Arguing with a narcissist

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


Toxic Love

Toxic Love

The main qualities of all toxic people are that they are:

  • Very judgmental of others and have little or no self-awareness. They will happily strip someone else’s reputation or self-esteem, it is very often the things that they criticise in others that they are guilty of themselves.
  • They live off drama and will drum it up whenever and were ever possible. If you share some vulnerability with them in confidence, they will tell everyone, embellishing the story for dramatic effect.  Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?  If they can weave their way into it for dramatic effect, they will.
  • They will only talk to you when they want something from you. This might be a favour, a job that they want you to help them with (as in do for them), money or support in some argument that they have got into and they are trying to elicit sympathy for themselves.  This is a one- way street and they will be quite annoyed if you thought that you could count on them.  That is not their job it is yours!
  • They keep family/social secrets from you, so that you do not send that “congratulations on your 50th anniversary” card they will also “forget” to mention an informal celebration where invitations are by word of mouth only and you find out about it after the event. Of course they will say “I told you about it”, which is gas lighting because they know very well that they specifically and deliberately did not.
  • They say nasty things about another person and the then attribute it to you. So, if they want to say something nasty to someone’s face they say “Mary thinks that you are …” or “Peter is convinced that you did…”
  • They are never always abusive (unfortunately, it would be so much easier to spot if they were), there is just enough positive reinforcement for you to forgive them again and again making excuses for their behaviour like they are having a bad day or have a problem. Eventually you realise the pattern.

It is for the above series of toxic behaviour patterns that many people seek therapy. However, toxic love brings this type of toxicity to a much deeper level.

Love like narcissism is on a spectrum at the high end of the spectrum is unconditional love.  Unconditional love is only really appropriate for babies and children.  Emotionally healthy adults do not look for unconditional love from another adult because they were taught to love themselves as a child and do not seek to be that enmeshed with another person, they don’t try to extract the emotional support that they never received in their own childhood from an external and inappropriate source.


At the low end of the spectrum is toxic love, toxic love in words looks like “I need you, you’re useless, take care of me, give me everything that you have got and I will always try to force more out of you than you want to give – as proof of your love for me, but I will never love you back because I do not know what love is or means”.  In addition, “I will measure your “love” for me in relation to how much pain you are prepared to take from me.”


The word “love” is used very frequently by people who have absolutely no idea what it means to have a communion or healthy communication with another person.  They see attention as “love” and they mistake the attention buzz for something more meaningful than temporary gratification or as a means to get their needs satisfied whether it is “emotional”, financial or sexual.  This type of “love” is based in fear rather than any desire to truly and authentically connect with another person.

Many people stay in unhealthy relationships because they are afraid either of losing their “security” within the relationship or from fear of loneliness and vulnerability.  Long relationships are considered to be successful ones, but very often it is because both parties feel trapped that they stay together.

The dominant emotions in a toxic love pattern are insecurity and anxiety.  This does not only apply to adults it also applies to children of narcissistic parents.  They can never feel that they are safe, they are never relaxed in the relationship and never feel like they have a home that will always be there for them.  This is because their parents will make sure that their children understand that their acceptance with in the family is determined exclusively on how well they serve their parent(s).  They live in fear of what the consequences might be if they misbehaved (unknowingly) in some way, so they mostly try to be as invisible as possible.

Both adult to adult and parent child toxic love relationships are typified by cycles of highs and lows.  Just when the adult or child is convinced that the person that they love doesn’t love them, they are given brief moments of bliss where they feel completely accepted and an integral part of a very important relationship but then the mistreatment, the abuse, the lies and the manipulation start all over again and they are left wondering what they have done and where did that person that they loved so much just yesterday disappear to and why?  Did they do something wrong?  Should they try harder?

There are some signs that indicate that the relationship that you have is toxic whether with another adult or with a family member:

  • You are constantly second guessing yourself and doubting your own reality. You will probably have been told that you are “too sensitive”, so you question whether you are over reacting or not.
  • Denying your own feelings, telling yourself “it’s not that important, it was only a dinner to celebrate something for me that they didn’t show up for, I  need to let it go”
  • You continually try to “make things better” between you, working hard to make things “right” and are constantly checking to see “how things are going”.
  • Constantly apologising for things that you did or didn’t do or taking responsibility for things that you are not responsible for.

The very definition of a relationship is that  a person can relate to you, show empathy, support and compromise.  We do not merge into one person but I am who I am and you are who you are and we can relate to each other in the whole form of who we are and our relationship develops we both grow from the mutual experience.

Healthy love vs toxic love looks like:

Healthy Love

  • Gives the space and respect for the two individuals to grow and be themselves
  • Celebrates the other person and gives space for that person to grow and develop
  • “Permits” and celebrates the other person’s interests, friends and respects their other relationships without trying to be completely involved with them.

Trusts the other person, without feeling that they have to monitor their behaviour.  They expect the other person to behave in a responsible way.

  • Knows compromise, problem solves together and works together to find a mutually acceptable solution
  • Can see and appreciate the other person’s individuality, they can see the other person’s soul
  • Can embrace all aspects of reality, both the highs and lows. There are no no-go areas for discussion or exploration
  • Allows both parties stand as an individual and their moods are not determined by outside influences or the other person’s “stuff”.
  • There is a healthy concern and investment in the other person without suffocating or trying to control him or her.
  • Permits the other person personal space to be alone or with others
  • Is not in constant competition with the other person and does not have to feel “better than”.

Toxic Love

  • Has an obsession with the relationship and a determination to force it into what “it should be” with a total disregard for the other individual
  • Tries to clip the wings of the other person, stifle their development to ensure security, maintain a comfort zone and resist all change
  • Tries to control all other relationships the other person has such as family, friends, work colleagues, interests, social life and career choices
  • Has no trust, tries to control, pathologically envious, dismissive of relationships with friends and family members
  • Is a power/control dynamic it seeks drama and discord, not solutions. It is manipulative and often cruel
  • Tries to turn the other person into what they want them to be using shame and blame as their primary tools
  • Is based on how things “should be”, not how they are. There is a tape playing in their head that over rides or rewrites anything unpleasant or uncomfortable
  • Expects that the other person will take responsibility for and rescue them when things don’t go according to how they “should be”
  • Is where one person is enmeshed in everything that the other person does. They take independent action and as a personal insult and try to draw that person back into their orbit
  • Cannot be alone, is clingy demanding and invasive
  • Needs to feel superior to the other person at all times and will go to lengths to tell them so





Body Language

An overt narcissist will have a tendency to have haughty arrogant postures.  For example, the male narcissist might walk down the street with his chest puffed up or move with a swanky stride.  The overt female narcissist will walk into a room as though she was walking down a cat walk.  Covert narcissists are not so “obvious” with their posturing.  However, there all have other strange types of body language such as:

  • They can look at others with complete distain, to let them know that in the narcissist’s eyes they are not worthy of acknowledgement. A narcissist will often have a wide personal space, but can stare with a cold predatory stare/dead eyes, paying close attention to your body language looking for signs that you might be weak or vulnerable.  These signs could be that fact that you blush easily or that you are indecisive when ordering from a menu or look for advice from others. It may seem that they are “interested” in you and they are they are assessing you to see how useful you might be to them.
  • Their dead eyed stare can look straight through you as if you weren’t there. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, go for minimum eye contact with them.  When they have ascertained what your vulnerabilities are they will jump on the opportunity to exploit them for their own personal gain.  Narcissists have a hidden agenda in everything that they do.  If you can stare back at them and they will usually loose interest as they will realise that you are not so easy to intimidate, only stare back at them if you don’t have an emotional reaction to someone glaring at you.
  • When a narcissist speaks they tend to use a very emotionless language, this is because they are in touch with only the most basic emotions like happy, sad, fear, shame, guilt, jealousy and envy. They do not have access to the vocabulary of the more nuanced emotions because they do not feel them themselves. As we know if a narcissist doesn’t feel them, then they aren’t important.
  • If a person is being emotional or excited about something they can have a very inappropriate reaction, like laughing when someone tells them something that upset them or made them sad or looking upset or being totally dismissive when someone tells them something that they are really happy or excited about.
  • However, when reading other people’s body language in in particular their facial expressions, they are really good at seeing the macro emotions at play which they in turn use to manipulate their victim. When a narcissist is luring someone in, they will pay attention to the rules of conversation and can be very charming.  Once the person is hooked, they will go back to their default position of talking which includes constantly interrupting, never listening, talking over people, looking bored if the focus is not on them or just walking away when someone is in mid-sentence.
  • Normally when we meet someone we smile to show the other person that we are pleased to see them. Not so with the narcissist.  The can greet a person without showing any change in their facial expression (unless they are trying to impress that person), their tone of voice will not show any pleasure in seeing that other person either, it will be flat and emotionless.
  • The narcissist will use very direct language to find out what people’s fears are and what makes them feel uncomfortable, when they hardly know them at all, if you ask a direct question back they will feel under attack and detach from the question without answering. Narcissists have absolutely no intention of being open with you at the same level that they “demand” that you are with them.  If they do not deflect a direct question they will just lie.
  • The narcissist might have an effected way of talking such as talking with a foreign accent even though they have never left the country, being over dramatic in the delivery of their speech as though they were on stage, talk in a very slow and measured way so that it takes them ages to say something, talking in a very quiet voice so that people have to concentrate really hard to hear them and lean into them so that they can hear, talk in a loud booming voice that will drown other conversations out or narcissistic women will often speak in a “ickle baby voice”, like a child of three to appear “cute”, the message being “I need someone to take care of me”.
  • The narcissist has the ability to be extremely charming and engaged with a person who they think are worthy of their attention and will completely ignore someone else because they are deemed unworthy or inferior in their mind, but they can also be ignored because they threaten the narcissist in some way, like being funnier, more intelligent, having nicer clothes, a bigger car etc. The way that a narcissist will approach someone who they perceive as a threat is to evaluate how useful this person could potentially be.  If they cannot see how this person can be used they will sneer and jeer at this person, accuse them of being a show off etc.  They often do this by making faces behind that person’s back, making insulting hand gestures or rude facial expressions.
  • Narcissists can often touch others inappropriately either sexually or to show dominance (not in a touchy feely friendly way). This is an act of control, but they will get very angry of someone should have the audacity to do the same to them.
  • They can push in front of other people in queues or just shove people out of the way on a street to assert their dominance even when they aren’t in a hurry or being chased by something!
  • If they want to get the attention of someone “important”, they can step in front of another person and place their back to them (creating a physical barrier) so that they cannot enter into the conversation. They can do this without a cue that they are welcome into the conversation and they certainly aren’t afterwards.
  • They will often take up more physical space than everyone else by for example, spreading their legs (man spread) in a communal space, by grabbing the arm rest in an aeroplane and making no effort to share the space, not moving out of the way when they know that someone is trying to get past them or by not acknowledging if someone is too hot or too cold in a confined space insisting the temperature is how they like it.
  • Male narcissists will often try to kiss females on the lips when only a kiss on the cheek would be appropriate (done to dominate)
  • Males will  often nudge a colleague through a door before them to let their colleague know that “I am in control here, I decide the order of things”.  In a typical narcissist way it seems like an act of politeness (“no please you go first”) but it is not it is an act of domination.
  • Male narcissists will often hold a hand shake for too long, grip to the point of causing pain or pull the other person’s arm towards them, this is to knock the person they are greeting slightly off balance and again it is to assert dominance.
  • Male narcissists can often “undress” women with their eyes again this is an act of domination and designed to make the woman feel uncomfortable and give the narcissist “the upper hand”.


No one likes criticism, it is part of human nature, sometimes even constructive criticism can cause us to feel defensive.  However, when a narcissist is criticised, even slightly they become hyper defensive and aggressive and will flip any criticism back on to the person who criticised (or allegedly criticised them) and will say things like “well you’re a”, “you did…” “s/he is just jealous or crazy”.  If they even anticipate that you are going to make some sort of comment about them they will try to shut-you-down or will leave the room.  They cannot bare to see their image of themselves as anything less than 100% perfect, as though even a tiny chink in their armour would bring their whole false persona tumbling down.

Like all people who are very sensitive to criticism they are very vocal, boorish and insulting to and about others.  They do this so that they can feel “better than” those around them.  In other words, they push other people down to buoy their own selves up.  With such a rigid and relentless self-defence built up around them, they are never able to let anyone get close to them.  At the same time, they will “assume” knowledge and intimacy with people that they have only just met.  This comes from having only a very minimal level of self-awareness and so they will assume that to know very little about someone else is to know all. This perceived image of others, like their image of themselves is constantly changing depending on their mood, what they have eaten, who they are with and probably the weather too.

When they are being criticised or think that they might be, they don’t feel safe and go into hyper vigilance mode.  Narcissists frequently do not know the difference between criticism and being teased (due to their poor sense of humour and inability to engage properly with others) so teasing them might garner the same aggressive/sulky reaction.  Usually if someone teases it is out of a sense of fondness for the other person.  Not so with the narcissist they tease to humiliate, taunt and embarrass others with absolute loose abandon.

Narcissists also perceive having different values or taking a different stance from them in a discussion as a form of criticism.  If they do not flare up with narcissistic rage they might easily shift their point of view to the position that you took at the beginning of the disagreement and will say “but that is exactly what I said at the beginning” and proceed to treat you like a fool.  When you realise that you are dealing with a narcissist there is absolutely no point in trying to follow their line of argument because there usually isn’t one.

Always having to be “right” is a defence mechanism for the narcissist, they have to protect their very fragile and insecure egos at all times, which is why they go crazy if anyone questions (or even pulls a funny face at) anything they said or did.  If someone expresses a doubt about them, it could turn into self-doubt and that is something that they are not going to risk.  In other words, attack is the best method of defence.  If they realise that their positon in an argument is not holding up, they can haul in an arsenal of defences such as to attack the other person on an issue that you were not even talking about, blame someone or something else, start to talk gibberish, yelling and not letting the other person talk, lie, contradict themselves or storm off in a huff.  If you are regularly exposed to this type of behaviour you will learn “not to go there” as it is a futile and embarrassing exercise.  Which is exactly the result that the narcissist wanted.  They will feel like they have “won” the argument.

It is the very lack of substance to what they say and the emptiness of content that epitomises a narcissist.  They can and will say anything without checking themselves or considering the verity or effect of what they are saying.  It is as though they are in a constant state of survival mode so they are shape shifting all of the time and this will happen all day every day.  (We all do this to some extent, but with a narcissist it is extreme).




No Contact

No contact is the only route for some people to take after being in a relationship with a narcissist, whether “partner, lover, family member or friend”.  When we realise that what we “loved” about the person was who they said they were and fell in love with their potential rather than their “true” selves we will probably start to move away.  A narcissist will react in anger at any sign that people are not convinced by their false persona any more, and who inevitably take steps towards distancing themselves from them.  They will try to force their sources of supply back into the positions that they have allocated them.  This can often come in the form of obsessive, invasive and threatening behaviours – which are designed to coerce and intimidate you “back into your place”.

There is absolutely no point in trying to reason with a narcissist at any time, but especially when they are trying to force you to bend to their will.  If you doubt your instinct that you should leave them ask them “Why do you love me, what makes me special to you?”  Take mental notes and pay extreme attention to the answer to this question, it might provide you with many answers (as painful as they may be) because more often than not the answer will be focused on the narcissist and not on you.  The best solution for you could be no contact.  No contact means you don’t answer phone calls, text messages, emails or little “love” notes that might be sent to you to lure you back.

It is possible that if you are living separately from the narcissist they might hang around outside your door, follow you after work or send you messages saying things like “I know where you were last night”, just to let you know that s/he is stalking you.  This is overt intimidation/abuse and designed to frighten their victim into submission or to disrupt their life as much as possible.  If a narcissist feels your fear they will consider it a win and that will make them feel better about themselves.

A narcissist’s “love” is their own fears and insecurities projected on to someone else, who will try their level best to make it “better” for the narcissist who will use lies, manipulation and faux “love” terms to keep you trying harder.  However, if you are reading this, you probably know that what they promise is never going to happen.  Like big babies, they just want you to take care of them and put a veneer on so that everything looks all right.  They will let you know that whatever you do it will never be “good enough”, the harder you try the more they like it and they will keep raising the bar until you are exhausted and feel like all of the life is being sucked out of you.

Low Contact is a phrase to describe a way that you can keep in touch with a narcissist in your life, on your terms.  This could be a family member, where you don’t want a huge bust up, but you do not want to play the role that has been “allocated” to you by the family, or it could be with an ex-partner, where you have to co-parent children together.  The terms for low contact do not have guidelines, only you can decide what works best for you.  Once you have clarified those boundaries in your own head, the challenge is to stick to them.  If, for example, the person that you are going low contact with is a family member, and they were over involved in your life prior to now, they may well behave like a thwarted lover.  You might well be subjected to histrionics, a smear campaign and them recruiting flying monkeys (real or imaginary) to attack your reputation and isolate you from other members and friends of the family.

A narcissistic mother will be very experienced at pushing your buttons, she may summons you to her house with pleas of not being able to cope and to try to make you feel guilty for not jumping through her loops, but it is important to stay strong and hold your ground.  It is hard at the start, but it gets easier as time goes on.  If an ex-partner is trying to force you in to being more reactive and involved, low contact works well. If you are parenting together or have to sell a property, avoid phone calls and text messages.  Write clear and concise emails stating exactly what you expect and what you are going to do in any given situation.  Text messages are too vague and can lead to misinterpretation, phone calls rely on memory – and can very easily be distorted.  So email, don’t get involved in the unrelated stuff.

Another way to go low contact is to withdraw emotionally.  This means:

Don’t react to his/her questions about you (they are trying to harvest information for leverage at a later date)

  • Don’t react to their probes, and there will be many
  • If they tell you sob stories about themselves, suggest that they seek professional help, that you do not feel qualified to help them. This is called grey rock and there is a section on this in this blog.

If it gets too intimidating, you can get a court order to tell them to stay away

Even if you go no contact and you move house or country, the narcissist can still try to influence the way that others perceive you through smear campaigns, lies and behaving like they were the victim.  This can be unnerving because you don’t know what they said about you.  That is something that you just have to let go of, because you cannot control what people say about you or what they believe and you might sense a shift in some of your relationships with people you know.  However, if they believe the narcissist they never really knew you in the first place.

Acquaintances who believe the narcissist who has gone on a smear campaign about you, might stop inviting you to social events or give you funny looks.  This will probably make you feel a bit paranoid for a while (understandably so), but a narcissist cannot maintain their mask indefinitely and eventually they will expose their true selves.  Narcissists use friendship as a means to an end so if they see that their smear campaign doesn’t affect you maintaining the “friendships” with others it will not be worth the effort.

Critical Thinking


Wikipedia states that:

Critical thinking, also called critical analysis, is clear, rational thinking involving critique. Its details vary amongst those who define it. According to Barry K. Beyer (1995), critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. During the process of critical thinking, ideas should be reasoned, well thought out, and judged.[1] The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking[2] defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’

Narcissists are incapable of critical thinking because they are constantly shifting their point of view according to who their audience is.  Because they live in a fantasy world where they are the best, most intelligent and most beautiful, they have to be able to shrug off any data that in any way contradicts their self-image.  This means denying facts, dismissing opinions of others or distorting reality to fit their “reality”.

Being capable of critical thinking is not to be confused with criticism.  Narcissists are highly critical of others they will attack anyone who they do not idolise them for no reason other than the fact that they “need” to feel superior.  They make wild judgements and assumptions about others or situations on very little or no evidence, they will say things like “so and so looks terrible today, so they must be taking drugs/have a hangover”. They will not even consider that that person might have been awake all night with a sick child, have relationship problems, have a parent who is dying or just died.  They will immediately jump to the most negative conclusion possible.

This level of criticism from another would send a narcissist into a complete tail spin.  Even if you say something like “please don’t borrow my stuff again without asking, I find it annoying when I go to look for it and it is not there” you will meet with a number of possible responses such as:

  • “It wasn’t me/I didn’t” (denial)
  • You said I could (you are in the wrong)
  • You never complained in the past (you are being unreasonable now)
  • “Is it going to kill you if you cannot find you X for five minutes (minimising you position and feelings on having your things being taken a twill)
  • “What is wrong with you? Why are you being so possessive/cranky/demanding (you are wrong and you look a little crazy for objecting to me taking your things)
  • “Well you borrowed my X the other day”, you say “yes but I asked permission” narc says “what difference does that make, I still couldn’t use it while you had it” etc. etc.

The narcissist will file your objection as criticism and will actively set about getting back at you for daring to suggest that they are anything other than perfect.  This means that you could be subjected to the silent treatment or they could set about constantly putting you down in small and subtle ways or go on a smear campaign against you either way it is abusive behaviour.

After they have insulted you, ignored you, called you every name in the book plus a few they invented to hit on your personal vulnerabilities they will feel much better about themselves, so you should be happy about that for them.  If you stay away from them because of their abusive behaviour you are insulting them.  Their thinking is “I am feeling better after dumping my rage and insecurities in a vile, aggressive and irrational way – we should all now be happy because I am feeling better”.  If you do not present them with a false smile or neutral facade (narcissists are not interested in sincerity), they will go on the offensive again.  In this way the narcissist trains the person who s/he abuses to back down unless they want the argument to go on for longer and the punishments for not backing down to come off side when they are least expected. In other words, constantly walking on eggshells and not defending themselves for the sake of a peaceful life.

A narcissist thinks exclusively in black and white, good or bad.  Since their objective is to have a sparkling image of themselves (for themselves) anything that tarnishes their sparkle is a huge threat because if it is not perfect, then it has to be the opposite, the opposite to perfect is not imperfect it is something much worse like awful, horrible or disgusting.  To be imperfect is to be human and the narcissist finds the very things that make us human such as imperfection, emotion and connectivity completely repugnant.  They have to maintain their own image at all costs which is why they are so selective with the data that they choose to process and their readiness to rewrite history time and again depending on their agenda at any given moment.