Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t


Society and people need rules. The requirement for regulation looms large in everyone’s life. Pay your taxes, don’t park in that place, don’t drop litter, say please and thank you and so on. From laws to rules to codes of conduct, through to convention to procedures to etiquette we are bound up in rules wherever we go and whatever we do. People grumble and complain about them but ultimately they prefer the world to have these rules. People like to know where they stand. You know what you can and cannot do. You may not agree with it, but you at least have some certainty. Those that found themselves in the horror of concentration camps complained that there was never any certainty to the day. You could be subjected to punishment for walking too slowly one day and too fast the next. It was random and awful, yet such a system is horrendously effective at undermining someone’s will and paradoxically causing them to try harder in order to avoid a sanction.
Our behaviour is much the same. There is no rhyme or logic to it. Last week I said I liked sugar in my tea and this week I do not. I deny that I said I liked sugar in my tea and moreover this triviality causes me to erupt in rage when you put sugar in my drink this week. You are confused and anxious by this random control that I exert over you. It is all intentional. Do not make the mistake of thinking that we cannot recall what we said or did the previous day, that we are somehow blind to our previous likes and dislikes as if affected by some form of amnesia. This disorientating tactic is deliberate. You may as well ascribe outcomes to the numbers two through to twelve and roll two dice. That gives you just as good a chance of determining how I will behave. One week I sleep with the bedroom window open, the next it must be closed. Yesterday I want silence in the kitchen in the morning, today I want the radio on. Each day you are put on parade and then awaiting the inevitable criticism as I will find some fault in order to control you, demean you and provoke a reaction. I am like an insane regimental sergeant major who deems the buttons on your uniform to not shine enough despite the hours you spent polishing each one. Like his parade ground bark, I will unleash my haphazard criticism of you with a barrage of abuse, raising my voice and making you wince with each syllable. We understand the effect of repeatedly being shouted at and it causes you to submit to our demands Invariably I will see what you are doing and pick the opposite as being what I want. I am a natural contrarian. All of this is done to maintain your heightened sense of anxiety, forcing you to second guess and thus become conditioned to our will. Periodically we will approve of what you have done and your sense of relief is so overwhelming you receive a natural high. This in turn causes you to want to repeat it and therefore each and every day you are walking on those eggshells as you try to please us and avoid our erratic and groundless rage. There is no system you can depend on, no method of working out what is safe to do and what should be avoided, yet still you will try. As ever, you want to make matters right and keep the peace.

15 thoughts on “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

  1. Kelly says:

    Creepy! You know he just did this too. Here I’m thinking he doesn’t remember anything in the past. Then we were all talking about diets and he says what was that diet you were on, Special-K? That was 8 years ago. So I didn’t exclaim, you remember that??, nope. He’s so seamlessly manipulative you don’t even notice. I never notice until it dawns on me later.

  2. ...o... says:

    damned cheek 🙂

  3. theindiandot says:

    Hi HG,
    I understand if you don’t answer but I’m curious.. During your time in counseling have you ever- even slightly- entertained the idea of “going good” so to speak. Or maybe lessening the abuse?

    I understand what psychology says and what you say. But I feel like even someone like yourself has felt a tinge if despair at treating someone so cruelly.

    1. K says:

      You may find these comments helpful and check out the link below. If you are using a laptop or PC use control F (command F on a mac) and type: guilt into the bar on the top right and hit return.

      JUNE 3, 2018 AT 15:49
      Have you ever since you realised its the “ narcissism” with your ever growing awareness feel hesitation like should I do this or not (towards your victims)

      HG Tudor
      JUNE 4, 2018 AT 13:29
      Good point. In certain instances I have adopted a more prosocial approach, so I have considered the way forward rather than being as instinctive in some instances, so I suppose you might see that as a form of hesitation.


    2. K says:

      These comments may help answer your question, too.

      JUNE 8, 2017 AT 00:30
      Common sexual behavior for sociopaths as well. Interestingly, all sociopaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are sociopaths. Your candor is eye opening. I do however, wonder if you’re a sociopath. Do you feel guilt or remorse for your treatment of others? Does hurting others cause pain for you?

      HG Tudor
      JUNE 8, 2017 AT 16:05
      I feel neither guilt or remorse. Hurting others does not trouble me in any way, indeed the reaction from those who are hurt fuels me.


  4. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

    As I’ve gotten older I’ll try to please someone but not at the expense of losing myself and driving myself crazy. That behavior described actually makes me not wanna do shit for someone and not be around that person at all. It all makes me go into zero fucks mode. It doesn’t motivate me to wanna please someone – or adapt to their mood changes. The approach described in the article has only fucked the narcissist or psychopath I have been with and completely worked against them. At first I might wanna anticipate every reaction and please them but fairly quicklu I realize it won’t go anywhere. What motivated other people made me literally say go fuck yourself. That’s when the true ODD shines real bright.

    I’m not gonna keep trying to be something I’m not and play these games just for someone’s amusement and because they are constantly changing their minds. I am what I am – love me or hate me – I don’t care. I’ll please you but I’m not gonna go crazy doing it because the other person sure as shit wouldn’t and I wouldn’t ask them to do that either.

    I can adapt to someone’s mood but this a lovely reminder of how unpredictable the mood swings and changes in ideas and preferences and reactions that’s takenplave —but it all boils down to the same result – it makes me eventually not wanna put up with the persons shit because what’s the point? You can’t do anything right anyway – so I’ll behave the way I want and we can fight all you want – or what really ends up happening these is days is you can ultimately fight with yourself and I’ll just frustrate you and disengaged because I’m over it.

  5. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

    Or like me you say fuck it and do what you want because no matter what you do you won’t please the other person so why give a shit and try ….

    You can choose to overachieve and lose every time or say shit nothing is gonna Work anyway so I’ll do what I want and space out when someone runs their mouth

    I always started off with the pleasing but the behavior became so ridiculous i just did what I wanted and at times would purposely choose the opposite of what was being asked of me

    Why try… it gets you nowhere

    1. tigerchelle78 says:

      I understand where you are coming from, and also try to please, and then mess up and keep losing my shit, and then think, why an earth do I even bother?!
      But the empath in me gets back up and tries to sort things out and explain, and seeks to make peace and tries to get others to understand. Sometimes it works, but on a forum, such as this, its pretty much useless when you only have words, and people I guess can only judge from those words.

      So that’s me like a big FAIL, every time!

  6. tigerchelle78 says:

    Consistently inconsistent…..narcs and borderlines are both like this. Its a Cluster B thing! But Narcs take it deliberately to a whole new level!

    1. brokenrainbow says:

      I liked the “Consistently inconsistent” phrase but I feel I must comment on your post. I have BPD and I would never treat someone like this. I would never knowingly play mind games or manipulate to make myself feel better.

      1. tigerchelle78 says:

        Hi brokenrainbow,

        The difference with me is I’ve had narc father and narcissistic mother, and therefore my environment was heavily narc like, and my father over a period of over 20 years taught me how to be very narc like, and manipulate and play mind games.

        I do not like using these things. But Narcs just don’t care. I do.
        Sometimes if I’m triggered though, stuff slips out, and then I have to clean the mess up afterward.

        Maybe you are a quiet (discouraged) borderline type. I’m all four types. Petulant, impulsive, self destructive and quiet. Yay for me huh!

        But we are consistently inconsistent….. And we have black and white thinking, (polarized thinking) which also the narcs have so people just think we are narcs.
        I hate being Cluster B…..

  7. Claire says:

    It’s amazing to me that you can express so perfectly what WE experience and feel, H.G. It’s almost frightening.

    I have tried to talk to my narc spouse about this very subject, but he always invalidates my experience and feelings. He tells me I’m nuts, crazy, a stupid bitch. Does he truly believe by denying what we both know happened that somehow it isn’t real? I know this is gaslighting, but his anger about it contradicts his denial.

    I feel sick now.

    1. Jasmine says:

      Claire, that’s a natural reaction to realising your predicament. (Stupidifying-amazement and feeling sick 🙁)
      When I first started reading about narcissism, post-escape, I was flabbergasted. Everything hit square on the head! Even down to the verbiage I used, all the while trying to desperately figure out what-in-the-heck was happening!!??!? Ie: walking on eggshells, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, etc.. But I was too busy studying his patterns and thinking it was just the alcoholism. Yes I’m co-dependant… just the wrong kind.
      Discovering NPD, (and I owe it all to his ex) knocked me for a loop. I had to face all my past demons too…. He wasnt my first *sigh*
      Anyhoo..hang in there. It does get easier. I am nearing the year mark, and though I’m basically a hermit now (self-imposed!) I’m not all over the place anymore.
      Well… not as much 😉

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