Setting you up in a no win situation is one of many weapons in the narcissist’s arsenal. They put you in a situation where you can’t win so they have a reason to be angry with or hurt by you, or to make you do what they want.
In my late teens, my mother’s abuse was at its peak. She would scream at me so often, it was just a way of life for me then. She didn’t have any valid reason to scream at me, so she would often make up reasons or put me in a situation where I would be wrong no matter what. One example that comes to mind took place not long after I met my now ex husband. Upon seeing him for the first time, my mother hated him & told me to stay away from him. I liked him so I sneaked around behind her back at work & school to see him. (The rest of the time I was with my mother). He & I worked together, & often closed the place. I wasn’t allowed to have a car, so my mother took me to & from work & school. When my ex & I walked out from work together, my mother screamed at me as soon as I got into the car for spending time with him. When I walked out first on the next evening we worked together, she screamed at me again for him “hiding from her”, “not having the guts to face her, “& “being a coward”. Then on the next evening we shared a shift, he left first as I hung back. Then she screamed at me for him “being so cocky”, leaving work before me. There were only three ways to handle the situation & she got mad at every single one of them. She created the perfect no win situation. When I tried talking to her about it, she screamed at me for not knowing what she expected of me. It was devastating to me & made me feel crazy. It didn’t matter to her it hurt me though- as long as she felt better, that’s all that mattered. That’s how narcissists are- so long as they benefit, it doesn’t matter who they hurt or destroy.
Unfortunately, I’ve never found a really good way to deal with it. That’s why it’s called a “no win” situation, I suppose. All I have learned is not to engage in the behavior. Let the narcissist have the temper tantrum but you remain calm. Showing narcissists emotions only gives them supply so you refuse to do that! Do NOT apologize if you weren’t wrong. Change the topic. Leave the room or hang up the phone.
Always remember, this is NOT normal behavior! The person who puts another in a no win situation is not normal. There is something very wrong with that person, not you.