to make a narcissist respect you. Even if they do come back, you can’t hope to build a wholesome relationship with a narcissist. And as far as respect goes, the chances of them ever showing you any are slim to none.

So, one of the best answers to how to mess with a narcissist is to let them go before they discard you and move on. Block all channels of communication and walk away because you don’t need their kind of egotistical negativity around you. Besides, blocking them will give you a lot of mental peace and stability.

You can finally stop wondering how to respond to their gaslighting. You’re probably thinking that this is a little extreme, but remember, actions have repercussions. They have brought this upon themselves by willfully pushing you to a point where you have been left wondering how to make a narcissist miserable. As Craig Lounsbrough says, “To be your own God is to be the biggest participant in creating your own hell.”

Key Pointers

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of grandiosity, fantasies of unlimited power or importance, and the need for admiration or special treatment
  • Saying no, taking care of your happiness, enforcing boundaries and your authority, and calling them out are among a few ways you can deflate a narcissist’s inflated ego and make them miserable
  • It is crucial to prioritize your own well-being throughout this process

I think you’ve got enough revenge tactics on how to make a narcissist miserable. Just remember to be balanced, even if you’re trying to get back at them. Extreme steps should be avoided at all costs because you’ll be the one who regrets them. Also, be mindful to recognize the potential for a trauma bond to develop, which doesn’t happen in healthy relationships. It is crucial, then, to prioritize your well-being. 

Final thoughts on this? Breaking free from the shackles of narcissism is the first step toward personal growth. Embrace a future where the pursuit of genuine connections and meaningful achievements takes precedence over the façade that a narcissist makes their life revolve around. I wish you luck on your mission to outsmart a narcissist! Farewell.


1. How to make a narcissist jealous?

On how to drive narcissists nuts and drunk on jealousy, the first tip is to not feed them the attention they desire. How do you make the narcissist come crawling back? Make them feel that you don’t need them. This will make their life difficult. Ignore them if you must. Talk to more attractive people and be happy in your own light.

2. How to make a narcissist respect you?

Saying no, enforcing boundaries, and challenging this person are some of the tips on how to hurt a narcissist by making them fear you. Holding them accountable, publicly exposing them, and going no-contact are other strategies to outsmart a narcissist.  

3. What upsets a narcissist the most? 

One of the biggest triggers for them is criticism, as any hint of disapproval or negative feedback can send them into a tailspin. Another thing that really gets to them is being ignored or not receiving the attention they crave. Narcissists thrive on admiration and validation, so when they’re not the center of attention, it can drive them crazy. Lastly, exposing their flaws or failures can be a major blow to their fragile ego. So, if you want to ruffle a narcissist’s feathers, these are the buttons to push.

4. What is a narcissist’s weakness?

While narcissists may appear confident and self-assured on the surface, their excessive need for admiration and validation stems from their true self, which is full of deep-seated insecurities. Underneath their grandiose façade lies a fragile sense of self-worth that can easily be shattered. Criticism, especially when it exposes their flaws and challenges their inflated self-image, can be a major trigger for a narcissist. 

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