Friday, September 23, 2011

My Evil Strategy

That's right. I've devised an Evil Strategy. It's my first ever.

If my father asks why I haven't humored him and sent him the photos he requested although I've already said "no" to him, here's what I'll say:

"Oh! You were serious? It sounded like a joke."

This is not a lie. And it's not a justification. It's showing him how he's coming across. If someone sends you a total of 17 photos as a result of your constant pestering and then says "I don't know what else to send you," it's only logical that your "Send me all you've got" reads as a joke.

I guess I started thinking about Deborah's suggestion that I behave like his own narcissistic mother would, and that caused a paradigm shift in my thinking. Suddenly, the question occurred to me: "Why does it always have to be me on the defensive? Justifying myself? Thinking of ways to prove I'm not being mean? Is it absolutely forbidden to put HIM on the defensive if he deserves it by behaving in a clearly abnormal way? It might actually not be forbidden. Wow."

Am I evil?


  1. I'm so glad I could give you useful advice! You're not evil - he should be on the defensive instead of you, that's for sure. You deserve to be happy. Remember - your father has never felt miserable for making you miserable. Guilty feelings are only for normies...

  2. Assertive behavior, and jokey non-direct stuff, is often interpreted as game-playing by the N; that isn't a good dynamic to invest in. They love to compete for 'top', and are shameless about pursuing it. They will pull stunts that you're not willing to (as a healthy adult). In their minds, this is "winning".

    On a different point, there's a great post about JADE at The One You Feed, I don't know if you know about JADE but I found it helpful. Best- PWC

  3. Thanks, PWC, great link. I wasn't going to be jokey about it, I was going for "genuine surprise that someone could have written that in all seriousness." What do you think I should do if he asks "Why haven't you sent me any more photos?" I'm open to suggestions. This is the first time I'm refusing something without justifications. We were barely in touch for years and he barely ever asked for stuff, and now this!

  4. Hi - I came back to delete my comment and am relieved you're open to other ideas! :) I wasn't sure if it was okay to disagree or if I was too negative shooting down an idea you were excited about. What can I say, I have a fear of conflict. :D

    Re: your question, I'm not sure what the best response would be, but stonewalling works pretty well. (Poker face, no reply. Tough to learn but once you have this skill it's pretty useful!)

    I've found no magic key to countering the N's incredible obnoxiousness (and that's what it is, sheer obnoxious behavior other adults would be *ashamed* to employ as a strategy to get what they want). It is through their obnoxious behavior that they receive many rewards: attention, nervous laughter, whatever they're seeking (e.g., special seating at a theater, or, in your case, photos). IT PAYS for them to continue to behave this way.

    I think you've inspired a blog post, so thanks - and I encourage you to try whatever you want when dealing with your father. Who knows, maybe your new idea will work - I can only say it would never work on my Ns.

  5. Of course it's okay to disagree! I'm really just looking for advice on what to do and this was just a thought I wanted to run by you guys - because, frankly, I really do't know what the next step is. Stonewalling might work if we weren't restricted to writte communication at the moment. I really don't enjoy being rude or "mean". I also don't want to send more photos, especially not "all I've got." So I need to come up with an effective respose to the inevitable text or email "Why am I not getting the photos I asked you for?"

    What would work on your Ns in written communication?

    I'm looking forwards to that blog post!

  6. Since the only contact is email...if the pictures are the only things he emails about, I think your idea might work. If he emails about Other Stuff plus adds the demand for pictures...just pretend that part of the email isn't there?

    Respond only to the portion of the email that is reasonable, and not demanding or whiney. It's like ignoring a toddlers whining.

    Or just ignore any email that contains any mention of pictures. Because you're done discussing that topic. Only respond at all when he observes the rules of polite society.

    I have NO expertise...I have a boss that I'm trying to train to treat me better. Nothing as emotional as a family member. So if I'm off the mark, ignore my suggestion.


  7. dang, is this photo thing stilll going on?
    si, you are correct!
    reply however you want!

  8. OK, great! Well, stonewalling is difficult to master. I like Melissa's advice for handling written communication, very good approach there. And also for pointing out that a good "handle" to get on them is to view them as toddlers, because emotionally, that's what they are.

    I also think it would be worth reconsidering your fear of appearing rude. I've felt the exact same way in your shoes: I don't want to be mean or rude.

    However, part of effectively dealing with Ns is to realize that you cannot apply normal, polite norms of behavior onto your dealings with them. Why? Because *that's what the Narcissist relies on*. And this fear of yours - of being mean or rude - will be exploited by them over and over again. I've alluded to this in two separate posts. They're both rather lengthy so here is the original source, a comment on a really interesting post and comment thread discussion at Narcissists Suck: "Narcissists use rules of polite society to box decent people into corners. I don't think we have to let them keep that kind of power over us."

    Sheesh this is a long comment, hope you find this helpful and good luck! May the force be with you. :D

  9. PWC's comment is something I have seen in action. It always floors me when a N uses rude cruel temper tantrums then screams at me that I am rude when I say NO. I have used the toddler metaphor and it helps me to view them differently. If you tell a toddler no in the kindest most understanding way they will still tell you are mean because it is about what they want to get, not how you phrase the answer. I had a nasty boss several years back and I was able to practice my assertiveness skills on him without emotional baggage. I find consistent calm firm NO is the path I have chosen. It takes longer but I feel better about my behavior. Good luck. Ruth

  10. Good, constructive suggestions, guys! Thanks! Melissa, thank you for the very sane and practical tips! These photos are not a hill I'm willing to die on, but THAT DOESN'T MEAN I'M SURRENDERING THE HILL.


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