7 Emotions That Narcissists Manipulate in Others

7 Emotions That Narcissists Manipulate in Others 7 emotions that narcissists manipulate in others
Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Emotions play a significant role in shaping our experiences, relationships, and overall well-being. They have the power to bring us joy, love, and connection, but they can also make us vulnerable to manipulation and harm, especially if we don’t understand and embody our boundaries.

A narcissist will use your emotions to manipulate you and meet their needs. They are very good at exploiting your emotions as they seek to control and dominate you. They learn about your emotions and then use them as a way to get into your life. In this article, we will explore the emotions that narcissists exploit. I will be using feelings and emotions interchangeably for this article. By understanding these emotions, we can become aware of the tactics they use and protect ourselves from their harmful actions.

1. Sympathy

Sympathy is a natural human response to the suffering or hardships of others. It involves feeling compassion and a desire to help. However, narcissists have a unique way of exploiting sympathy for their own gain.

Narcissists are skilled at portraying themselves as victims, garnering your sympathy. They often exaggerate or fabricate stories of their adversities, manipulating you into feeling sorry for them. By eliciting sympathy, narcissists seek to gain attention, control, and validation.


By playing with your sympathy, they also make you feel guilty or responsible for their difficulties. They also love getting attention and being the center of it all, so they use sympathy as a way to keep that attention focused on them. We all know that when there’s a disaster, people will rise up and offer support and attention to the victims of that disaster, and that is what a narcissist exploits. There’s no problem with helping others, but it’s also an opportunity for manipulation to exploit.

2. Jealousy

Narcissists are also very good at making you feel jealous and using it to exploit you. Here’s how they do it: first, they triangulate you by creating situations where you feel jealous by introducing other people into the dynamic of the relationship. They might flirt with others or keep in touch with their ex-partners, purposely making you feel insecure and jealous. They make you feel like you are competing with other people for their affection. This keeps you constantly seeking their attention and approval.

Second, narcissists play on your deep insecurities. They point out your flaws and compare you to others, making you feel inadequate and jealous. This way, you are always trying to prove yourself and gain their approval. You will also be trying to compete with other people, and you might even start hating your “competition,” even when they’re just innocent parties in the narcissist’s game of deceit.

3. Anger

Anger is another powerful emotion that narcissists exploit to get to you. They will deliberately provoke you by making disrespectful comments, hurling insults, making harsh jokes, or engaging in any form of hurtful behavior. Once you get angry, they use your anger as proof of your mental instability or your “craziness.”

They may then resort to giving you the silent treatment because of what you’ve done to them, which further makes you feel frustrated and confused. They may also use your reaction as a smear campaign tool and label you as the oppressor in the relationship. You will then doubt the validity of your anger because they are using it against you. The anger arose from a legitimate concern, but the narcissist uses it to work against you.

You will then feel guilty for being angry, and you will think you’ve done something wrong. You will end up apologizing for your anger and even resorting to “humbling” yourself and rationalizing the abuse. By doing that, the narcissist establishes more control and superiority over you.

4. Optimism

Optimism is having a positive outlook or looking forward to a bright future. It’s the hope that things will work out. Narcissists will exploit your optimism by making false promises that feed into your hopeful nature. They will paint this fake future (future-faking) just to keep you distracted from what they’re doing to you in the present moment. They will make you believe that they will bring your future dreams to light.

They will mirror back those deep desires you really want to pursue in life, like having two beautiful babies, buying you that dream car, dream house, or any other superficial pursuits you want. They may also promise you that if you get married, they will start working on themselves, going for therapy, or just anything that fulfills the desire of having a partner who works on themselves.


Also, when you’re about to leave them because of something they’ve done, they may apologize or promise you that they will change their behaviors. All this will make you feel optimistic that the relationship will work out. So, your optimism is being exploited so that you can lower your boundaries, ignore the abuse, minimize your concerns about the relationship, and just focus on the beautiful.

They’re not showing any hopes of changing in the present moment, but because you’re optimistic, you will be so glued to the bright future you will have together while they’re just using you in the present moment. In your mind, it will work out, but in the present moment, it’s not working out, and you’re being depleted mentally, physically, and emotionally.

5. Fear

A narcissist will also exploit your fear to influence you into doing things you don’t want to. They take advantage of what scares you to make you do what they want. They may intimidate you by using aggressive or intimidating behavior, like ruining your life if you leave the relationship, exposing your secrets if you don’t do something for them, or just something that makes you feel like you’re in danger.

They may also make you fear the consequences of not listening to them or make you doubt your thoughts and perceptions. When you doubt yourself, it can be quite scary to face the challenges of life. Fear cripples you from taking the necessary actions that deliver you from the fear or from taking action that involves facing your fears.

When you’re afraid, you will bow down to their demands because you feel that is a better way to embrace the “monster” you know than dealing with other monsters waiting by the door if you don’t listen to the narcissist.

6. Happiness

We all want to be happy; we want good things to happen to us in our lives. A narcissist exploits your extrinsic happiness — happiness derived from external factors. This happiness is the shallow kind of happiness that they prey on during the love bombing phase. If you get excited and very happy when someone buys you a beautiful gift or does something superficial to you, then that’s a gate pass to manipulation.

If you put so much meaning on material possessions to make you happy, then that’s what the idealization phase is all about. If you depend on social status or validation or approval from others or just any form of outward circumstance to feel satisfied and contented with life, then that can be easily exploited. So, a narcissist preys on your desire for happiness from external things to manipulate you.

The moment you get that high in the beginning of the relationship, you will be craving for that high and wanting to go back to that phase. You will ignore the reality because you want to go back to that “happy” phase of the relationship. You will forgive them, apologize, lower your boundaries, make excuses for their behavior because you want that happiness you felt early on. That’s how they’ve toyed with your extrinsic happiness to control you and manipulate you. The narcissist becomes like the puppet master for your happiness.

When you focus on outer things as your source of happiness, your life will be shallow, and you will attract shallow people who only offer shallowness to get to you.

7. Guilt

Guilt is also a common emotion that a narcissist exploits to make you feel that you’ve done something wrong. They guilt trip you to behave in a certain manner or to feel bad for your actions. A narcissist will make you feel guilty when you do something they don’t like or when they want to avoid taking responsibility. When you feel guilty, you will be compelled to do an opposite action in a quest to ease those deep feelings of guilt.

This makes you susceptible to their manipulation and control because the feeling of manufactured guilt is uncomfortable. They may also blame you because of their shortcomings in life, which makes you feel guiltier about what you’ve done. When you’re pushed to feel at fault for someone else, you will live your life trying to “correct” your wrongful actions, even when those corrective actions are violating your boundaries.


It is crucial to recognize and understand the emotions that narcissists or manipulative people exploit in order to protect ourselves from their harmful actions. By being aware of how they manipulate our sympathy, jealousy, anger, optimism, fear, happiness, and guilt, we can develop a stronger defense against their tactics. They will use these emotions and how you’re feeling to destabilize you and make you susceptible to their abuse.

In a quest to avoid pain and seek pleasure, you will lower your boundaries and bow down to their demands. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these emotions; however, it’s important to recognize that they can be used against you if you’re not deeply aware. These emotions are part of our complex emotional landscape and can play a significant role in shaping our interactions and responses to the world around us.

However, in the context of manipulative individuals, particularly narcissists, these emotions can become vulnerabilities that they exploit for their own benefit. Narcissists have a keen understanding of human emotions and often use this knowledge to manipulate and control others.

So, understanding these dynamics and becoming deeply aware of our own emotions is crucial in protecting ourselves from manipulation. It allows us to recognize when our emotions are being used against us and empowers us to establish and enforce healthy boundaries. By cultivating self-awareness, we can navigate relationships more effectively and protect ourselves from harm.

Lastly, it is important to note that awareness goes beyond simply reading or memorizing information about these emotions. True awareness involves delving deep within ourselves and bringing to light those aspects that may be buried in our unconscious. It is about making the unconscious conscious, so that we can expand our awareness and ensure that what remains hidden does not hinder our emotional wellbeing in the present moment. It is facing the uncomfortable truth about ourselves and shining a light on the aspects that may leave us vulnerable to manipulation.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these subconscious patterns for good (in less than 2 months) using Mind Shifting, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts, experiences and research😊.


1. https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/3-emotions-that-narcissists-and-psychopaths-manipulate-in-others.346/

Share your love
Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

Articles: 831

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *