The narcissist has many negative things to say about those they feel threatened by or don’t respect. They are quick to dish out the negative comments but will absolutely fall apart if you were to say anything negative about them, even if it were the truth. The narcissist is manipulative and controlling and they will keep control of you in any way they see fit. One way the narcissist controls and punishes is through empty threats. The narcissist will threaten as a way to punish you, but why do they waste their time with the empty threats?
The narcissist is always on the defensive and looking for the next thing that can pop their fragile narcissistic ego. A well-inflated narcissistic supply is their only defense against the world. It is their buffer to things that they otherwise can’t handle because of their fragile senses of self. When the narcissist starts to feel overwhelmed and at risk of narcissistic injury, they will use their empty threats to keep people at a distance.
One way in which they do this is by pushing you away because they can’t handle their own emotions. They lack object constancy and when they are mad at you then you become “all bad”. The person you were before that they loved and valued is no longer the person they see you as. You are the reason they are unhappy and the reason for everything wrong in their life. So, they threaten you with them leaving you, or any other similar threat. To them, in that moment, you are truly the worst thing that could happen to them so they would never want to stay with you. It might feel like an empty threat because they have said it before and haven’t left you. However, at the moment it is very real to them. They truly mean they never want to see you again because you are seen as all bad. They cannot hold positive and negative views of you at that moment, so you are seen as bad. Once they can inflate their narcissistic supply to a manageable level again, then they can again see you as good.
The narcissist will also engage in empty threats as a way to test you and to see if you will stick around. The narcissist needs people in their life that will not leave, no matter how tough things get. They need to know that when they are feeling low and want to put someone down, you are at the ready and someone they can abuse and manipulate. If they threaten you and you are still around, then this becomes part of the abuse cycle which allows their control to grow, and you become more and more trauma bonded.
And when the narcissist pushes you away, they can then pull you back with their love bombing. The empty threats by the narcissist becomes part of this never-ending cycle of punishment and then praise. When they are able to be nice to you, you believe that things can be good with them and this gives you hope that things can continue to change for the positive in the future. The narcissist plays with your emotions so that you become dependent on them.
In all actuality, however, the empty threats are just more of the narcissist’s manipulation. They are ways for them to regain control in their life. They are words the narcissist uses that they think will benefit them the most. They threaten when nothing else has worked, and they push away as long as they need you to be at a distance. The empty threats are a set-up for the silent treatment that they are about to enact or the permanent discard if the narcissist finds you can no longer inflate their narcissistic supply. You can’t do anything in response to the threat that will change the narcissist. They are only focused on themselves, and no one else. Whether it was a real threat, or an empty threat can only be determined with time. And as you wait, wondering what the future looks like, the narcissist feels better about themselves knowing that you are struggling.