Here’s how to stop an argument with a narcissist from spinning out of control
- Narcissists struggle with having positive feelings about someone while they are mad at them.
- This means they get incredibly fierce and cruel during arguments.
- For many people, the best thing to do is to leave a narcissist and cut them out of their life.
- If this isn’t possible there are some tactics you can use to stop the argument escalating.
- But it won’t be easy.
Here are the steps you should take:
1. Don’t argue about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’
There’s no point trying to figure out who is “to blame” for something, as narcissists will never admit fault. They want to blame you for any negative emotions they are feeling, because they utterly rely on the image they are portraying as being faultless.
2. Instead, try to empathise with their feelings
If you are with a narcissist in the first place, you probably already have a lot of empathy. But even the most caring people struggle to see the sense of having it for someone who is hurling insult after insult at them.
However, if you find yourself backed into a corner, one way to sooth a narcissist’s rage is to empathise with their feelings, and say something like: “You must have felt very hurt by what I did, I can understand why you are feeling that way.”
3. Use ‘we’ language
By saying “we” rather than “I” or “you,” you include yourself in the behaviour. The narcissist is probably so angry at you because you dared to defend yourself, so to try and stop the argument escalating further you can try and remind them you’re in this together, and it’ll be better off for everyone to stop.
4. Don’t expect an apology
There’s no chance of the narcissist admitting to any wrongdoing or apologising. This includes asking them to process what really happened. According to Greenberg, a narcissist will not be comfortable with the idea that they started an argument over something trivial, so it’s best to just move on.
5. Ask about a topic that interests them
Narcissists love talking about themselves, or expressing just how much more they know about something than you do. So, in a similar way you might distract a baby with a set of keys, you can dangle a new topic in front of their face to veer the conversation away from conflict. This might not be that effective in the midst of a fierce row, but if you do it after some time has passed, the narcissist will probably take the bait.
Another similar solution is to ask for advice. This may look like a slightly less transparent way of changing the subject, because it’ll make the narcissist feel like they are the only person you can go to, and make them feel superior.
6. Don’t take the bait yourself
As the narcissist believes you have hurt them severely by whatever they think you did, they’ll want to do the same to you. This means they’ll proverbially throw everything at you, from that one time you misbehaved a year ago, to how you’re acting selfishly right now.
Essentially, they are trying to get the maximum response out of you they can. Greenberg says that by ignoring the insult, you can often avoid the pointless fight. If you rise to the bait, things are likely to escalate, and you’re effectively giving the narcissist exactly what they want — your pain.
7. Remember to put yourself first
Most experts believe being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist is an emotionally draining, damaging process. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you think the tedious ego stroking and hard work is worth it or not.
In all likelihood, you’ll probably realise it isn’t, and you’ll one day be able to move on with your life without the narcissist holding you back. But in the meantime, using these methods to de-escalate a narcissist who is on a roll can help get you out of upsetting, and potentially dangerous, situations.
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