Perhaps you’ve heard of a trick narcissists use called triangulation. This is when a narcissist creates trouble between you and a mutual friend in order to gain leverage over you both. Sniping serves a similar purpose.
If you’re dealing with an overt narcissist, they’ve probably said something like “No one will ever love you like I love you.” Sadly, this is a reflection of how they see themselves in the relationship. They’re afraid they’ll be alone and unloved without you, so they try to get you into the same impoverished mindframe to keep you around. On the other hand, covert narcissists will try to keep you on a leash by taking actions to keep other people out of your life. That’s where sniping comes in.
One day I was doing some yard work for my now infamous ex-girlfriend, Meredith (not her real name). While telling her the story of how I got my current job, I mentioned a friend, Anna. I found my current job while I was on my way to apply to another place that Anna had referred me to. Her part in the story was very small. I might have mentioned that Anna was very kind and helpful, and then moved on with the rest of the story.
Of course, I could see that Meredith changed her energy completely as soon as she realized we knew the same Anna. She became very quiet, and then interrupted my story to say:
“You know, I would watch out for Anna.”
“She’s a very explosive person.”
“Hmm…” I said, “Well I’ve only met her twice. We really only chat like 2 or 3 times a year. We really only talk about green jobs around the city. I’ve never really thought about talking more with her. I don’t think she’ll have much chance to explode on me.”
“Well just watch out…”
“Are you worried that I’m attracted to her? …she’s always traveling. I’ve just never really thought it could work. I’m not interested in being with someone who’s so unstable anyways…I guess thanks for the warning, but I doubt I was ever going to see her again anyways.”
I really loved Meredith at that point. I had no interest in being with anyone, including Anna. It really didn’t matter how different someone looked or what they had to offer. I wanted to be with Meredith, and that was it.
She couldn’t hear that though. A narcissist cannot believe that you are devoted to them because power is the only thing that exists to them. In the mind of a narcissist, more money, better looks, more pampering, more and better sex, or any other form of power will always pull you away from them. Generally, they think this way because they will always follow those things away from you. She let me know as much several times.
I’ve talked to a few other people about Anna since that conversation. Apparently she’s always as kind as I’ve known her to be. I think someone told me “She’s very professional.” “She keeps to herself.” Nothing about being explosive or violent.
Maybe Meredith made it up. Maybe she provoked Anna with passive-aggressive disrespect, and is telling only Meredith’s side of the story, as I’ve known her to do. In any case, what’s happening here is that Meredith is trying to keep me alone so that she can have me to herself. That’s sniping for you: trying to control someone by destroying their other relationships before they start.
This is a smaller behavior you’ll often see early on. It’s a huge red flag. If you’ve seen any of my other posts about narcissistic manipulation, you know that it foreshadows some pretty nasty behavior. If you’ve been in abusive relationships you know that “what follows behind it is death.” I hope this little snippet can help you and others avoid narcissistic manipulation in the future.
When it comes to talking about others, I try to follow a simple rule of thumb. I don’t “warn” anyone about anyone else unless that person asks me about their character, or unless I know that they are in imminent danger.
In any case man, be aware of these signs. They will really help you stay away from people who are bad for you. As men, we are often asked to be the strong ones. That does not mean putting up with abuse. You deserve the best. Always take care of yourself, and stay away from people who make that difficult.
Peace be with you!
You may also like by Michael Jones:
Gaslighting: How Narcissists Manipulate Your Thoughts
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