As mentioned on my radio show… – Hughes it
If you are related to, married to, or divorced from a narcissist, then you know how difficult it is reason with them.
Narcissists are masters at manipulation. They are often intelligent and charming when you first meet them. In the beginning, you hold them to such high esteem (of course to which they are fully aware) and they love to bask in your adulation.
But once you catch on to their tactics, and question behavior that is opposite of their once-charming selves, they become deeply threatened. They will then paint themselves as a victim and you as their aggressor, and expertly blame you for the relationship’s demise, and all other misfortunes in their life.
And you, as the codependent, try to reason with him, change his mind, or challenge every verbal assault point-by-point in hopes that he snaps out of his irrational behavior.
Maybe this time he will understand, you think.
If I explain it to him this way, he will get it. He can’t be THAT close-minded, I’m going to tell him once more.
But the more you explain, the colder and more manipulative he becomes. He may talk to you like a child, as if you’re stupid. And you can’t even believe how a person can lack such empathy, so you explain more, trying harder and harder to make him “get it” — and the more you do that, the more it supplies his narcissistic fantasies that he is better and smarter than anyone.
The constant attempts to explain or get some kind of emotional response with no return is what I call the Narcissistic Vortex — it’s a deep, black hole that sucks you in, with no way out. And until you understand this, you are going to think you’re crazy, unloved, or worse, that you aren’t worthy of anyone else’s love so you end up staying with this person or being alone forever.
If you are not married and trying to end a relationship with a Narcissist, then the expert advice is to have no contact with him. You end the relationship cold-turkey, as if giving up a very bad addiction.
But what if you are divorcing a narcissist, or you must endure a co-parenting relationship long term — how do you manage the constant manipulation even as you try to get on with your life? He might blame you for the smallest mistakes (thereby raising his own false self-worth), or he criticizes you for everything you do with the kids. And because he is SO falsely mistaken, you write him a long email, explaining your actions, or you become ensued in a long texting battle.
And thus, you enter the Narcissistic Vortex.
You must remember, this vortex is a trap. By replying to him (no matter how negative), it feeds his narcissistic supply — a.k.a, his false sense of self that he is better than you (or anyone else for that matter).
So if the manipulation happens via email, for example, you must first ask yourself: does it require a reply? Are there any crucial issues that really require your response, like financial matters during divorce or logistics with the children?
Unfortunately with Narcissists, they can never write an email without making themselves look a victim/martyr, or passive aggressively knocking your ability to function as an adult. The true secret to engaging with a narcissist is little to no response. Reply with “yes” or “no” answers, or merely factual replies like, “yes, I am picking kids up at 5:00 p.m. today.” Ignore all other stabs or attempts of getting a heated reaction from you.
If your narcissist wants to talk with you over the phone about certain matters, let him ask you questions for which a yes or no answer is required. If the conversation results in accusations or manipulation, quite simply say to him, “If you have anything to discuss with me, please put it in email.” And then hang up.
You will never change his mind. You will never get him to see your side of things. As long as you attempt to do so, you will forever be stuck in his vortex and unable to move on.
Learning how to deal with a narcissist can’t be accomplished by reading just this one blog. It takes skill, practice, reading books on the subject and perhaps coaching or therapy. Whatever you do, don’t try to learn this alone.
Divorce coach and founder of The Inspired Divorce
One Reply to “The #1 Secret on How To Engage With a Narcissist”
Do not engage. Do not attempt to reason. Do not attempt to make things fair. Do not take the bait. — I live by this. Sometimes it’s really hard when others encourage me to make the kids talk to him, make him help, make him understand what I’ve been struggling with. — But it makes no sense if he is incapable of understanding and I won’t set up my kids to feel crazy, or unworthy when his response is — well — nothing. I won’t beg for understanding. I say, yes, no, 5:00pm just like you advise. I was raised with manners but I’ve had to learn to not engage and not make small talk. Outsiders think it’s strange, but it is so necessary. Things have been better since I went no contact (modified no contact because of the kids, but it can be done).