How A Narcissist Insidiously Tests Your Boundaries

How A Narcissist Insidiously Tests Your Boundaries how a narcissist insidiously tests your boundaries
Photo by Yann Allegre on Unsplash

Boundaries are the limits or guidelines we set to protect ourselves from others. They define what we will or won’t tolerate from others. For serial manipulators, eroding those boundaries is Step 1 to gaining total control over your life. Actually, toxic relationship begins when we consciously or unconsciously allow others to cross those boundaries repeatedly without setting ultimatums or ways to deal with repeat boundary violators. So, how do toxic people test those boundaries as they prime you for abuse?

Pushing the Line Gradually

Narcissists are masters at slowly throwing you off guard by mostly doing small, insidious and incremental boundary violations. It may start with little nudges or teases to gauge your reactiveness, before full-blown boundary violation.

For example, they might start making digs about your appearance under the guise of “just joking.” If you protest, they’ll likely ply: “Geez, can’t you take a joke? I was only teasing you!” But if you let it slide, they’ve now established disrespecting your physical boundaries as acceptable. That ‘letting it slide’ for the first time is mostly the foundation for them to total disregard your boundaries.

From there, it sets the stage for more aggressive ways or criticism of how you look, your life choices, values — anything that allows them to erode your self-esteem for easier control. Because you opened the door to insults by excusing that first “joke.”

You may have excused the first, second, and third jokes by accepting their fake apologies or by just blaming their behaviour on external circumstances, the most common ones being that they were drunk or stressed from work. But the more you excuse them without any change in their behaviour, the more you invite them to keep playing and toying with your boundaries.

Exploiting Your Empathy

Narcissists also leverage your very empathy, compassion and benefit of the doubt against you in boundary testing. They’ll make implausible excuses, twist narratives, and strategically deploy pity ploys — all while violating your stated boundaries.

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For instance, say your boundary is not entertaining their exes or flirtatious connections. They may claim “It’s just an old friend I was reminiscing business deals with — nothing inappropriate!”

Despite the clear breach of your boundaries, your good-hearted instinct is to give them a chance to explain, even when you know their explanations don’t make any sense. You are also overly forgiving and offer them a shoulder to cry on, even when they constantly violate those boundaries.

They now know that they can get away with anything because of your empathy, and they take advantage of your willingness to accept their nonsensical justifications because you ‘care’ so much about their well-being.

In fact, it even gets to the point where they brag about how you will take them back, even if they continue to violate your boundaries. So, your empathetic nature paves the way for them to test and then violate your boundaries. It’s like they’re testing how far you can go with forgiving them or with your empathy.

Love-Bombing to Manipulate

Narcissists frequently use love-bombing and future-faking to coerce you into forsaking your boundaries under the haze of idealization or honeymoon. The exaggerated affection, superficial soulmate promises, and intense passion mostly at the early stages of your relationship purposefully short-circuit our rational selves.

You’re literally drunk on ‘love’ and ‘lust,’ and when you’re drunk, you know that things happen. You end up doing things that totally violate your boundaries because what you’re getting from the narcissist is so sweet that your boundaries don’t really matter.

So later, when the narcissist starts encroaching on your clearly articulated boundaries (like “I told you I don’t accept lying!” or “Don’t touch me that way”), you’re already hooked on chasing that ephemeral high you experienced during the love bombing phase. You lowered those boundaries during the love bombing phase, so what’s the point of keeping them? you may tell yourself.

In fact, that’s where you meet a lot of people who have been through these kinds of relationships, and they say things like, “It was the first time I did that with anyone in the early stages of dating.” So, you fall for the intensity of the love bombing, then lower your boundaries. Once lowered, they mostly stay low until you come back to your senses from the intoxication or until you sober up.

On top of that, the cognitive dissonance prevents you from coming to terms with how they could turn out to be so abusive, making you craft excuse after excuse for their boundary violations, hoping to rekindle that fantasy. But in reality, their grand manipulations were crafted specifically to destabilize your boundaries from the start.

Conclusion

Your boundaries are important, and they’re your responsibility. They keep the bad out and the good in. If you’re not in a position to uphold them, ask yourself why and work on getting to the point where you don’t even need to write them down; you just deeply know that you are the boundary, and the boundary is you.

At the core of narcissistic relationships is the abuser testing how far they can manipulate or coerce you to meet their needs. They use sneaky tactics that may seem harmless, but when you have strong boundaries, you can catch the bad before it forms a foundation of negativity inside you.

That is your responsibility: be firm with your boundaries and let them play their games outside your perimeter. It may look like a simple guideline to uphold, but its effect on your life should never be underestimated. Do you know your boundaries?

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 toxic patterns, 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 & bias, experiences and research😊.

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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.

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