One common but infuriating tactic of narcissists is that they suddenly act like everything is fine after a big fight, blow up, or significant abuse on their part. How do you deal with a narcissist pretending nothing happened?
The first step is to keep your cool and refrain from reminding or convincing the narcissist. They know very well what happened and are using their “forgetfulness” as either a means of psychological control or to minimize their mistakes.
Read on to discover how you deal with a narcissist pretending nothing happened in these particular situations.
Pretending Nothing Happened as Part of Gaslighting
One common tactic employed by a narcissist is “gaslighting” — where an abuser warps their victims sense of reality by pretending actual events are made up, and made up events are real.
What they do. A narcissist gaslighting you will savor the ability to call you crazy. They will not shy away from the event that they are pretending never happened and instead will use every opportunity to bring it up and convince you it never happened. A narcissist may go to the point of fabricating physical evidence, falsifying documents, or bringing in third parties to persuade you that you are wrong.
How to handle it. In the face of gaslighting, you need a rock to lean on and someone who can help you maintain your grip on the reality of the situation. Don’t overestimate the effectiveness of narcissistic gaslighting.
First, remove yourself from the situation as much as possible. Don’t bring up the event and refuse to go along with the narcissist when they bring it up.
Secondly, find someone to help you go over the events and sort out what is true from what is false. Ideally, this would be a professional coach or counselor with experience dealing with narcissism. Get Coaching. Otherwise, a close friend or family member who is not in contact or under the narcissist’s sway may do in a pinch.
Pretending Nothing Happened to Avoid Their Own Mistake
Many times, if a narcissist realizes that they went over the line or are at fault for their behavior, they will conveniently “forget” that it ever happened. This is a way of avoiding the psychological pain of admitting a mistake if they don’t think they can talk their way out of it.
What they do. In this case, a narcissist will appear aggravated or get angry when you try to bring up the event. They will forcefully reply that “That never happened,” “That’s not the truth,” or “You’re a liar!” Approaching the subject at all is scary to them, and they will push it away.
How to handle it. You have found a narcissist’s weak point, and what you do with it depends on how you want to go on with the relationship. The ideal way forward in a relationship you wish to preserve is to —
- Forgive the narcissist for their behavior
- Show them you not going to attack them for it
- Offer the narcissist a path to reconciliation, which doesn’t involve them admitting fault
Demanding a narcissist say they are sorry or admit they were wrong is almost always a recipe for continued strife. Instead, by demonstrating with your actions that a mistake doesn’t devalue them as a person and that making it right removes all shame you are teaching them the way to overcome their psychological affliction.
If you no longer wish to continue a close relationship with this person, then you can use this weak point as leverage to scare them away. See:
Why do narcissists act as nothing happened?
Narcissists act like nothing happened to protect themselves from mistakes they made or as a form of psychological manipulation and “gaslighting.” It is one of many tactics that they use to control other people’s perceptions and assert their dominance of the group narrative.
What is narcissistic stonewalling?
Narcissistic stonewalling is a manipulation tactic where the abuser refuses communication or emotional connection with their target. Typically, narcissists use this in later stages of a relationship where the victims have developed a dependence on the narcissist’s affection.