Why a narcissist likes to argue and what you can do about it.
It might seem that the narcissist’s default setting is to cause an argument, manipulate and twist everything around that they don’t want to take responsibility for back over you.
A narcissist’s ability to start an argument is incredible. If you don’t know what they are, you’ll probably think they could happily begin an argument in an empty room. They are not interested in an empty room. They are interested and reliant on others to give them praise, attention and emotional reactions to make the narcissist feel better within themselves. When a narcissist can not gain positive attention, then they’ll happily provoke negative. If they can not gain your admiration, they’ll go all out to provoke you so they can gain your frustration. As just like positive attention, negative attention is still attention to them. They prefer positive. If that’s not on offer, they’ll enjoy controlling your negative emotional responses. Narcissists love playing with and provoking people’s emotions, which drives them to get more of any attention.
A narcissist can easily cause an argument over anything, everything and simply nothing at all. If they wish to do so when they feel that positive attention is slipping away from them, they’ll happily cause you upset, frustration, anger, pain, resentment, jealousy, and self-doubt as they will manipulate it all around to blame you for causing the argument in the first place. A narcissist will be extremely convincing in this as they believe you’ve not lived up to their unreasonable expectations due to their sense of entitlement, so they seek to punish you for not serving them.
You may not like how a narcissist thinks or agree with how they behave. Yet, as people with compassion for others’ emotions, we also understand everyone is entitled to their opinion. Although healthy people will take on board other people’s views, a narcissist cannot do that. To a narcissist, they’re always right and being wrong is always someone else’s fault making them right.
When you understand more of why they argue, you can 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 leaves you with can and will lift.
So why do narcissists like to argue?
1. To provoke you.
Narcissists love to argue to provoke an emotional response from you, break your shell down and get those 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 a notch or two. Stay strong, and do not react. Remember, by responding. You’re giving them exactly what they want. By staying quiet, you’re infuriating them. They are then trapped in their own disorder, trying to work ways to get you to react as narcissists believe they should be your centre of attention.
What the argument is about does not matter to the narcissist. It’s just their need to make you feel angry, frustrated, and fearful, so whatever you say back, they’re not interested in the words, just the emotions from within those words. 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 narcissist’s ability away from them to argue, and that hurts the narcissist deeply. Therefore you get revenge without doing anything wrong. You’re just saving yourself an argument.
You don’t have to take part in ever argument you’re invited to.E.S.
2. To recover from a narcissistic injury.
To close a wound. Suppose the narcissist feels like you have criticised them. They happily start an argument. Even if you didn’t criticise them intentionally, they either give you those silent treatments, violence or a massive argument. To gain emotional reactions from you and make themselves feel better. You can avoid this by not criticising them in the first place. Unfortunately, most of the time, you haven’t criticised them. They have just assumed with their own narcissism that you have. Again don’t respond, and if you feel the need to, make sure any response is short, to the point and emotionless. They will try harder. If you stick to your own values and boundaries, they will leave that argument alone. However, they may try another tactic to get a rise out of you.
Narcissists 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, is to stop the argument, which you never can, as the more control they get, the more they raise the bar. To stop arguments, you might walk on eggshells. Giving up more and more of yourself, trying to please them, slowly giving them more control of your life and everything in it so they don’t cause an argument. They don’t want you to go 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 situations, and 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 finding 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, sometimes to confuse you more. They did not argue about what you actually want to do. They’ll cause an argument about something entirely different.
4. To place fear within you.
Narcissists intimidate 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 and make an 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 control method is ineffective, so carry on with your plans and do not react. They will use children in this by being late to pick up or drop off and not collecting children on pre-arranged days. Asking to have them on days they’ve not got them. Just to control your life.
Suppose you set routines 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 feelings are important to you, they will use the children to get to you. “ I was going to see you then instead, but your other parent wouldn’t let me”. Just remind your children about routine and stability. They will grow to realise one day. Yes, genuine 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 constantly 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.
5. To invalidate you.
A Narcissist wants to sabotage you and destroy your confidence, your ability and your self-worth. They argue with you to maintain they are more powerful than you and to keep their superiority. To make you feel worthless. The narcissist doesn’t have a sense of self-worth. They get self-worth by gaining power over those around them in any way they can. By keeping you down, they believe and feel they are empowered, superior and better than you, giving them self-worth. A Narcissist invalidating you is, in one sense, them showing they feel inferior to you. Those who are confident wouldn’t need to bring others down—those who are arrogant will. People with empathy to care, even if they aren’t confident wouldn’t bring others down. Those who lack empathy will go all out to hurt another’s feelings.
The narcissist’s ability to argue is endless while they are gaining emotional responses from you. They simply keep going to drain you, so eventually, you give in. Even giving in to things that the argument wasn’t about. They will continue the argument until you confirm, and once you have, they 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 great to them in making you less able to cope in daily life and let down your defence. You don’t want to fight back, and you give in. This helps the narcissist to manipulate you even more.
7. To win.
Narcissists aren’t looking to understand you, find a middle ground, compromise or play fair. They’re looking to exploit, and they’ll use many underhand manipulation methods to achieve this. They’re looking to be right, and within that, they’re going to go all out to make sure you feel like you’re wrong through the narcissists gaslighting, projection and blame-shifting, as they simply will not be held accountable for the things they do. Instead, they’ll find a scapegoat to shift the responsibility of the things the narcissist does wrong over to, making the innocent party feel like they’re to blame and fawning at the narcissist’s behaviour to try and avoid future conflict.
Again to help yourself in this, recognise why they are causing the argument and do not respond in any way. Stick to your rules and your boundaries for your 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 from responding. Your desire to get them to accept your version of events and your reality. You want them to see sense. They are not interested in any outcome, only your emotional response, so that they can maintain their power and authority over you. It is just trapping you into their minds and doing precisely 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 you’re 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, they want to win your attention and reactions. 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 responding in any way, shape or form.
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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 (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.