Healthy relationships require the well-developed ability to be accountable for your own behavior. Accountable people readily recognize that their actions impact other people, they genuinely care if that effect is a negative one, and they feel a sense of responsibility in ensuring that they appropriately meet the needs and expectations of others. Accountability necessitates the practice of empathy, a willingness to consider different perspectives, and the ability to accept criticism and admit fault. Narcissists have extreme difficulty with this due to their emotional immaturity, complete self-absorption, and fear of vulnerability and loss of control.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist is like being under tyrannical rule. The only needs, desires, and expectations that matter are those of the narcissist. It is entirely a one-sided relationship. The narcissist “demands” to be treated in a particular way, yet has zero tolerance for the expressed needs of anyone else. In their mind, basic rules of common decency and reciprocity apply to other people but not to themselves. Narcissists typically respond with the following behaviors when confronted with criticism or asked to meet an expectation that they don’t like. All of these behaviors are designed to invalidate the victim’s feelings and avoid having to take any personal responsibility.
Rage – a disproportionate amount of anger will be used to intimidate their victim and ultimately derail and terminate the conversation
Projection and turning the tables – the victim will be falsely accused of doing the exact same thing that the narcissist did to them. Or, the narcissist will bring up a completely unrelated issue in order to divert attention away from their own behavior.
Silent Treatment – the narcissist will simply not respond at all. This could go on for exorbitant amounts of time with the hope that the victim will not only feel punished but also be worn down to the point that they give in.
Manipulation of facts – narcissists will frequently distort and deny the truth to the point that the victim questions their entire perception of reality. This is commonly referred to as gaslighting.
Dismissal – the victim will be labeled as “crazy” or unstable and therefore the content of their communication can be dismissed as nonsensical. The narcissist may also focus on one small part of the communication that they found particularly offensive and use that as an excuse to dismiss the entire thing.
Playing the victim – the narcissist may claim confusion about why their victim feels the way they do, report feeling victimized themselves, or state that they feel incredibly wounded
Excuses – behavior will be blamed either directly on the victim or on external factors outside of the narcissist’s control
Feigned guilt- on the surface the narcissist may appear to express feelings of guilt but when you examine the communication more closely you realize that they never directly address the complaint and it’s actually an attempt to gain sympathy and manipulate the victim into backing down