conversation control tactics

Do you often engage in conversations with your narcissist that leave you feeling like you were talking to a brick wall – or worse, maybe leave you feeling like banging your head against a brick wall? Perhaps, it has even crossed your mind that you would have been better off conversing with a brick wall, because the wall would have more capacity of providing understanding, validation and empathy than the narcissist in your life!

Real life conversations with a narcissist are exhausting, dizzying, nerve-racking, and make you feel like you’re going crazy – or at least drive a compassionate person to question their own reality, and even their sanity at times. The circular conversations leave you feeling worse off than if you had never had them in the first place. You begin to blame yourself, doubt your instincts and wonder what the heck is going on?

REVERSE PROJECTION

Before we realize the truth about the narcissist in our lives, we relate to them as if they are normal human beings possessing a conscience, integrity and some degree of self-awareness. We trust their words, because we don’t deceive and manipulate people and trust that the people who claim to love us will do the same. We give them the benefit of the doubt, because we believe they truly love us and no one who truly loves us would purposely say or do anything to hurt our feelings. We are in essence projecting our good qualities on to them, and when they don’t respond the way we expect a normal person would, we become confused and hurt, question our reality and believe we must be to blame in some way. The problem is that narcissists don’t think, operate or play by the same rules as us, and our failing to recognize this sets us up for manipulation and misery by default.

Conversations with a narcissist, especially if you hold opinions about anything that contradict with their opinion of what is the gospel truth, are jam-packed with a barrage of covert manipulation tactics that are intrinsic to the narcissist and entrenched in their personality. They will make you wish you never disagreed with them in the first place and regret that you had ever dared to express your point of view. A simple disagreement will often incite a full-fledged attack on you. Somehow, they manage to twist the conservation so you wind up feeling like the bad guy/girl, while they assume the role of the innocent victim – of you.

CONVERSATIONS ARE NOT CONVERSATIONS, THEY ARE VERBAL COMPETITIONS

When you challenge your narcissist’s lies, discrepancies and groundless accusations; suggest that they are less than perfect; try to get them to understand your point of view; confront them on their cruel behaviors; or approach them about the lack of reciprocity in the relationship, the discussion will likely decay into a crazy making, chaotic, drama packed, mind-spinning, migraine induced headache that is intended to push you down and punish you for suggesting or exposing a fact that doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves or maintain their need to feel superior and in control.

Narcissists never enter into conversations. They enter into verbal competitions. Their goal is to win at all costs. They have no interest in seeking understanding, clarification or compromise, or in reaching a meeting of the minds. Their conversations are only meant to manipulate, confuse, control, destabilize, deflect accountability, cast doubt, distort reality and create drama.

ENABLERS AND TONGUE BITERS

Narcissists only surround themselves with people who are either so charmed by them that they blindly believe that every word they say is true or people who have learned that it’s easier to keep their mouths shut rather than reap the wrath of expressing an opposing opinion.

Anyone in a narcissist’s life that doesn’t fall into one of the two categories of Enablers or Tongue Biters will certainly be given the boot. But first the narcissist will discipline you with their collection of manipulation tactics so when they do give you the boot, you will be sure to go out believing the reasons for your dismissal were all your fault.

HERE ARE THE 8 MOST COMMON CONVERSATION MANIPULATION TACTICS

1. TOPIC SWITCHEROO

Here’s how this works. You and your narcissist are in the middle of a conversation, it’s going well until you disagree or present facts that contradict the narcissist’s point of view. The narcissist knows that your facts are indisputable and you have the upper-hand, so to gain control of the conversation and win the argument, the narcissist will deviate into a tangent of verbal vomit attempting to hoodwink you and pull the ole’ topic switcheroo. Before you know it, you’re discussing something totally unrelated to the original conversation and you find yourself in defensive mode about some issue the two of you disagreed on last year.

2. THE BLAME GAME

Blame shifting is usually a tactic used subsequently to the Topic Switcheroo. The narcissist, like a magician, successfully changes the topic and diverts your attention by focusing the spotlight on you. You find yourself on the defensive end of the conversation stick. The narcissist will raise questions about any and all of your real or perceived faults and pummel you. You, in turn, instinctively defend yourself, and the narcissist, just like Houdini, makes the original topic disappear and escapes having to discuss any accountability for their actions. Meanwhile, you’re tricked into taking on the defensive position and accused and blamed for creating problems and drama in the relationship.

3. PROJECTION

Hypocrisy is the narcissist’s middle name. What they say and do when no one is watching is drastically different from what they say and do in the presence of others. Since they are all about maintaining their façade they use projection to rid the chinks in their own character. But since they are the emotional equivalent of a 5 year-old, they magically disown the parts of themselves that tarnish their persona and accuse you of the exact things they’re guilty of doing. Did you ever notice how they will accuse the most generous person of being selfish or having a hidden agenda behind their generosity? The most honest person is accused of being a liar. Their devoted spouse is accused of being unfaithful? The narcissist’s projections are really confessions that reveal what the narcissist is actually guilty of and/ or believes about himself/herself.

In contrast, emotionally healthy people don’t use projection when they’re on the defensive. When and if they do attack their comments more closely resemble the truth and tend to be more slanderous in nature. Not the outright lies that characterize projection.

4. TURNING UP THE VOLUME: When narcissists act with a disproportionate amount of anger or rage by increasing the volume and tempo of their voice, you can bet that they’re trying to shock and intimidate you. Their actions are an absolute declaration of psychological warfare. Their increased volume is a ploy to get to you to back off. The sudden, shocking, cruel and disproportionate attack is an offensive maneuver aimed to destabilize, confuse and bully you. When you’re under attack and in a state of shock, your defenses naturally become lowered. The stress of being attacked decreases your mental acuity and leaves you open to suggestion. As a result, your weakened state renders you less of an intellectual threat to the narcissist’s need for control and dominance.

5. PLAYING THE VICTIM

There is much truth in the quote, “Deceit’s favorite role is playing the victim.” It’s no wonder why when the narcissist isn’t playing the hero, he/she is playing the poor victim. Through garnering pity, narcissists will play the victim, while vilifying the true victim, as a way of concealing their abusive behavior and avoid taking responsibility for their cruel and manipulative behaviors. Narcissists capitalize on the compassion of others and exploit their sympathy in any way they can, depending upon what their goal is at the time. If the narcissist doesn’t want to keep a promise and you become upset, your feelings won’t be validated; there will be no apology or display of empathy. Instead, the narcissist will vilify you for being upset and blame you for your lack of empathy in not considering that they may have had a bad day.

You will be called selfish or accused of being needy or demanding for expecting the poor narcissist to honor his/her word like a normal adult. However, if you have a bad day, don’t expect to receive the same treatment. The narcissist will expect you to keep your promise and will minimize and invalidate your feelings by portraying themselves as the victim. The narcissist will always one-up you by reciting a litany of reasons why their day was so much worse than yours or lecturing you on how your life is so much easier than theirs, and so on. Whatever you can do, they can do better. Whatever bad thing happened to you, something worse happened to them.

6. GAS-LIGHTING

Gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse so insidious that it deserves its own article. Narcissists use this tactic in conversations by purposely withholding information and replacing it with false information. This tactic is designed to systematically dismantle the victim’s ability to trust their own judgement and derail their confidence to the point where they doubt their own memories, thus rendering them highly agreeable to the narcissist’s opinion and control.

For example, a narcissist may casually but consistently suggest how their memory is superior to yours, especially if you ever admit to being forgetful about anything. They may even go so far as hiding your belongings from you, intentionally fooling you into believing your memory is faulty. Then when a difference in opinion arises or a discrepancy in their story is exposed, the narcissist will use your faulty memory as evidence to make you doubt what you heard or saw and second guess yourself, causing you to ultimately accept the narcissist’s rendition of the truth.

7. INTERRUPTING

Narcissists are notorious conversation interrupters. They love to be the center of attention and control the focus of the conversation. They have no interest in having a two-way discussion with you. If you dare attempt to get a word in edge-wise or make your point of view heard, if it at all contradicts the narcissist’s point of view, your opinion will most likely be ignored or dismissed. While many people with ADHD and other mental disorders struggle with problems of poor impulsivity or poor communication and often interrupt others, the narcissist intentionally interrupts to redirect the focus of the conversation back to themselves since they believe their opinions are superior and correct, and that whatever they say should be accepted as the gospel truth.

They genuinely have zero interest in hearing other people’s viewpoints or reaching compromises or win/win solutions to disagreements. They have a ‘my way or the highway’ frame of mind and interrupting allows them to control the conversation and manage it in a direction that parallels their point of view and agenda. By monopolizing the conversation, they exert their control and avoid taking responsibility or addressing important issues. In their minds, their ability to dominate conversations confirms their superiority.

8. THE SILENT-TREATMENT

The silent treatment is probably one of the most common forms of emotional abuse used by narcissists when all the above tactics have been tried and have failed. Narcissists use the silent treatment as a form of punishment for not acquiescing to their point of view or as way to gain the upper hand and control in their relationships. It’s also a way to avoid discussing important issues in the relationship that don’t further their agenda. When a narcissist uses the silent treatment, they will do it in a way that is hugely out of proportion to the perceived offense. Narcissists will also tend to demand a perfectly delivered apology. If the apology is not delivered correctly or stated in the right way, the duration of the silent treatment will be extended. By demanding a perfectly delivered apology, narcissists confirm their exaggerated view of themselves and support their superiority.

The silent treatment is intended to make the victim feel completely unloved, invalidated and insignificant. The use of the silent treatment is usually about control. Sometimes the narcissist will use the silent treatment just to assess the amount of control they have over people. Often, it will be used as a tactic to create distance and free up space to spend with side supply. Victims are left feeling powerless, as the silent treatment abruptly pauses any possibility of resolution.

THE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS

The many people who’ve been expelled from the narcissist’s life know there is something terribly wrong with the narcissist. However, many of them never bothered or cared enough to connect the dots and define the craziness they were subjected to.

But for those who have had intimate relationships with a narcissist for any length of time, it almost becomes an unsettling necessity to search for answers and put the pieces together to restore their equilibrium and unearth the reality of the absolute insanity that had become their normal everyday existence.

This is what drives most former partners of narcissists to hit the internet and actively Google the WHY DID questions – for example: Why did my partner always think they were right? Why did my mother never apologize? Why did my spouse always give me the silent treatment? Why did my sibling always make me feel like I was to blame? Why did my perfect partner change?

IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY ABOVE THE CLOUDS

Their Google search queries lead them to articles about narcissism and narcissistic traits. Survivors voraciously ingest the massive amounts of information permeating the world-wide web. The descriptions are so eerily accurate that if they didn’t know better, they would swear the articles were written about their relationship. The precision in which the articles depict their relationships, from the blissful beginnings right down to the ghastly end, to the t becomes the indisputable validation that precipitates the cloud of confusion to dissipate, allowing enlightenment to illuminate the truth of their situation with profound clarity. No, narcissism is not limited to vanity or arrogance, as they originally believed. It is so much more pathological and insidious than they could have ever imagined; and even worse, there is no cure.

Gradually, through their research, they realize that the narcissist never really loved them or anyone for that matter, as narcissists are wholly incapable of love and devoid of a conscience. Survivors slowly accept that the person they were in love with was just a façade and never really existed. Finally, this awareness forces them to mourn the loss of three people, only amplifying and adding to their grief. First, they must mourn the loss of the person they loved who never really existed. Second, they must mourn the loss of person they believed their narcissist had the potential to be. Third, they must mourn the loss of their identity that had been eclipsed under the crushing weight of the imbalance and inequity of their relationship.

THE LENSES OF AWARENESS

Terms they had never heard of before – like love bombing, future faking, false-self, idealization, devaluation, projection, gas-lighting, smear campaign, flying monkeys, cognitive dissonance, and triangulation – become part of the survivor’s regular vocabulary. Sadly, they become more adept at explaining the definitions of these terms than most mental health professionals because they are not just terms learned through memorization, but rather words learned through painful, real life experiences. Their new-found vocabulary becomes powerfully liberating as they finally offer a palpable term to explain the insanity that once was their twisted reality, but that they were previously at a loss for words to express. They grow so knowledgeable about subject of narcissism and traits of NPD, they deserve to earn honorary doctorate degrees on the subject.

The crazy-making conversations of the past start to make more sense through the new lenses of awareness and education. Survivors begin to finally be able to put a finger on and pin-point the emotional abuse they suffered but failed to perceive was abuse at the time. The layers of blame, guilt, doubt, confusion and uncertainty of their reality that had tormented them start to erode, as they recognize that the layers were deliberately and deceptively deposited onto them by their abuser, the narcissist. This is the pivotal point, where recovery from narcissistic abuse begins.

Without awareness and education about narcissistic abuse, the chances that a survivor will end up in another abusive relationship are infinitely higher. Emotional abuse is as devastating as any other kind of abuse. It’s pure and vicious exploitation and covert manipulation of the heart, soul, spirit, mind, and often the wallet of another human-being cloaked in counterfeit expressions of love and caring.

Copyright © 2015 Bree Bonchay.  All Rights Reserved.

 

breeheadshot1Bree Bonchay is a Los Angeles based Licensed psychotherapist (LCSW) who believes “relationships are the currency of life”. She’s a relationship expert dedicated to helping people heal from break-ups, recover from toxic relationships with narcissists and sociopaths and to never settle for a life less than the one they dreamed of. She is a Blogger, Advocate, Facebook Toxic Relationship Recovery Forum Administrator, Radio Guest Expert, and is the Author of the book, I Am Free.

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Suffering from narcissistic abuse? Join Narcissistic Abuse & Toxic Relationship Recovery & Support Forum on Facebook by clicking the link

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204 thoughts on “The 8 Most Common Narc-Sadistic Conversation Control Tactics

  1. Does anyone know of any Narc survivor abuse groups in the UK that are currently running? Many thanks for any info. In particular I’m dealing with a high level Narc and sadistic FIL and cult like In law family that have tried to ruin me for over 14 years. I would be massively relieved if I could have to real contact with others who struggle daily with this type of issue and give and receive moral support for it.

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  2. Is the person I’m suspecting of being a narcissist. really a narcissist? Or am I the narciissist? Is it possible that both people have narcissistic traits… ?

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    1. The simple fact that you’re asking that question is proof enough that you’re not a Narcissist. A Narcissist won’t usually view themselves with introspection. They aren’t concerned with right or wrong. They don’t question their own fairness. Their goal is to get everything they want without giving in at all. This includes a very reasonable compromise.

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  3. I have read, more than I’d like to admit, articles and such on narsasitic people and I have to give you credit where credit is due. Your work is spot on!!! I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to stop reading and go wake this man up I have been with for over 10 yrs and just punch him in the face. I have a broader vocabulary than most ppl I know. The way i describe things to him and others about the things he does/doesn’t do can range from extremely profound and deep places, sarcastic and hateful, to extremely funny defending on a number of factors. I was astonished at the number of my words as well as theories we’re jumping off the page back at me. My feelings were/still all over the place. It feels good to know that I’m not alone and I was right all along. I’m still in the vicious cycle because years of mental abuse, isolation, degradation, humiliation, shame of myself and inability add well as courage to leave FOR GOOD that is left me like an overdrawn bank account. I had insufficient funds stamped on my forehead like a scarlet letter or so I thought. Anyways I begged, I pleaded, I cried, I laughed, I insulted, I sought from compassion, regret, doubt, anger and hostility all the questions and accusations, you have listed in many of your writings, yet you already know I got nothing but confusion and madness in return. He is/was my second husband we met when my children went to stay with their father and the woman he left us for after 13 years. I was a mess because my children had never been away from me and I was angry but I could never keep them from him no matter what he did. So my current ex husband whom turned into my boyfriend without a day apart from divorce. Yeah that sounds just as messed up as it is. I promise. Lol I won’t give his real name so I’ll call him Dick. Dick was there when I needed someone most. Showered me with any and everything and I loved it even though he got under my skin with his know it all b.s. I figured tge good outweighed the bad. I know now I was SOOO stupid. Anyways after years of abuse I decided to step out of my marriage because he was never home always working or his hobbies came first. No cuddling, no time together I was lonely. It took everything I had to set up an account to talk to tge opposite sex. My daughter laughed abd made fun of me because of how shy and awkward I was. Eventually I got the hang of it and I had fun. I didn’t care if he came home,yet I was still hurting because now I had tasted some freedom and affection yet terrified to leave. I ended up meeting a guy who not only worshipped me but sold drugs. Long story short I did him and drugs TOO well. I lost ALL i loved and valued my children one to the streets and one to their father. So I was even more ashamed. This entire two years dick chased me, stalked me, begged me to come back and I refused I stayed in my new hell cause I was high, numb, and even harder on myself than before. A few times my new man went to jail dick miraculously found out and found me so I actually did go with him. That only lasted until my dude got out then I took off. By the time I was last arrested my new/old dude was locked up again and not getting out soon and I was the drug dealer going to jail. I was relieved at first to be out of the game that was until I was facing 5 yrs prison for violating a 10 yr probation sentence after I’d done 9 1/2 years successfully. WOW!! Also I had new charges of manufacturer and delivery. My daughter is still on the streets but now on the needle. I’m horrified because she’s prostituting as well. CAN YOU IMAGINE MY GUILT? I was the soccer mom. My house was the safe haven other kids were welcomed. I have fought ppl with fists and knives for my children. Now I’m dying inside because I have sobered up, time to think, and know I’ve ruined my children’s lives. By the way my daughter got out of safp for drug charges yesterday so she’s clean and safe! Thank you heavenly father! ! I was sentenced 4 years and God’s grace got the others dropped. Dick stood by me in prison. I changed and found my soft side again

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  4. Wow! This was written about my life. I was with her for 26 yrs. I thought she was the love of my life. And she said she was so in love with me. We got married, then I instantly started to see the person she really was. She would start fights over the smallest of things. I didn’t light her cigarette fast enough, I put a quarter in a parking meter instead of using the free parking, I let an elderly lady off the bus before her, and it wasn’t just an eye roll, she would totally explode into fits of rage, hate and discontent. We would go on wonderful vacations and she would always find the most insucnificant little reason to start a fight and the fun was over for the rest of the trip. It was mind boggling. I couldn’t understand this behavior and would try to talk to her about it but she never wanted to discuss it. She would immediately go to defense mode and many times she wouldn’t talk to me for days if you can believe that. Then she’d say I never listened or never wanted to talk. I ALWAYS had to be the one to say let’s not fight anymore or I’d end up saying I’m sorry for the fight she started. In 26 yrs she only apoligized to me twice, and i had to ask for those. They were too ironclad for her to fight her way out of. Then just like that she would go into nice mode again, but it never lasted long. And because of the length of time we were together there were hundreds of these episodes. She would also do mean and cruel things to me (name calling, cursing, and just no appreciation) then turn it around and act like thats what i was doing to her. But I wasn’t ! She was always saying i was controlling. But I let her handle all the finances, and always asked for her opinion or thoughts. A controlling person would not let their partner handle all their money. Right ? I thought I was starting to go crazy. “Why do I keep staying around ?” Id ask myself. Or “how can someone who says they love you treat you like that” I was very confused. I knew I loved her very much and could always see the beautiful person that was inside her but that person never arrived. I put up with her abuse year after year until I could take no more so i filed for divorce. I thought i was finally free but my prison sentance was far from over. I helped her find a very nice new home in the country. I put in a sprinkler system and landscaped it for her. We decided to continue to see each other and try to reconcile. But we still always had trouble communicating and fighting. She would always throw the divorce in my face and how I put her through hell. She could never think of anything she ever did wrong. And she believed it. This lasted for another 5 yrs. I was back under her spell and totally in love with her again. (Why? What is wrong with me?) Then the beginning of the end started. She told me she was moving her sister and her husband from another town into her place to help with money and yard maintenance. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea but this was her decision to make not mine. Three months later her sister came to me crying saying her husband and sis were totally ignoring her and making her feel unwanted. He also in that short of time put over $25,000 into my gals property in permanent structures. A remodeled patio, new fence, new shed and a large metal shop. This guy moved fast and clearly had his sights set on my gal. His wife was understandably upset, and when she voiced her opinion she was immediately attacked by both her husband and my woman. (Who by this time wasnt mine anymore) Then he asked his wife to move out. I asked my gal how he could kick her sister outta her house and her reply was “I’m not getting in the middle of their fight” and just like that the sister was gone and filing for a divorce. My gal said she had a clear conscious because her sister left on her own, she didn’t kick her out. She shows absolutely no remorse or guilt. How could anyone do that to their own sister (and me) not to mention all the rest of our family. Nobody can understand what she is doing. And nobody approves of it either. It was clearly obvious what was going on but my girl kept trying to convince me nothing was going on so she could keep me on the hook. I was crushed and heartbroken. I tried to believe her, but kept catching her in a web of lies and deceit. I finally found my self respect again and told her where to stick it. After 26 yrs it was very difficult and like cutting my right arm off but it was absolutely necessary. I was still uncertain who’s fault it was for our failure. Was it her ? was it me ? Probably both. I except I’m not perfect. Then I started doing alot of reading and I found your article about narcissists. You hit the nail on the head. Now i understand why she acted the way she did and I know she would never have changed. I now know I did everything possible and gave 100% to a relationship that never had a chance and I have no regrets and am thankful that’s it’s over. I am finally starting to heal, I know its going to take time, but it’s worth it. I want to Thank You ! For educating me and saving my mind, spirit and life. Sincerely Bryan

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  5. Thank you so much Bree. I have been scouting the Web do answers as to why? And you have given me the most definitive of what I have suffered. I am almost afraid to say and am ashamed that in the end I struck out at my wife after 13 years… I live in regret of this forever. I am a man and I swear this is exactly what happened to me, but I could never explain to anyone. Thank you so much

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  6. Thank you so much for your site.
    I literally can’t catch my breath after reading the material.
    Thank you for validating the hell that was my existence trying to love someone
    who embodies every single aspect of what you describe.
    I thought I was crazy…

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  7. What if the narcissistic person is the single mother of your grandchildren and keeps the kids from you if you question her about leaving them alone so often? She is all these kids have now and I am so worried about them.

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    1. Sam, If you are concerned that the children are being neglected or are in any sort of danger, please report this to your local child protective services agency. An investigation will be done if the agency finds cause, and you can remain anonymous. You might also consult a family-law attorney in your area to find out what your rights may be with regard to seeing your grandchildren, particularly in light of the fact that you suggest that the children’s support system is limited and you are showing such concern for their well-being. I wish you well.

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  8. You have put words to my life, thank you. I lived exactly what you describe. When I finally realized through research what the narc was, I grieved for what could have been, and then I moved on. I am 53 now and starting my life over from scratch. I could have done without the last 10 years but I will take the lessons learned and do something with them. I hope to help people out of bad situations. I am working on my psychology degree right now.

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    1. I should think so; you are likely a source of supply if your significant other is a narcissist. The narcissist, in my experience, demonstrates the same pattern with all of his/her significant relationships that provide narcissistic supply. In my case, my narcopath ex used, abused, and manipulated both me and his alternate supply — a female acquaintance with whom he became romantically involved. I know this because he disclosed to me lies he’d told her in order to keep her on the hook. As long as you are involved, the narcissist will continue toying with your mind and emotions.

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  9. Wow. Thank you. You just described my relationship and the effects of my relationship on my heart and mind. I am stunned how accurate your article is.

    Thank you.

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  10. “My” covert narc had a gaslighting technique that was so insidious that it took me 6 years to see it for what it was. I am not even sure I can describe it properly, but I will try. I always wanted to spend time with him, be taken out by him, go places with him – even just mundane things like shopping. Most of the time he’d find excuses not to. Then, every now and then, he’d ring up and invite me to go along somewhere with him, in order to create ‘incidents’ out of thin air. He did this by beginning the outing by treating me with a mixture of courtesy and charm, then act extremely irritable and moody, constantly either offended or annoyed by everything about me. My *every* expression, gesture and comment is cited and leaped upon by him as the wrong thing to say, as a criticism of him or his choices. So the entire outing became a misery, and I always ended up in tears, trying desperately to find some way not to annoy him. If I stayed silent then I was “sulking” and if I said anything then it was the wrong thing to say or the wrong tone of voice, or the wrong look on my face when I said it. Sometimes he’d actually blow up in a rage over nothing, then blame me for ‘provoking’ or ‘baiting’ him and I genuinely had no idea what I had said that fitted that description.
    If I interacted with a waiter or shop assistant, he’d wait until the person was gone and then tell me off for the way I spoke to the person. I would protest and deny it (of course!) and he’d sit back very calmly and say, “My god, you can’t even see it, can you?” He’d say I was “talking down” to a waiter, for example, or giving a “dirty look” to a salesman. Then he’d say he was “embarrassed to be seen with me”, because of the way I was. I would literally sit and sob, because I had displeased him, because we were out of sorts with one another, because he was telling me what a horrible person I was – and I believed him because I would see no reason for him to make up lies. Plus I loved him – adored him, admired him, and so would take heed of what he said about me.
    He would sit and watch me sob in a shop or a restaurant and would not comfort me. I was a strong, successful woman in her mid-50s – a business owner, a published author, and yet, just by his words and his scolds, he reduced me to feeling like a little girl who has been told off by her daddy.
    By the end of the outing he’d drop me off outside my house, shaking with fear, usually still crying, and tell me that I had “ruined his day” and our outing, and no, he did not want to come inside for a cup of tea, as I had “put him in a bad mood”. He’d start our outing all happy, opening the car door for me, kissing me, smiling at me, and by the end he was in a dead strop, refusing to speak to me, letting me open the door myself, then revving up loudly and pulling away with a screech. Sometimes, he would not even say goodbye, just sit in the car staring out of the side window, waiting in silence for me to get out. I would then spend the rest of the day or evening in pieces, sobbing into a cushion, howling with emotional pain, sometimes even phoning the Samaritans. He’d go off and enjoy the rest of his day, which, I later discovered, included watching porn and searching sex contact sites for other women.
    After that, he would always wait for me to phone or email him. If I didn’t, then he didn’t. I have sometimes left it 3 days and he hasn’t contacted me. He made me feel that he was waiting for me to apologise for ruining his day. Then the next time we met up, I would be walking on eggshells *even more* in a desperate attempt NOT to irritate and anger him. So I would be simpering, extremely nervous, nauseatingly sycophantic, letting him have his way instantly over every little thing, and showering him with compliments so that he’d stay in a good mood. I was petrified of saying or doing anything that might piss him off. I would spend the entire time with him terrified of provoking his wrath.

    But I finally realised WHY he created all this angst between us. I think it was for three reasons. (1) to see me struggle to stay on good terms with him (2) to destroy my self confidence in the way I interact in public and (3) to show me that we “just don’t get on” and so it’s better that he did not take me out anywhere.

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  11. “My” covert narc had a gaslighting technique that was so insidious that it took me 6 years to see it for what it was. I am not even sure I can describe it properly, but I will try. I always wanted to spend time with him, be taken out by him, go places with him – even just mundane things like shopping. Most of the time he’d find excuses not to. Then, every now and then, he’d ring up and invite me to go along somewhere with him, in order to create ‘incidents’ out of thin air. He did this by beginning the outing by treating me with a mixture of courtesy and charm, then act extremely irritable and moody, constantly either offended or annoyed by everything about me. My *every* expression, gesture and comment is cited and leaped upon by him as the wrong thing to say, as a criticism of him or his choices. So the entire outing became a misery, and I always ended up in tears, trying desperately to find some way not to annoy him. If I stayed silent then I was “sulking” and if I said anything then it was the wrong thing to say or the wrong tone of voice, or the wrong look on my face when I said it. Sometimes he’d actually blow up in a rage over nothing, then blame me for ‘provoking’ or ‘baiting’ him and I genuinely had no idea what I had said that fitted that description.
    If I interacted with a waiter or shop assistant, he’d wait until the person was gone and then tell me off for the way I spoke to the person. I would protest and deny it (of course!) and he’d sit back very calmly and say, “My god, you can’t even see it, can you?” He’d say I was “talking down” to a waiter, for example, or giving a “dirty look” to a salesman. Then he’d say he was “embarrassed to be seen with me”, because of the way I was. I would literally sit and sob, because I had displeased him, because we were out of sorts with one another, because he was telling me what a horrible person I was – and I believed him because I would see no reason for him to make up lies. Plus I loved him – adored him, admired him, and so would take heed of what he said about me.
    He would sit and watch me sob in a shop or a restaurant and would not comfort me. I was a strong, successful woman in her mid-50s – a business owner, a published author, and yet, just by his words and his scolds, he reduced me to feeling like a little girl who has been told off by her daddy.
    By the end of the outing he’d drop me off outside my house, shaking with fear, usually still crying, and tell me that I had “ruined his day” and our outing, and no, he did not want to come inside for a cup of tea, as I had “put him in a bad mood”. He’d start our outing all happy, opening the car door for me, kissing me, smiling at me, and by the end he was in a dead strop, refusing to speak to me, letting me open the door myself, then revving up loudly and pulling away with a screech. Sometimes, he would not even say goodbye, just sit in the car staring out of the side window, waiting in silence for me to get out. I would then spend the rest of the day or evening in pieces, sobbing into a cushion, howling with emotional pain, sometimes even phoning the Samaritans. He’d go off and enjoy the rest of his day, which, I later discovered, included watching porn and searching sex contact sites for other women.
    After that, he would always wait for me to phone or email him. If I didn’t, then he didn’t. I have sometimes left it 3 days and he hasn’t contacted me. He made me feel that he was waiting for me to apologise for ruining his day. Then the next time we met up, I would be walking on eggshells *even more* in a desperate attempt NOT to irritate and anger him. So I would be simpering, extremely nervous, nauseatingly sycophantic, letting him have his way instantly over every little thing, and showering him with compliments so that he’d stay in a good mood. I was petrified of saying or doing anything that might piss him off. I would spend the entire time with him terrified of provoking his wrath.

    But I finally realised WHY he created all this angst between us. I think it was for three reasons. (1) to see me struggle to stay on good terms with him (2) to destroy my self confidence in the way I interact in public and (3) to show me that we “just don’t get on” and so it’s better that he did not take me out anywhere.

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  12. Thank you for this.

    Everything from the silent treatment down to you explaining the progression of realization of what’s actually going on and seeing things in a different light is exactly where I am at. As I continued reading your ending my eyes begin to swell up. Because I am a man married to a narcissistic woman who I love dearly yet I see us headed seemingly full throttle down the exact path you explain. I’m sad, but thank you for sharing your and many others understanding of this.

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  13. This is the best article on the subject, I have ever read. Thanks so much. I recognise both my mother and son here. I broke with my mother 20 years ago and even at 93, she does not give up, sending me guilt inducing letters for being a bad heartless woman. I get mad and want to reply to defend myself but I know it is a trick to get me back. It happened so many times before, I am now wise.
    My son is harder to bear. I don’t feed his narcissism and so he has given me the boot. On FB he had 600+ adoring friends and he charms them with his intellectual articles every day. For me he has no time.Little do these friends know what a monster he has been to me and some of his best and most honest employees.
    This is a terrible sickness and FB is a great platform for these empty boasters.

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  14. 14 months of slavery , mind control haressment by sevan and sali madadian and babys mom jessica kanz ans edwin dergregorian poisned me , set the whole glendale ca , 91206 and made millions kisnapping my dayghter yvette dora kane arzmanians and turned her mom to prostetude nikki nieves

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