That Obnoxious Person

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


The folks over at Babylon Bee write satire in the form of news articles. This one fits our discussion so well!

Man Unsure If He’s Persecuted Because He’s A Christian Or Because He’s A Massive Jerk


The sad thing is that this article isn’t even as strong as the truth. Almost all of the obnoxious “witnesses” and “admonishers” I have known were actually proud of their offensiveness. Yes, they suffered rejection for Jesus, in their minds, but they loved being able to boast about that rejection. The more they suffered, the more they convinced themselves they were better than others. These “legalists” believed they were doing God’s work as they put others down.

Narcissists seem to be able to criticize freely and harshly without hesitation. They won’t do it in front of certain people, people they are trying to impress, but the criticisms flow as soon as the person leaves the room or the narcissist gets in the car. And, if you are unfortunate enough to be considered beneath the narcissist in status, you will probably receive obnoxious criticisms and comments openly and regularly.

And, as the article suggests, I have known narcissists/legalists who actually turn up their volume when they criticize in a public place. They claim they do it so the people around can have the benefit of their wisdom. But the truth is that they just want to embarrass their victim until he/she submits. The narcissist/legalist does not believe that a public spectacle will make them look bad; it will only make you look bad.

Scolding a teenager loudly in a restaurant, criticizing a customer in the grocery, ridiculing a cashier while checking out of the store, confronting the pastor as people shake his hand—these are public manipulations, expressions of superiority for all to see. While the rest of us would be ashamed to do such a thing, the narcissist/legalist uses the exposure to convince others of his/her righteousness and power.

Now, the hard part.

How do you handle this public display? Most of us will do almost anything to get them to shut up, including give in. But remember this: the loud critic exposes only himself as a jerk. We live in a culture where that is not considered good form. You don’t have to give in. You will be embarrassed either way, so why not make it clear that you are the victim in the situation? Ask: “Why are you doing this here in front of everyone?” Others are wondering the same thing. You don’t have to shout or cry. Just recognize the tactic for what it is.

Oh yes, there will probably be a price to pay for not playing your part in the situation. But you have to sort out the real cost of your actions. If you will be physically abused, then don’t leave that public place without some protection. And don’t go home with the abuser. But you may decide that you can endure the lecture on the way home, the rejection throughout the day or evening, or the angry scolding later. The narcissist/legalist doesn’t have to always get his/her way. Be careful. Just understand what the jerk is doing.

Oops!  One more thing!

As I read this after it posted I realized that sometimes the narcissist tries to get others to act irrationally in public places.  If, on reading this post, you wondered if you are the narcissist, but then realized that he/she provokes you to that point, please understand this.  Another tactic of the narcissist is to manipulate what you think of yourself and what others think of you by pushing you to the point where you react like someone out of control.  That doesn’t make you a narcissist.  It just shows that he/she is more covert, at least in public situations.  (Sometimes we have to respond loudly just to hear ourselves think above the confusion of the narcissist’s manipulations.)


Filed under Legalism, Narcissism

29 responses to “That Obnoxious Person

  1. one of the little people

    Once again you describe my mother to a “T”. It’s funny how often I read your posts and memories come flooding in. This time, so many public embarrassments wher I wish I’d just said, “You are being a jerk!” Instead, I kept my mouth shut. It took a long time (decades) before I realized her obnoxious public comments to and about me were not because she was unaware and lacked empathy, but because she was enjoying herself. Well, mother has enjoyed herself to the point of completely destroying our relationship, although, she tells everyone it’s because I’m in a “snit”. She doesn’t realize she no longer has power over my reactions. Too bad she’s getting older and should have all her children around her. Instead, she’s alienated 3 of 5, two of whom no longer speak to her. But, it’s our fault, of course.

  2. Please note that I added another section to this post. Some may read this and remember times when they were pushed by the narcissist into acting loudly and irrationally. That doesn’t make you the narcissist!

    • Thank you for this post and also for your addendum. There was a time that I berated myself and felt I must be crazy as my perpetrators would sneer at me after I had shown emotions of anger and frustration over the cruel treatment being handed to me.
      He would say, “Look at you now?” Insinuating that I was not a very quiet, winsome Christian. 😦 My adult children and siblings are much the same.

  3. jeanne j

    I am sad that I never responded for all of 35+ years, other than to apologize to the person that was targeted. I was always so embarrassed I just wanted to get away. The last few years got so bad that I did leave–the marriage. I find this really helpful because maybe, just maybe, if I find myself in that place again I will speak up. Why is it so hard?

  4. A child of the One True King

    Last time I had a lunch date with my mother was January, 2016. I was at work and she was supposed to pick up my daughter (who doesn’t yet drive) to join us. My daughter called me and said that grandma hadn’t picked her up. I called my mom who was sitting in the restaurant and she said it was “my fault” that I hadn’t picked up my daughter (I work 20 miles from home – she lives 2 miles from my house), then she said it was my “daughter’s fault” and then she “blamed the world” somehow (just for that good ole extra measure). I took a bad attitude with the blaming (it’s been going on my whole life). I have come to know that she is not responsible for her irresponsibility. I stayed to have lunch with her and then felt the Holy Spirit encourage me to humble myself and apologize to her for my bad attitude (I belong to Him and obey Him). During my apology she took out her finger and started wagging it at me (in the restuarant) and making all sorts of nasty character flaw assessments. I blocked it all out (I’m an expert at this), but her nastiness knows no bounds. On the way out she wanted me to escort her across the street (because, well, it “looks good”) and when she realized who’s arm she was grabbing she just shook my coat sleeve in disgust and walked by herself. I know to whom I belong and it is Jesus Christ who saved me. I have forgiven her and these posts remind me of the pain but they also give me strength to face the reality and move forward. Thank you for this wisdom.

  5. Another post that is spot-on. Tom, my former husband, threw all-out two-year old temper tantrums in front of any person in a customer service role (people he felt inferior to him) if things were not to his liking. This included rantings in airports when the rental car agency didn’t have the car he reserved, in hotel lobbies when he forgot to confirm his reservation and they gave away the room, in restaurants when they were out of his favorite gin, in cafes when the poor waitress didn’t know what his favorite peppers were, in the airport to airline workers, the list goes on and on. He even told off our pastor when the pastor attempted to change the music style. Temper tantrums included name-calling “you’re an idiot!” , cuss words, and insults that could go on for 10-20 minutes. I witnessed many of them throughout our 21 year marriage. It was nuts. Trying to talk calmness to someone in that state of mind was useless. I just got on the phone, found another rental car or hotel, and solved the problem in 2 minutes time, like a healthy normal person would. Other times, I would apologize to the waiter and give him a big tip. The times that I wasn’t there in person to witness it, he was so proud of himself when he told people off, that he would come home and brag about it. Most people would be ashamed and embarrassed, but narcissists are proud of their temper tantrums and putting others in their place. I finally refused to go to dinner with him in restaurants. I only agreed to go to dinner with him at his country club where he behaved because other members were watching and poor behavior is frowned upon. Sadly, the children watched how he has dealt with people, and, now that they are adults, solve their issues with travel arrangements in the same way. Very sad. Oh yes, he sits in the second pew of church right behind the pastors every Sunday, and comes in 15 minutes late so that everyone can watch him stroll in. Now he attends church with his third wife (or should I say victim) that he just acquired a month ago.

  6. Mark

    I found a video by Franky Schaeffer that was pretty fascinating. Although I don’t agree with where he’s landed spiritually, he has some great insights about what I’d call Evangelical Fundamentalism. He said that the Presbyterian churches splintered because people became convinced that they had to have correct theology to be saved. When they became convinced of some theological issue, they would try to convert their churches, but if they couldn’t, they would splinter, to the point of micro-presbyterian denominations and home churches.

    I think those under this system tend to have that complex – that they need to strongly and loudly defend the “truth” and that they are suffering persecution for holding some truth, rather than their obnoxious tactics in defending that truth.

    It makes sense in a deeply disturbing way. If my view of God is completely ungracious and legalistic, then I’d better never accept less than perfection. I’ve seen bitter battles over wine vs. grape juice in the communion cup.

    It’s no surprise then that these churches attract and breed narcissists. The denomination I’m from teaches their “distinctives” and those like me who give up the distinctives to participate in a “liberal” church have sold out on their faith.

  7. Cat

    I remember how whenever we went out to dinner with my in-laws, my father-in-law would always find something to complain about loudly to the waiters. It became the family joke, and I never realized at the time that he was a narcissist, but I think that making jokes about these kinds of things became his wife’s and kids’ ways of dealing with his narcissism. Unfortunately, 2 of them (my ex-husband and one sister) have taken after him.

    The night of our wedding, he told me nastily that I shouldn’t assume that now I was married to his son, I was part of the family (or could do what I wanted – I can’t exactly remember the words that he used). I sobbed myself to sleep that night.

  8. I am not sure where to ask this question? Although it is not in direct response to this heart wrenching post……I think it is a N pattern and that is my question. ” Is it part of the role of a Narcissist to be going along fine and then just SNAP?” All could be fine and then something triggers him into ranting and raving. It doesn’t have to be a particular incident. Thank you and mercy and grace to all who suffer in these relationships. May God lift you higher….. I stand, Eph 6:13 LBB

    • Maya

      Oh yes, the snapping happens a lot. That’s why victims must tread very carefully and choose the right words/actions when living/dealing with narcissists. Absolutely anything which seems innocuous can trigger abusive behavior. I learned to just stay quiet, keep my distance, find other things to do away from home. But my self-protection did not provide narcissistic supply for my ex, so he found another victim. On the morning he left to go move in with her, we actually had plans to attend a party that evening! I had no clue. As I was getting dressed for church, he barged in, ranting and raving, and spewed the nastiest hate speech over me, telling me everything I had done wrong/bad for the past 15 yrs. Also a lot of projecting onto me…things he was actually guilty of.
      The narcissist does not “go along fine”. There is always something simmering/seething within him. He’s a pretender, a complete fraud, someone who has created a false persona and has to fit himself into that demonic fakery. The narcissist is a freak of his own making and the pressure is constant.
      It took a year of intense work with God to heal. I am so very thankful that God removed this toxic man from my life.

    • Swedes7, yes, a Narcissist snaps from decent behavior to abusive behavior as quickly as you can turn on a light switch. They have a lot of anger under the surface and a lot of pride. Anything can set them off. “Walking on eggshells” is a term used by many women who live with a Narcissist. Narcissists do this intentionally to instill fear and intimidation in their victims. Many women have PTSD as a result of living with a Narcissist. You can tell Narcissists have control over themselves and do this intentionally to their victims, because you will notice the Narcissists will not snap and turn on those they want or need to impress (i.e. a boss, a wealthy or powerful person that the Narcissist wants on their side, a person who has some authority over the Narcissist), they only do it to people they think are inferior and they can intimidate (spouses, children, service people, employees, etc.).

      • HealingInHim

        This describes my abusers. They are keeping well with my adult children because they would want them to take care of them in their old age …. Meanwhile my children and others are allowed to be rude to me or snub me when they choose. They feel they honour me by visiting me annually for perhaps 3 – 4 hrs.

      • MS

        To Charlene and others above

        ‘Walking on eggshells’ – yes. Used that phrase myself, in describing in trying to deal with an abusive narcissistic mother through most of her life (and mine). She died at 98. I left home (in essence) at age 16. But, for decades I felt the responsibility to go visit her (go home to visit) a few times a year.

        I was agonizingly careful in what said to her and how I said it, hoping to avoid doing something that would cause her to “snap”. Walking on eggshells. Me trying to choose the perfect things to say.

        What I eventually came to realize and accept was that her angry irrational explosions really didn’t really have anything to do me, or what I’d said, even when she came back at me, implying that whatever I’d just said was the cause of her anger, my fault.

        I’d had this realization for quite a few years, but it was hard to shake some deep-seated feeling of guilt on my part.

        Then on one visit, I asked her, totally innocently and with out malice, if she ever felt lonely. She was in her mid-80’s at the time, and lived alone.

        Her response was one of such vitriol, so totally nonsensical, so completely off-the-wall, that I said nothing. I just went and packed my suitcase, took it out to my rental car, and drove off.

        My only further contact with her was when she’d phone me occasionally and try to bait me to give her an excuse for another tirade. Not that she needed an excuse. So, I essentially went no-contact- and that was long before I read that phrase on this blog.

        I’m writing this here to affirm to others who are dealing with this type of narcissist- It is not your fault when the narcissist goes ballistic on you out of the blue. Don’t beat yourself up, or try to figure out what you did to cause the narcissist’s response. Don’t guilt-trip yourself. And, accept this – please- way sooner than I managed to do so.

  9. Thank you for adding that last paragraph! The narcissist in my life revels in pushing me until I lose my temper, screaming in an effort to make the gas lighting stop. Then she smiles. I gave her exactly what she wanted. I look demented, and she looks picked on. I hate that smile. I have finally learned to stop engaging, mostly, but I regularly need the reminder why I’ve stopped engaging.

    • Judy, all narcissists use that technique. It’s called baiting. They do or say things in private specifically to evoke an emotional reaction, and then when one reacts as a normal person would (i.e. upset), they say to everyone who sees it “Look, I told you she is crazy!” And yes, they do it with a little smirk directed at their victim, to let them know they have “won” this round. It takes all of us a while to figure narcissists out. No engagement, no contact, no communication is the best way to deal with them if that is possible.

      • I know this and yet it astonishes that I still have to be reminded. Thanks, Charlene, it really helps to be reminded that others see it, too. It really isn’t me.

  10. Staying calm in any chaotic situation will infuse the abuser with more controlled anger either outwardly as in destruction of property or self-controlled anger, as in deadly gossip. Slander. Controlling the finances. Stalking the victim. Controlling who the victim gets to see in the family. .. children and grand children are the number one tool he uses to hurt his target.

    In my case. He controls the family dynamics to such persision .. He has my kids convinced I am the perpetrator.
    I choose no contact with all family members at present.
    This may make him feel like he is winning. And, I am sure, makes my kids think I don’t care. He may go as far as to let them know this on a regular basis.
    Not so. Prayers to a holy God who’s timing is impeccable .
    He watches from heaven and His plans will prevail.

  11. guardyourheart

    i just had the destructive abuser contact me with some emotional message stating ”that he would like to apologise ” IF ” he offended me” they just don’t get it.

    • Lea Anna Curtis

      I would say , “Okay”, and see what they would apologize for. If they really do apologize for some things, maybe God is dealing with them, and this is a start in the right direction.

    • HealingInHim

      guardyourheart – I have had the same thing done to me. Quite often professing Christians will give a so-called apology in order to appease their conscience and to look good to others.
      Many years ago a man was very rude to me. The man I am still married to, my abuser, really didn’t want to say anything but knew he had to so he asked the man to leave. Later that man phoned and told my abuser that although he didn’t feel he had done anything wrong he could tell he must have offended me so he was phoning to apologize.
      More recently, I had a very jealous older sibling claim earlier in a phone conversation that we were no longer ‘sisters’ … that’s fine; I was confronting some lies and they refused to acknowledge them but instead lied again to me! So, then I receive a letter tearing me apart and then wishing me the best … Also, contained was a statement, “H____, I don’t want you hating me for something I didn’t say or do.”
      I sat amazed at the audacity of this sibling — all the years of lies they have conveyed about me…. I don’t hate this sibling but I despise the blatant lies and thus want nothing to do with them … it’s because of what they have done and said that has created the lack of trust. What adds to the pain is that my other siblings continue to cover for each other about the lies. 😦
      You are right …”they just don’t get it.” … maybe it’s a choice that they don’t want to get it but would rather ignore their sin and lack of empathy.

      • guardyourheart

        they enjoy the lying cheating stealing, manipulating abusing and and claim that others are just weak for not doing the same. just recently he was demanding i forgive him and travel thousands of miles to visit his. Its about what others will think and making themselves looks good. The thing is I have forgiven just don’t see evidence that he is not an abuser just evidence that he is still behaving abusively.

  12. guardyourheart

    Destructive individuals do the abuse and then its the fault of the abused for either reacting to it and then being called names for reacting or not reacting and then being blamed for not being forgiving enough… where is the part where the abused lives up to it and admits the wrong doing rather then putting it on others. ”IF” he offended me” sounds like its all my fault for being offended because he had no part in it. I ”need to forgive” sounds like again its all my fault again for not being forgiving. That’s no apology , its not for them to make that decision.

  13. guardyourheart

    i mean to say where is the part where the abuser not the abused lives up to it and admits the wrong doing rather then putting it on others. my typing error sorry.

  14. onmyway

    This question is for Pastor Dave and others who have experience with narcissists.

    Do all narcissists cheat? My husband fits so many behavioral patterns of a narcissist – the gaslighting, projection, perfectionism, jeckly/hyde

    but he is also highly “moral”. He has said to me many times if I slip and do something perhaps he perceives as “immoral or wrong” – “what the heck is the matter with you?”

    being the neurotic I am -I cower and feel terrible…but the thing is – whatever behavior he calls me out on he has done the same only 10X worse!
    but I am the one who is accused and condemned?! I don’t like to compare sins- I don’t think it is usually helpful at all it’s just that he has had a way of making me feel sooo horrible about myself if I sin.

    that brings me to my next point…he never cheated–nor do I think he will. It would be “too immoral” for him. Sorry to say this but sometimes I wish he would so I can have something so blatantly obvious…instead of a lot of the insidious manipulation he engages in…but since he does not cheat does this make him less of a narcissist? I have recently left him(separated) but don’t plan on divorcing…not yet- I want to see if he will really change…

    • Cheating is considered one of the marks of a narcissist, a disregard for the pain it would cause others. But that certainly does not mean they all do. I think the legalist/narcissist often does not cheat. However, porn is usually a problem with these folks. Many, many, of those who would never cheat in real life will do so in the fantasy world of porn.

      At the same time, some don’t even do this. They get their “jollies” from criticizing and manipulating others! I think some narcissists are asexual. Unless they can control it to make themselves look good, they don’t want anything to do with it. It is difficult for us, in this over-sexualized world, to remember that there are many people who can live quite well without sex.

      • onmyway

        Thanks Pastor Dave- you always give such a balanced approach. I think the reason I am so hung up over this “cheating” this is really to make my conscience feel better about leaving..or if I eventually decide to file for divorce. But I also realize that even if he hasn’t cheated I feel so betrayed in many ways by the years of verbal abuse and manipulation. I just can’t trust him with my heart.

      • Pastor Dave,
        Your reply has helped clarify and confirm the ‘crazy-making’ I have been experiencing for many, many years which has now resulted in us living in the same house; separate bedrooms and non-verbal except for very short comments concerning yard work or car maintenance.
        What has hurt so deeply is that through our almost 40 yr marriage (on paper) I tried so hard as a Christ-fearing wife to submit to certain sexual desires. There were other marital stresses but I tried so hard to work through each issue with him.
        I was responsible for birth control and then when the years would have it that we should be able to enjoy his desires without me getting pregnant … well, he suddenly didn’t want me??
        The years of his quiet, covert manipulation to the outside world has many believing that I am just a ‘too religious’ woman that had too many expectations of him and the now adult children.
        Nothing could be further from the truth.
        He has robbed me of having a loving relationship with a man.
        He was always jealous if I talked to other men which I seldom did but he just seems to ‘get his jollies’, as you would say from knowing that I have spent my life catering to him only to have him now not want to be my husband.
        I am forever grateful that my identity is In Christ and not in the man I married or the children who are polite to me in order to appease the onlookers. I am their mother (according to legal documents).

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