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Do Flying Monkeys Ever See the Truth?

Flying monkeys may support their narcissist(s) intentionally or unintentionally.  Many have no idea that they are being used by a narcissist, while others may absolutely know what is going on and be happy to join the narcissist in his abuse of others.  As a general rule, though, most flying monkeys are pretty honorable people who have no idea they are being used by a narcissist for nefarious purposes.  So, then, do flying monkeys every see the truth?

Generally speaking, flying monkeys who become unwitting helpers of the narcissist do come to see the truth.  Often, they feel intense guilt for realizing the things they were tricked into doing for the “victim’s good” were actually cruel.  But, even upon seeing the truth, untangling themselves from the control of the narcissist is also incredibly difficult.

Let’s take a deeper look at what happens if and when flying monkeys ever see the truth.  First, we will look at what happens when flying monkeys do see the truth, then some of the causes of when they don’t see the truth.  Finally, we will take a look at how to handle flying monkeys, whether they ever see the truth or not.

Also, feel free to check out my articles on what exactly makes someone a flying monkey and the different types of flying monkeys and how they function.

When Flying Monkeys DO See the Truth

When flying monkeys do end up seeing the truth of how the narcissist is using them, the first thing they need is a good measure of grace.  That doesn’t mean they get carte blanche to continue treating you badly, especially now that they see what has been going on.  What it does mean is that now they know, they will likely not need outside motivation to try to make things right.

Of course, in order for flying monkeys to see the truth and then adjust accordingly, they need to be emotionally healthy enough to understand how to handle the narcissistic damage.  They don’t have to be an absolute expert on dealing with narcissism.  But they will need to understand the heart issues, empathy issues, and how to avoid staying entangled in the narcissist’s lies.

Let’s look at some of the ways flying monkeys come to see the truth of what the narcissist is doing with them.

What Causes Flying Monkeys to See the Truth?

Flying monkeys often come to see the truth in the same ways empaths and other victims of narcissism do.  Here is a list of the most popular ways they come to see the truth:

  • Flying monkeys come to see the truth because they see how badly the narcissist treats their victims.
  • As they do more for the narcissist, the narcissist’s demands get higher and nastier, often showing the flying monkey his or her true colors.  Upon the flying monkey disappointing the narcissist, they will often begin to personally experience the narcissist’s abuse.
  • Even if the flying monkey doesn’t see the underhanded intentions of the narcissist, they may get tired from all of the constant running around the narcissist expects them to do in order to accomplish the narcissist’s “dirty work.”
  • The flying monkey may be getting healthier emotionally in their own life, allowing them to come to the knowledge of what the narcissist is doing.
  • The flying monkey may become the target of the narcissist as well, and finally feel the abuse acutely as it is now focused on them as well.
  • A narcissist may actually end up confiding in the flying monkeys about intentional abuse, allowing the flying monkey to clearly see what is going on.
  • The narcissist may ask his flying monkeys to lie for him or do other unethical or cruel things, allowing the flying monkey to see his motives and abuse.
  • Flying monkeys who are perceptive will sooner or later start seeing constant inconsistencies in the narcissist’s story/life.
  • Flying monkeys will often begin to feel that they are a low priority for the narcissist.  They spend a whole lot of time “running errands” for the narcissist with no real concern from the narcissist for them as people, friends, or family.
  • Finally, one of the worst scenarios is when the flying monkey is also a narcissist and totally sees what the narcissist is doing.  But instead of detaching and finding healthier and safer ground for themselves or helping the victim, they enjoy working with the narcissist to further abuse the victim.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.  These were a lot of the ones I have experienced with the handful of flying monkeys my ex utilized.  If you have different ones, we would love for you to share them below.

How Flying Monkeys Feel Once They Do See the Truth

Flying monkeys can and will feel a range of emotions once they realize they have been a pawn of the narcissist.  Here is the range of feelings beginning from when they first meet their narcissist(s):

  • Flying monkeys can be excited and thrilled that they just met someone who they relate to so well.  This is because the narcissist does a super quick study of them as they meet them.  Then he tells them whatever they want to hear or what appeals to them.  This makes the flying monkey feel like they are “fast friends.”
  • Next, the flying monkey will feel honored or privileged to be entrusted with “special assignments” from the narcissist.  He convinces them that the is confiding great things to them.  What he actually does is get them to abuse the victims, often when they think they are being protective of the narcissist, victim, or both.  Covert narcissists convince their flying monkeys that they are deeply concerned and need help assisting their victim.  Overt narcissists will find flying monkeys who are into revenge and they will egg each other on.  Either way, they are honored that they can help the magnanimous narcissist.
  • At this point, things can split off a bit.  While some flying monkeys may now be beginning to see what is going on, others will be clueless.  The ones who are catching on will feel nervous, fearful, stupid for falling for the narcissist’s flattery, and regretful that they even met or chose to associate with the narcissist.  The flying monkeys that don’t see what is going on are likely still feeling exhausted, used, and like they aren’t quite enough, even though they may be working themselves to the bone.  They still at this point feel like they just need to step up their game so the narcissist will see their hard work and appreciate them more.  This is the same way the narcissist’s victims feel as they feel like if they just try harder the narcissist will recognize their hard work and love and relate to them the way they should.
  • The final feelings for those that figure out the narcissist is using them are frustration, anger, confusion, and a need to remove themselves from the relationship with the narcissist.
  • Those that don’t understand the dynamic with the narcissist will continue in confusion, knowing something isn’t quite right, maybe blaming the victim because of the way the narcissist has lied or hidden the truth of the victim’s circumstances.  But they are not clued in enough to know what is going on or act accordingly.

This cycle of feelings can go on for years, especially for those that are not emotionally healthy enough to see the light.  And generally speaking, flying monkeys will never come to see the light regarding the narcissist they are beholden to unless they become emotionally healthy themselves. And with that, let’s talk about when flying monkeys don’t ever see the truth.



When Flying Monkeys DON’T See the Truth

The optimist in me wants to believe that most flying monkeys come to see the truth of what is going on,  hopefully sooner than later.  But unfortunately, the reality is likely more that it will take a very long time before flying monkeys will see what is going on.  And in a few cases, flying monkeys will never see the truth.  Let’s take a look at some of the situations that cause this:

  • Flying monkeys may never see the truth because they have been lulled into not questioning the narcissist about anything they are uncomfortable about.
  • Some flying monkeys may be afraid if they call out the narcissist for possible bad behavior, they may no longer be on the receiving end of kindness, gifts, or benefits of associating with the narcissist.  So, in spite of feeling things may not be upstanding, they choose to pretend everything is fine so they don’t offend their own conscience.
  • Flying monkeys may not see the truth that the narcissist is abusing their victim simply because they don’t like the victim either and it is an opportunity for them to dishonor the victim along with the narcissist.  This is a lack of emotional maturity on the flying monkey’s part that allows them to think it’s okay to treat a person badly, directly or by proxy.
  • Flying monkeys may not see the truth because they simply believe the narcissist’s lies about the victim and choose to support the narcissist.  I believe this is the most common example of flying monkeys not seeing the truth and further encouraging the narcissist to abuse through them.  It was certainly the case in the people who became my ex-husband’s flying monkeys.
  • Flying monkeys may never see the truth because the narcissist hides his abuse in words of deep concern and privacy for the “struggle” of the victim.  So the flying monkey never approaches the victim to find out their side of things, thinking that they are keeping confidences.  Meanwhile, the narcissist destroys the victim’s reputation without the victim or flying monkey ever finding out.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it covers the scenarios we are most likely to encounter.  Again, feel free to share other thoughts regarding this in the comments below.

Is it Possible to Convince Flying Monkeys to See the Truth?

It is absolutely possible to convince flying monkeys to see the truth, but it is not for victims of narcissism to take on.  Let’s take a closer look at why.

First, victims of narcissism don’t know what the flying monkeys have been told or convinced of already.  Whatever they have been led to believe will taint what they hear you say if you try to defend yourself.  They will see it as you being jealous, seeking revenge, or even lying, especially if they perceive the narcissist’s lies as truth.  If the narcissist has convinced them you are crazy, they will see anything you say through that lens and perceive the narcissist as correct in their assessment.

Honestly, rather than convincing the flying monkey of the truth, it is almost always healthier for you to walk away from them and anyone else who associates with your narcissist.  The further away you can get, the less you will have to worry about things getting back to your narcissist or them abusing you through others.  It is a total win for you to walk away.  And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the flying monkeys believe.  You know the truth and that is enough for you to get on your feet!

Who Can be a Flying Monkey?

A flying monkey can literally be anyone that the narcissist knows, whether they are old acquaintances or someone that they met after you severed ties with the narcissist.  Here is a list of some of the flying monkeys my ex had picked up along our journey:

  • Our former pastor.  Honestly, I think that this pastor did see what was going on.  At times, I told him directly.  But at the end of the day, he was sucked in by my ex’s flattery and chose to keep him around for any benefits he could receive in the long term.   Both my ex and that pastor ended up moving on to a church full of narcissists, their flying monkeys, and a host of other emotionally unhealthy people.  And it is a church that supports abusive husbands.  That includes that church’s pastor, who insisted I let my abusive ex back into our home with no tangible evidence of healing.  Just word salad that he fell for.
  • Members of our church.  There weren’t many of these.  My pastor estimated that it was 1-5% that supported my ex’s bad behavior, even when it became known publicly.   Most of them ended up leaving the church because they thought the session protecting my family was so terrible.  They still chose to see him as a wonderful godly man.  And blame me for being such a terrible disobedient wife.  I’ll give you three guesses on what church they ended up going to…the first two guesses won’t count, lol!
  • His new pastor.  Upon being removed from our home for abuse, he went to another church that he knew would support his authority over his family more than his required protection and servanthood of his family.  That pastor demanded I let him move back into our home against the guidance of our then church and counselors.  When we didn’t, he then gave my then husband grounds for divorce because I “wasn’t meeting his sexual needs.”  Yep.  It was that embarrassing.  And his pastor and leadership gave it to him and approved his new marriage–a mere six days after we got our divorce papers.  He never held my ex husband accountable like he promised our church when he left and headed their way.
  • His new wife.  I honestly think she has no idea what happened because she never would have married him.  Unless she is as abusive as he is.  I don’t really known her and have only seen her about 3 times.  So I cannot ascribe anything to her.  But I do know my ex keeps her away from our family.  Likely because the information we have and stories we can tell can destroy his marriage.
  • Friends at his new church.  Because my husband knew how to make an incredible first impression (necessary for any successful narcissist), he knew exactly what to say to convince the members of his new church of what an amazing godly man and father he was.  He even got one to testify to what a great father he was in our custody hearing.  Fortunately, the counselors, guardian ad litem, lawyer, and siblings who testified were all aware of the abuse and the judge saw through it all.

What to do About Monkeys Whether or not They See the Truth

While flying monkeys may or may not be as abusive as the narcissist they represent, they are not safe as long as they are associating with the narcissist.  And for this reason, the first line of defense against them is to avoid them whenever you can.  But for those times you just can’t break away, here are some good suggestions:

  • Don’t get caught alone with them.  Most flying monkeys know that whatever message or activity the narcissist has put them up to should be done with little to no witnesses.  So, as long as you are surrounded by others, they cannot get away with whatever devious plan they have up their sleeve.
  • Use the grey rock method to keep them from seeing how their activities really affect you.  For those new to the whole narcissism/flying monkey thing, grey rock is when you show no expression and respond (if you do at all) in the most bland boring way possible.  It prevents the flying monkey from thinking they successfully got a reaction out of you.  And they will give up sooner than later, thinking that their actions have no effect on you.
  • Do not associate with friends of the flying monkeys just like with the narcissist.  Even if the friends are totally innocent and have no idea that you have been targeted, they can still inadvertently pass along information about you that you wouldn’t want passed along.  They could be saying the kindest things about you, but do you really want information getting back to the flying monkey, who can then take it directly to the narcissist as a juicy piece of news?  Unfortunately, when I was separated and divorced from my husband, I also lost a handful of mutual friends because they didn’t want to choose sides (that is admirable, I have NO problem with that) but in so doing, they furthered the abuse, whether knowingly or not.

Check out all the details of flying monkeys spying here.


More often than not, flying monkeys are not bad people and they do end up realizing the abuse occurring that they have been unwittingly tied to.  They find themselves charmed by the narcissist, fall for his lies, and then eventually discover the truth and remove themselves from the position they found themselves in.

But there are some flying monkeys who never come to see the truth, not because they are bad people, but because they are not emotionally healthy enough to realize what is really happening.

Finally, there are a very few flying monkeys who may or may not have realized what the narcissist was using them for.  Once they realized, they chose to continue abusing the victim alongside the narcissist.  They are bad seeds, regardless of their ties with the narcissist.

Many victims of narcissism will experience all three types of flying monkeys, and that is why avoiding them as diligently as they avoid the narcissist is the best course of action.

The way you handle flying monkeys will be almost exactly the same as you would handle the narcissist.  And the best resource I can recommend to you is Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  It was a life-changing book for me in learning to protect myself from narcissistic abuse, but continuing to implement it in the rest of my relationships, healthy or not, introduced me to a whole new world of healthy relationships.  It is always one of my most recommended books because of its potential to change every relationship you have for the better.  You can check it out here:

What has your experience with flying monkeys been like?  Did they ever come to see the truth of what the narcissist was doing with them?  What were the different types of flying monkeys you had to deal with?  Please share in the comments below!

Hugs and love,

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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