Having an honest conversation with a narcissist can sometimes be too much to wish for.
Interacting with a narcissistic individual can leave you feeling crazy and confused. Getting straight answers out of a narcissist can feel like trying to squeeze water out of a stone; you can put in a lot of effort and squeeze, but the stone is not giving any water, no matter what you do.
Have you ever asked a narcissist a question and had them respond with another question, shifting and guiding the conversation away from your original query? This is common for those who frequently interact with people with NPD.
This article will explore why narcissists try to deflect and avoid answering questions.
Why Does A Narcissist Answer Questions With Questions?
The main reason is control. Narcissists will dodge questions because they want to steer the conversation in a direction that serves them. When you’re asking the questions, you have the power; this makes the narcissist uncomfortable. They may become defensive about regaining control.
Narcissists will lie about anything at all. When confronted with a question about any aspect of their lives, they will respond in whatever way works best for them; this often involves deflection and projection to regain control and shift the focus away from themselves and onto you.
It doesn’t matter how seemingly simple the question is, ask the narcissist what they had for dinner, and they twist the narrative back to you and the mistakes you have made. Ask them about their work, and they’ll turn it into how your job doesn’t pay enough. Narcissist feels a compulsive need to defend themselves when faced with questions because they fear a narcissistic injury.
At Minds Therapy Online, they say narcissists avoid questions in conversations because of the following reasons:
Narcissists Think You Don’t Deserve Answers
Narcissists believe that they are special and can only be understood by individuals who are also exceptional and have high status. Unfortunately, most people do not meet the criteria of an amazing person to the narcissist. because you are not considered special or unique in their eyes, narcissists often feel that you do not deserve answers. They believe that you wouldn’t be able to understand the response anyways, so they see no reason to bother answering with the truth.
They Lack Empathy
Individuals with NPD lack empathy and cannot form meaningful connections with other people. Unlike non-narcissists who ask questions to gain understanding and explore someone else’s thoughts and motivations, narcissists fail to comprehend the purpose of questions.
They struggle to grasp that non-narcissists ask questions to learn more about them and to understand their actions. A narcissist thinks they’re being put on the spot, which threatens their carefully crafted image of perfection and superiority. They fear that answering questions may expose their imperfections and reveal to others that they are not the amazing person they desire to portray themselves as.
They Want To Keep You On Edge
Narcissists love to keep others confused and uncertain. This allows them to employ manipulative techniques, particularly gaslighting. When you possess all the answers and feel confident, it becomes harder for them to manipulate and control you.
Narcissists have a never-satisfied need for control, and gaslighting is their primary way of getting it. By withholding answers to your questions, they ensure you remain unsure what to believe. This strategy also explains why they refuse to address even the simplest questions.
You would catch onto their manipulative game if they only avoided more challenging questions. By deflecting seemingly trivial matters, they create a sense of confusion, making it difficult for you to decipher their underlying intentions, allowing them to gain the upper hand in the interactions.
Unfortunately, narcissists do not care how their inability to give you straight answers impacts your life. Narcissists operate as if their needs and desires are the only things that matter. You can better prepare yourself to handle the situation by understanding why narcissists do what they do.
Why Do Narcissists Hate Questions?
Narcissists hate questions because they perceive them as threats. Individuals with NPD perceive questions as threats to their delicate sense of self. Any question that challenges their self-image or doubts their perfection can be seen as an attack to be avoided at all costs.
Questions can potentially expose inconsistencies in their behaviour, uncover hidden motives, or reveal their true character, which narcissists want to keep hidden. This would negatively impact the narcissist’s goals by making it tougher for them to manipulate and control their victims.
Furthermore, questions can be viewed as criticism or an attempt to hold narcissists accountable for their behavior. Since narcissists fear criticism and desire to avoid responsibility, they tend to resist honest conversations. Instead, they may dismiss, downplay, or deflect the questions, avoiding acknowledging their flaws or shortcomings.
Unfortunately, this perspective often leads to a pattern of avoiding, dismissing, or distorting questions, making genuine communication and understanding difficult when interacting with individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder.
Why Do Narcissists Get So Defensive?
Narcissists get defensive whenever they feel vulnerable. If their self-worth is threatened or their shortcomings are acknowledged, the fear of their true selves being exposed can cause them to feel very vulnerable and threatened. This can lead to various defensive behaviors.
When narcissists become defensive, they sometimes lash out in narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage episodes stem from a challenge to an individual’s self-perception and are marked by overwhelming anger. Such episodes can manifest in various ways within a relationship, including physical or verbal aggression, manipulative tactics, or passive-aggressive behavior.
In their article, the author discusses how the following triggers can cause a narcissist to get defensive:
- They Do Not Get Their Way
Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, convinced that they are the center of the universe and that their desires take precedence over others. When they encounter situations where they don’t get their way, it triggers a sense of loss of control. In response, narcissists may experience intense bouts of rage as they strive to regain dominance and assert their superiority.
- They Are No Longer the Center of Attention
Narcissists require continuous admiration and validation to maintain their power and control. When they feel their spotlight fading, they may resort to anger, aggression, or shouting to redirect attention back to themselves. This ensures they remain the center of attention and control of the situation.
- They Are Exposed to Their Behaviors
Narcissists find vulnerability intolerable, especially when their actions are exposed. It becomes particularly challenging for them when their grandiose illusions are shattered or their shortcomings are brought to light. In such situations, they often respond angrily to deflect shame and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
- They Are Asked to Be Accountable for Their Actions
A narcissist’s primary focus is on preserving their image and reputation. When confronted with accountability for their hurtful or abusive actions, it directly challenges their ego and triggers feelings of shame. Narcissists typically respond with anger, deflection, and fury to avoid taking responsibility and deflecting attention from their mistakes. These tactics redirect the situation away from their wrongdoing and allow them to maintain their desired image.
- They Face a Setback, Disappointment, or Conflict
When a narcissist experiences setbacks in life, a job, or relationships can quickly trigger intense rage, the combination of losing control and facing an ego blow leads to explosive reactions. In such moments, they may lash out angrily to divert attention from the conflict or assert their authority again.
In summary, narcissists become defensive due to their fear of vulnerability, inflated sense of self-importance, need for attention and validation, avoidance of accountability, and difficulty coping with setbacks and conflict. These underlying factors contribute to their defensive behaviors and reactions when faced with criticism, exposure, or situations they don’t get their way.
How To Deal With A Defensive Narcissist?
You should take the proper measures to protect yourself. Often, it is best to avoid engaging with the narcissist and create distance if possible. Doing your best to avoid engaging with them and minimizing interactions can be very effective in protecting yourself from their behavior.
Another important thing to do is to set boundaries. Setting clear boundaries is essential, and sticking to them demonstrates that their manipulative tactics are ineffective. With time, the narcissist can move on to their next target, leaving you alone.
Additionally, it is very important to remain calm when dealing with a narcissist. Remaining calm and composed helps preserve your well-being, and techniques like meditation can aid in maintaining a sense of detachment from the narcissistic drama. Refrain from overreacting, as the narcissist thrives on your emotional response. Empathizing with the narcissist and validating some of their viewpoints can temporarily defuse the situation.
It is important to physically remove yourself from their presence when their rage escalates, seeking a separate space to ensure your safety. Avoid raising your voice during arguments, as triggers for their rage can be unpredictable. Pausing to process their words and explain the need for time can provide validation while allowing you to assess the situation.
Recognize that you are not at fault for their rage and that their insatiable desire for attention cannot be appeased. Establishing and following boundaries is crucial in combatting narcissistic abuse and managing rage. By remaining steadfast, assertive, and resolute, you can regain control over the situation and protect yourself from their abusive tactics.
What Is The One Question A Narcissist Can’t Answer?
A narcissist can never honestly answer the question, “How do you feel about yourself?”. Narcissists often portray themselves as feeling great, but in reality, they are frequently miserable. They go to great lengths to mask their unhappiness by shifting the focus onto others or external circumstances.
Sometimes, they genuinely convince themselves that the grass is greener elsewhere. This lack of introspection prevents them from truly examining their self-perception and the underlying emotions they have about themselves.
Beneath their confidence and superiority, they often harbor deep-seated insecurities, low self-esteem, and a constant need for validation and admiration from others. While they may project an image of grandiosity and self-importance, they may feel a sense of emptiness, loneliness, and inner turmoil.
Their inability to genuinely connect with others and lack of empathy contribute to persistent disconnection and dissatisfaction. However, it’s important to note that the specific emotional experiences of narcissists can vary, as everyone’s feelings and emotions are unique.
In conclusion, having an honest conversation with a narcissist can be tough. They often avoid answering questions and become defensive, making it hard to understand them. Narcissists repeat questions to stay in control and manipulate others.
Narcissists don’t give straight answers because they think they’re special and deserve special treatment. They lack empathy and want to keep others confused. When confronted with a question, they tend to get overly defensive.
Dealing with a defensive narcissist involves setting boundaries and staying calm. It’s important to protect yourself and not let their behavior affect you. Remember, narcissists struggle with insecurities and need constant validation.
The question they can’t answer honestly is how they truly feel about themselves. They may act confident, but deep down, they often feel insecure. Understanding narcissists’ behavior can help you handle interactions with them better and prioritize your well-being.
A resilient writer who has emerged from addiction, depression, and anxiety with a renewed sense of purpose and a powerful voice. His journey has shaped his writing, allowing him to explore the complexities of the human condition intimately. Also blogging about mental health at www.medium.com/@Patrickmeowler