10 Ways Narcissists Divide Families
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10 Ways Narcissists Divide Families

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Narcissists are individuals who possess an excessively inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for admiration. Sadly, their behaviors can have devastating effects on the dynamics of a family unit. Here are the various ways narcissists divide families.

How Narcissists Divide Families

1. Emotional Manipulation

One of the most insidious ways narcissists divide families is through emotional manipulation. They excel at playing mind games, exploiting the vulnerabilities of their loved ones to gain control. Gaslighting, a common tactic employed by narcissists, involves distorting reality and making the victim doubt their own sanity. By constantly undermining the emotions and perceptions of family members, narcissists create an atmosphere of confusion and discord.

Narcissists also employ guilt-tripping as a means of manipulation. They make others feel responsible for their own unhappiness or failures, often using emotional blackmail to get what they want. This manipulative behavior further fragments the family unit, as members become trapped in a cycle of guilt and self-doubt.

Related: Signs of a somatic Narcissist

2. Triangulation

Triangulation is another effective strategy used by narcissists to divide families. By involving a third party in conflicts, the narcissist creates a dynamic where the original issue gets lost and the focus shifts to the relationships between family members. This triangulation serves to isolate individuals and foster animosity, as loyalty and trust are eroded within the family structure.

Narcissists may also engage in triangulation by favoring one family member over another. This creates a sense of competition and jealousy, pitting siblings or spouses against each other. The narcissist thrives on this power dynamic, relishing in the chaos and division it creates.

Related: Signs of a narcissistic friend

3. Projection

Projection is a defense mechanism commonly employed by narcissists to divide families. They project their own negative traits, flaws, and insecurities onto others, causing confusion and conflict within the family. By deflecting blame and responsibility onto innocent parties, narcissists can effectively manipulate the narrative and avoid accountability for their actions.

When a family member is repeatedly subjected to false accusations and blame, trust and unity rapidly deteriorate. The constant turmoil created by the narcissist’s projection leaves family members feeling helpless and unsupported, further exacerbating the divide.

Related: Signs of a narcissistic mother

4. Financial Control

Narcissists often use financial control as a means of dividing families and exerting dominance. They manipulate and exploit the financial resources of family members for their own gain, leaving others feeling powerless and dependent. This financial manipulation can include withholding money, controlling access to funds, or pressuring family members into financial arrangements that benefit the narcissist.

The unequal distribution of financial resources creates a power imbalance within the family, leading to resentment and discord. The narcissist may use money as a tool to reward or punish family members, further deepening the divide and eroding trust.

Related: How to make a narcissist want you back

5. Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is a hallmark of narcissistic behavior, and it plays a significant role in dividing families. Narcissists engage in constant criticism, belittlement, and humiliation of their loved ones. They undermine their self-esteem and self-worth, leaving family members feeling emotionally battered and isolated.

The emotional abuse inflicted by narcissists creates a toxic environment within the family, where fear and anxiety become the norm. This constant cycle of abuse fractures the bonds between family members, as they struggle to cope with the emotional turmoil inflicted upon them.

Related: How narcissists deal with break up

6. Scapegoating

Narcissists often employ scapegoating as a means of diverting attention away from their own shortcomings. They single out one family member and blame them for all the problems within the family. By creating a scapegoat, the narcissist deflects responsibility and maintains control over the narrative.

The scapegoated family member becomes the target of relentless criticism, blame, and abuse. They are made to feel like they are the cause of all the family’s troubles, further isolating them from the rest of the family. This division allows the narcissist to maintain their dominance and control over the family unit.

Related: How narcissists try to win you back

7. Manipulation through Intimacy

Narcissists are skilled at using intimacy as a tool for manipulation and control. They may alternate between showering their loved ones with affection and withdrawing it altogether, leaving family members constantly yearning for validation and love. This manipulation through intimacy creates a cycle of emotional highs and lows, further deepening the division within the family.

By controlling the emotional intimacy within the family, narcissists ensure that they remain the central focus. Family members become preoccupied with seeking the narcissist’s approval and attention, neglecting their own needs and desires. This imbalance perpetuates the division and prevents healthy relationships from forming.

Related: Things Narcissists hate most

8. Undermining Boundaries

Narcissists have little regard for personal boundaries, often violating them in order to maintain control over their family members. They may invade privacy, disregard personal space, or impose their own agendas onto others. By undermining boundaries, the narcissist fosters a sense of powerlessness and resentment within the family.

The constant invasion of boundaries erodes trust and respect, making it difficult for family members to establish healthy boundaries of their own. This lack of boundaries further reinforces the division within the family unit, as individuals struggle to assert their autonomy and protect their emotional well-being.

Related: How to set boundaries with a Narcissist

9. Manipulation through Fear

Fear is a powerful tool used by narcissists to manipulate and divide families. They instill fear in their loved ones through threats, intimidation, and coercion. By creating an environment of fear, the narcissist ensures compliance and control.

The constant fear and uncertainty created by the narcissist’s manipulation prevent family members from speaking out or challenging their behavior. They become trapped in a cycle of appeasement, sacrificing their own well-being in order to avoid the narcissist’s wrath. This fear-based manipulation perpetuates the division within the family, as individuals are too afraid to unite against the narcissist.

10. Isolation

Finally, narcissists divide families by isolating individuals from their support networks. They manipulate family members into cutting ties with friends, extended family, or anyone who may challenge their control. By isolating their loved ones, narcissists ensure their dominance and prevent outside perspectives from penetrating their carefully constructed narrative.

The isolation caused by the narcissist’s manipulation leaves family members feeling alone and helpless. They become increasingly reliant on the narcissist for support and validation, further deepening the division within the family. The lack of external support makes it difficult for individuals to break free from the narcissist’s grasp and rebuild their relationships.


Dealing with a narcissistic family member can be incredibly challenging and emotionally draining. By recognizing the destructive patterns employed by narcissists, you can begin to reclaim your power and work towards healing your family that the Narcissist has divided.

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