Just Rude

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

Some of the most shocking and hurtful things come out of the mouths of narcissists. They seem to have no difficulty saying cruel things.

I know the old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yeah, that’s not true. If you have lived with or been in a close relationship with a narcissist there have almost certainly been times you wished they had thrown a rock at you rather than saying what they said. The bruise from a stick or rock will eventually heal and fade, but those words can ring in our ears for a long time.

And it isn’t always criticism. Sometimes it is simple rudeness. The way the narcissist treats the waitress or the checker at the store, for example. I know several people who work retail. The stories they tell of how people comment on how the store employee is so stupid or poorly dressed or overweight or whatever. The narcissist doesn’t care if he leaves the checker in tears or gets the waitress fired because she can’t function after his comments.

Pushing into line, commenting on the people around him, making crude noises, laughing and pointing at people, some narcissists do these things so casually that it seems they are just rude people. Offending others means nothing to them.

Yet, they don’t always act rudely. The narcissist will probably be able to shut the rudeness off in an instant around certain people. The waitress is fair game, but the boss at the next table hears nothing but respect.

But why? Well, some narcissists just see others as so far beneath them that they get pleasure from hurting them. Some like to rile people, set them on edge to see how they will react. It might even be you the narcissist is watching as he/she is rude to others.

And some use their rudeness as a type of “force shield.” It protects them from connecting. Who wants to connect with someone who acts like that? Narcissists often keep others at a distance. Sometimes certain people seem like they might be useful, so the narcissist won’t be rude. At least until the usefulness is drained away.

Some use their rudeness as a way to communicate superiority. Most people will back away from rudeness. Push into line and others will just step back. They might think you are rude, but they won’t say anything or challenge you. The narcissist knows this and uses this to communicate his disdain for others. By saying something that hurts or by challenging an etiquette rule, the narcissist sets himself apart from others. He/she might think others will be impressed.

The sad thing is that we live in a culture that almost honors rudeness. We reward the rude person not only by stepping out of their way and not reacting, but by accepting the idea that they are somehow better than we are. We might not like it, but we internalize it and believe it. When the rude person refers to our weight, we might be offended, but our pain comes from agreeing. When someone criticizes our work, or pushes in front of us, we tend to value that person more. No, we don’t like it, but there is something about aggression that we find attractive and valuable.

I have often been amazed at how people will speak highly of a teacher or leader who is just rude. That teacher thinks those people are fools who need to be educated. That leader thinks his people are sheep who need his guidance. They put others down by being rude in word and action and the result is more dedicated following. When you see it, it is a shocking and disgusting phenomenon.

So, what do you do? You probably spend a good amount of time apologizing. To the waitress or your mother or your friend or anyone. You hide your face in embarrassment. You try to make things better by explaining what he meant, when you know he just meant to be rude.

But listen, don’t accept rudeness as superiority. The narcissist is not superior. He/she is rude. Rudeness is bullying. Bullies are not superior or better. Bullies don’t deserve honor and respect. You might want to get out of the bully’s way. After all, the bully will hurt you if you don’t do what he/she wants. If you can avoid being with the bully, do it. The rude person is not attractive or desirable. The rudeness reveals what the person is made of.

In a world where the bully cannot hurt you, you might tell the waitress, “Oh, he just wants you to think he is better than you. He isn’t.” You might even refer to the narcissist as a bully. Of course, most people don’t live in that world. Most people would pay a high price for such honesty.

Whatever you do, don’t give excuses for the narcissist’s rude behavior. You may tell the waitress you are sorry, but don’t try to make the bully look better. He isn’t sick or tired or handicapped. He is just mean-spirited and rude. Yes, you sympathize with his victim, and you can say that or show that, but you don’t have to run interference for the narcissist. Let others see him as rude.

Before I close this, I have to say that not all who are rude are narcissists. Some are tired or sick. Some are just being thoughtless. I have been rude, and I would guess you have too. Sometimes we caught ourselves in time to apologize to our victim. Sometimes we realized our rudeness later and felt regret. You and I and many others are rude by accident or carelessness. The narcissist is rude on purpose.


Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Just Rude

  1. Janet

    My covert N friend was often described by those closest to her as being very rude.

  2. Onward

    Thanks once again for your perspective Pastor Dave. We live in a time unfortunately where the leadership of our country portrays this behavior. It is evident that those who could effectively deal with this despicable, childish, bullying behavior instead opt to preserve themselves and their agendas. And those who follow blindly and enjoy the entertainment of it all are clueless to the damage that this allowed behavior causes to our relationships and position on the world stage. This misguided behavior, when allowed, also sends a signal to our children that this type of behavior is acceptable and may therefore be perpetuated. I believe the current administration is an indictment upon the United States for not acknowledging and effectively dealing with the issue of mental health, including personality disorders. Instead of recognizing it, we vote it into the White House and thereby erode our civilization with continuing breaches of civility.

  3. 20:20

    This rudeness toward strangers and servers should be a big red flag when starting a realationship. It might take a awhile to surface, but when it does, and isn’t just an isolated incident, look out! Even if the individual isn’t a narcissist, it must be an indicator of something deeply troubling about their personality. I think if their rude behavior embarrasses you, trust your gut. Call them on it. If they blow it off and don’t apologize, in the very least to you, get out, they’re no good. They’ll turn on you down the road with the same lack of respect and empathy.

    • Janet

      Never thought of that! My husband is always extremely rude and confrontational with grocery and bank tellers, waitresses, etc. I have called him on it many times. I actually have just walked out having no part of his unkind behaviour. I knew he is mildly narcissistic but I never connected the dots.

  4. Kim Costanzo

    Sick to death of the bashing of the President. This IS NOT the place for willfully ignorant statements. This is about narcissistic rudeness of which you have PERSONAL experience with.

  5. sue

    Dear Pastor Dave and Friends, don’t know if a certain mr.entitlement is a narc or just a garden-variety jerk, but he had the whole parking lot but chose to back up where we were waiting for the bus. To make a long story short, i quietly called him on his rudeness, and he got snitty. Thing is, i was very hesitant to say anything, because mr.entitlement is handicapped. Hate to say this, but physically-challenged people can really push people’s boundaries.

  6. TRStupar

    I’ve come to believe that another reason for type of behavior is projection, on a deep level. The narcissist fears losing control, incompetence, failure, etc. They provoke people so that they can assure themselves that it’s others – not them, that are the losers. And in a practical way, it gives them control when others are upset and out of control. Probably one of the hardest things for spouses to see, when they need distance and recovery, is that the N. is doing it on purpose. Not only they do they not care that you’re upset – they actually like it. Took me a while to realize that this level of evil exists in seemingly “normal” people. But once I knew, I was free.

    • TRStupar

      *this type of behavior…”

    • Annette

      TRStupar, exactly. Pastor Dave wrote: “The narcissist doesn’t care if he leaves the checker in tears or gets the waitress fired because she can’t function after his comments.” Yet I also believe that the narcissist does care–he enjoys what he does to others (this goes for the malignant narcissist). It gives him a power rush.

  7. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind the political comments except that the climate today is so passionate that the point of the post seems to fall by the wayside. I have my own fairly strong feelings, but I think that national politics has become a haven for narcissists on all sides. Perhaps, to allow the constant barrage of nasty threats and criticisms, a person in high public office today would have to have a certain narcissistic focus and self-image.

    I have wanted to write on narcissistic politics, but decided to stay away just because it would stir up such strong feelings. The negative outweighed the positive in my mind.

    So, if you have tried to post an additional political comment here, I have tried to block them. We get it so much everywhere else, I don’t want anyone feeling unwelcome here because of their political opinion – even if I disagree with them.

  8. Penny

    My narc raised rudeness to an art form, and still does. It’s all about position and one-upping. The Narc (and other disordered personalities) see everything in terms of winning, whether it be a recipe or a hairstyle or where to sit in a restaurant or even in church. Everything is about the public face & image, but also about power and control. Dr. George Simon has written about this as well and as usual Ps. Dave nails it here. I grew to hate shopping or dining out with the narc for this reason. She would ask for things clearly not on the menu, then proceed to berate the wait staff for it, then behave so badly & act so disappointed that we would offer to leave and try another restaurant (even tho we always ler her choose in order to avoid this charade). Then she would play the poor pitiful martyr for having to eat in a restaurant that SHE chose, and then not enjoy her meal, & often refuse to eat it, and then say the coffee was too hot, the dessert was too cold, the window too drafty, the music too loud, the room too dark (or too bright) & make everyone so uncomfortable that we wanted to run out screaming. This would continue, until…..until the Pastor or the missionary or the mayor showed up, and then it was like someone literally flipped a switch and she became “Little Miss Christian Betty White”, all sweetness and light and charming and uber-religious, even to the point of wanting to “say Grace”, again, over the dessert, just so they could see her act. In reality, i NEVER once actually heard HER pray, only demand that others pray (in public) so that she could bow her head, tightly shut her eyes & put on her religious performance of piety, in front of exasperated wait staff.
    When i went NC, it was such a relief to never have to be in the presence of her rudeness again.

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