Why a narcissist likes to argue and what you can do about it.
It might seem that the narcissist default setting is to cause an argument, manipulate and twist everything around onto you.
Their ability to start an argument is incredible. If you don’t know what they are, you’ll probably think they could happily start an argument in an empty room. They are not interested in an empty room. They are reliant on others to give them praise and attention, to make them feel better within themselves. If they can not get positive attention, then they’ll happily get negative. As just like positive attention, negative attention is still attention to them. They love provoking peoples emotions and getting reactions, that’s what drives them to get more of any attention.
They can easily cause an argument over anything, everything and simply nothing if they wish to do so when they feel that the attention is slipping away from them. Causing you upset, frustration, anger, and self-doubt as they will manipulate it round through blame-shifting to the fact you caused the argument in the first place.
You may not like how they think or agree with how they think. As people with empathy, we also understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Yet, we believe people will take on board other people’s opinions, a narcissist cannot do that.
When you understand more of why they argue you’ll be able to do more about it to help yourself. You’ll also find yourself less confused and start being able to think straight again.
Believe in yourself the dark cloud the narcissist gives you or left you with, can and will lift.
Why do they argue?
1. To provoke you. A narcissist will start an argument out of nowhere, just to get you to react, break your shell down and get emotional reactions from you. All they are after is your emotional response to the argument, so if you give no reaction be prepared for them to step it up. Stay strong and do not react. Remember by reacting you’re giving them exactly what they want. You are giving your power to them, and by staying quiet, you’re infuriating them. They are then trapped in their own paranoia, trying to work out ways to get you to react as they believe that they should be the centre of your attention.
What the arguments about does not matter to them, it’s just their need to make you feel, angry, frustrated, fearful, or confuse you to doubting and blaming yourself, so whatever you say back they’re not interested in the words only the attention and provoking your emotional reactions from within those words that they will use, to get your reactions. Don’t argue back. They’re not actually listening to you. You are wasting your breath while they get an emotional response from you. They will, of course, blame you for the argument because of your responses, by simply not responding, you are taking the ability away from them to argue, and that hurts a narcissist. Therefore you get revenge without doing anything wrong. You’re just saving yourself an argument. Sometimes with some people, the best response is no response, and it’s a powerful one. A narcissist will ignore you to upset and get reactions from you. You ignore them so you can leave them in the past and move forward with your life.
2. To hurt you if they precieve you to have hurt them. If the narcissist feels like they’ve been criticised by you, they will happily start an argument. Even if you didn’t criticise them intentionally, they either give you, silent treatment, projection, rage, violence or a massive argument. To gain emotions from you and to make themselves feel better. You can avoid this by not criticising them in the first place. Unfortunately most of the time you actually haven’t criticised them. They have just assumed with their own paranoia that you have. Don’t respond and if you feel the need to, make sure any response is short, to the point and emotionless. They might then try harder. If you stick to the boundaries of your own values, they will leave that argument alone, although they may try another tactic to get a rise out of you.
3. To get Control. They argue to gain control over you and all situations around them, they know you prefer living in peace, you just want a happy stable and calm life. They know the only way you think you can achieve this, which you never can as the more control they get, the more they raise the bar. Are you try to stop arguments occurring in the first place, making you walk on eggshells. Giving up more and more of yourself trying to please them, losing your boundaries, slowly giving them more control of you, your life and everything in it, so that they don’t cause an argument. They cause arguments before you go out as they don’t want you going out with other people, as this means, your attention is not on them. It also means other people will get into your head and explain different opinions about the situations you are in with the narcissist. They only want you to have their opinion. They don’t actually want to lose you as their main emotional response to them, as this takes time and energy away from them in finding and love bombing someone new. If they feel they’re losing control over you, they will find a replacement. They want to isolate you from friends and family, some of the time to confuse you more. Most will smear your name. They might not even argue about what you actually want to do. They’ll cause an argument about something entirely different.
5. To make you feel upset or frightened. So that you no longer feel like you want to go out. Slowly giving you anxiety. They might be more direct, make the argument about the thing you want to do. Anything so you back down to keep the peace. They cause arguments as a method of intimidation to maintain control over you. By not responding, you are sending them a signal that this method of control is not effective, so carry on with your plans and do not react. They will use children in this by been late to pick up or drop off. Not collecting children on pre-arranged days. Asking to have them on days they’ve not got them. Just to control your life. If you set routine and boundaries on access to when they see the children. So the children have stability and routine. Watch out because if your children are old enough and they know your children’s feeling are important to you, they will use the children to get to you. “ I was going to see you, but your other parent wouldn’t let me”. Just remind your children about routine and stability, they will grow to realise one day. Yes, normal people can swap and change plans around, and without mind games, children will adapt to this. Sometimes stuff happens. But when the other parent is continually trying to alter when they do and don’t see the children. It’s just another method of manipulation to get to you. Stay strong and stick to the routine and boundaries. If it helps you stick to the routine. Remember the fact that you’ve not responded and stuck with your boundaries, this will hurt them, and you’ve had a victory.
6. To fill their Self-worth, and so you lose yours. They argue with you to maintain they are more powerful than you and to keep their superiority over you. To make you feel worthless. The narcissist doesn’t have a sense of self-worth; they get their self-esteem by gaining power over those around them any way they can. By keeping you down, they believe and feel they are empowered, superior and better than you, giving them self worth.
7. Exhaustion. The narcissist ability to argue is endless while they are gaining emotion response from you. They simply keep going to drain you, so eventually, you are so sick and tired you give in. Even giving in to things that the argument wasn’t about. They will alter the argument until you confirm, and once you have, they can start the argument again to get you to agree or do another thing for them. By keeping an argument going, they are grinding you down and exhausting you. This method is excellent to them in making you less able to cope in day to day life and let down your defence. You don’t want to fight back, and you give in. This just helps the narcissist to manipulate you even more.
To help yourself in this recognise why they are causing the argument and do not respond in any way. Stick to your rules, your boundaries for your own sanity and self-worth.
During devaluation, they believe you do not know what they are, and during the relationship, they have slowly and carefully upped your emotional response to them. So they know you can not help yourself and you react. You’re own desire to get them to accept your version of events and your reality. You want to defend yourself. You want them to see sense, they are not interested in any outcome, only your emotional response so they can maintain their power and authority over you. It is just trapping you into their minds and doing exactly what they want you to do by reacting, do not let them know you know what they are. Read all info you can on them, so you know how best to handle situations and do not react. In any argument do not try to have the last word as the narcissist knows you’ll try to do that because they know you feel like you’ve not been heard and your right you haven’t. They are just enjoying the emotional response and manipulation.
Although you will really want to respond and end an argument, don’t. They are not interested in winning the argument, and they just want to win your emotions. For You to react. For You to give power to them, for you to give in. The best way to win an argument with a narcissist is just not to play, not responding in any way shape or form.
If you really think you need to, retreat, rethink and only respond if you need to. State your point once and once only, and they will try to keep you going, they’ll try to twist the conversation.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse. (Sponsored.). https://betterhelp.com/elizabethshaw
Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended Reading List.
Nine phrases to win an argument with a narcissist.