What winning means to a narcissist
As I have mentioned in previous articles narcissists always “play” to win, there is no such thing as playing a game with a narcissist just for fun. They are there to beat you and show you who is “better”, they don’t mind if they have to cheat, trip you up or hurt you either physically or emotionally by insulting remarks, sneering or belittling their opponent.
However, winning to a narcissist is so petty that it can manifest itself in ways that would never occur to most of us, which is why some of their behaviour is so baffling. It can come in the form of:
- Gaslighting, moving your things around and feeding you misinformation.
- Stealing your property even if they have no use for it – they can give it to a third party as a present and seem very “generous”. It is easy to be generous when you are giving other people’s things away. This is a double win for a narcissist because they have duped you and looked good to the third party.
- Telling lies about what other people said about you or think of you, which are always negative even if they are couched in positive language.So they can say things like “Suzie said some really nasty things about you the other day when I pumped into her on the street. I thought that she was a friend of yours! I would stay away from her if I were you, I only told you because I don’t want you to get hurt”. This is another double win because you start to second guess you friendship and if it works it will isolate you from possible support giving them further control.
- They will deliberately break or destroy something of yours that they know is of value to you, especially something of sentimental value that has nothing to do with them.
- Financial abuse is another favourite of theirs, they could be millionaires but stealing money from someone who could ill afford to lose it gives them immense pleasure.
- Shutting down a discussion between you and another person that does not include them is a win (by interrupting, talking too loud, feigning illness or just turning up the music so loud that you cannot hear each other).
- Grinding you down by nagging or bullying. Narcissists have the emotional development of a small child, so imagine a small child in a supermarket asking their mother for sweets, the mother says ”no” and the child continues to ask, goes into whine mode, then starts to cry and tells their mother that she is mean and that they hate her and eventually throws themselves down on the ground in a full temper. This is what the narcissist does only slightly modified for their adult body. Even if they don’t get what they want any embarrassment that they caused you is still considered a win because they know they have ground you down into being more aware of the public humiliation if you do not let them have their way.
- Conversely, like a child they can give up easily, they have no grit.When something doesn’t come easily to them they can give up putting in the hard graft or practice and they will try to attain a result by dishonest means. They see this as a win because they think that they are being clever and someone who does attain their goal honestly I dare say they think them stupid. Winning to a narcissist is paramount, but they don’t want to do the work themselves. So they are masters in the art of manipulation, they make false promises, play the victim etc. An honest win doesn’t give them as much satisfaction as a deceitful one. They do not care who they hurt or dupe to get what they want, the only thing that matters to them is to be seen to be a winner and they will frequently refer to people who they have treated in a dishonest way as a looser, trust in other people is for losers and a sign of weakness as is kindness and generosity. For them to feel that they have won someone else has to be a loser (this is all part of their binary pre-pubescent black and white thinking).
- They see the success of others as a slight on themselves this can be from someone else receiving a compliment (that compliment was stolen from me) to some career or academic success (they must have slept their way to the top or it was nepotism). When something good is happening for someone else it is seen as deprivation/theft from them. That is why when someone else fails at something it brings them pleasure, the things they see as failure are just as petty as the wins. So, someone not being invited to a party can be seen as a failure, someone coming second in a competition, not passing an exam, getting a promotion even missing a plane. They will automatically label them as complete failures/losers, which is why they have to win all the time because one slip up would damage their extremely fragile ego/self-esteem.
- They really despise people who are kind and authentic and because it causes them to be envious as kind and authentic people are liked by others which means that they have a support network and therefore are harder to control plus they are stealing the narcissists popularity quotient.
- They don’t understand connectivity or what well-earned achievements mean and the satisfaction that that comes with that. They loath the idea of intimacy and hard work is a fools game.
- Narcissists hate to lose, but even if they win the satisfaction is momentary and they are constantly looking around to see where they can score their next point.
Most parents know that talking to their children is vital for their emotional and intellectual development, however, there are very different ways of talking to your children. They basically fall into 3 groups:
Talking to them
Talking at them
Having a conversation with them
The favourite way of the narcissist is talking “at” their child. This way they do not invite an interaction or give space for their child to hold an opinion that in any way contradicts their own or to express any individuality/independence. We know that narcissists are very competitive and so they will often use language that is too complex for the stage of development of their child. This is so that they can feel “better” than their child by confusing them with age inappropriate language.
An MIT study has shown that children from wealthy families hear far more words than those from poor families. However, it is not the amount of words that a child hears that is important it is how they hear them that matters. What matters is “conversation” speak a little and listen a lot, this has been proven to be crucial factor in their ability later on in life for inter human relationships and their ability to socialize make friends and create firm and fulfilling relationships.
The number of words that a parent had didn’t seem to matter at all to the brain development of a child, it was how those words were delivered that was crucial. It was the back and forth delivery that mattered, when a child is allowed to converse with their parents, that child feels heard and this has a huge impact on how their brain develops so as a result it also has an impact on how the child feels about themselves – self-esteem, confidence both personally and socially. The more a child feels listened to, the more confident in themselves they are. This has a huge impact on a child in later life as it has a massive impact on their happiness and success.
But that is not where it ends, because having a back and forward chat with your child also helps them to understand what other people are trying to say, which is very different from just listening and as such helps to develop their empathy and in return will help them to develop healthy relationship all through their lives. This is not just an inter human relationship because it also relates to their relationship with inanimate things which translate into addictions of one sort or another whether it be drugs, shopping, working or fitness. They are all counter intuitive for healthy inter personal behaviours, if a child does not feel that they are heard for who they or and they do not have a voice they will look for solace somewhere else, somewhere “less dangerous” where they feel “legitimate”.
This is an example of how and why a narcissist parent starves their child of freedom of expression and the consequences of such a loveless “parent”.
Intimacy with a narcissist
- Narcissists prefer second hand relationships, where they can feign intimacy with another person because they have harvested information about them through a third party, but they don’t actually have to have any direct contact.With a narcissist it is always all about drama and in this way, they feel involved but do not feel like they are “under scrutiny/threat” like they would do if they had a genuinely intimate relationship.
- This “scrutiny” manifests itself as a potential risk to the narcissist as they interpret it as them being judged which could pose a potential threat as the person might not admire/like them or might expose them in some way, other than the image of themselves that they want to project. Which could be seen as narcissistic injury, and can create fear of abandonment or narcissistic rage.
- There is also the risk that the narcissist could be held accountable for their behaviour and that would be unacceptable and another threat to them.
- If you have grown up in a narcissistic family of origin, it might well be that it will be very easy for a narcissistic partner to shame you and the easier it will be for them to attack you and the harder you find it to be to defend yourself against their emotional attacks. If you are vulnerable with a narcissist they will be constantly harvesting information to use against you and the more vulnerability or sensitivity you show the more aggressive their attacks will be. This might cause an emotional flashback and make you want to pull back into your shell (remember that narcissists are cowards and the more they feel they have upset you, the stronger the attack will be)
The more “intimate” you get with a narcissist the colder and more aloof they will get. This is because they see intimacy as an attack and will start to be abusive to keep you at arms-length, this can happen in three ways:
- By attacking you directly by using various forms of verbal and other types of abuse
- By comparing you negatively either directly or by insinuation to other people
- By moving into a state of emotional unavailability and disassociation after a period of being very keen. They will deny your emotional needs and will tell you how you should or should not feel and will not tell you how they feel themselves – so there are absolutely no foundations in the relationship with which you can work on.
- The expression “familiarity breeds contempt” is very appropriate here, as the more the narcissist feels like they have “hooked” you, the less effort they make. You are no longer a valued audience and so they will drop the pretence of their projected image and show up for who they really are.
- Another way that they will avoid intimacy is to put their potential new friend or partner (you) up on a pedestal (in the beginning) and they will categorically deny you any vulnerabilities or flaws and so they will not let you climb down from the limb that they have placed you. This is a very effective tool to avoid intimacy because it manifests itself as admiration but it is really just a means of blocking any emotional connection.
What “normal” intimacy looks like:
- Your partner does not constantly and consistently lie to you.
- Your partner can discuss issues in rational terms and not react in instant rage, change the subject or storm off in a huff over something minor.
- Your partner will listen to your point of view without viewing it as an attack and will aim to come to some sort of mutual agreement.
- Your partner will not start to slander you in the middle of a discussion.
- Your partner will consider your emotional and practical needs and will try to support you.
- Your partner will take responsibility for their actions and behaviour and will make a sincere apology if they have hurt or offend you.
- Your partner does not try to get revenge if they feel that you have injured them in some way.
- Your partner will have the ability to ask you for what they need in a clear, honest and direct manner. No “guess what I am feeling” games.
- Your partner is actively engaged in creating a loving, caring and healthy relationship.
- Your partner cares about your physical and mental well-being and would not use either any of your vulnerabilities as a whip to hit you with.
When arguing with narcissist it is important to know that you will never “win”, they will argue in an incoherent way and you will be left wondering “what just happened?”. They are deliberately destructive in their approach and are in the argument to win.
Here are some of the techniques that they use:
- They negate everything that you say (even when it isn’t an argument),
- So you say something like “my fried Mary is going to Greece on holiday next week”, they will reply “no she isn’t she is going to Spain”. They say it with such certainty that you start to question yourself, even though you know that the narcissist has never met Mary.
- They assume superior knowledge to you on absolutely everything even when it is blatantly obvious that they haven’t got a clue what they are talking about. For people who are so image conscious it is surprising that they don’t mind looking idiotic in this situation.
- There is absolutely no point in accusing them of wrong doing because they are never wrong and will never admit fault. It is likely to make them defensive, aggressive and more determined to “win”.
- Narcissists will never talk to you, they always talk at you, so you are never going to be able to make that connection and they will fire off one ridiculous statement after another.
- They will use the hamster wheel effect, which is that they will argue round and round in circles without ever getting anywhere. This is done to frustrate their “opponent” (and all conversations with narcissists are competitions) and you will just give up because it is clearly a futile conversation.
- They will hop from topic to topic. You could be talking about a domestic issue that needs to be resolved in a hurry and they will suddenly say “well you made us miss the flight to Paris three years ago!” “What?”
- They will talk at you in a really condescending and patronising tone which implies that they are seriously wondering if you are bright enough to follow the “conversation”. If you get angry with them for not sticking to the point they will tell you to calm down and not be so emotional.
- They will accuse you of things that they are doing. So they will accuse you of having an affair (because they are) and when you say “I was thinking that you might have been having one” they will go on the offensive and say “you are just saying that because I accused you first”. They are big into projecting their shortcomings/faults on to you or other people.
- They have a cycle of being reasonable and being completely hypocritical and unreasonable. This is very difficult because you never know which version of them is going to turn up. This allows them to take the opening move like in a chess game giving them the upper hand because you always hold back to see who is showing up
- Never expect an apology there is no way that the narcissist will admit to any wrong doing, which means that there is no point in asking them to be accountable for their behaviour.
- Use “we” instead of “you” because this will sound less threatening to them and more likely to bring the argument to a speedier close.
- Don’t be provoked into taking their bait. They will try to escalate the argument simply because they find it fun and love the drama.
- Pretend to take their excuses seriously in a way that they know you don’t such as “yeah right”, this is a very narcissistic thing to do because you are saying the right words but your tone and body language will let them know that you don’t believe them.
- These conversations are exhausting and futile so get out of there as fast as you can