5 Reasons We Argue (And What You Can Do)


It is often said that our default setting is one where we are on a war footing, ready to lash out and savage anybody who ventures into our sphere of influence. Our ability to argue is extensive and people may well remark, not knowing what we actually are, that we are capable of starting an argument in an empty room. Of course, an empty room is no use to us for we are reliant on others or the perception of others regarding us, giving us emotive attention. Our ability to argue over seemingly anything and nothing, without diminution or retraction is a fearsome attribute. It is frustrating, upsetting and often causes those around us to wonder why on earth we must always be red of tooth and claw. Surely it would be easier not to argue? Is it not tiring always being on the attack, aggressive and belligerent? Would life not be so much sweeter if we were not so war-like and bombastic? You may think that from your perspective, but as ever, I am allowing you to understand our perspective. You may not agree with it but if you understand why we are like this then you will be in a better position to do something about it and be less likely to be trapped by confusion and bewilderment. Here are five reasons why arguing is central to our way of living.

  1. To Provoke

You are a tanker full of fuel. Our aim is to prod, poke and assail you until your shell is breached and the fuel begins to pour from you. Your emotional responses to our argumentative stance is what we want. It does not matter what we are arguing about, whether it something trivial or something major, the subject matter is not the issue to us. It is the need to make you angry, make you frustrated, make you upset or make you fearful. So long as you keep reacting to what we are saying, then we shall keep arguing. Indeed, you are fuelling us and making us feel powerful so that this enables us to sustain this course of conduct – you are the one perpetuating the argument by reacting, it is not us. Disengage and halt the emotional responses and you will take away one of the fundamental reasons why we love to and have to argue with you during devaluation. We know however that you will not do this. We have cranked up your emotional response level that you cannot help but keep going, you are haemorrhaging emotion and we are lapping it up. Your desire to have us accept the reality (your reality) keeps you going and you fall into our trap of trying to make us “see sense” when we will never do this. We are not interested in an outcome or a resolution on your terms, the argument is about us attaining what we want.

  1. Control

You do not like to argue. You prefer peace and harmony. Discord is an environment which sustains us but not you. You want the quiet life, everybody to get on and for things to run smoothly. If you want that then you are going to have to keep giving up more and more control to us, otherwise you will face the fury of an argument. We do not want you to go out and enjoy yourself with other people. This means your attention is elsewhere and you are depriving us of fuel. It also means you may be susceptible to the influence of other people. We do not want our hold on your weakened in any way as we may lose you as our primary source of fuel and this will mean that we have to find a new one – this takes time and energy. Accordingly, we want you by us as often as possible and isolated from the treacherous influence of other people. If you want to do something which is contrary to our desires, then we will create an argument. It is often not even about the thing you wish to do and we wish to stop. Not at all. We will pick something out of the air and create an argument with you so that you are made to feel upset or frightened. This may cause you to no longer feel like you want to go out or have friends round after being involved in such a confrontation. Thus our control over you has been achieved. We may be more direct and cause the argument to be about the very thing you wish to do so that you end up backing down in order to keep the peace. Our ultimate aim is to cause you to alter your behaviours so you stop doing what you know is contrary to what we want beforehand so the argument can be avoided. Causing an argument is a weapon of intimidation, the threat of which becomes a method of achieving control over you. It is difficult, especially in the face of such hostility, but by refusing to engage and continuing with your planned course of action you are sending a signal that this method of control is ineffective. We will no doubt shift to a different form of manipulation, but the fact you have stuck to your guns and done what you want, provides you with a victory.


  1. Exhaustion

Our capacity to argue is almost limitless and powered by your provision of fuel we can keep going and going. We adopt our method of circular arguments, leading you towards a supposed resolution and then starting the argument up again much to your exasperation and disappointment. By keeping an argument going and going over the same ground repeatedly we aim to grind you down, tire you out and exhaust you. This method of creating battle fatigue is effective in reducing your defences, your ability to cope and your ability to evaluate. You cannot be bothered to put up a fight any longer and let us have our way. It becomes self-perpetuating as once you no longer wish to fight back then we exact further manipulations against you to exhaust your even more. The steady erosion of your energy levels is a method of wearing away your defences before launching a salvo of different manipulative attacks against you. The key to avoiding this draining situation is to avoid engaging in it in the first place. By recognising what arguments are being used for, you should make your point and if not accepted leave the matter there. You have said your piece, you know that and can take satisfaction from that. Do not try and have the last word. We know that your kind are often desperate to do that and we will goad you into trying to achieve that as we continue to wear you down. You need to avoid getting sucked into these ever decreasing circles in the first place and recognise that this is a chief aim of arguing.

  1. To Close the Wound

An argument is often a heated fury response to you having criticised us. When you deliver a criticism to us (whether real or more often perceived by us) which is free of emotion, it wounds us. In order to repair this wound we will either withdraw, apply cold fury or lash out with heated fury. The manifestation of the ignited heated fury includes causing an argument with you. By creating an argument, we provoke an emotional response from you which provides us with fuel. We use arguing to gather fuel in any event, as I have described at one above, but we also use it to gather fuel when it is desperately needed to repair the wound which has been caused by your criticism of us. You provide fuel and this allows the wound to be closed. We will then continue the argument to gather more fuel to make us feel powerful as well. One way of countering this would be to avoid criticising us in the first place. Unfortunately for you, many criticisms are perceived rather than actual. This is why they wound more are the perceived criticisms are usually emotion free because they have been unintended by you. Accordingly, your prospects of avoiding criticism based on perceived criticism are slim. The alternative is for you to avoid responding to the argument in an emotional manner. This means that you will not provide us with the fuel that we need to close the wound. Accordingly, we will try harder to get it from you, but if you maintain your resolve, do not engage and do not provide an emotional response then we will be forced to withdraw and seek the repairing fuel from another source. You will have brought the argument to a conclusion sooner than usual by forcing us to go elsewhere.

  1. Self-Worth


We need to maintain our sense of superiority. We need to ensure you remain inferior to us, beneath us and worthless. We are desperate to generate a sense of self-worth which does not come naturally to us through our arguing with you. If we can annoy you, frustrate you, put you down through the auspices of an argument that we gain a sense of self-worth. We remain in our elevated position, we are the top dog, we are better than you. By keeping you downtrodden through the power of an argument it follows that we are superior and therefore we have achieved our aim. To counter the perpetuation of an argument for the sake of us gaining a sense of self-worth, you may consider just accepting what we are saying (this is often easy because what is being argued about may actually be (in your world) completely trivial) and therefore you are giving nothing away by conceding. If you agree with us, tell us we are right and concede in such circumstances the need for the argument has evaporated. If you reinforce our superiority through praise and admiration it will have a similar effect. You are giving us that sense of self-worth that we crave.

It may appear that we always want to win the argument. That is not the case at all. We have no interest in winning the argument. What we really want is to achieve one or more of the five above.


22 thoughts on “5 Reasons We Argue (And What You Can Do)”

  1. I also just re-read sitting target and it has affirmed many false assumptions I was walking around with and also the way my matrinarc has conditioned me to walk her cerebral and victim pathway (yes she is both even if it seems a contradiction, even a try-hard elite).
    But, could we learn where they are NOT – and more about WHO is a waste of time.
    My motivation is a love of sharing without expectation and that is the weakness that keeps allowing them to abuse me.

  2. Not anguish, just frustration. I’d like a solution. I have had my life course dominated by this disorder. I’m exhausted. But it appears they are indeed everywhere.

  3. DGMB. I get that too. My time ‘not atguing’ has certainly given me great practice for life now. I find it a lot easier to ignore or just show no emotion. Ahhh if only I knew in the very beginning what I know now. High five to self!

    1. I am sure we all have similar stories with slight variations. Same bullshit. Different person. Yet somehow when in the middle of it we feel like no one else would “get it”. The irony.

    2. I have noticed that when I don’t feed into it, he will actually start conflict with the cat. For real. He will start an argument with the cat. I used to get annoyed by it. Now I find it somewhat amusing. Twisted. But true.

  4. This is so dead on accurate. I have become the master of non emotional response. Which inevitably, also then eventually out of nowhere, incites him to provoke an argument, because the lack of emoting is percieved as “not caring”. I have actually been told “I can’t do this. I’m tired of not getting any emotional response from you. You just don’t love me anymore.” Verbatim. Of which, I say, “I do love you. I just refuse to engage in bullshit headgames now”, with…. no emotional response.

  5. Very good article. Thank you!

    “It may appear that we always want to win the argument. That is not the case at all. We have no interest in winning the argument. What we really want is to achieve one or more of the five above.”
    Thank you for explaining this too.

    The following is something which happened to me with different people, both narcissists and nons:
    When having a quiet conversation about ordinary, mundane matters, they unexpectedly lash out at me for no reason. I calmly ask them why they get so furious. I learn that someone had been smearing me (some of them tell me who the individual was but others won’t) and they could not keep their feelings of hatred towards me for too long.
    Nothing I can say can make them change their minds. They don’t want to hear my side of the story.
    It usually comes as a shock to learn they are now lieutenants.

  6. Picking which battles you want was one of the things he would say me.
    Even thou I see this as his way of telling me he picked which ones with me,
    A part of me is thankful for this experence, I dont get to rattled when people come at me from several directions, yelling. Lol they are no where near the calbre of day to day living I experenced.
    Thank you HG, as always your writings insightful.

  7. For 7 months, while planning my escape, I refused to argue. Things were bad between us. There was no resolving it, and I didnt want to try. My knowledge on narcissism was zero, but I did know there was something hugely wrong with him. Every night he would try to engage me. Every night I refused. (Exhausting mentally to say the least). All he wanted was to argue and intimidate and I knew it. By the weekend however, there it was! The rage! Almost foaming at the mouth rage! Still, I refused him. Like I said, 7 months of this, while setting my escape plan in motion. After learning about narcissism now, (for 2years) I thank God I was strong enough to maintain my (what I called) equilibrium. Passive agressive maybe, but on arguement level, he met his match. At least for that round. Thanks HG. Very interesting.

  8. May I ask some advice HG –

    You advise us empaths to avoid you, and you say at the same time you are everywhere. Indeed, in every workplace, friendship group and hobby I’ve had in my 31 years, these scenes have been dominated by narcissists.
    Is it best to avoid them and lose professional and personal opportunities, or to go about our business and be happy, with the risk the expression of that energy attracts predators?
    I’m asking to make some life decisions, where I know my goals involve being in an environment with narcissists and knowing I’ve already been savaged. So many times I know exactly how to handle it, until they just whip out something so disgusting and so low it’s hard to ignore.
    In terms of survival tactics, when I have watched other narcissists in competition, they are generally bow to the competition yet keep their distance.

    1. Hello Violet, one must evaluate the situation. It is usually the case that avoidance is the best policy with those who are your of who were your intimate partner. This is because they cause the greatest damage. If you are entangled with a narcissist who is a colleague, a family member, a friend, you should consider avoidance BUT if this impacts on you doing something you enjoy, reduces opportunities etc, then you should instead consider whether you can manage the situation. It is easier to handle a situation with a friend who is a narcissist than say a spouse. This is because you are not as emotionally invested, you do not spend as much time together and therefore you have greater coping capabilities available to you. If you can spot these people, know their machinations and how to deal with them, plus your exposure to them is irritating and tiresome as opposed to shattering you should be able to strike a balance of doing what you want to do and handling them.

      1. Thanks for your advice HG. The workplace is my biggest problem. I work in the media and all of them are psychopaths or narcissists. I honestly don’t know why or how I got to where I got being an empath. But being around them makes me feel like I’m dead. I lose all my energy and become depressed simply because there is no exchange to make with them. The worst problem is having a psychopath boss because I feel like in the whole massive organisation, I’m the only one with a conscience and with emotions and that is a huge and lonely burden to carry. If I want to have a discussion about “should”, of course, it cannot happen.
        I’ve been physically ill, an insomniac and have nightmares of them laughing at dying people going through torture (probably because it is a real possibility they could watch it and allow it).
        The missing links that produce a sense of safety for me are just not there.
        However I’m trained and talented in this job.
        I decided to take a break from it and most organisations I’ve called to talk to about joining over the past three months have had them on the other end of the phone. I’ve been so exposed now that I can read in their voice and manner. So I wonder what the point of changing careers is.
        How I’ve always dealt with this issue in the past of course is to find another narcissist outside of work and play them off against the devils at work, but of course as you know it doesn’t last.
        Why are there so damn many of you? I’m astounded.
        (PS I joined a bootcamp group the other day and noticed the instructor ignored me when I said hello. Then ten seconds later, greeted me. He was later scanning me during class with an odd calm. Thanks to this blog I could recognise the test for abuse and then observing for fuel extraction. Thanks! I left the group).

      2. I can sense the anguish and injustice from what you have written, I have heard it before from those who have described it as being a nest of vipers, the evil narcissists blocking and hindering their good works at every turn. If you have read Sitting Target, Violet, you will know what certain places are hunting grounds for us and it is clear the arena you describe is one which attracts our kind in numbers. You certainly appear to have attuned yourself to identifying our kind which will inevitably save you from all manner of aggravation.

  9. Yes, HG. Many times with N2 it was like okay, we will be chatting about this one again in a couple of weeks. Nothing was resolved. Picking battles avoided many arguments. If I break NC during thos trigger season (which I DON’T plan on doing) at least I’ll be armed.

  10. In your out of the box interview you mentioned how narcissists are across the spectrum. Does the narcissist trying to up himself and move from the lower, middle to the high end of the spectrum. In other words is an average narcissist trying to become a master narcissist consciously or unconsciously

  11. In your out of the box interview you mentioned how narcissists are across the spectrum. Does the narcissist trying to up himself and move from the lower, middle to the high end of the spectrum. In other words is an average narcissist trying to become a master narcissist consciously or unconsciously

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