One way of controlling victims that narcissists use is touch.
Touch is a very intimate thing. It usually is allowed by only those closest to us. Most people are uncomfortable with someone touching them who they aren’t close to unless that touch is nothing more than a simple hand shake. After all, most touching behaviors that are common in close relationships are highly inappropriate when they come from strangers. How awkward would it be for a stranger to hold your hand? Hug you? Kiss you? Put their arm around you? It would be incredibly awkward.
Yet, in such situations, sometimes people will tolerate the awkward touching rather than speak up. Narcissists love to manipulate those people.
Touch is a way of increasing closeness & intimacy, in particular in romantic relationships. Consider a healthy dating relationship for example. That first time holding hands or that first kiss makes the couple feel close to each other. Naturally that is a very positive way to use touch. Narcissists will not hesitate to mimic it in order to gain control over their victim. In fact, touch is such an effective weapon, it is commonly used by pedophiles to test the boundaries of children they wish to abuse.
When a narcissist first meets their victim, naturally they won’t begin using touch obviously. It probably will be subtle, such as the male narcissist putting his hand on their female victim’s waist as she enters an open door or the female narcissist touching her male victim’s arm as he speaks. Such touches seem innocent & many people won’t give them another thought. The manipulation begins to work though whether or not the victim realizes it. Those simple touches so early on increase a sense of intimacy & closeness.
When the narcissist sees such touches are accepted by the victim, they will push the boundaries a little further. When those touches are accepted, the narcissist will push the boundaries a bit further, & the cycle continues. As the cycle continues, they get more comfortable pushing all boundaries with their victims. Then before they know it, the victim is going along with whatever the narcissist wants.
In romantic relationships, this touching thing is also a way to show others who the victim belongs to. When dating, my ex husband constantly touched me. His arm was around me, he was holding my hand, he wanted me to sit on his lap.. something to show other people that I was his property. I found it very awkward sometimes but ignored it because, like most raised by narcissistic parents, I didn’t pay attention to my feelings. It wasn’t until years later when my grandfather mentioned this & how disturbing he found it I realized how weird it was. Not knowing about narcissism at that time, all I realized was my ex wanted to show others that I was his “property”, which was pretty unsettling.
If you meet someone new & they are too comfortable touching you, consider that to be a red flag. Not all people who are the “touchy feely” type are narcissists of course, but some are. Pay attention to the person’s behavior. If they consistently push boundaries with you, that is clearly a red flag. If you ask them to stop touching you & they don’t or accuse you of being over sensitive, that is another. The average person will respect your boundaries & alter their behavior, no matter how accustomed to & comfortable with physical touch they are.
Also, if you are involved with someone romantically who insists on touching you constantly, then it may be a red flag of narcissism. Consider this person’s behavior as objectively as you can. Ask yourself if they have shown other signs of narcissism. If they have, then act accordingly to protect yourself. That is your right!