4 Mind Games Psychopaths Play To Torment You – And How To Beat Them

There are certain mind games psychopathic people play on purpose in order to manipulate and torment their victims. Learn what they are, according to an expert – and how to beat them.

Weaponizing what they perceive are your insecurities. 

Psychopaths and malignant narcissists love trying to provoke jealousy in you, manufacturing love triangles and some may even orchestrate break-ups to keep you off-kilter and under their control. After love bombing you into investing in them, they deliberately try to provoke you using what they think are your insecurities into keeping you dependent on them, believing that you will chase them as soon as they detach from you. Of course, this does not work if they do not know what your real insecurities are, and their attempt to unsettle you ends up looking desperate and foolish. If you suspect you are dealing with a psychopathic person, it’s important to abandon the notion that you can ever be vulnerable with a toxic person and leave red herrings instead. Never feed them the truth about your real vulnerabilities or fears. One way to do this is to feed them a piece of particularly juicy misinformation to keep yourself safe. For example, share a fake insecurity or small fear (i.e. “I am not a fan of your friend, Diana – do you think you’re spending too much time with her?” or “I’ve always been told my legs are too thin”). In reality, you may have no such thoughts about Diana and feel quite confident in your body. Watch how quickly the narcissist or psychopath gossips about your fear to another person or tries to trigger that same insecurity by going out of their way to provoke you with it (i.e. suddenly they’re posting pictures of Diana on social media, or making snarky comments about your legs, just to get a rise out of you, not realizing you faked those insecurities to see how they would use that information). Now you have confirmation this is not a safe person and can detach early on at the first sight of this red flag — and as a bonus, you may even get a good laugh out of seeing how low this toxic person can go just to get your attention.

The “One-upping” Sore Loser Game

When empathic people express that they are happy for you, they truly mean it. They’re celebrating your success or personal growth and enjoy seeing you win. When a psychopath or narcissist tells this lie, it’s in the interest of preserving their ego. While they may initially pretend to be happy for your success, they are already plotting how to sabotage you due to malicious envy. To put this into context, recognize that narcissistic and psychopathic people are usually stalking their former victims whether in real life or online even long after the relationship has ended. Let’s say they learn that their former victim is engaged to a healthy partner, has moved forward and is very happy. As a result, the narcissist or psychopath will suddenly propose to their own current partner in an attempt to “one-up” that former victim – not because they actually want to get married but they want to win. These are the types who will even place their own wedding date close to the date of their former victim’s wedding just to take the spotlight off them and attempt to deflate their former victim’s joy. To avoid being susceptible to such mind games, keep private information private from a lurking psychopath or narcissist. If you suspect you’re dealing with someone toxic, avoid sharing your success, joys, or achievements in places they could access such information— at least until they’re already well established. For example, don’t give the date of important interviews, celebrations, or presentations unless you want this toxic person to try to provoke you the day before. Wait until a significant event in your life is over before you share pictures or news of your accomplishments or goals (or give a fake date or deadline if needed). This will prevent covert attempts at sabotage.

The Withhold and Punish Game 

Narcissists and psychopaths enjoy biting the hands that feed them – chomping down on them as cannibals, if we were to take the analogy further. The more kindness and generosity you show them, the crueler they can get in response because kindness to a narcissist is just seen as an invitation to erode more of your boundaries. That is why they will punish you with silent treatments and withhold attention and affection after a long period of love bombing and of you investing in them. They want you to beg for them. They want to be the puppeteers, the ones in control. If they see you standing up for yourself, no matter how politely, or taking time to take care of yourself, what do they do? They take away one of your perceived “privileges” – the “right” to speak to them, the “right” to receive attention or any sense of security as they try to pit you against another romantic prospect. No matter how irrational and recklessly harmful such an action can be, they don’t care – even if such actions only harm them in the end. For example, taking away “privileges” from the wrong person can result in disaster if the narcissist or psychopath depends on that person for some kind of resource or labor that only that specific person can provide effectively. If in the presence of a toxic person playing this punishment and withholding game, recognize that the only “privilege” here is access to you – a kind, empathic person who was even willing to invest in them in the first place. Use any silent treatments as time and space for you to detach from them and focus on your own personal goals. Keep taking care of yourself and prioritizing yourself over the narcissist’s attempts to disorient you.

The Dread Game

The dread game is actually a common mind game used in pick-up artist communities, and narcissists use it all the time in relationships. They will orchestrate break-ups or ask for breaks out of seemingly nowhere to make you feel unsafe and uncertain in the relationship and to try to provoke your fear of losing them. By doing this, they expect their victims to continue to bend over backwards trying to chase them and regain their validation and approval – however, this certainly does not work on all victims, especially not unpredictable ones who have tapped into their power. This usually occurs when things are going well in the relationship or during times when you are trying to set healthy boundaries with them. To reinforce their “authority,” and as a control tactic, they will feign pulling away and pretend that if you don’t like their horrendous behavior you are free to leave at any time rather than putting in the actual effort to address your concerns. This takes the responsibility off of them and onto you. The burden falls to you to maintain the relationship rather than them taking accountability for improving. To prevent such a mind game from working on you, it’s important to cultivate independence in all facets of your life before dating anyone. Work toward building financial and emotional security so you never have to fear losing out on anything or anyone. Do not fear abandonment by a toxic person more than you fear self-abandonment in the pursuit of that toxic person.

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