Since many narcissists lie, you will find yourself in a situation when you may have to confront them about it. There is an accurate scene depicting how a narcissist handles this situation in the film, “Miss Dial“, which can be found now on Netflix. (spoiler alert!!) This is a quirky film that is light and fun to watch, so if you plan to watch it, do that now before you read the rest of this blog. Truth is, what I’m going to say gives some of the main plot away.
That said, about 10 minutes and 15 seconds into the movie, the protagonist is confronting her boyfriend about something that one of her friends has told her. She says, “I think we need to talk.”
He replies, “Oh no, here we go.” There is a total lack of concern about the fact that she wants to talk. He shows no genuine consideration for how she is feeling. He lets her know through his tone of voice that this is inconvenient for him. In the movie, we can see (the protagonist cannot see because she is on the phone) that he is amused. He has been caught. Let the game begin. He is taking delight in his ability to handle this situation.
A normal, caring, person would show interest in something that was bothering you. They might become defensive if you said, “I think we need to talk”, but at the very least they would want to know what was upsetting you. This is not how he responded.
Something that I’ve described in earlier posts is the stance, “The best defense is a good offense“. This undoubtedly started out as a sports metaphor. Picture hockey. The best way to win is to focus on scoring goals, rather than tying to keep the other team out of your end. In this particular movie, and I must point out, in my relationship as well, the narcissist uses this attack stance to gain an emotional advantage in the discussion. He keeps the protagonist off balance by repeatedly attacking her so that it is more difficult for her to confidently stand her ground.
He says, “What’s the matter, am I not tuning into your feelings again?” This is meant to belittle her. He is saying something to taunt her about something that she has either said to him in the past, or at the very least, some way he has summarized a previous conversation. He has not given her a chance to speak yet. He is already trying to undermine her before she begins.
She tries to gather some strength and says a few things trying to get her thoughts together and he cuts in, “Let’s cut to the chase.”
As soon as she says why she is concerned, he attacks again, not addressing the content of her question, but the truth of it. “Who saw me?” he asks attacking. “Your friend Samantha, with the fat ass?”
These off topic attacks, whether or not Samantha has a fat ass, are meant as a distraction. If the narcissist can get you off of the topic that you want to talk about, they can derail the conversation without having to address your concerns. This is a ploy, a red herring, a way of misdirecting the conversation. These are often more personal than this and can be effective at changing the conversation completely around and making it about you defending yourself.
If she had started to defend Samantha, or point out that she doesn’t have a fat ass, or that it is rude to be describing someone that way, he would have won early in the conversation.
This is a game to him, as I pointed out earlier when I mentioned that he showed delight.
His next tactic is to say things that are so obviously ridiculous that of course they are not what she is concerned about, but they do stop the conversation from moving forward normally as it would if he was not derailing it.
“So what am I not allowed to have lunch with someone?”
“How exactly do you eat lunch suspiciously?”
“Was I making a shifty eye motion?”
“Or did a man in a trench coat drop off a brief case at my table?”
Mixed in with these outrageous statements is actually a true statement, but it is buried in all of the ridiculous ones so it is easy to classify it as something that is ridiculous.
“You got me. I have been boning Amanda and afterwards I thought we would have lunch in a public place.”
Then he goes back to ridiculous statements:
“So, that everyone could see me groping her tits.”
“Oh, and did your friend Sarah tell you that I left a used condom in the booth? I meant to grab it I just didn’t have time.”
The protagonist stays focused and asks straight out, “Are you cheating on me?”
Once again, he turns it around, “I thought you trusted me?” The insinuation here is that he is not in the wrong. She is in the wrong for not trusting him.
Then he says, “I can’t believe you need me to say it.” Another jab at her being somehow deficient. It is her “need” to hear it that is the problem. She should not be so “needy”.
My favourite bit of this whole scene is that he waits until he can use a pre-rehearsed phrase. There is a whole shift in his facial expression, his tone of voice and his attitude. This is the hallmark of the pre-rehearsed phrase. He has practiced this. It stands out because it is the only time that he is not attacking her. He grins when she accepts his line.
“Baby, I would never cheat on you and you know that.”
Immediately, he goes back on the attack, “I should be mad at you right now.” Then, he lays in about her friend again, using the same wording as he did earlier about her other friend. It is important that a narcissist separate you from your friends, because it gives them more power and control. Often, after being with a narcissist for a while, people realize that they hardly ever see the friends that they do still have and that they have fewer friends all around. This is not an accident.
By having the presence to ask yourself, “What do they want right now?” you can see these tactics for what they are. If she had asked herself this early in the conversation, she might have realized that he wanted to derail the conversation and make her feel in the wrong. Unfortunately, he was successful.