Updated: Apr 25
The term ‘flying monkeys’ (FM) lends itself from the film “Wizard Of Oz’ when the wicked witch of the East unleashes her convoy of flying monkeys to find and report back to her what Dorothy, The Tin Man and The Lion were doing. It is the term that is referred to people that the narcissist employs to watch you and report back to them what YOU are doing.
This is never easy and sometimes the narcissist (N) will use people who you both know to report back to them. This is problematic for a number of reasons, you feel like you are under surveillance, a lot of my clients have mentioned that they had developed social anxiety where they were afraid or conscious to step of their houses in case they saw the FM’s and they repotted back to the N what they were doing, wearing or going.
This is very stressful and anxiety provoking but understandable that these behaviours manifest themselves as a way of protecting oneself. You see, this is giving the narcissist more power and attention, this as we know drives the N to behave in this way. The N does this because of their own insecurities and of not wanting you to more forward and live your life. This is a direct example of the N’s attachment disorder, they are unable to detach in a healthy way from their ex-partner and this is why they behave like this.
When two people in a relationship break up they go their separate ways and wish each other no harm. With someone with an attachment disorder this is very difficult because they are unable to detach from their partner as they cannot understand the concept of free will.
This is why they are very controlling in nature. N’s want the outcome to happen exactly how they imagine it to be and if it doesn’t they are unable to adapt their emotional and cognitive responses accordingly. And as a result of this they are unable to self-soothe and this where the destructive thinking patterns and behaviour manifest themselves.
This essentially is a very immature response and causes us to struggle to understand ‘why’ the N does this. There is no understanding it, only that it is caused as part of the detachment that they feel. The disconnection from others is made more prominent when their ex-partner is getting on with their own lives and have seen to left the N behind. The N see’s this as they're unimportant and cannot understand that life in fact does more forward. This is caused by deep wounding from childhood, the rejection they would have felt from their care giver(s). This is why the N is unable to detach from you in a healthy way causing them to consistently be checking up on what you are doing and whether you have forgotten about them.
The surveillance can go on for years without your knowledge, it may have calmed down as time has progressed and usually that is the case. In some cases the N may pop up and initiate communication many months or years after the break up and perhaps they themselves are in a relationship with another. Please do not think they have come back because they miss you or that they have realised they loved you all along. It is because they simply cannot detach in a healthy way from you and this will be echoed with other supply sources and partnerships they have had before and after you.
So…. what is the balanced way of approaching this scenario ?
Stand your ground and let the truth do the talking. I’ve been in this situation and there’s really nothing you can “do” if the flying monkey already believes the narcissist. You have to let the facts speak for themselves and let them come to the realisation that they’re dealing with a narc in their own way, on their own time.
It is a frustrating and painful process, but keep in mind that the “flying monkey” is only a “flying monkey” because they’re also being influenced by the narcissist. In some way, they are blinded to reality.
Thankfully, N’s are very predictable if they’re already using “flying monkeys” against you. It means their direct tools of control are not working so they’re resorting to a second-rate “tool” to try to accomplish their goals. This is perfect! Don’t speak badly of the narcissist. Don’t even focus on them, really. If the flying monkey wants to talk about drama between you and the N, politely decline and say “I’d rather deal with that between myself and them”. I assure you, this is the exact opposite of what the N is doing (talking about you behind your back, feeding the FM’s stories, etc).
If the FM says something crazy (it’ll sound like it’s coming right from the N’s own mouth) calmly challenge them on it and ask “are you saying this, or is it something that ____ has told you? Do you believe this, or is it something that ____ has told you?” You don’t have to be confrontational. “Dismissive” is probably a better term. Just dismiss the accusation. Shine some light on it and it’ll fall apart. The goal isn’t to defend yourself. The goal is to get the flying monkey to pause and ask some extremely basic, logical questions about the things they are saying to you.
Simply getting the FM to question the narrative they’re being fed is a good start to exposing the narc. Don’t tire yourself out trying to defend yourself all the time. Let your own good behaviour and your own reasonable thinking do all the arguing for you. Don’t worry about denying or defending each and every little thing. Simply turn it back and ask “do you really think that happened? Do you have any indication that is true?”
Any reasonable person will begin to get suspicious about what’s going on. “The N is saying all these terrible things about you, but you’re not acting that way at all,” is what will go through their head.
If you are someone that has experienced this, please let us know what tactics have worked for you. What ways have you been able to get through this? Have you been able to salvage relationships with friends/family members after they have been flying monkeys? Let us know your thoughts.
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