Why You Cannot Communicate With a Narcissist

Updated on December 31, 2018

The Why

You reason. You explain. You defend. You argue. You beseech. You do all of these things, but you simply cannot get through. Why is it so difficult to communicate with a narcissist? There are a few reasons for this, such as the narcissist does not perceive things the way you do, but the main one is that when you are trying to talk to a narcissist, you are trying to reason with pure emotion. That's why there is such a disconnect, a failure to get through. Emotion is unreasonable. It is illogical and absolute. There is no room for rhyme or reason when you are dealing with emotion.

Imagine that you are dealing with a two year old who is having a tantrum. You wouldn't try to reason with the child because you know the child does not understand. The child only knows want and need, and in the mind of a child, these things are one and the same. They throw tantrums and scream because as toddlers, they have no other skills or tools to use to get needs met. They only have overwhelming emotion because their needs are not being met, and they scream because they cannot meet these needs themselves.

The How

This is the same way the narcissistic adult reacts. They don't all scream or throw tantrums, but the process is still the same: they cannot meet their needs themselves, so they endeavor to create ways to force others to do it for them. They may try manipulation. If that doesn't work, guilt. If guilt does not work, they may throw a tantrum. If a tantrum doesn't work, they might try threats. If they have to, they might resort to violence. They will keep cycling through this behavior until their needs are met because they cannot take care of it themselves.

A narcissist with no one to meet their needs is like a baby left in the woods alone: helpless. And they know it. This is why they engage in so many of the behaviors that they do, from smear campaigns to gaslighting. They need to make sure the target will continue to take care of them. They only feel confident of this when they have broken the victim down completely. A narcissist who has asserted dominance over a victim is in control. A narcissist in control is a narcissist that feels safe. When they no longer feel safe, that is when we see abuse in all its forms. There is no real cause for it that can be pinpointed; something in the narcissist's mind has made them feel insecure and so in order to counteract that feeling, they need to assert dominance - preferably over an easy target.

Narcissists do not choose easy targets because they're sadistic. They can be and usually are sadistic, but narcissists choose easy targets because narcissists are weak. It's like a guy feeling tough when he kicks a puppy. He thinks it makes him seem cold-hearted and tough, but in reality he's showing the world that the only thing he felt he could dominate successfully was a little puppy. Narcissists abuse the people who love them because it's easy. And like the guy who kicks the puppy, they get enjoyment out of dominating. It makes them feel powerful. They need to feel powerful because they know they are not. How powerful can a person really be if they have to resort to hysteria, manipulation or violence to get their needs met? How powerful is a person who does this in the first place, who cannot even meet basic needs themselves? Not very powerful at all.


When narcissists become angry or upset, there is no point in trying to reason with them. They are not listening to you. They cannot even really hear you. All they can hear is the screaming of their own emotions. That is the only language they understand: the language of feelings. To them, feelings are facts. Logic doesn't register. Reason doesn't matter because by God, they hurt. That is the most important thing, it is the only thing.

So when you are dealing with a narcissist of any type, remember that you are dealing with pure emotion, with want and need in the most basic, primitive form. Whatever helps satisfy these things is good. Whatever interferes with these things is bad. It doesn't matter what the reason is. It doesn't matter if you can't afford it, or if it's illegal, or if it's morally wrong or anything else. It just doesn't matter. They will keep on until they get it, either from you or from somebody else. The more you give in, the more you show the narcissist that their tactics are working, and the cycle becomes more and more reinforced. Somebody has to break it for anything to change. It can be you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • profile image

      Going Crazy 

      7 months ago

      I wonder if I'm married to a narc. I feel like I'm going crazy sometimes. I'm so frustrated. I can't talk to him about anything. If I say something that boosts his ego, or give him praise then I'm okay but if I ask a question regarding almost anything else, wow here we go. Oh man he depends on me for almost everything. He can't find out any information for himself, he don't pay attention to anything, He literally thinks in his mind that asking me to give him what ever information he feels he wants to know is the right thing to do. He asked me a question and I said well that's actually something you can go online to find information regarding it, and he actually said to me well that's what i'm doing by asking you. He is generally not a kind person, very selfish and self serving. I don't know if he realizes it or not. We can't even talk about topics regarding giving, or helping, or anything like that. They will always end in a full out argument. Anytime we talk to each other, it doesn't matter what the topic is he don't hear what I'm saying to him. He formulates in his mind what he feels I'm saying and then he will get defensive, or say I'm trying to start an argument. I find that most of the time he didn't hear me or understand what I'm talking about, I feel like he has a complex about himself like as if he is not confident or smart, and if I say anything then his feelings regarding himself boils up or his pride and then here we go. When I start trying to explain that what he is saying that I'm saying is not what I was actually saying then he either brings up something else that doesn't have anything to do with our conversation, or try to compare the current situation with a different one where he feels I was wrong, and then changes the whole conversation to me being wrong some other time, and most of the time its not situations that are even comparable. He never apologizes on his own, nor does he ever see when he is wrong. Even when things make complete logical sense, He will still not see it. When things are too obvious that he is wrong he will then just say stuff like, every morning you want to argue with me, I'm not doing this anymore. I know if something comes up that he is not good at, I try not to say anything about it. He looks at my face and asks me Why am I looking like that. its like he knows he's not good at it so he instantly comes looking at me to start. I can tell him I don't have anything to say and he will continue to ask, and ask until I say something which will end up in an argument. Then of course its my fault. Then here comes the ohh you think you are better than me stuff. He never thinks he need to change. He just always say I want him to apologize all the time. I don't know if he even realizes that if you are an extremely kind, loving person whose priority is always someone else first, always tripping over themselves to help or do for someone else, always thinking of ways for others to benefit, high drive to succeed. versus being selfish and self serving, unkind, no drive to succeed. always okay with hardly anything then its more likely that the latter person will do something wrong to people that would require an apology more often. The idea that he may need to change is the furthest thing from his mind. He is best and happiest when I give up on everything and just don't do anything, don't want more out of life, don't try to better our lives, just sit in the house and do nothing. I have worked all my life and have carried our marriage financially but we lost 2 kids recently, and emotionally I have been a wreck. My therapist suggested I not go back to work for the moment and try to heal. Oh man he is having a fields day with that. This is the first time in 17 years I have had to depend on him. He is constantly throwing in my face that he is the only one working, but when I say okay, well I will go back to work its like a whole 360. he starts saying stuff like: your therapist said you don't need to go back to work, or you know your memory is not the same, or you are too emotional to go back to work. We only have 1 car and if I say to him I will drop him off to work then he is mad at me. So he leaves and go to work and I just sit in the house until he gets home. I'm so frustrated I don't know what to do.

    • profile image

      DR BLABBY 

      10 months ago

      Great article. I married a narc and I found out early it is useless trying to get through to them unless you are pumping up their egos. It is so frustrating - mine liked to provoke me into leaving during an argument and then blamed me for abandoning him. Worst smear campaign ever. Turned his entire family against me - 13 yrs ago. Only thing you can do is protect yourself - lay low - don't engage. Agree with everything you can if you want to keep the peace. You need to find another support system. A narc isn't it. They will always blame you for any argument, immediately becoming defensive absolving them from any accountability. Yes, it is like dealing with a spoiled, demanding 2 yr old. Narcissists are not for the weak. They will destroy you.

    • profile image

      Janice mendoza 

      17 months ago

      Get out while you can the longer you stay the worthless you will feel. And feel as if you can accomplish nothing because he wants to be the center of attention he will never praise you only put the spotlight on the bad ,kids? They will hurt when they see you hurt. This article is all but true don’t try to reason it doesn’t work married to one for 26 years I’m trying to get out but feel like I can’t support myself I feel helpless and worthless to him the main one for me was the silent treatment for no reason at all even though I’ve been a great wife to a man who did not deserve me,

    • profile image

      Darcy Klovanish 

      18 months ago

      They just dont have souls, empty vessals, mean, evil,n more.

    • profile image

      Holiday tan bitch 

      2 years ago

      Everyone’s is a narcissist, it’s just the way we are bought up in the modern world. TOWIE, MIC, etc

    • profile image

      Shaman 144000 

      2 years ago

      Thank You ! :)

    • profile image

      Angie ....she is 10. 

      2 years ago

      She doesn't want to go back to see her father...He traumatized her the weekend she was there.....

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      My ex to the T. Unfortunely, I was not educated on what a narc's was . I learned the hard way. But I was smart enough to know this was not normal behavior. glad I walked away for my own sanity.

    • SinDelle profile imageAUTHOR

      The Little Shaman 

      3 years ago from Macon, GA

      @Sparkster Hubs: I think narcissists show their emotions externally, if we know what to look for. But to answer your question directly, I think it is a way of controlling the interaction for many of them. A way to say, "I'm not upset. You're upset. I am not the one with the problem, you are." Narcissists also generally find their emotions overwhelming and sometimes even frightening, so holding them in or denying them is a way of staving off anxiety sometimes.

    • sparkster profile image

      Marc Hubs 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very true, although narcissists never show their emotions externally. Would you say that this is a way of repressing their emotions? Or more of a way of regulating them?

    • RecoverToday profile image


      3 years ago from United States

      Excellent and well said.


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