Having an argument with a narcissist is like being on a hamster wheel. It will keep going until you step off. They love to beat a dead horse. You will argue on that same subject for years. They never move past it. You can offer scientific proof that your point is valid and they will still say you are wrong, the scientists don’t know what they are talking about and you are at fault.
I remember once after I had surgery, I wrote in a heartfelt card I took a lot of time to pick out, “Thanks for stepping up to the plate for me. I really appreciate it.” I was met with, by my then husband, “What does that mean? That’s a rude thing to say.” etc… I said, “I was trying to thank you. It’s not rude, it’s an old saying. I’m trying to show you I don’t take you for granted.” He was so offended and I was so caught off guard that I went to the library to see if I could find a book of sayings that explained it was a good thing. I asked his mother if it was offensive. I was thinking maybe it was something in his childhood that someone told him it wasn’t a good thing. She was just as perplexed.
This particular argument only lasted about 3 weeks. Actually one of the short ones. He would not stop bringing it up. Even after showing him a book I found, he tossed it aside and said it doesn’t matter what it says it is. I think it’s rude. After 3 weeks, I stepped off the wheel and just said, “I’m sorry you took it offensively. It wasn’t meant that way. It was meant to be kind and thankful.” I walked away and within a day, the fight was over.
Here’s the thing. Even at some point, if he realized he took it wrong or overreacted, he was never going to back down or admit he was wrong. He wanted me to suffer and I did for 3 weeks with snide remarks, being ignored and him talking under his breath. It had to end for the kids. So I ended it.
Narcissists feel they are entitled to your time and your attention. They love to fight. They feel the drama they create is passion, it’s not. Narcissistic people love to argue and to create discord both for and between other people. And they don’t really argue, they attack. They just want you to shut up in humiliation, especially if you dared to challenge their idea. There is a latin term, hominem. ( hominem (Latin) means “against the man”. As the name suggests, it is a literary term that involves commenting on or against an opponent to undermine him instead of his arguments.) Narcissists are really good at this. You might even question whether he is undermining you or not. They don’t know how to argue or agree to disagree. You cannot agree to disagree if you don’t have respect for the other person. They have no respect for anyone so it’s a moot point. It’s never going to happen.
Pick your battles. Hop off the hamster wheel and let them continue on it until they have exhausted themselves. It’s not worth your sanity or your time. I tell you this because I wish I had learned it years before I did. Our marriage actually went downhill more after I learned it because he felt I wasn’t willing to fight for the marriage. It wasn’t the marriage. It was the volleyball game I was unwilling to fight to win. Lobbing words back and forth hoping to get a spike, for what? To prove that “thanks for stepping up to the plate” wasn’t an insult? Screw it! I have better things to do with my time than prove to you that a pure of heart comment was not an insult. Your issue, not mine.
If the Narcissist is unwilling to do any form of active listening, and usually they are not, simply look at them and say, “I’m sorry. This is your issue, not mine. I’ve said what I have to say and I’m not commenting further.” AND DON’T. They will want to continue to dance. DON’T. I would grab the kids, get in the car, go to Barnes and Noble and we would get juice and coffee and sit and read until enough time had passed that I felt we could go back home. I was usually met with the silent treatment but it was better than him beating a dead horse over and over and over again to try to convince me he was right or to engage me again.
Step off the wheel and move on in your day and live it in joy. Life is too short.