Why Won’t He Say What Is Wrong?



Something is wrong.

The fact that something is wrong has many manifestations in the narcissistic dynamic. You may experience a sudden eruption of temper, the instigation of a silent treatment as you follow us around the house trying to draw from us what on earth is the matter. It might be that you plead with us to explain as all we do is fix you with a malevolent glare and say nothing. It may escalate into you being accused of various transgressions which make no sense and certainly cannot be what is truly wrong since the allegations have no bearing in fact. You are faithful yet accused of having repeated affairs. It makes no sense. You are told you never listen, but that is all you ever seem to do. The subject matter of the vitriolic accusations is clearly not what is really wrong.

We may vanish, subject you to a bewildering word salad, drag you into a circular conversation, triangulate you with the angelic other person but still you are none the wiser as to what is actually wrong.

Repeatedly you exhort us to explain, to elaborate, to detail what is causing this behaviour, just to talk and help you understand. Surely it is a reasonable and sensible request? Whether it is silent treatments, triangulation, verbally abusive accusations, a beating and so many other manifestations they will all have a common thread; we will not tell you what is wrong.

Why is this so troubling? Leaving aside the unpleasantness of being hit, called names and all the other effects of the various manipulations which are used against you, the simple fact is that people do not like not knowing things. Being in the dark is perplexing and causes anxiety. Not knowing something unsettles people, has them uncertain and bewildered. Just like not knowing whether you have secured a promotion, got the grades from your exam results, where your youngest child is when you are in a supermarket or what the outcome of a life-changing decision will be, the sensation of not knowing is one which causes anxiety for most people.

This becomes especially problematic for empathic individuals. Not being told what is wrong by a significant other, a family member or a friend, is even worse for an empathic individual because this offends many empathic traits.

  1. You want to help. When you see that somebody is troubled by something it is an instinctive reaction on your part to want to help them and you cannot but help but try to assist. If you are not told what it is, you cannot help and the increases your frustration.
  2. Your propensity for self-examination. If you are not told what the issue is, you will then spend a considerable amount of time trying to work it out as you replay conversations, analyse recent events as you seek a third party influence which has caused our behaviour and then ultimately you will examine whether you have caused the problem and if so how.
  3. You capacity for self blame. Without being furnished with the details of what is causing our behaviour, you indulge in the behaviour at two above and eventually all roads lead to a moment of mea culpa as you self-flagellate and decide you must have done something wrong. After all, nobody becomes upset for no reason do they?
  4. You are a truth seeker. Accordingly, you need to know the truth of what is making us furious or causing us to sulk.
  5. You are a love devotee. The person you love is upset, angry or tormented and this pains you. You suffer the emotional contagion arising from this and feel our pain as your own and with any pain you want to make it stop.
  6. You expect honesty in all dealings and especially from those close to you. You expect us to be honest and tell you what is annoying us.
  7. You are a problem solver and you need to fix the problem which is so apparent in its appearance.
  8. You are a good listener. You want to listen and if only we would explain what it is that is upsetting us so much, you will readily sit and listen, but please, please just tell you what it is.

All of these factors means that our failure to tell you what is wrong offends so much of what is important to you with the result that you become concerned, confused, hurt, anxious and even angry. This naturally leads to one place; fuel.

From your perspective, you know that if you talk about a problem you feel better. A problem shared and all that. You also know that you have the skill set and the tools to make everything okay. You have that selfless willingness to attend to the needs of others and remedy the ill. You want to collaborate, resolve the problem and that way we will feel better and in turn so will you. You cannot walk away from not knowing what it is. You have to know.

This near inescapable desire to know what it is that is wrong results in people falling into traps in terms of finding a reason why we are not talking about it to you. This is because the victim does not know what they are dealing with. He or she does not understand that they are dealing with one of our kind so instead, they will become ensnared in one of the many misleading traps. These are propounded by popular and incorrect reasons as to why some people will not talk about a problem and arise from ignorance about our kind. In such an instance you will hear comments such as

“He is the strong, silent type.”

“She has trouble trusting people, that is why she says nothing.”

“He feels silly admitting to having a problem.”

“He wants to sort things out for himself.”

“She won’t rely on other people. It is pride.”

“He has always learned to deal with things on his own.”

“Stiff upper lip I guess.”

“He doesn’t do feelings.”

Whilst there may be a kernel of truth in the applicability of these comments to the situation they are not the whole and sole reason for the failure to communicate the problem to you. The reason that someone who is of our kind will not tell you what is wrong goes beyond these comments.

The Lesser

If you are entangled with a Lesser Narcissist he will not tell you what is wrong because he does not know what is wrong. His less well-developed ability to control his environment means that the slightest disruption threatens his control as a whole. You are not doing what he wants but he does not know what he wants. All he realises is that something is wrong, but he cannot identify it. He cannot articulate what it is and this manifests as his increased irritation and annoyance. Indeed, the restlessness he experiences from the sensation of feeling like he is losing control is what is behind his need to lash out at you.

Your desire to help only serves to annoy him all the more. As you keep asking what is the matter, you are actually reinforcing the shortcoming and repeatedly reminding him of the problem that he cannot identify. Accordingly, his skewed logic will readily conclude that you are the problem. You are the problem and your repeated reminders of this shortcoming constitutes as criticism. The fury is thus ignited and it will erupt as heated fury. You still try to ascertain what is wrong but all you are then doing is pouring fuel (in both senses) on the fire that rages inside of the Lesser.

The Mid-Ranger

The Mid-Ranger reaches the same conclusion as the Lesser, namely you are the problem. He does so far quicker as a consequence of his increased cognitive ability. He cannot put his finger on what it is that you are doing that is causing his sense of dread, that feeling of instability and vulnerability, but he recognises that it is something to do with you. It has to be you. He will not say however that it is you because the attention which is generated by you keep asking him is making him feel better, because of course it is fuel. He senses that you are the problem therefore it make sense to keep you guessing as to what his problem might be. After all, you should be able to work out what is wrong without him needing to tell you if you truly love us. You should be able to ascertain the problem and remedy it because we expect this level of telepathy and second-guessing.

The Mid-Ranger cannot tell you what is wrong, because just like the Lesser, he does not know, but he knows straight away that it is something to do with you. Therefore he wants you to work it out and resolve the problem and he will not provide you with any input, why should he? He may talk in vague terms in order to keep the guessing game going so you are lead down dead ends and blind alleys and all the while fuel is obtained.

The Greater

As you would expect, the Greater knows full well what is wrong. He knows you are at fault (because of course everything has to be your fault) and this is because you are failing in your role. If you were performing as an effective appliance he would not feel this way. You are clearly not functioning and therefore you need to be punished until you eventually start to function again. Note this does not mean that you actually identify a problem and solve it, but rather that you start to provide fuel, comply with the Greater’s demands and submit to his or her control.

The Greater is never going to tell you what the problem is. To do so would be furnishing the enemy with secret information and that cannot happen. To tell you that you are not functioning and you are eroding his sense of control would be tantamount to ceding further control to you. Our sense of wariness will prohibit us from disseminating such information. Instead, as part of regaining control, the Greater knows that having you flow with fuel and pleading for him to talk to you is all part of the game which must be played. He is superior and not in the business of giving you any insight into his dark mind. You are  there to have your strings pulled and he will delight in doing the same keeping you in the dark, upset and begging for him to talk to you. He may embark on lengthy but ultimately meaningless monologues, grandstanding and pontificating but all this is done purely to tie you up in further knots.

What do you do?

Recognise it is happening and now understand why that is.

Ask once what is wrong. Don’t expect to receive an answer or if you do, do not expect it to be meaningful or helpful. You have however discharged your obligation by asking us what the problem is.

Understand that repeatedly asking us what is the matter is only providing us with fuel and allowing us to regain control. If you keep asking, we will just keep going with the game of not telling you. Once we see fuel flowing we want it to keep flowing.

Instead, ask and if you receive no answer or a meaningless answer just state

“Okay, I am sure you will tell me when you are ready.”

Then walk away.

You are not giving fuel, so we have not scented ‘blood’ and thus there is no feeding frenzy. Your comment is not a criticism however because you have allowed power to vest in us by leaving the decision with us. You can then get on with what you want to do. Yes, you will be accused of not caring, but do not respond. Yes, you are likely to face further pressure to draw fuel from you, but move away from us or if you cannot engage in a different task and if you feel the need to say something, just state in a neutral fashion.

“I have asked and I understand you will tell me when you decide you want to. That is fine.”

By asking once, leaving the decision with us, re-stating that position (if need be) not encouraging a fuel-frenzy and not wounding us, the particular manipulation that is being allied with not telling you what is wrong will fizzle out. You will then have saved yourself worry, energy concern and anxiety.


The Knowledge Vault

The Books of HG Tudor

Audio Consultations

9 thoughts on “Why Won’t He Say What Is Wrong?

  1. FYC says:

    Hello HG. As always, spot on advice. It is so important for empaths to learn we can take such an action and not be as effected by the apparent disconnect (something often very difficult for us).

    While I have been away due to many reasons, I continued building upon my base of learning at KTN. I studied attachment theory in depth to better understand the nature of what drives attachment patterns or the lack thereof and how this influences our relationships. Bolby (et al) attachment theory, describes four quadrants of attachment that measure avoidance and anxiety. Where both are low, there is a secure (S) attachment style, where anxious but not avoidant, an anxious preoccupied (AP) attachment style, where both anxious and avoidant, a fearful avoidant (FA) attachment style, and where dismissive, a dismissive avoidant (DA) attachment style.

    In short, the more avoidant a person is, especially dismissive avoidant, the less in touch that person is with any need for connection. In their early years of development, these individuals learned to cope with either absent or unpredictable or dangerous interaction with their primary caregiver by detaching and avoiding. This avoidance is stronger and more noticeable with narcissistic individuals and narcissists. Only a small percentage of avoidants are Ns.

    As adults, DAs are consciously unaware of any need to connect. They enjoy the presence of others that serve a purpose in their life but do not acknowledge any need for an emotional bond. If Ns, a false self (grandiose, entitled, in control–to compensate for the fear of not being enough) is developed that is vastly different from their rejected (vulnerable) true self (Winnicott et al). The true self is largely ignored because it includes vulnerable feelings and needs that were ignored or shamed by caregivers, or worse. The false and true selves cannot be reconciled. Therefore, to maintain the control of the defense the N unconsciously associates *any* discomfort with another to be caused by the other (defense response and lack of accountability).

    DA Ns prefer not to acknowledge anything is wrong when you seek to know what is the matter. Instead they experience this an attempt to control or obligate, and this ignites resentment or fury. This is an unconscious process. Therefore, any attempt to directly address the issues will be met with resistance or rejection (or possibly worse). Avoidants literally avoid any feelings beyond their comfort zone.

    Of course, far better to GOSO anytime your are involved with an N, but if not possible at present, take heart that their blame is really not about you. It is not even about the N. It is about unconscious feelings (limbic brain) that were perceived as a threat to survival in their earliest experiences. To surrender this defense or overcome it is rarely sought and even more rarely achieved. Some perceive this coping defense to positively correlate with covert depression as well (T. Real).

    1. A Victor says:

      FYC, you have such interesting and thought provoking comments! Thank you. I am so glad to see that DA is only a small percentage narcissists and also that there is hope for those with DA attachment style to change. It is a conundrum, wanting to let someone in but being terrified of doing so and also not knowing how. Good to know there is hope.

      1. FYC says:

        Hi A Victor, Thank you very much. An it is good to know there is hope. To be accurate though, I should state that while it is estimated that the percentage is small, it would be fair to say all Ns are avoidant, but not all avoidants are Ns. Ns are most represented in the DA category, followed by FAs, however it is paradoxically noted that many FAs have exceptional levels of empathy. While there is the possibility of an “earned attachment style” this would require working with a secure base and a willingness for growth beyond a current comfort level.

        It’s noted our attachment style may vary depending upon the attachment style of the person we are in a relationship with. So even if a person has a secure attachment style, would become more anxious or fearful in a relatinship with a N (due to the effects of lack of object consistency, gaslighting, intermittent reinforcement, silent treatment, etc.). Yet these parings are more rare. It is estimated that APs most commonly pair with DA’s, or FA with DA and this creates an unhealthy yet somewhat sustainable dynamic.

        1. A Victor says:

          Hi FYC,
          The piece about our attachment style varying depending on the relationship makes sense. I can and have walked away from anyone, except my second ex, of course a narc. We weren’t particularly attached, in the way healthy people are, I just wasn’t going to walk away again, as I had from my first marriage. But I believe I would still be there had he not walked away. When he left, it was a relief more than anything. Thank you again, I am gaining a greater understanding of some valuable things from your input here, much appreciated.

          1. FYC says:

            I’m very happy to know this information was useful. KTN is an exceptional platform for learning and growing in our understanding. It’s really what kicked off my ongoing search to grasp the whole picture. I wish you the best. I think you will do very well going forward.

    2. WhoCares says:

      Hello FYC,

      It’s nice to see you around the blog!
      How are you doing?

      1. FYC says:

        Hello WC,

        Thank you very much. I’m making progress. How are you and your son? I hope all is well with you both!

        1. WhoCares says:

          FYC – progress on what, may I ask? It sounds uncharacteristically vague of you; hopefully you don’t mind my prying…. but, progress through something good…or something bad?

  2. Joa says:

    Thanks for this HG post and many others before. You helped unblock the boulder to exit the very dark swamp in which I had been stuck for several days. I would have come out on my own – as always – but you speeded up the process. I feel great gratitude.

    I know that there are still many swamps ahead of me. I know I can get out of any wetland. I have my own ways of breaking blockades, but it’s great to have one more weapon for my arsenal. A very good weapon. Faster, much faster. Thank you is too little to express what I feel.

    It happened a moment ago while reading your blog, sometimes one significant sentence is enough. I love this downhill ride. Suddenly a snap. And it lets go of everything, like melting water. Now comes the euphoria. I love that feeling. Wonderful. It usually takes about two days. I know that I will also have to calm down.


    I will now have a longer break from interacting with “my” narcissist. I am most definitely painted in the deepest shade of black possible. I’m a problem at the moment. At the moment I am just a waste of Creation. The swamp I was just wading in wasn’t my swamp. I have removed myself completely, I will take care of myself later. It was his swamp that I had to digest (not finished yet, it will be back). It was the ugly old abdomen of his Creature he had left for me (I took it myself).

    I haven’t contacted him for 1.5 months. After the payment of the money, a few days after the deadline (no response), I usually sent back the Excel table with settlements (we have 3 types of settlements from the past, including child support payments).

    A quick and sharp wave of several e-mails poured out over me, quite bulky for our near-zero interaction at the moment. I’m used to it, but he changed tactics and touched my string. Until then, I was the worst woman he had ever met, a bitch, selfish, hypocritical, decayed, rot, and coin-sticky. I was just smiling. It doesn’t affect me anymore. Nothing. Funny squirming worm.

    Now I was the worst as well, but he changed the context. In addition to the standard invectives, what am I and what will he do and never do:

    – “Do YOURSELF a favor and don’t write to me.”
    (I don’t write. Why myself? Hook. It intrigued me).

    – “I don’t want any email, Skype or anything else”, “Back off”, “Give me a break.”
    (Rejection. Oh, this familiar sequence and my contradiction. You have peace of mind. You will meet my goal, maybe you will be turned on. Not sooner. You will not, I will not play. Think. I have time, I’m in no hurry).

    – “No news from you last month.”
    (Like a year for me, but I’m used to it. Mentally, my life will probably last 500 years 😊).

    – “I throw away the past and that’s it”, “When I see an e-mail from you, it’s like trying to close a wardrobe and something fucking failling out of it.”
    (I feel the same. I like rummaging in old wardrobes 😊).

    – “Since you, I haven’t fucked up anymore.”
    (Good catch. Do you mean me or the baby? Thinking again – about nothing 😊).

    -“I’ll block it eventually!”
    (Pffff, you are out of focus and confidence. Once upon a time, you would have been gone. Now you are strong, but you still remember the crisis I pulled you out of, right?).

    – “And (here the name of the current woman) also gets upset when he sees me like that.”
    (No doubt. Are you starting already? Quickly. Are you protecting her from me? Ha ha ha, take it easy, I’m not disturbing you. You haven’t learned anything. You can’t keep it. It’s only a matter of time).

    – “Repair yourself and forget !!!”
    (Good hook. Do you know what you left me? Do you know or not? Do you realize? Probably not. Irrelevant. It’s better for me, not to know).

    – “I don’t want to remember HIM !!!!!!”.
    (A good hook. He knocked me down into the depths. Do you associate me with the Creature?! It hurt. I’m just for getting you out of the murderous depths, right? Golden periods for others, right? Fuck. I’m going down 😊).

    I wrote back. Three short sentences. Kindly. Beautifully. I also included my catch. Now that catch won’t work, but it will make itself felt in a some time.

    The game, oh sorry, life goes on 😊


    TS, if you find this post, know that I feel guilty for not responding to your wonderful thoughts. I was reading on a regular basis. They help me just like the HG posts. You are a wonderful, penetrating person. I have thousands of further thoughts, but I couldn’t write back. I need to be more internally stable, which will happen in about two days, at the moment I am starting to love the whole world like crazy 😊 First of all, I don’t like to burden others with my emotional states, I do it minimally when I really have to and divide the portions into several people. Secondly, being in a swamp I can be grumpy and unfair, and in euphoria – sometimes I write nonsense. I hope you understand. I will comment soon 😊


    God (HG, ha ha ha 😊), how good it is, and it was so bad. Strength returns. The power is back. I’m high 😊 (I don’t do drugs. I don’t have to. I have my own resources in my head).

    I poured out again. I was just supposed to write a short thank you. It is good, the era of hydrofoil is about to begin 😊

    And now I sit down to work. I have a back. But I have a venet. Catch it. 😊


    Ring! Wrote the first narcissist (from decades ago). Great feel. I don’t read. Must wait. Maybe I will not write back at all. I’ll play with thought. Now I have no time.
    I will tire you with caring and caring until you confess the goddamn lie about your illness. I really did care, and so did my family. You will do it. I understand, I will forgive and let go. You found a great woman, hold her. Why are you writing? It has been closed here for years.

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.