Why is it that we can never win against narcissists while in a relationship with them? In every matter that’s important, the narcissist gets the last word. There are never any real compromises. You never seem to get what you want in the relationship.
Sure, the narcissist can let you have some “Phyrric victories”, letting you win insignificant battles, (but often making you “pay” later). This makes things smoother, ensures your cooperation. Like letting a prisoner choose if he wants meat or fish for dinner. And then deny him the possibility of a fair trial, or even the right to talk to a lawyer.
Will you be winning great battles or even a war, within your relationship? Hell no. Forget it. The narcissist would sooner dig himself trenches, and wait you out, in a full on siege, until you yield from exhaustion.
Sometimes though, he may even appear to sign a peace treaty and generously meet your terms. You are suddenly relieved. This is shortlived. Even if you have their signature on a piece of paper, they’ll wriggle their way out of the agreement. They’ll say the signature is falsified or that someone coerced them into signing. They’ll say anything to get out of a deal they don’t want to go through with.
My ex-narcissist did this on many occasions. It could be about everyday situations or major decisions about the relationship. I was all the more devastated, since in the actual discussions, he’d seem to be agreeing with me, only to later claim that “he never expressed himself in that way”. Or that his broken promises were “completely justified”.
He’d proceed to blame me for having “coerced” him into making an agreement. This in turn let him off the hook – he could change his mind about anything, at any time! Totally crazy-making! It was like walking on quicksand, never knowing when the ground beneath me would disappear.
I remember one time in particular, we’d been together for 2,5 years. We had decided to move in together. We had previously made the same decision several times. He had backed out of these agreements about 10(!) times, in the course of 1,5 years. Always with the excuse that I had “pressured” him into the decision.
This made me really sad, since I didn’t feel I had put any pressure on him. I had clearly stated my wish to take things to the next level, but I had also always given him time. Hell, the 1o times I’d stayed when he’d backed out of moving in together, were surely enough proof of that! (The unimaginable bastard! I get angry even now, just thinking about his ungratefulness when it comes to my generosity in forgiving him for every damn thing he did)!
This particular time anyway, (agreement no. 11 of moving in together) I was really scared of getting hurt again. I asked him if he was 100% certain, now. He claimed he was, he swore he wouldn’t back out this time. He would show no hesitation. He’d come live at my place on a trial basis. We’d talked everything through. It felt good!
I will never, as long as I live, forget the day he was supposed to move in. I was still at work and received a text from the Narc. (I call him Hero here sometimes, for variation, and cause that’s how he views himself). I don’t remember the exact wording he used.
What I remember most is feeling like I was about to faint, the floor disappearing beneath me, the upset feeling in my stomach. (You know, like butterflies inside; only not the lovey-dovey ones of excitement, but the really evil kind of fluttering hell-moths: when you face complete abandonment).
“I’ve been thinking, and it’s just that, you know, I have so much stuff. What am I supposed to do with all my stuff. I don’t know about this.. maybe we could talk about this some more first? See if we find another solution, maybe we could wait just a while longer…”
I could not believe my eyes, reading this! My sight was suddenly blurred by tears welling up. I was in an open office landscape type of environment, so there were people all around.
I got a hold of myself and went to the bathroom and took a few deep breaths. For a few moments I’d felt disconnected from reality. Was this real? Could any one person really be this cruel, emotionally? How could he put me through this again, after all the previous 10 times? After all the other shit, the lies and the cheating?! All the things I forgave him for.. No, I simply could not fathom the fact that he was actually doing this to me, again!
I wrote something angry back, can’t remember what, and then he proceeded defending himself, by claiming that he simply wanted to “talk things over once more, to figure everything out”. Really? The 10 other times we talked this over in the last 1,5 years didn’t do the trick, then?
By this point I was so exhausted I could barely think, speak, or do anything at all. I got through the day and left the office as soon as I could. There is an end to this story but I will not elaborate on it now. These memories are still much too painful.
So what is it that make them win, every darn time? Naturally, all their tricks and manipulations play a part in it, keeping the victim confused and exhausted. But that’s not the only reason, perhaps not even the main reason.
What gives them the final say in just about everything, is the fact that we, the victims, have true feelings for them. Our love is real. We live in the illusion that theirs is, too. Sadly, this is not true. They never loved us. Not because of us, but because they can not love. This is what gives them the upper hand.
When you love someone, you want to mend things, forgive, reach a compromise. The narcissist doesn’t want any of that. Bottom line is, it is his way or the highway. Case in point; How did Hero dare go back on his word on this 11th try of us moving in together? Wasn’t there a fear inside him, that this time I would leave him for good? That this would be the proverbial last straw that’d split the poor camel’s back in two?
Sure, he might have felt some uncertainty. But since he knew he could always manipulate me some more, and considering how forgiving I’d been in the past, he took the risk anyway. Cause ultimately he never loved me. Losing me would be a mere inconvenience to him, like his favorite car breaking down. He would be annoyed that particular day, but could get a new car the very next day.
I didn’t want to see the truth of why the narcissist had the upper hand. I much preferred to live in his illusion, a fairytale he told, in which he loved me and could not bear to lose me. I know better now. Never listen to words, see if there is love in the actions.