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The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Narcissistic Carrot-and-Stick Pattern

You’ve heard of the Carrot & Stick Approach? According to Wikipedia, “It is based on the idea that a cart driver might activate a reluctant mule by dangling a carrot in front it and smacking it on the rear with a stick.” Not unlike narcissistic manipulation, eh!? They act nice (carrot) and when that fails, they turn nasty (stick). Wash-rinse-repeat. Over and over ad nauseum. As if we’re so stupid, that we don’t recognize the pattern. Personally, I find it humorous, y’know, just a little around the edges.

Here are real-life quotes from the nice-nasty-nice-nasty pattern played out in a friend’s life.
He didn’t fall for it…and neither should you. Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed!


If they haven’t always used the nice-nasty-nice-nasty approach on you, narcissists certainly will start when you start growing a backbone.  Or worse, go No Contact with them.

They say nice (and, incidentally, absolutely false) things like…

“I just don’t understand why you want to add to your pain
by blocking out family that cares so much about you
and that would love to have the chance to talk to you again…
you should still reach out and talk to family who has always supported you.
It would help you out.”

Splutter-splutter! Yeah, that’s right. You were having such a happy, blissful time in the bosom of their narcissistic fold that you just went No Contact with them for the heck of it because, y’know, you’re masochistic and just wanted to hurt yourself. Yes, Sheldon, that was sarcasm.

But you don’t fall for their “nice” manipulation. You stick to your guns and maintain No Contact.


So the narcissist dishes up some nasty, with a side-dish of False Guilt and a garnish of Love-bombing.

“An email every once in a while would be nice.
I don’t care if you don’t want contact.
I just want to know how stuff is going every once in a while!
Is that too much to ask?”

And yet you remain unmoved.


Having failed to bend you to their will with a “stick,” the narcissist now produces a juicy, orange “carrot.” Nevermind that it’s all bullshit. They actually think you’re stupid enough to fall for a crumb of “niceness.” They always do play us for saps, don’t they?

“Let me know if you want me
to put some really nice hard wood floors
in your little place.”

To quote Barry Kripke in The Big Bang Theory, “Do I wook wike I just fell off the tuwnip twuck?”


Having failed to seduce you back into the Narcissistic Mind-Fuck with the “irresistible” lure of a hardwood floor, the narcissistic wheel turns. It turns in the windmills of their mind and, again, they brandish their stick.

“Why don’t you just go jump off a bridge…”

And they meant it literally. Not as a frothy cliché. Following, as it did after an actual death threat which prompted my friend to get an Order for Protection (which the narcissist violated), when they tell you to go jump off a bridge, they mean it.


But the holidays are a time for warmth, for family, for hearth and home. But not without a barb.

“Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you’re having a good thanksgiving
up there by yourselves.”

Ah, but you and I know that solitude and even, to quote a recent comment, “my newfound boredom” (sans narcissist) is bliss compared with sharing a pumpkin pie with a narcissist!


Forced to savor their turkey and stuffing alone, the wheel again turns. They play the nasty card. And this is one of my favorites!

“Bitch please…neither of you deserve to have family.”

Classic, isn’t it!?!


And then, and then, they turn nice again. The carrot is peeled, dripping with delectable Vitamin A and waggled under our very noses. But there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. We must break No Contact and share our phone number to get the carrot.

“I am going to help you guys out.
I would like to get your phone number
so I can reach out to you guys.”

Not…bloody…likely. And that help? Please. Don’t make me laugh!


Then they pull out the “narcissist” card and sling that word right back at you.

“…you are the narcissist
you are toxic…”

Very predictable! Projection! All narcissists do it. No surprise there!


But as surely as the stick is wielded, the carrot is dangled yet again. But it’s getting a little dried-out, a little unappetizing. The carrot is losing the power it never had.

“I will be setting up a lot of donation things down here to help [you] out.”

Oh yeah. Those “donation things.” The ones that never happened. Or, if they did, the donations never got to, y’know, the person who needed them. Scam much?


And finally, the narcissist has HAD it! They’ve reached the end of their tether. They’re done! Not that they’ll stop picking at you, trying to get you to break your No Contact resolve. Never! But they let the cat out of the bag. Major stick!

“I hope [you] suffer until the day [you] die!”

And that is where the story ends, because at last, the cat is out of the bag. We’re finally down to brass tacks. Truth has finally been revealed. If they can’t control us, narcissists want us dead. And not just gracefully dead…cruelly, painfully, long-suffering dead. Because the grave is silent. It cannot speak out against their abuse and their narcissism.

My mother used to say, “Some things should not be said.” That “stick” was one of those things.
To paraphrase a poem by Carl Sandburg, narcissists should…

Look out how you use cruel words.
When you let mean words go,
it is not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots;
they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling–
Look out how you use vile words.

Luckily, my friend is pretty savvy and didn’t fall for the nice-nasty-nice-nasty manipulation. No Contact remains intact.

If he can stay strong, so can you!

Photo by CarbonNYC [in SF!]

The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Narcissistic Carrot-and-Stick Pattern

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2017). The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Narcissistic Carrot-and-Stick Pattern. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Sep 2017
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