Most of us hate to be stared at, at least for extended periods of time. It makes us feel on-the-spot, exposed, self-conscious, out of control, or like something is wrong. And the narcissist knows this. So, how do they use it to gain the upper hand?
The creepy narcissistic stare is certainly an instrument of control. They will use different forms of their stare to feign love at first sight, to love bomb you, show extreme displeasure in you, force you to change your tone or direction, discard you, and finally destroy you. There is very little the narcissist does that does not exercise control over their victims in some way.
Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
Why the Narcissistic Stare?
I explained many of the different types of narcissistic stares, all of which are creepy for their own reasons. Let’s take a look at each one in greater detail.
The “Love at First Sight” Narcissistic Stare
This creepy narcissistic stare can be easy to miss because guess what guys who fall in love with the woman of their dreams do? They stare! They can’t keep their eyes off their new love because they see her as so beautiful.
This stare is just one of the narcissist’s masks. You can identify it if you happen to catch them “getting into the act,” just like an actor shutting down their true self to take on their role. If you don’t catch them, it can be harder to spot at this point because it looks just the same as the puppy dog eyes, the intent “I want to be with you stare” with the slight grin, or the “I’m so happy to be with you” warm look. But unfortunately, these are all studied and practiced looks and not true expressions. They are a means to an end. And it doesn’t really look or feel creepy because at the moment it seems kind of genuine.
So then, how do we tell the difference between a real “love at first sight” stare and a creepy narcissistic stare? Believe it or not, you can indeed tell the difference. A genuine stare will be part of a larger “dance.” The person who is truly in love will look down in embarrassment or shyness when they realize they’ve been “caught.” Then they will look back up with a sheepish grin on their face.
The narcissist, however, will continue to stare intently at you, even after you have noticed. You will continue to feel increasingly uncomfortable, as though you are under a microscope. But then, suddenly, your narcissist will put on his charming mask and instantly begin making his first impression. Narcissists learn very early on to master their first impression, because without it they will not be able to obtain their sources of narcissistic supply.
The “Love Bomb” Narcissistic Stare
Once the narcissist has made a memorable first impression, they will then stare at you in the love bombing stage. The purpose of this creepy narcissistic stare is to learn everything they can about you. And while they are so intent on taking in everything they can about you, they likely don’t even realize they are staring. But you will.
If they do realize you are on to their stare, they will avert their eyes and pretend they were never staring. This may look like the love at first sight non-narcissist stare mentioned above. But the difference is they won’t look back up with that cute shy smile on their face that I also mentioned above. It may be the only time a narcissist actually averts their eyes when they get caught staring.
The “Extreme Displeasure” Narcissistic Stare
The next creepy narcissistic stare is when the narcissist “owns” you. There is no longer any pretense. And because of this, if you dare to do something they don’t appreciate or approve of, they will flash you their very creepy extreme displeasure stare. Their purpose is to intimidate you into realizing that they don’t approve of what you are doing or saying. And they expect you to stop immediately. This is related to the stare parents give their children in public to make them stop doing something without verbally calling attention to them.
You don’t really want to be on the receiving end of any narcissistic stare. But you really don’t want to be the victim of this stare or any of the ones mentioned from here on out.
The extreme displeasure stare will make you feel “less than,” inadequate, and you will generally just want to hide. This is especially true because the narcissist usually chooses targets that are not looking for attention from others and like to keep things private. This ensures that they can carry on narcissistic abuse for years or even decades and go unnoticed because their victim will be too shy and embarrassed to out them.
What does it look like? It is like the death stare your mom gives you when you know you’ve crossed the line and she isn’t getting away with it. Except it is more glaring, darker, ominous. Their eyes may seem to turn black. (For more on this, check out my article on narcissist eyes.)
And finally, the result of the narcissist’s extreme displeasure stare is that you will adjust your behavior to make it stop. Even though you generally can’t predict what will upset or offend your narcissist. It gets to the point you will move mountains to keep your narcissist from being displeased with you because you just don’t want to deal with the consequences.
The “Forced Change” Narcissistic Stare
The forced-change narcissistic stare is very similar to the extreme displeasure one mentioned above. This one is when your relationship gets to the point that he pretty much can’t stand the sight of you anymore. Everything you say, do, or think is just unbearable to him. Thus, he will give this stare to you in order to get you to behave or speak in a way that he personally finds more palatable. Remember, everything is about him. You don’t really exist in his universe except to meet his needs. And that means that if you aren’t pleasing him, you will get the stare that makes you so instantly uncomfortable that you have to change course.
So, what does this stare look like? It is similar to the extreme displeasure stare above, but more. It is a dark look that says, “You better watch your back because I’m watching everything you do.” It is something you see evil characters do in movies. And when it happens in real life, it will chill you to the bones.
Over time, this will make you a super people pleaser. You train yourself to head off issues before they become a problem so you can avoid the consequences and make life a little bit more pleasant. Unfortunately, you will never be able to avert every disaster before it begins. And over time, it won’t matter anyway. Even your best, most perfect behavior won’t be good enough for the narcissist over time.
Also, check out this short video that perfectly describes the narcissist stare:
The Discard Narcissistic Stare
By the time the narcissist decides he can’t stand anything you do anymore, the creepy narcissistic discard stare is next. It goes one step beyond the previous two in that the narcissist is now giving you a stare that makes you so uncomfortable that you want to just be done.
It is the stare of contempt, of knowing that the narcissist officially can’t stand you anymore. But for whatever reason, you still have to be around each other. It could be a spouse, family member, neighbor, coworker, manager, or anyone who cannot just break ties on the spot.
So, how do you handle this creepy narcissistic stare when you know that things are not going to get any better but you also can’t just walk away? The first step is to realize that it isn’t you, it’s them. Ha. And then you have confidence in yourself. Recognize the narcissist’s lies and inability to accept you for what they are: his flaws and not yours.
The Destroying Narcissistic Stare
The final creepy narcissistic stare is the destroying one. You have made it through all of the other stages of stares. From the love at first sight, to the studying, love-bombing stare, to the extreme displeasure, forced change, and discard stares, you have experienced the full range of narcissistic stages.
But now, the final one is kind of the worst of all of them combined. Because now, the narcissist feels intensely that he has lost his supply and must now find someone else. And he is very angry that you would do that to him. So now he must destroy you for daring to stand up to him.
This stare may make you want to just give in. You may be thinking of all the good times you had with this person. You remember nice things he did for you. And so you think maybe you made too much of the situation and it isn’t as bad as you think. If you just apologize and go back to this person, regardless of the type of relationship, maybe they will be kind and good to you again.
Some people will actually go back at this point (the average woman takes 7 times to finally leave their abusive partner for good). Others will think about it but realize that they cannot do that and be in an emotionally healthy place. Regardless of what you decide to do, you need to do it well. If you stay, be kind and gracious as you try to work through the issues together. And if you leave, don’t play games, seek revenge, or do other nefarious things. Leave that to them. They will do plenty of it as they seek to destroy you. Protect yourself. And make sure you have a strong support network.
How to React to the Creepy Narcissistic Stare
I already mentioned a few things to do to counteract a few of the creepy narcissistic stares you have experienced. But there are a couple of things you can do consistently that will help defuse the situation better. Let’s take a look at those.
Using Grey Rock to Defuse Narcissistic Stares
The grey rock technique is when you are attacked in some way by your narcissist and you respond with a blank expression and a level monotone voice that shows your narcissist they can’t get you to react emotionally.
If the narcissist can’t get a heated reaction out of you, it takes away their ability to gain supply. And this can cause two very different reactions from them. The first is that they will realize you are no longer a good enough source of narcissistic supply. They will move on quickly and drop you like you never meant anything to them. The second is that they are angry that you have suddenly pulled away their source of narcissistic supply. And that anger can put you in a very precarious, if not dangerous, situation.
Be Firm but Polite to Defuse Narcissistic Stares
Another really good way to handle the narcissistic stares that come your way is to stand up to the narcissist but in a way that is not aggressive and could escalate things to a dangerous situation.
This reaction sort of satiates your narcissist while allowing you to respond and hold your ground at the same time. You can react without seeming argumentative and still communicate to them that you value them as a person, ironically a luxury they will not afford to you.
While this is a good way to react to a narcissist, it will not do any good for you in a relationship with a full blown narcissist. They don’t care how you feel or to make things fair and equal between the two of you. They only care about conquering you and getting what they can. But you aren’t really doing this for them as much as for your own emotional health.
It may get a narcissist who ranks lower on the narcissism spectrum to self evaluate and maybe even make some improvements. And in that case, there is benefit for both of you.
So, what can you do to be firm but polite? There is a book I recommend more than any other because it shows you how to be emotionally healthy in any relationship, regardless of their level of emotional health. This book comes in two forms, one for marriages and one for relationships in general.
The marriage one talks about 4 CORE principles that you can use to protect yourself while setting good boundaries and asserting your own needs.
Here is what each of the letters of CORE mean:
C – I will be committed to truth, both internally in my own heart and mind and externally. I refuse to pretend.
O – I will be open to the Holy Spirit and wise others, teaching me, maturing me, and guiding me into his way of living my life.
R – I will be responsible for my own responses to destructive behavior and commit to being respectful without dishonoring myself.
E – I will be empathic and compassionate toward others without enabling people to continue to abuse and disrespect me.
In a response to a follower, the author, Leslie Vernick goes on to say, “When you know and believe that you are a loved, valuable, worthwhile human being and live from that core place, toxic people lose their power to manipulate you. They can’t control and intimidate you as they once did when you felt worthless, dependent and needy.”
Once I learned these 4 really important steps and started practicing them, my whole world changed. Check these two books out right here:
You have to check out this really good video from Leslie. She talks about relationships and how we can still be healthy in them regardless of the emotional condition of the other person. It is pretty old but still so relevant to today’s relationship issues. Check it out right here:
At the end of the day, regardless of which creepy narcissistic stare you find yourself on the wrong side of, the intent of the narcissist is to manipulate and control everything and everyone. And you are no exception. You must decide if you are willing to live with it and can be emotionally healthy in spite of it or if you need to leave and get yourself back on your feet emotionally. Both books above will be instrumental in your healing! If you haven’t read them yet, do it now!
Here are a couple more articles that talk about various eyes/facial expressions of narcissists that will be immensely helpful to you:
Where are you finding yourself in this journey? Are you just now starting to realize what has been going on all this time? Are you working your way through? Or are you on the other side of it now and looking back on your journey? I would love to hear your story and where you are! Feel free to comment in the comment section below.
Are you confused and/or stuck and not sure what your next steps should look like? You can set up a consultation where we can work together toward a plan of action for you.
Regardless of your situation, know that I prayed for you in God’s all-knowing care while writing this article.
Hugs and love,