Studies are coming out that basically confirm what I myself witnessed when dealing with a narcissist, that narcissists cannot keep up their façade forever and that their masks will one day be ripped off completely, resulting in a loss in popularity over time.
The unmasking can occur through a narcissist’s victim or another third party, but often it comes as the result of the narcissist’s own undoing. This self-sabotage is rooted in delusions of omnipotence, in the sense that they are socially and legally invincible to any reprimand that their abusive behaviors would warrant. A narcissist’s sense of grandiosity will have them believe that they can explain away any negative words or actions, but they receive a rude-awakening when others (even once close allies) finally reject their manipulations.
Actions Speaks Louder than Words
One of the greatest weaknesses of a narcissist is their presumption that they can say whatever a given audience wants to hear then proceed to act in ways that directly contradict their original message. Their superiority complex makes them believe that they can enjoy the respect of their constituency all the while gaining their narcissistic supply in their covert (or even overt) abusive behaviors.
They may have grown accustomed to doing this by bullying anyone who dares to confront them into submission. They think they can handle any situation and discredit anyone who calls them out.
For a while they may get away with the discrepancy of their words and actions through gas-lighting, emotional extortion, and rehashing their sob story that they don’t know any better due to this or that. Eventually, however, people will grow exasperated with the narcissist’s lies and see their blatant priority in their own self-interests.
Short-term vs. Long-term
While narcissists are highly skilled in short-term manipulation, they ultimately fail in situations that require more long-term strategy. The same underhanded tactics they use to gain any initial advantage will eventually erode their positive public image.
It takes a lot of work to maintain a lie, and even more work to maintain multiple lies. Narcissists will tell different narratives to different people, depending on what the narcissist thinks that specific follower will be the most receptive to. The narcissist weaves lies in a intricate spider’s web that may be sleek and beautiful in the beginning, but will eventually end up tangled.
The more time goes on in a given situation or group of people, the more likely the narcissist’s lies will catch up with them. Narcissists cannot take more than one confrontation at a time. They live off dividing and conquering, so when a group bans together to challenge them, safe in numbers from gas-lighting, the narcissist folds and slithers away in defeat.
Loss of Composure via Narcissistic Rage
What can absolutely kill a narcissist’s image is the appalling behavior they regressed to when they lash out in a fit of narcissistic rage.
Narcissists can be overt or covert in their abuse of others. Depending on their sense of self-restraint, a covert narcissist is capable of becoming overt when faced with significant exposure and/or loss of control.
The outrage over losing their narcissistic supply can cause some narcissists to spiral completely out of control into a public frenzied rage that seals the fate of their public persona. Their display of pure hatred towards their victim combined with their socially unacceptable forms of revenge will confirm to onlookers that the narcissist is not mentally operating with a full deck of cards.
Not the End of the Game
For a narcissist’s main victim(s), the unmasking is not the end of narcissistic abuse, but more just a change in tactics. Certainly the unmasking helps since it drastically decreases the use of flying monkeys and other external resources, but the narcissist will shift from public to private abuse.
If a narcissist started a smear campaign against their victim and suffered socially because of it, they will instead focus on ways to abuse their victim away from the eyes of others so their reputation isn’t furthered damaged.
Unmasking is unfortunately not the end, but it is an inevitable part of the narcissistic cycle that victims should use to their advantage by not being silent when the abuse becomes more private. Document everything. When the narcissist realizes that they cannot rely on the victim’s silence and the unmasking kills any possible denial, that will increase the chances of the narcissist finally moving on to another target.