Why Are The Arguments Never Resolved?
Disputes between people always arise. You might label it a debate, a discussion, a reasoned exchange of views, an argument, a fight or a blazing row. That label depends very much on the participants in the exchange.
When one of the participants is one of us, a narcissist, it always seems to be the case that it is never resolved, at least, not to your (the non-narcissist’s) satisfaction.
Let’s start however with a dispute between two people who are not narcissists. Person A states that person B owes him £ 50 000. Person B denies that he owes anything. If they cannot resolve it between themselves, they will have to resort to other means to achieve an outcome, which would invariably mean going to court with the attendant cost in time and money. The dispute is however capable of resolution because of the mind sets of the two participants.
Person A’s mindset is – “I would prefer £ 50 000 but I recognise that in order to reach a resolution I will have to accept a lesser sum. So long as this lesser sum is within a certain range, the problem will be solved.”
Person B’s mindset is – “I would prefer to pay nothing but I recognise that in order to reach resolution I will have to pay something. So long as this something is within a certain range, the problem will be solved.”
You can see from this that there is potential for the parties’ mindsets to align. Neither will be out and out happy but the dispute will be resolved and they can get on with other matters. If they agree at £ 30 000 Person A has made a recovery which is less than he desired but more than nothing. Person B has made a payment which is more than he desired but less than everything. The two people have mindsets which can and do align and thus there is resolution.
This non-narcissistic example demonstrates precisely why there is never any resolution (or at least it seems that way to you as the empathic victim) when engaging with our kind. The reason is that there is no alignment of interests.
Take for instance a situation between narcissist and victim. The victim does not know that they are in a romantic entanglement with the narcissist. The victim is an Intimate Partner Primary Source and the narcissist is a Mid-Range Narcissist. The two attended an event in the afternoon. The narcissist felt ignored by the IPPS and this ignited his fury and now the narcissist, in order to provoke and gain fuel has accused the victim of flirting with a member of the opposite sex. The victim knows that she did not do so and is upset by this accusation as well as bewildered. An argument about this ensues.
What is the victim’s mindset?
- As a truth seeker establish the truth that she did not flirt with anybody and the narcissist accepts she did not.
- The narcissist apologises for the false accusation.
What is the narcissist’s mindset?
- Gain fuel;
- Assert and maintain superiority over the victim
Both parties have entirely different aims.
Can the victim’s requirements be fulfilled by the narcissist?
The narcissist will not admit that the accusation was a lie because issuing the lie is causing the victim to be upset, to be angry and thus is providing fuel. Accordingly, the narcissist will maintain the lie in order to preserve the supply of fuel.
The narcissist will not apologise because that is ceding superiority to the victim by admitting that the narcissist is wrong. It will also bring an end to the victim’s hurt/upset/anger and thus the fuel ends.
There is nothing for the narcissist to gain in fulfilling what the victim wants.
Can the narcissist’s requirements be met by the victim?
Yes, but not in an intentional way by the victim. Owing to the fact that victims do not know what they are dealing with, that they do not know they are engaging with one of our kind, that they do not understand the concept of fuel or that we have a different perspective to them, the victim cannot decide to keep giving fuel nor can she decide to give superiority to the narcissist.
Instead, she remains bound by her own mindset and desires which are as a consequence of her perspective. She sees this as the ONLY outcome which is right, because from her perspective she did not flirt, therefore she cannot understand why the narcissist cannot accept that this is the case. She cannot understand why he will not apologise when he is wrong. She does not know that he needs to keep extracting fuel from her. She does not know that he needs to assert and maintain superiority over her.
Accordingly, she keeps trying to get the narcissist to see her perspective and to achieve the apology. This will not happen. She does not achieve the resolution she wants. Moreover, she is bewildered as to why the narcissist cannot achieve this resolution when it seems so obvious (to her) that she is right and he is wrong.
The resolution will not occur on her terms because they are not aligned with what the narcissist wants. Instead, the resolution will only occur when the narcissist is satisfied with the fuel received (thus the wounding has been healed and the ignited fury of the narcissist abates) and that his perception of superiority has been attained. He then halts the argument by walking away, changing topic or even completely perplexing the victim by suggesting going out for dinner together. This rapid switch from argument to suggesting something pleasant, when (from the victim’s perspective) there has been no resolution leaves the victim puzzled and open-mouthed at this sudden switching.
From the narcissist’s perspective it is entirely logical. He has gained fuel and healed the wound, thus the ignited fury abates so he has no need to continue the provocation in the argument. He feels he has asserted his fury because the victim is upset, looks dismayed or dejected. He has achieved his aims which the victim (unintentionally) has fulfilled. He thus ends the argument. The victim is puzzled because from her perspective nothing has been resolved. If she presses on, she is likely to provide Challenge Fuel ( seeFuel, Fight or Flight ) and thus the narcissist will respond to this by deflecting, denying, projecting and a whole host of other manipulations.
Accordingly, whenever a victim argues with our kind, the victim never feels like there is any resolution because their aims are never fulfilled. Even when the narcissist’s aims are achieved and he halts the manipulation, the victim still understandably believing the matter to be unresolved, keeps going. This causes the narcissist to respond to the challenge and then the narcissist sees the victim as maintaining an argument unnecessarily.
It is only when the victim understands that they are engaging with a narcissist and that we adopt an entirely different perspective, which alters the aims we seek from the argument, that the victim can achieve an alternative outcome. Armed with this knowledge, the victim can either:-
- State their case once so they know they have, offer no reaction and withdraw;
- State their case once, offer a positive reaction to fuel the narcissist whilst avoiding feeling dismayed and hurt in trying to achieve an outcome they cannot ever achieve; or
- Withdraw, preferring not to engage and save themselves the aggravation of being subjected to repeated manipulation because of the different agendas of victim and narcissist.
Once you become empowered with this understanding of why you never reach resolution with us, you will approach such entanglements in a completely different and edifying manner.
21 thoughts on “Why Are The Arguments Never Resolved?”
Very true. And I am so excited because recently my narcissistic ex was destroyed in online argumemt with a guy who is a lawyer. Of course the narc attacked him pretendeing he knows law better. The narc was attacking with very stupid reasons and the lawyer proved him how dumb he is. And he did it without giving fuel, just pure facts and knowledge. It was hilarious! My narc had withrawn in cold fury. And I am gaining some thought fuel because of that. Ha ha.
Now this is an excellent piece that is tangible and illustrates real behavior that over time erodes a “victim.” (I hate that word)
The tug rope can be pulled in both directions. What would the narc think if she forsook her desire to be right and love of the truth, accepted the sin, and prostrated herself in apology? Or if she, realizing he wanted negative fuel, let him drink from the firehose of the intense negativity she is capable of producing!
How is it that negative fuel makes you feel less empty/fills you up?
Because it is fuel.
But why is it that this this fuel fills you? Is it because without it you get bored? And then you need contrast from the positive fuel again due to boredom? Can emptiness be equated with boredom?
Because it is validates our existence, that is the nature of all fuel.
I have read “Fuel.” But I still find this concept a little difficult to grasp. It validates your existence. Without it, you feel like you don’t exist? I mean I knew that I guess because I read it before. But? How can that be? You are therefore you exist. You exist therefore you are. No? I hope you don’t get mad at me for being a bad student.
It is about existing in the form which the narcissist requires to survive and thrive. It is not about just being there – that is not what the narcissist requires.
This is a very important article that resonated with me. I wanted to share my experience in a shortened down version, as it brought up many memories. Forgive if this gets long.
After I learned that the Mid Ranger was using an alias (I learned his real name in other words) I began asking him lots of questions because by then we’d known each other over 2 yrs and I wanted to know more about his past.
He always evaded direct questions or would talk in circles, so one day I decided to test him. I went on FB and looked up his sister’s profile just to see if I could learn something about him. I did not contact her or friend her, just merely looked.
I informed him of this as a test just to see what he would do. He reacted in a rage and was ‘furious’ with me. He told me that looking up his sister’s acct was ‘equivalent to breaking into his house.’
‘Instead of being invited over, you just broke in.’ (Wait, it gets better.)
I could not understand why he was reacting so angrily. Also, I would not have bothered to search her had he just told me more about himself.
He then told me that his life was none of my business and he made it like I had violated his boundaries, that I was creepy and a stalker.
This devastated me. Especially since I’d been so open and vulnerable with him over the past 2 yrs and he can’t even tell me what his real name is or about his family?
We argued over it and then suggested we take a 3 month break–no contact. During that time I cried everyday and kept thinking that this ‘punishment’ and his harsh reaction did not fit my ‘crime’.
When we finally reconnected, I told him I needed something personal from him, like a family photo, to make me feel welcomed into his life. He still wanted to remain ‘friends’ (on his terms for fuel) but without having to ever share anything of himself.
I don’t care if it is a pic of him and his dad going fishing when he was 10 yrs old–something. Last year’s Christmas photo. Anything.
He then said, ‘I would never share a family photo with you. What’s next? Doctor’s notes?’
He made himself into the victim and played it like I was demanding too much. Yet he still wanted me in his life–on his terms.
I was beside myself, confused. How can he not see how much he is hurting me? I eventually said to him, ‘What do I need to do to make this work between us? Tell me.’
He could never give an answer. I promised that I would never look him or his family members up again. ‘I am very protective of my family,’ he said, as though I was some kind of ‘threat’ to their well being.
I wanted to move past this, to agree to disagree, but he wanted to keep arguing.
You can see how painful it inevitably was when I found his Twitter page (because the asshole linked to my blog from it–not b/c of my searching!) and there were 100s of photos for all to see, which he never shared with me. He could not understand why I would be hurt by this, feel left out, and then I come to learn he was also gay, which he never bothered to tell me that either.
Only later did he tell me that my searching up his sister was ‘no big deal’, yet why punish me for it? He never apologized for his rage or admitted his reaction was so over the top or that he had anything to do with why I was hurting. That was all my fault.
He liked to use the idea of ‘boundaries’ and how I was always violating them, and he managed down my expectations so much that I began to feel honored if he answered one of my emails.
I don’t regret my experiences here, as I learned so much about myself and also came to learn about my Narc dad as well as led me to HG, but I DO regret all the days and moments I wasted on him, all that emotional energy in ‘trying to meet him halfway’ when he really treated me like gum on the bottom of his shoe.
I told him that I felt he always had one foot on the boat and one on the dock when it came to our relationship. Why would you want to keep someone in your life if you claim to not trust them (as he did with me)? Why would you not want to share? FUEL. FUEL. FUEL. I was a fucking geyser of fuel and tears, which fed him for years.
No wonder we could never come to an understanding, as your reasons so perfectly explain. Truthfully there is no other place where I can share these experiences, as I feel like many might think I exaggerate.
‘You should have known that when I didn’t give you my real name that I didn’t want you sniffing around in my life,’ he said (yet also claimed that his fake name was still partly his name–never owning it).
When I type these words, it astounds me how much I let him take advantage. I just absorbed all his words, and believed I was unworthy. He reassured me of my defectiveness, yet all during that time I missed that nice person in the beginning–yet even in the beginning, he was still using a fake name, so there was never a time during our 7 yr contact when he was not deceiving me.
Though he would think differently. Thank you for allowing me to share this, HG. Yet another article of yours that hits so deeply home. I am forever thankful.
You are welcome.
You are right. This is the only place that you can share where others understand. As I read your story I felt the confusion and pain that you went through. My story has many differences yet I can relate to every manipulation that your narc put you through as if I experienced it myself. We all have different stories but it seems like they were written by the same author.
Your narc speaks of you violating his boundries but can’t see the violation he did to you from the very beginning. HG has so brilliantly labeled our awareness of the lies as the Devastation of the Illusion. I see this as an event that happens in our lives that we never truly can forget. Like a car accident that has left permanent damage or the death of a loved one.
Something I learned from your story is that it’s a shame how we dishonor ourselves by ignoring clear warning signs. The rage over you looking at the sisters FB, saying he doesn’t trust you, ignoring your pain, punishments in the form of silence, keeping you from his family and personal life. These are all clearly red flags that you are not being respected or cared for. I’m guilty of ignoring those same red flags and after reading your words I see now how little respect I had for myself when it came to the relationship. Most of us wouldn’t make time for someone who treated us this way but we make an exception for the narc.
I’m sorry that you went through this but I appreciate you sharing.
Thank you for your comments, Mercy.
I was left scratching my head for years and had no idea what was going on with him. I didn’t learn of narcissism–really learn of it till a year after no contact. The nail in the coffin was reading from the victim testimonies that he was a different person in the beginning.
Hence, why I kept waiting around, hoping he would snap out of it.
When I asked him why he never told me all these things his response was, ‘I am not going to tell you for your convenience.’
That line will forever be burned into my memory as to what he really was. Then I had to spend years trying to figure how I lost such respect for myself.
I’d like to think if I encountered him for the 1st time now (that is now that I’ve been Tudorized) that I’d see through him instantly and claim my power.
Bibi, you would see through him. Ive experienced this. I broke NC many times after reading HGs work. Each time I went back I could see through the facade. The problem with seeing them after we are aware of what they are is that we convince ourselves we can handle it. They truly are an addiction. Awareness is only part of our defenses.
I think FYC made the comment once about how our minds can become trapped trying to figure out and make sense of what we experienced. She worded it better but it was along those lines. I don’t want to spend years trying to understand why I stayed. Im trying to switch my focus on reading people and believing their actions and intent, not their words. I think part of the problem for empaths is that we are really good at reading people. Most of us can sense early on if a person’s intentions are good or bad. The narcissist fools us so thouroughly and we are left doubting the instincts that we’ve always relied on.
I agree. I know what he is and now I analyze EVERYTHING that he does and says. This drives me more crazy then when I did not know. Sometimes I wish I was still in the dark.
Kim e, haha you don’t want to be in the dark. Facing what they are is hard, I’ll admit to that, but not as hard as enduring the abuse and not knowing why. Once we are aware we can’t pretend that everything is ok or that there is hope. We’re forced to make the decision to leave because if we stay we can only blame ourselves. It’s hard as hell to give up on something you’ve tried to hold together for so long. It took me years to leave even after I knew what he was. I miss the roller coaster of emotions that I became addicted to but I wouldn’t trade it for the peace I feel now.
Arguments and / or problems are never resolved with any cluster b because these are attention seeking disorders. Problems and arguments consume attention negative or positive. If problems are solved the attention goes elsewhere. A cluster b simply can’t have that
“From the narcissist’s perspective it is entirely logical. He has gained fuel and healed the wound, thus the ignited fury abates so he has no need to continue the provocation in the argument. He feels he has asserted his fury because the victim is upset, looks dismayed or dejected. He has achieved his aims which the victim (unintentionally) has fulfilled. He thus ends the argument. The victim is puzzled because from her perspective nothing has been resolved. If she presses on, she is likely to provide Challenge Fuel ( seeFuel, Fight or Flight ) and thus the narcissist will respond to this by deflecting, denying, projecting and a whole host of other manipulations.”
I’ve been through this exact scenario countless times before and even after realizing I was married to a narcopath, and now that I finally have an understanding as to what she is, things obviously make much more sense. However, what I still struggle with is determining whether or not her responses are intentional or involuntary. Is she purposely responding the way she does (is she aware of the process just as you describe), or is she simply wired that way, and it’s just an instinctive response to subconsciously feed herself?
Most narcissists are Lesser or Mid Range and they all respond in an instinctive fashion, therefore it is highly likely that she is therefore responding instinctively. Greaters (very rare) are both instinctive (some of the time) and calculated (most of the time). I appreciate grasping that what the narcissist does is purely instinctive (when Lesser or MidRange) is difficult and there is a lot more I can explain to help you with this. The comments section is not the most effective place for me to do so and if you wish to understand more, I recommend that you organise a consultation with me and I will readily assist you.