How a narcissist “let’s” you choose

“Do you want A or B?”, the narcissist asks.

He wants you to choose “A”. It’s what he really wants to do. You’re supposed to know this, and if you’ve been with a narcissist for a while, you’ve been trained to give what he wants. Or perhaps you’re just a generous person, and he knows if you know he wants something, you’ll want him to have it out of the goodness of your heart.

So you choose “A”, for whatever reason. Doesn’t matter. The narcissist gets what he wants. Or maybe it’s a non-choice, because the narcissist really doesn’t care, but he asks, because he gets to say he respects you and asks you your opinion, even if he knows it’s only about things that don’t matter to him.

But what if you don’t choose what he wants? What if you give the wrong answer?

You choose “B”. Maybe it’s what you really wanted. Maybe you really thought he was giving you a choice (silly girl), and actually told him what you wanted. Maybe you don’t give in to him this time, because you’re tired of always giving in or you truly believe this is the best choice. It doesn’t matter.

The narcissist doesn’t get to do what he wants. And that’s a bad thing.

He’s furious. Now he shows his real side. He may start off being passive aggressive. Perhaps he starts with cajoling, gently guiding you to the “right choice”, because you were too stupid to figure it out on your own. If this doesn’t work he will try harder. He’ll argue with you. His resentment starts to show (how can you even think about depriving him?)

If you still don’t get it, you better duck, because he’s going to blow. He’ll punish you. Somehow, he will turn it, and you’ll find yourself defending yourself against abusing him. (How do you always get into this position, girl? Oh wait, you’re involved with a narcissist.)

And then after he’s done, and you’ve gone from feeling special because he’s asking you what you want, to feeling like shit, because you’ve just been ripped a new one, he’ll go right ahead and do what he wants…just like he had always intended. And feel very self righteous about it, because you were so mean to deprive him in the first place.

Of course there are variations in this, but the basic elements are there. Narcissists are great about respecting your right to choose – as long as it’s about nothing important to them or you make the right choice…theirs.

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5 Responses to How a narcissist “let’s” you choose

  1. daddys_girl says:

    Thank you for creating this blog and talking about this (very perplexing) subject. I’m an adult child of a narcissist, and I *wish* my mom could have found the strength to leave. But on the other hand, she would have been up against the same challenges you’re facing. I’m sure she saw it as a no win situation.

    I have cut myself off from the family (I’m the “selfish” one), and now getting emails from my mom. My dad is dying of cancer and she hopes that I’ll call him and tell him I love him so he can go in peace. (Because peace is some external thing that you get from someone else). Ugh.

    I hope that after he’s gone that I’ll be able to put my relationship back together with my mom – if she isn’t too far gone from the conditioning.

    Best to you!
    You are doing right by yourself and your kids. 🙂

  2. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi daddys_girl, and welcome to this blog. I’ve been away from my computer a while, and just found your comment tonight.

    You know, it’s one thing to ask you to consider talking to your dad so that you might have the opportunity to find resolution with him in person before he’s gone, to see if maybe there’s some kind of resolution or peace making that can occur for both of you or for you to have one last time to be real with him – take it as it is. BUT to ask you to call, and tell you to essentially “fall in line”, to tell him you love him, to play the part of the daughter he needs you to be so *he* can feel better about himself and his life is just more feeding someone’s narcissistic need/image at the expense of rendering you invisible.

    Good to see that that is not where you want to go.

    And thanks for your kind words of support!

  3. daddys_girl says:

    Thank you – that hits the nail on the head! That’s what is great about a site like this. It is very difficult to understand the context of what’s going on with a narcissist when you don’t have experience dealing with it. And if you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to explain to others the dynamics of what you’re up against.

    In my comment, I meant to write about your post, that every interaction you have with a narcissist involves this kind of A/B option. Sometimes it’s not in the form of an either/or question, but if you’re “asked” to do something and you decline, it’s the same kind of slap in the face for them. They’re not really giving you a choice like their words may suggest. Like you say – variations on the theme.

    Keep writing! Just reading about this is validating for a lot of people who haven’t had much of that.

  4. morgand says:

    Wow..and I thought I was alone. Thanks so much for all the comments and blogs..it has been a long rocky road back to sanity but every post here has rang so true I have come to realize I am not alone..furthermore that there is hope with how to move on (which is really just an acceptance of Who they are and how they behave as Their issue and not mine..mine is how I behave day to day)
    loved the AB ..hit home because that was exactyl what happened recently after my being sucked into his “manipulations” again for 9 months. He asked my opinion, which in fact I soon discovered he really DiDN’t want..but in fact just wanted me to agree with him – and when I didn’t, using his same logic he had just used with me – he exploded and I for a moment I was caught up in it. Only this time I had been healthy enough to start to examine his illogic and erratic and explosive/irrational behavior…

    Thanks so much I have bookmarked this as reference to keep me strong as I approach a court date with him.

  5. deepbreath says:

    oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!

    What a tremendous god send this site is. I have been struggling with how to describe what my ex husband is…

    My battle has been a long, exhausting, uphill one. It’s only now that I have been able to figure out that the struggles I face with our daughter cannot be placed squarely on my shoulders. For years I have been battling the A/B conundrum. “Here are the options, let me know what you think… “. “A you say?, I figured you’d go that route. Oh and by the way, daughter opted for B and I support her”

    Could it be that I am crazy? I have been forced to ask this question faithfully every few months. It’s draining. It’s daunting. Second guessing myself has become a way of life.

    I will continue to read and draw strength from knowing that there is a way to fight without fighting.

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