Disagreeing with a Narcissist

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I wasn’t planning to write about this today.  I recently had a disagreement with someone that went differently than I expected.  In fact, it reminded me a lot of the argument style of a narcissist.

If I were to believe this person, the only reason I disagreed with him was because I didn’t understand him and I wasn’t willing to give him enough time and attention to convince me.  The truth was that I did understand and I did disagree.  That doesn’t seem so hard.

But those who have been in relationships with narcissists understand that this is very hard for the narcissist.  You must agree with them.  If you do not, you are either stupid or wicked.  I actually had a narcissist tell me that he had figured out the problem with his wife: she was either sick or wicked.  Either way it was her problem.

This is just another method of depersonalizing someone.  I understand the frustration of not being heard.  I understand how some people just cut you off and don’t let you give an explanation.  It can be difficult.  But I also understand that categorizing someone as either stupid or wicked denies the possibility that they might be right.

Once the narcissist is stymied, once he realizes that you are no longer going to accept his reasoning, he will become nasty.  Venom seems to be on the tip of his tongue and you will get it.  Apparently there are no holds barred. 

Why is the reaction so strong?  Well, the narcissist constantly deals with feelings of inferiority and weakness.  He worries that he will be caught and exposed.  If you disagree, you must be stopped before you can show him to be wrong.  If he can’t stop you with more reasoning, he must stop you by intimidation. 

This is something experienced by almost all people in narcissistic relationships.  As I have said before, they must win.  Winning is so important to them that they will be amazingly cruel when necessary.  He can win by “superior” argument, or by intimidation, or by becoming the victim.  If you were not so mean, you would listen more and be kinder.  Whatever it takes to get the upper hand. 

Okay, that’s enough about my problem.  Does this ring any bells for you?

27 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

27 responses to “Disagreeing with a Narcissist

  1. annonymous

    My husband is divorcing me. For some time now when we have a conflict, instead of resolving it I am told a). I need deliverance …that is the reason for the conflict (although I have done the work and looked at my own issues in marriage counseling) b)I love conflict and therefore I create it or c) You have a problem with everything and everybody. When I disagree and stand up and say it hurts me to hear you say those things and they never bring a solution….I get mocked with a little song…”oh you are such a victim”. Now he has actually convinced people (Christian Leaders) that God has great things for his life and he can’t pursue those things while in a relationship with me …so he is divorcing me…believes it will bring healing for him. I’m stunned and broken. After 6 years of this behavior I’m a fool for even being stunned.

    • I am so sorry that you are going through this. It is hard to imagine your pain. But you are right that this is what happens to some when they have to disagree with a narcissist. Everything is turned back at them. It has to be your fault because he is too weak and small to handle any blame.

      It is tempting to point out that you will finally be free of him, but I’m sure that’s hard to think about these days. Will you have to have relationship with him in the future? Will you be able to handle things without him? I am concerned for you.

      And you do realize that this might be an idle threat to manipulate you in some way? Lying is just part of the game for these folks. I wouldn’t try to stop him if I were you. Let’s see how far he will take things.

      And what kind of church is this where the leaders would listen to such foolishness? It would seem to me that this would disqualify him from leadership. I am not hard-nosed on divorce, but someone who divorces his wife so he can lead in the church is not the kind of guy I want in leadership.

      When (and if) the time comes, hold your head high. Wipe the dirt off your feet and move into the future with strength and courage. You are not alone and you are not in the wrong. I will be praying for you and I know others who read this will as well. Please keep us posted.

      • annonymous

        Thank you for your kind words and concern…not that I’m digging for sympathy, but a kind word …(while living in an environment where it seems good is called evil and evil is called good)…is like words of life to me.

        Yes, this may be an idle threat…have not heard one this serious and final thus far.

        No, I will not have to have a relationship in the future. He seems to think that if we divorce and possibly take 5 years to heal we will be able to join again someday….all while I go out and find a job, a new church, tell my son we are moving once again (I have separated from him once already for 2 years while we did marriage counseling). While he gets support, friendship, leadership, the house, my gardens, the fruit trees I planted, and the animals I raised. I was just diagnosed with Lyme’s disease 2 weeks ago. And although I am feeling better…I have no energy to start over. How in God’s name can this be Biblical! He has no empathy for me and by golly he persuades others to join him. I have to be Very careful not to stumble and fall myself: Psalms 73 :2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

        I struggle with this: Keeping my eyes on the Lord and off of his charming capabilities and the success/persuasion it seems to bring him.

        I know that God loves me and that he cares…even when I can’t see him.

        These are all temporal things…it still hurts though. I feel betrayed not only by my husband but by a church.

      • anonymous

        Well it is almost 2 years since I replied to this particular post. You were correct. It was an idle threat. He did back down from his divorce threat and I talked him into taking a very intensive marriage class. It was an intense class -very good…left no stone un-turned. We had to stand in front of the class each week and share how the week had gone in relation to our marriage…(we were given specific questions). Half way through the 3 month course he went into a rage at home. That next week of class he confessed his wrongdoing up in front of the whole class and wrote me a letter asking forgiveness for each hurtful thing that he said. I was relieved to see that he could own his behaviors and gladly forgave him. The class ended after 3 months and I talked the leaders into teaching a follow up/part two of the class(I was desperate for anything that would keep some peace in our home). During the second part my husband even broke down and cried a couple of times during the class and told everyone how much he had to learn yet. I learned many things myself. I was glad things were going well. We had 3 more months of intensive marriage classes.During that time I had a surprise birthday party for my husband and invited all the members from both classes. We were bonding with other couples. I was glad. Normally, I had some amount of anxiety around mutual friends because sooner or later I would hear some slanderous or twisted version of the truth that made me look bad, sick, or in need of some sort of help.
        Then the classes ended. Within a week the lies started again. I don’t know how many rounds of this we went through…but he resorted right back to his old ways(rages, lying, twisting truth, head games) I reached out to the marriage class members and they just couldn’t picture the man they saw in class doing/saying the things that I had experienced in the privacy of our home. I started to withdraw.
        Finally I realized that this marriage and finding some way to live in peace was way more important to me than my relationship with God. The Lord nudged me ever so gently. I was able to tell my husband that I loved him but just couldn’t trust him anymore because I had been told so many lies and had been lied about so many times. I told him that I just had no natural respect for him because of the way he treated me/didn’t value me. I offered more classes but with not much hope. He refused and said the marriage was over (again). He proceeded to divorce me. I didn’t fight it this time, although I was heart broken. It took almost a year. I lived in the same house with him for a few months until I could get on my feet. During that time I found that he had looked up another woman online and had been texting, phoning and going to her home. I don’t care. I am in a place of relearning who I am in Christ. The devastation has been great and I am thankful that the Lord has been near. He has helped me to process bitterness, anger, fear, anxiety through His word and by His spirit. Healing comes in waves. I feel the pain, run to the Lord and He washes me. I get a bit of respite and then another wave of pain/healing comes. I’m in a good place! I write this thinking maybe it will help someone else. Through out the divorce he even said that maybe in 5 years we will have healed enough to get re married. I look back in my journal at all the junk that I walked through with him…(and I didn’t do it perfectly but was always willing to ask for forgiveness when I failed). I can’t imagine ever living like that again! I had to tell him no…he chose to end the marriage and there would be no reconciliation. My prayer is this reply will help someone else. I’m out! I’m free! I’m scared a lot of the time but I have the Lord with me! I can just be. I can be me, with my own opinions, thoughts and feelings! I smile every time I think of this!

  2. Absolutely!! In the beginning of my relationship with my narcissistic X, he agreed with EVERYTHING (which is part go the love-bombing, idolization phase.) Once he realized I was caught in his web, the disagreement escalated quickly. For example, while with my X, I also took care of my son from my previous relationship. My son was 4. I explained to my X that the rules of co-parenting recommend that only the child’s parents should provide discipline and that the significant others must resign to simply upholding the discipline. However, being the narcissist that he was, he liked creating his own rules for my son which countered the rules that I had in place. Even after showing my X the paperwork from the co-parenting courses I took, he still refused to believe me. He felt I was undermining HIM!!! Wow! “No, you are undermining my ability to successfully co-parent my son with his father. We have established rules and agreements with our son and you need to respect those and respect our son.” Never-ending battle. 🙂

  3. Kelly

    Oh yeah, this is very familiar. My ex husband used to tell me “if I want your opinion I will give it to you”. Same thing as Paula happened to me. In the early years he was totally accomodating and I thought I had the man of my dreams. Then we he knew I was hooked, he became ugly. He would also tell me and I quote “I am right, you are wrong, that’s the way it is”. Now that we have been divorced he is finding out he isn’t the all knowing power of the universe. He has made QUITE a mess of his life, but he is HAPPY because he has a doting 14 -years -younger girlfriend and her 2 boys who think he is the firefighter god of the world…so he is getting lots of new Narcissist supply.
    at least for now. We know that they must move on after they filled up and can’t drain that source anymore. Part of my health disintegration was due to giving up and letting him be right all the time…after 21 years it was impossible Thank you God for delivering me out of that

  4. Kelly

    To Anonymous: you will emerge from this and God will help you. You have friends on this blog who will listen to you and support you. Praying for you

  5. Tammy C

    Spot on. Disagree with a narcissist and it will end badly as Pastor Orrison described. Venom.

    Agree with a narcissist and it will end badly. How? Read on.

    I am a Christian. I am fun loving, outgoing, outspoken and pretty confident, but was naive at 18 and married a narcissist. Over the 14 year marriage, his narcissistic supply was fueled by fishing, hunting, spending, lying, affairs, manipulation and my reactions which included yelling, slamming doors & leaving, later apologizing for my temper – further fueling his supply, and the cycle continued. Multiple affairs later I finally had enough. Unfortunately, our son was 8, I was pregnant, and he was ‘testing my love’ by again saying “I don’t love you any more”, which just meant that he had just finished one affair and was starting on another one.

    Sad? yes. But don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for his next victim.

    I grieved a bit for ‘what never really was but should have been’, moved on with my life, remarried 5 years later, started a business together, and am treated like I am made of gold and couldn’t be happier.

    Her story did not have such a happy ending. She believed his lies and moved in with him before our baby was born. Just like a fire grows when you add fuel and oxygen, she was just more kindle. That baby grew into a beautiful, funny 13 year old and is sunshine to my life. His narcissism fire has grown to an inferno of epic proportions. Her submissive, people-pleasing, compliant, unselfish personality grew the demon. He continued the same behavior including multiple affairs, and he added flaunting of those affairs, verbal abuse, insults, sick & twisted behavioral manipulation, bewildering controlling demands, increased spending, stinginess even with necessities, sporatic child support payments, and now has added tax fraud and perjury to the list of offenses and may end up in jail.

    Sad? yes.
    Pastor Orrison won’t be surprised at the breaking news from last night. His wife learned who he is currently having an affair with, and you won’t be surprised either.

    She’s married.

    Thank you Pastor Orrison for your well written posts on Narcissist Friday. I am doing what I can to help his wife cope, and that included an extensive internet search where I found your blog. May God bless you for taking your time to help victims that suffer at the hands of such evil.

  6. Lulu M

    Absolutely !! I was married to one… This is how our daily life was.

  7. Diane

    Yes it does ring a bell. I never had a name for it. Just been dealing with it for years. Never understood why all the attacks….

  8. Carol

    I would add that my ex would also completely close off topics that we would be discussing when some even minor difference of opinion was expressed. Right in the middle of what wasn’t even an argument, he aid he would never talk about the subject again with me. And he really meant NEVER. Kind of another form of silent treatment.

  9. Kelly

    As I read these comments, it looks like we were married to the same man! In a sense we were. All this is so familiar. I too thank you Dave for your posts on NPD. My ex loved the silent treatment stonewalling. He was and is a massive overspender. I am in bankruptcy thanks to the divorce. He cant file chp 7 he makes too much money. The cycle is so crazy. I too relied on Psalm 73 to get through my divorce..seemingly he has gone on in prosperity after throwing me under the bus. But I know the Lord says “Vengence is mine” I trust Him to be the great equalizer in His timing. Honestly, I am so angry at the treatment we all got from NPD’s. It’s sinister and it’s evil.

  10. Kelly

    For 21 years I was actually married to Smoke and Mirrors.

  11. When I would finally agree with him…..just to shut him up……he would say…..”Now thats more like it. You always knew I was right but you are so stubborn. You know I will always win dont you”

    And tell me…..just why did I hang on to him for as long as I did?

  12. Faith

    After reading this blog, I have to ask…is the narcissistic person really a cover for being weak and insecure, or are they void of all guilt, conscience, full of selfish desire,power hunger and greed? See 2 Timothy 3.
    I never saw signs of weakness or insecurity in my ex- spouse ( although he could turn on the self pity when necessary) but just the opposite…massive arrogance and entitlement with the ability to do anything to maintain control and win.
    I wonder if attributing weakness/ insecurity underneath makes us feel better….I have to be careful with that assessment as a Christian or it turns to sympathy…and he exploits that emotion as well.

  13. Kelly

    I believe at the core of the narcissist is a weak, insecure, arrested-at-development person who reconstructed a false identity to operate out of for sheer survival. Most NPD’s suffered significant abuse.

  14. Faith

    Kelly,
    I agree and your comment may not be excusing, but explaining, the actions of narcissistic people. However, it is interesting that there are victims of childhood abuse who survived without becoming exploiters.
    The narcissist I know used the medical profession and devised very elaborate schemes to enable and cover up a destructive, secret, exploitive lifestyle.
    We have to educate ourselves and our youth to have discernment…these people are predators. They are everywhere and are masters at disguise.

  15. Kelly

    You are right Faith. I think education and awareness go a long way to protect us.

  16. Cherilyn Larsen

    My narcissist is my mother. She recently wrote in an email that everything was my fault because “You have deep seated anger issues towards me that you need to deal with…” in other words everything is my fault. I haven’t talked to her since. And am going to see a counselor to help figure out how to take care of an elderly parent and not be pulled into her craziness.

    • Cherilyn,

      I am so sorry that you have to go through this. Of course, this is not the beginning, is it? I think that many people become more narcissistic as they grow older, simply because old age is filled with fear. I have found that older people are often so focused on themselves and their problems that they have little interest in others. But a narcissist in old age just gets worse.

      Good for you to go to someone for help in sorting out these issues! We know what it is like to try to care for an elderly parent who is narcissistic. It is hard not to get drawn into her “craziness.”

      One of the most difficult things for children of narcissists is that they tend to see themselves in their parents. They wonder if they are like them in the narcissism, like they are in other things. We do inherit or learn attitudes and habits from our parents. It’s scary to think that we might be like that one day (or now and we don’t know it).

      This is why I try to continually remind people to separate themselves from their narcissist, at least in their own hearts. You are not your mother. She is the one who is sick, broken, mean or whatever. Not you. You are able to set boundaries and maintain your own life. Even if you slip and get pulled in by her, it is still not you. It’s her. Keep telling yourself that.

      Keep me posted. I am praying for you.

  17. Susan

    May God richly bless your ministry here on this blog. I was pointed to it by an on-line Christian friend who was in a narcissist marriage, as I am now. Just yesterday I was told that I am “selfish,” “rude,” and “picky” because I disagreed with my spouse on a few things – neither inappropriately nor confrontationally, but respectfully and with reason. But it took me a long time (we’ve been married 19 years today, in fact) to learn that it’s okay to speak up when something’s not right. The Lord allowed me to see passive-aggressive behavior (through a verbal attack his mother made on me, interestingly, about five years ago on Christmas Day as we were about leave and going to our car), and later the narcissist. What a revelation. Suddenly, all this weird manipulation, twisting, suppressed anger (teeth-clenched, set jaw, dismissive words), intermittent rage, etc. made sense. It all fit. I thank you, brother, for your balm of comfort through this blog and am grateful for your faithfulness to the Lord in serving His people here. I look forward to Narcissist Friday very much. It’s comfort to a wounded soul. Blessings, Susan

  18. Susan

    I’m having difficulty with the “Contact Us” link; It would appear to be broken, FYI. I have a question, if you don’t mind, and perhaps it would benefit others to read your thoughts on this matter as well. What I wonder is: Is it of any value to identify to the narcissist that he is a narcissist? That is, when in a disagreement or conflict, is it of any value to identify his tactics as narcissistic? I’m trying to figure out how to have a healthy disagreement, since we inevitably will in the future, and also to move him forward or change behavior/words since I, as a Christian parent, won’t leave the home for the sake of our child. I do want him to know that he can’t live with me under his thumb – that I am not a doormat or extension of himself. I identify his behaviors and words when inappropriate (and I’m usually met with a label or name-calling, as per my comment above). Sooo, I’m wondering if it helps at all for narcissism to be brought into the conversation. I expect he would see it as name-calling, but it is not since I am reading up on it and how his behaviors and words fit the pattern. I can easily defend using the word in a discussion (as I have passive-aggressiveness in the past, after I read up about it – and he even read a book I bought about it, but blamed his behaviors on me). I’m looking ahead and pondering if there’s any ultimate value to bringing the “narcissist” word into the conversation or not. Also, would it hurt our child for her parent to have that “label” if she hears that? All things I’m considering before saying such a thing in the future – if ever. (FWIW, we have been to 3 marriage counselors, all at my prompting, two of whom were billed as “Christian,” and all to no avail. I don’t really think my narc husband would seek help on his own, but that is one of the things I have pondered when considering using that word in the future…)

    • Penny

      Susan–welcome to the site. Pastor Dave is currently travelling, & has limited Internet access,, so perhaps that is the problem with the link. Anyway, Dave has written about this several times, the most recent was here:
      https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/is-mr-mrs-x-a-narcissist/
      Bottom line: it is usually not advisable to label the N as a N. it will backfire. Please visit other posts here on this blog for more info about this. By definition, narcs lack any insight into their own behavior, which is why counseling of any kind never “works”, b/c in their world/mind, they are not the problem and will never be the problem. The narc will shift blame, deny, lie, rage, scapegoat, etc., to avoid any accountability whatsoever for their behavior, and they are often far more skilled than the so-called counsellors in masking their behavior and making you the problem. I guess the bigger question here is why you feel obligated to stay with an abusive spouse “for the sake of your child”? Your child is already being hurt by the confusing, abusive behavior of her Dad, and there is no scriptural basis for allowing that to continue. if your husband is too toxic for you then I can guarantee that he is too toxic for your child. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but this blog is an honest place. Pastor Dave himself is often blunt. Many here are Christians who visit this blog as a safe place to ask questions, seek Biblical answers, vent, learn, grow, cry, pray and challenge what it really means to be noth a Christian and a parent who desires to honor God without submitting to abuse. You are welcome here, and please keep reading and praying for clarity & wisdom. God never calls us to absorb abuse merely for someone else’s pleasure. He call us to Himself in Truth & honor & holiness. He calls us as “Jehovah-Jireh”: Provider & Protector. Parenthood is about protecting our children from harm, providing for them a safe and loving home. Sadly, narcs want to be worshipped in place of God Himself, so they cannot model godliness, nor can they protect their own children b/c they are too busy protecting their own reputation.

      • Susan

        Penny, first of all many many thanks for your gracious and thoughtful reply. I really can’t express enough how helpful this blog ministry is – if at the very least for validation that we who are oppressed or abused by a narc in a relationship know we’re not alone.

        Okay, that said, I stay because I do not yet sense any open door given by Jesus for me to leave. I do not see it in Scripture where I can leave – and yes, for the child I do stay. I say this because for now, she is 11 years old and enjoys her dad. Yes, he does some strange things and I often (but not always) keep an open eye and ear. I don’t eavesdrop, but I am always alert. I don’t let him alone with her if leaving the house for church or distance travel from our house because he has endangered her safety on more than one occasion. I also step in to correct demeaning words on his part directed at her. Nonetheless, as you know the narc, he’s playing her to gain her attention and affection and right now, she’s enjoying that. I want her to have the benefit of a father in her life for as long as she’s able to get from him what she needs.

        I know that it’s likely – if not inevitable – that she’s going to experience that turning a corner to realization some day that he’s a liar and manipulator, as I did. It took a loooooooong time on my part to know this, as he is quite good at staring me straight in the eye and telling me what he thinks I want to hear (eg, “Oh yes, I know; We have to be a united front as a parent,” then the next day whispering to my daughter “Be careful, you don’t want to get mom mad…” or putting a finger to his mouth and saying “Shhhh…” as if letting me hear would be bad.) These things and others were exposed and we’ve talked in front of our daughter about these things. Other lies I have not told her about for her sake, not his.

        But that bottom line is: I think at this point it would do more harm to our daughter than good for two reasons. (1) She doesn’t yet understand his manipulations even when I hear them stated to her and I intervene. She gets what she needs from him (play, watching movies together, etc). And I don’t know that the witness of removing her and me from the home will be helpful to her – or him. At least not yet at this stage. (2) If I were to remove my daughter with me from the home, then he would possibly have to have unsupervised visitation, and as it is now – I can at least hear and see most of what goes on. I can protect her. If unsupervised with him alone, she will be without protection and it could be worse for her.

        So that’s why. But I do “get it” that God didn’t design marriage to be this way and that He doesn’t condone abuse and neglect and this wanton brazen pride run amock that is narcissism. For as long as the Lord wills, I will remain here to serve the Lord in this home. And I believe that is where the Lord would have me for now. If it comes to the point of my daughter’s leaving the home through age or marriage, it may well be that I do too at that point because I don’t feel I would be transgressing the Lord’s Word by separating from an abusive husband.

        Thank you again so very very much for this ministry. I’m sure you know how valuable it is to those of us in such relationships to have the validation that we’re really not the cause of all these problems (as we’re so often told we are) and that we’re not alone. One of the hardest parts of this trial is the surface image presented by my husband at church and how so many buy into that. I can’t say that I would expect any differently from people who thankfully do not have a narcissist in their lives. Before I had one, it would be just like hearing a story from a Martian; Just something unreal and unknown. So having Christians who “get it” and minister to those of us out here who live with it, well, I thank the LORD for you. I really do.

      • UnForsaken

        Thanks Penny, esp. for the truthful words on Ns and their kids. As a “child” of a Narcissist myself, I can fully agree to your assessment .

        Susan, you sound like an open person who wants to find ways to make things work. I’ve found this site really helped me there, but also taught me where I needed new bounderies and how to heal. I hope you can get what you need here for yourself and your childs sake……keep on asking such great questions! Welcome!

  19. Penny

    Susan: I want to respond to you but have some house guests so my time is limited. However, I do want to encourage you to keep a journal of the times your daughter has been endangered. (keep it in a safe place where he will not find it.) Pastor Dave has suggested this to others, in case you need it later. It’s part of protecting yourself and your precious daughter.
    Praying!

    • Susan

      Thank you, Penny. I hadn’t yet done that, but I will. I remember each incident clearly. I’ve documented other things for my own protection and shared them with people I trust, who have kept copies for my sake – away from our home. I will do this with these incidents as well. I hadn’t yet documented those times he endangered her because I quickly learned to always be present when they’re together to make sure she’s not harmed or alone with him, but I’ll document these incidents as well. I hope you have a much blessed time with your house guests!!!

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