17 Clever Tactics to Drive a Narcissist Nuts and Save Your Sanity

Do you know the saying, “Don't hate the player, hate the game”? 

When figuring out how to mess with a narcissist, you'll need to hate the player too. 

You'll also need to tap into a tougher side of yourself while pushing your actions into uncomfortable spaces. 

While we aren't going to stoop to his level, we will lean over them and give them a taste of their own medicine, all to help you escape a narcissistic abuse cycle. 

What Drives a Narcissist Insane?

Narcissists see themselves as entitled and beyond repercussion while ruling their world from their pedestal. Anything that threatens to knock them off their pedestal will piss them off.

  • Indifference: A narcissist needs to control you and get your attention, whether it's praise or a pissed-off rant. Absolutely nothing is worse than indifference (real or faked). 
  • Gloating: Since a narcissist needs a supply feeding their superiority, even celebrating your own win without giving them full credit for the victory will unravel their poorly-sewn ego. 
  • Independence: If you aren't a puppet on his toxic strings, he doesn't have control or the ability to manipulate you. 
  • Self-Love: There's only room in this relationship for one person to be adored—him! If you take time for yourself and by yourself, he'll feel exposed as the weakling he really is
  • Dismissiveness: If you don't host a parade for him completing household chores, he's irate. Don't you know he's the chore champion? 

How to Drive a Narcissist Nuts: 17 Clever Tactics to Try

Sometimes, you just exist, and it makes a narcissist nuts.

Only use these tactics when you're trying to figure out how to trick a narcissist into leaving you alone. Do not use it as a way to win them back.  

1. Talk to Someone, Anyone Else

A narcissist wants to be your sole source of information, conversation, and socialization. If you're giving any attention to someone else, that's a supply of attention he's not getting.

When you're under his control, you might go get his favorite drink and not look at anyone else. 

Make him seethe when he sees you smiling at the bartender or complimenting the tie of another man in line. 

2. Call Him Out On a Lie

You need to play this one carefully because you're not showing jealousy. You are showing you aren't the idiotic weakling he assumes everyone else to be.

If you know he went to happy hour with the Instagram influencer from his office, tell him. Repeat it. Work it into every conversation. 

When he throws the gaslighting, projecting, and blame-shifting at you, remain emotionally distant. Bonus piss-off points if you add, “Did your social media influencer tell you to say that?” 

3. Be Vague About Where You've Been

Since a narcissist is your social warden, you need permission to go anywhere.

If you “go to happy hour with coworkers” and “it was fun,” he's going to assume you are lying (because he does it) and flirting with other people (because he does that, too).

The more he probes, the less specific you should be. For extra credit, let him know his name didn't even come up at happy hour.

Then casually mention how much fun you had. Let him catch you smiling in the mirror as you brush your teeth. 

4. Celebrate a Milestone Relentlessly

When someone else gets engaged or moves into a new (bigger than his) home, it's cause for healthy, supportive people to celebrate. For a narcissist, it's a reminder that he's inferior and that stuff has to stop.

They are known to start fights before big events to draw attention back to them. 

He'll be most peeved if you go to the housewarming party without him or offer to host the engagement party in your backyard. 

5. Diffuse the Love Bombs

A frustrated narcissist will go back to what worked initially—showering you with gifts, compliments, and affection.

Don't let him woo you and get a sudden headache before bedtime. Treat gifts as the pathetic attempt to manipulate you that they are. 

Emphasize this by not sharing emotional overshares to really throw him for a loop. 

6. Abruptly Change Your Behavior

He can manipulate you because he knows your every move. He's watched your habits and likes to hit your triggers.

Even if he lists off body-shaming barbs while you're getting ready for work, and that usually ruins your day, tell him you love your body and will rock this outfit with four-inch heels. 

Be like a fly buzzing around the house that he can't catch up with, and it will drive him bonkers. 

7. Do What You Want

He's the Norm of his own version of Cheers, and every Friday night, you go to hear everyone tout his accolades. Get under his skin by “surprising” him with a trip to a new Asian Fusion restaurant. 

Bonus if he doesn't know how to use chopsticks and will fumble through the meal. If he refuses to go? Kiss him tenderly and then go without him. 

If you can time your new yoga class with a night he doesn't come home on time, you can add insult to injury by saying, “Oh, I didn't even notice you weren't here.” 

8. Offer Some (Any) Criticism

His false exterior and inflated sense of self believe he can do no wrong. Too often, you've sat back and praised the Emperor's New Clothes. Now, let him know his socks don't really go with that outfit. 

Correct his form on the golf course. Tell him it's pronounced “Keen-WAH,” not “Kin-OH-uh.” Once his eyes are slivered and his breath is swift, you've gotten under his skin.

Better yet? Add a pathetic sigh and go to the dresser to get the socks you want him to wear. 

9. Delight in the Discard

At some point, he will be fed up with your insubordinate behavior, and he'll disappear, ghost or outright leave you. This is usually your cue to beg him to come back.

Let him go, and seriously hope the door hits him on the way.  Post how happy you are on social media and that a “weight has been lifted.” 

When he tries to love bomb again, treat him like a door-to-door salesman and just say, “No, thanks!” 

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10. Don't Be Impressed

When he starts boasting about his achievements, great or small, channel your inner Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney, and don't be impressed. Bonus if you do the little mouth shift to the side to punctuate it. 

You don't even need to be rude. Even just saying, “Very cool. What are you making for dinner?” is dismissive enough to make him downright deflated. 

11. Trump His Victim Card

Narcissists love to draw attention back by playing the victim. Your sense of compassion draws you to this to fix it and nurse him through whatever feigned attack he endured. Use crazy things like logic and reason to point out all the ways he's not a victim. 

Remind him of the times he's played the victim before, and it wasn't true. Rub salt in the wound by showing how he's actually the attacker, not the victim. 

12. Terminate Triangulation Attempts

Narcissists like to play both sides off of the middle to gain control and attention. They will create conflict between two people while being the only source of communication for each angled person. 

If you have good conflict resolution skills or can face conflict head-on, you can skip past the middle man (the narcissist) and address the person on the other side directly. Now the narcissist is exposed and enraged. 

If you don't know the other person in the triangle, ask for an introduction and watch his eyes grow to the size of golf balls. 

13. Set Fierce Boundaries

Narcissists don't like any boundaries, but new ones are especially annoying. Since they see themselves as above any rules, those boundaries are certainly meant for someone else.

Give this a one-two punch by attaching “supply” (attention) to the boundary. 

For example, “You always interrupt me when I'm telling you about success at work. If you do it again, I'm going to spend time with someone who will support me.” 

Stick to the boundary relentlessly, even if spending time with someone else means getting a Starbucks coffee and reading a book by yourself. 

14. Use Exaggerated Body Language

This works especially well if you use a lot of gestures and facial expressions by nature. You can't just be around a narcissist when they are lauding themselves; you must be a participant. 

Give blank stares, eye rolls, and smirks—maybe throw in a facepalm. Anything but clapping, hugging, and needy touching will drive them up a wall. 

This can also work the other way around if you are gesture-prone. Keeping your arms down like you're on a rollercoaster and your face as frozen as a statue. He'll be miffed if you aren't moving more to his windy rants. 

15. Delay Your Responses

By a certain point, the narcissist has you trained to answer texts immediately and never let a call go to voicemail. You'll really send him into a tailspin if you don't respond. No, this isn't cruel. 

He isn't worried that you've been in an accident. Even if you were, he'd make it about how hard the recovery is on him. 

Overachieve this tactic by setting your phone to display text messages as READ. When he confronts you about it, be dismissive because you were too busy to respond at that time. 

16. Desensitize Yourself to His Abuse

The manipulative tactics of narcissists are meant to get a reaction out of you. He doesn't care if it's crying on the counter or submitting to the fetal position in the closet. 

The emotions you offer are a sign of control. If you can “fake it until you make it” during his outbursts and just stay stoic and stubborn without saying a word, he'll be irate. 

NOTE: This will get worse before it gets better, but the sweeter the victory for you. 

17. Agree With Everything He Says

Add a dose of sarcasm to this for the full effect. He says you are crazy? Yep, you are. You're being too sensitive? Yep, because you're a human being with emotions, and he's being insensitive. This only works if you're still desensitized. 

For the final nail in the coffin, when he thinks you're going to cry or have an emotional outburst, laugh hysterically. 

If he does this in front of others, use it as a way to put the spotlight back on him in a critical way. “Yep, I'm letting myself go because I wore yoga pants tonight. At least they are Lululemon yoga pants!” 

Things You Shouldn’t Do to Piss Off a Narcissist

In full transparency, you shouldn't do anything to really piss off a narcissist or push his buttons. You have a healthy limit of how far you'll stoop.

He doesn't. Just because you haven't seen physical abuse (yet) or the worst of his behavior, it's best not to poke a sleeping bear.

  • Don't tell him he's a narcissist. You've done all this great research, and you're armed with great words like “gaslighting” and “love bombing.” In this case, the truth doesn't set you free. It actually makes him want to tighten the chains.
  • Don't smear his name. He knows more about your skeletons than you do about his, and he's not above some photoshopping and doxing. Emotional scars can heal. Your internet presence, no matter how fake he makes it be, is there forever. 
  • Don't embarrass them publicly, even if they've done it to you. You're already at DEFCON 2 if you insult him behind closed doors. Do it publicly, and you're at DEFCON 1, and he has more nuclear weapons. 

Final Thoughts

Only someone who survived narcissistic abuse can truly understand the battle cry of “Just walk away.” It goes against everything in your fierce soul to fight back. 

The only way you can truly piss off a narcissist for good is to live a happy life with absolutely no contact with them.