Tag Archives: no win

No Win Situations & Narcissists

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.

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The Double Bind, No Win Situation

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Narcissists & The Double Bind/No Win Situation

Double bind situations are another common weapon of narcissists. This means they create a no win situation for you.

 

The most frustrating example I can think of from my own life happened when I was 17 years old. I recently started my first job at the local library, which is where my now ex husband was working. We struck up a fast friendship, much to my narcissistic mother’s dismay. She absolutely hated him upon first sight.

 

We often worked the same shift, closing the library. One night after work, we left the building together. My mother had come to pick me up (as I was not allowed to have a license or car), and told me never to leave work with him again because she hated him. The next time we worked together, he volunteered to hang back so I could leave first. Upon getting in the car, my mother said, “So the coward is hiding! He can’t even face me!” The next time, he left first and I hung back. Her response that time was to yell at me for him being so “cocky”, leaving work like that.

 

It was a completely, damned if I do, damned if I don’t situation. And, when trying to talk to her about it, she screamed at me. I should have known what to do, according to her. What was wrong with me for not being able to figure it out?

 

My mother created the perfect double bind situation. And it was miserable!

 

Double binds are all about control. Because you did something wrong (at least according to the narcissist), you will try something else in order to please her. When that is wrong, you will try something else. These situations may not seem controlling at first, because you are not being openly controlled. My mother never told me what she wanted- she simply expected me to know what she wanted, then screamed at me for not giving it to her. Other times when she has created these situations, she refused to speak to me in order to “punish” me for disobeying her orders that she never gave.

 

So how does one deal with the double bind situation? It is not easy. There is no way to deal with them completely successfully. With the situation with my ex husband at our work? I told him leave before or after me, or walk out with me. Nothing would please my mother, so why bother trying? Any time we worked together, my mother would either scream at me or more quietly tell me what a horrible person he was, and how stupid I was for spending time with someone so horrible. I figured since I was going to be screamed at anyway, I might as well do what I was comfortable with.

 

It also helps to remember that it is a double bind situation. There is nothing wrong with you- there is, however, something very wrong with a person who puts another person in such a situation!

 

Protect yourself with firm boundaries that you enforce however you need to.

 

Refuse to engage this person. When you are told what you are doing or have done is wrong in spite of there being no other solution, you can respond with, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” (Admittedly, that is a passive/aggressive sounding response, but it is suitable in this situation.) Change the subject. Do not apologize for your actions if you believe you were right.

 

Never show emotion. Emotion, good or bad, feeds narcissists their supply. Do not give them supply!!! The more supply you provide, the more they will take from you however they can get it.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism