7 COMMON THINGS THE NARCISSIST SAYS TO UNDERMINE YOU
Narcissistic people are extremely skilled at making you doubt yourself. They can turn the most confident person in the world into a messy ball of insecurity. Without even realizing it happened! All of sudden you realize that you are doubting every thought you have, every word you say, every memory you hold, everything. Your entire reality gets extremely blurry!
I have had so many people say to me that my story sounds just like theirs. The similarities between all these different relationships are striking. So many of us could simply swap the names in the stories and tell our life history as one massive book. It is as though there is a script somewhere that narcissistic people learn, a story line that they then live out.
When you tell a narcissistic person how they are treating you, you have crossed a horrible line. They cannot accept any blame, shame, or responsibility of any kind. Nothing is EVER their fault, so you instantly become an enemy. With a covert narcissist, they will turn you into an enemy in such a subtle and manipulative way that you probably won’t even see it coming. I know I didn’t!
Here are 7 common things they say
“You didn’t let me finish what I was saying.”
When they don’t like what you are saying, this is one of the ways they shift the blame to you. It’s your fault that they didn’t communicate in a healthy and productive way. It’s your fault that they didn’t finish their thoughts.
The normal give-and-take of a conversation is impossible with a narcissistic person. My husband would sit in complete silence for several minutes, right in the middle of a “conversation.” If I spoke in that silence, I was reprimanded for interrupting him. The fact that he wasn’t speaking at the time was irrelevant. If I used that space of silence to object to some of what he was saying, then he instantly stated that I didn’t let him finish.
But there is NO finish with a narcissistic partner. They will go on and on, through countless cycles of word salad and painful silence. There is no “my turn” to talk. Anything you say is an interruption in their eyes. I found myself trying to explain, to a full-grown man, the natural flow of conversation. And of course, all of my attempts at talking were constantly interrupted and cut short.
Misunderstandings and interruptions are a normal part of every relationship. But with a narcissistic person, you never get a sense of gentleness and compassion. Reciprocity never happens. Forgiveness and understanding never appear. Meeting in the middle? What middle? There is NO middle!!
When they say that you didn’t let them finish what they were saying, this simply means that they want you to stop objecting to them, so they can go back to inflicting more damage to you and to the relationship.
“Just because I didn’t do what you wanted and when you wanted.”
This is a great one for making you feel guilty for having feelings in the first place. You instantly doubt yourself, thinking maybe you were being unreasonable and selfish. Please hear me – you are allowed to have feelings and desires! You are allowed to voice those!
When you are voicing that your feelings were hurt, a healthy person validates you. They acknowledge your feelings and express that they did not intend to hurt you. When you are voicing this to a narcissistic person, you receive immediate defensiveness. You receive no acknowledgement of your feelings and desires. In fact you are made to feel guilty for having them in the first place. Boundaries?? No way. You aren’t allowed to have boundaries.
“What about your issues?”
This was one of the main ones I heard all the time. Every time I tried to talk to him about his harshness and lack of empathy, it always circled around to this statement. “Well, what about you? Don’t you have any issues?” So I would answer. Yes, I had issues and I was/am working on them. One time, I named some of the specific things I was working on in me. Wow! Was that ever a mistake! He jumped on that so quickly and used it all completely against me. He told me that he knows all these issues I have and that it is because of these issues that he acts like he does. Everything was all my fault! Somehow we never got back to talking about the problem we were talking about in the first place!
Pointing everything back at you is a purposeful way to not take responsibility. It takes the focus off of them and their faults or weaknesses. By the time the conversation has looped around a few times, you can honestly begin to feel that all of this is your fault to begin with. This tactic causes many victims to doubt themselves and work overtime to please the abuser.
“I’m sorry, what more do you want from me?”
Apologies from covert narcissistic people are not genuine. They are not accompanied by words, attitudes, and gestures that align with an apology. They are typically followed with words that place all the blame back on you again. They make you feel that your expectations are unreasonable and out of reach for them, that they are doing everything within their power to make you happy. How could you possibly want more?
Don’t be surprised if the words “I’m sorry” are followed by a sob-story of the horrible childhood they suffered. Don’t get me wrong. I hate what my ex went through in his childhood. It was terrible, and no one deserves that! However, when he continuously uses that us an excuse for not being better, this is extremely damaging to his current relationships. While it is okay to extend compassion and support, it is NOT okay to permit them to stomp all over your feelings because of their hurtful childhood.
“What could I have possibly done any differently?”
As though their behavior was the ONLY logical behavior for the situation. You are made to feel like an idiot for even considering there would have been a better approach.
They then place it on you completely to figure out how they could have behaved differently in the first place. They make this to be your “job.” And they will carry it out to the very end. You find yourself telling them every last word they should have said, how they should say it, how they should look, and what their voice should sound like. You realize that you are explaining basic common decency to a full-grown adult.
Not only that, but they then combat everything you say. They tell you that they did do everything you are suggesting, when they clearly did not. Or they tell you that your suggestion would never work because you would react to it, continuing the belief that everything is your fault, no matter what the situation.
“You’re the only person who thinks like that.”
I was told that I am the only person who sees anger in him. He said that he asked his friends and co-workers. Friends?? He has no friends. He doesn’t do anything with anyone, ever. He sits in the house and plays video games, night after night. When I finally asked him who he was talking about, he named friends from high school that he hadn’t seen in years. He named a friend who lives on the other side of the world, with whom he stays connected through email.
What about the co-workers? They have no social interactions outside of work. We don’t go to social activities. They only know him in the work environment, and most of that is computer interaction.
Saying that you are the only person who thinks like that completely invalidates your feelings. This can make a victim feel extremely crazy and isolated. In reality, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. This relationship with this person is your relationship. No one else’s. If you don’t like the way you are being treated, who cares what the friends and coworkers think? This isn’t about them in the first place.
“Why can’t you just get over the past?”
He set me up with this one many times. I would talk to him about how his words and attitudes hurt me and our boys. In his defensive tone, he would ask for specific examples. So I would give him some. Then he would go down his list of attempts to discredit everything. He often started by telling me that it never happened. If that didn’t work, he would tell me that I am remembering it wrong. If that didn’t work, he would find a way to make it my fault. When all else failed, he would then tell me that he can’t believe how badly I hang on to things from the past, things that we already “resolved.” He would say, “We already worked that out, but you can’t forgive me for not being perfect. I can’t believe you are still hanging on to that!”
So to prevent all of this, in other conversations, when he asked for examples from the past, I told him that I couldn’t come up with specific examples. Of course, that never went very far. His words were, “Well, how in the world I am supposed to answer for something you can’t even remember? You can’t expect me to fix something when you can’t even tell me what I am fixing.” I was then made to feel mean and crazy, and his unacceptable words, attitudes and behaviors simply continued.
No Approach Works!
A relationship with a narcissistic person is a constant word battle. There is NO approach that works, NO magic words to help them see, NO argument that will resolve peacefully.
So what do you do? You walk away! Keep your words short and simple, honest and void of emotion. When they engage in their manipulative tactics, you simply leave. I used to sit for hours, trapped in these conversations from hell. Then, one day, I realized that I just didn’t have to do that anymore. I simply walked away!