What Triggers a Narcissist?

Partners spend a great deal of time walking on eggshells around their narcissist partners to avoid triggering the narcissist’s rage. This creates a constant flow of stress and anxiety due to the fact that narcissists are easily triggered. Some of the common triggers are:

(Perceived) lack of attention

If the partner does not show the narcissist the level of intense focus, time and attention he wants, he gets angry, and punitive, suspicious, accuses the partner of being selfish, having an affair, or lying about her feelings for him.


Narcissists hate boundaries. Any time the partner attempts to establish and maintain boundaries, the narcissist sees this as an attempt to control him, and he will react with hostility, immediately attempting to demolish them. He may use guilt, shame, hostility, the silent treatment, threats of abandonment, raging anger, or other forms of manipulation to break his partner down.


If the partner exhibits a level of confidence and independence, expresses opinions that differ from the narcissist, and is not at his beck-and-call, particularly in the presence of others, the narcissist becomes angry and will devalue the partner, make her jealous by eyeing or flirting with other women, or disappearing.


If the partner shows any expectation of sympathy, of being a priority, of the narcissist honoring his commitments, fidelity, consistency, compassion, devotion, thoughtfulness – the narcissist views it as an attempt to control him, treats her with contempt and pushes her away.

Being emotional

If the partner reacts emotionally to anything – positive or negative – the narcissist responds with: “you’re too sensitive”, “you react to things too emotionally”, “why are you so emotional about this?” “I don’t do drama – if you keep being so dramatic, I can’t handle this relationship” “you are too needy” and such.

Excelling at something, being praised by others for accomplishments

The narcissist gets angry because it takes the focus off of him, and he feels threatened by the partner’s competence; he will devalue his partner, treat her with contempt, and make her jealous in order to restore the controlling dynamic.

Living and breathing

Basically, everything is a trigger for the narcissist, unless he feels he is in absolute control, anything the partner does will trigger his rage, envy, contempt, and escalate his abuse in order to beat the partner into submission.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is dreadful and traumatic.

It is exhausting, explosive, abnormal, disorienting, crazy-making, incredibly abusive, physically, emotionally and spiritually damaging, wholly destructive and toxic.

For the partner, nothing good comes of a relationship with a narcissist, except for when she leaves, permanently, and forges her own path ahead.

Why Narcissists Hate Boundaries

Narcissists hate boundaries. Here’s why:

When the partner attempts to establish and maintain boundaries with a narcissist, the narcissist experiences this as a total loss of control, a form of “disobedience” by the partner, and profound rejection of self – a negation of him/herself. He experiences intense anxiety and rage. He aggressively attempts to demolish whatever boundaries, real or perceived, and tries to re-establish his sense control over the partner, and his sense of self.

Perception is important, because a narcissist will perceive boundaries in merely everyday commonplace instances, such as the partner not answering the phone – it doesn’t matter if she can’t get to the phone, is busy with work, etc. – the narcissist will see this as a boundary and a rejection of him, and he will react accordingly.

He will get angry, try to exert more control over the partner, become even more abusive, and guilt-shame his partner – such as accusing her of being selfish and uncaring. Often the narcissist will use these occasions to throw in the threat of leaving the relationship.

Over time, the partner is conditioned by the narcissist’s abusive reaction to her boundaries to believe: “Boundaries = I am selfish, uncaring, I will be punished, my partner will leave me.” Establishing and defending boundaries becomes traumatic for the partner, so she stops trying. Enmeshment follows.

A narcissist simply does not acknowledge or respect the partner’s “otherness” in any way. He co-opts his partner, and in his mind she becomes an extension of himself (and eventually becomes his detested internal trash can, into which he dumps his rage, self-loathing and abuse.)

Over time, if the partner does not leave this toxic dynamic, the narcissist will continually and intentionally provoke conflict, aggressively use emotional, verbal, and even physical abuse, manipulate and invalidate his partner. Eventually he will establish complete control. This dynamic dismantles the partner’s identity, and she will become a just a fractured shell of her former self.

The good news is, this is not permanent.

Healing begins as soon as the partner leaves the narcissist. Leaving is the catalyst. It may not feel like healing, at first. But it is, and it just takes time.


1) Know your boundaries and stick firmly to them. Follow your gut instincts, from the very beginning of a relationship. If something doesn’t seem right, sound right, feel right, or look right; it’s not right. If you feel a boundary has been violated, it has. So cut it off, and cut off contact. And don’t look back.

2) Love-bombing, no matter how wonderful it seems, is a major boundary violation and a significant red flag. Healthy relationships do not start this way. Toxic relationships; relationships with narcissists, always start this way.

Do Narcissists Love?

(Read time: 1-2 mins)

I’ve been asked on several occasions whether narcissists have real feelings for their partners, and if they love. In addition to the roller-coaster emotions of the love-bombing stage, narcissists do have feelings in a relationship, but they’re not love.

Narcissists feel euphoric at the beginning of the relationship, exhibited through over-the-top expressions of admiration, intense attraction, praise, and a “I think we are soulmates” narrative.

During love-bombing the narcissist will focus fake and intense spotlights of love, admiration, respect, soulmate connection, desire, future bliss on his partner, completely blinding her so she cannot see the darkness to come.

When the narcissist feels he/she has secured his partner, his real feelings about his partner emerge: boredom, disdain, irritability, annoyance, contempt, envy, jealousy, and seething anger. This is the narcissist’s natural state, and in a relationship they are the true feelings he has for his partner.

The “love euphoria” is never real, and is never sustained. The new partner is the new “love object” for the narcissist, and nothing more. After her newness wears off, she will become, and always be an object of his contempt.

If the partner leaves the narcissist, and he successfully hoovers her, she becomes – for a short time – exciting and desirable again to the narcissist. This period does not last nearly as long as the first love-bombing phase, and when the narcissist resumes his devaluing and abusive behavior he picks up right where he left off, being just as cruel and brutal.

Narcissists do not feel genuine love, nor do they care about it. They care about one thing: getting what they want, when they want it.

There is nothing a narcissist’s partner can do to change the narcissist or how he feels. There is nothing the partner can change to make the narcissist love her. The partner can change one thing: her future. She can leave the relationship, move on, never look back, and have a true chance at happiness and love; something she will never, ever have with the narcissist.