Have you ever felt like no matter what you do in your relationship with a narcissist, that it’s not good
enough? Have you been told that no matter the situation, “It’s all your fault?” Blame is one of the tactics
a narcissist has in an arsenal of manipulative strategies. And blame is the one often used the most, but
difficult to detect.
Blaming is when the narcissist blames you, no matter what. It’s wrong and it’s unfair. But it happens.
This looks like the following conversation between a narcissist (N) and a survivor (S).
S: Hey, I saw you flirting with other girls. That hurt my feelings.
N: That’s only because you were talking to that man over there.
S: No honey, I just said hello. That man was my boss.
N: You just don’t love me. I’ve never meant anything to you.
Why Do Narcissists Use Blame to Manipulate?
Blame is a tactic that keeps a toxic person in charge. A narcissist must maintain tight control over their
world, and if they feel like it’s spinning out of control, they switch gears. They stop being the one who is
wrong and make you the one who made a grave mistake.
Blame is a little different than gaslighting, another crazy-making form of manipulation. Gaslighting alters
your sense of reality, whereas blame flips the script, changes the reality and makes everything your
fault. Blame-shifting is another way a toxic person adds an element of shame to your new truth. You
feel like the entire relationship is going downhill because you messed it up. The narcissist told you that’s
what happened, and you believe them.
What Does Blame Stem From?
Blame comes from the narcissist’s unhealthy inner voice. Your inner voice is what was developed
throughout your childhood. This voice helps guide us when we make good or bad decisions. When we
make a good decision, perhaps we tell ourselves, “Nice job.” When we make a bad decision, shame or
guilt can kick in and agitate us until we apologize.
The narcissist’s inner voice, however, is often about survival. It is caustic and demands perfection. This
voice comes from the weak, often destroyed sense of self and self-esteem, and the declarations pour
out from the narcissist with no filter. It’s poison.
Sometimes this inner voice originates in a childhood where parents didn’t give attention to or help build
a guidance system of right and wrong. The narcissist may have been blamed or shamed for many things,
so they must point the finger elsewhere. Any more blame or shame might send them into anxious
thoughts or depression.
I spent my entire marriage to a narcissist, then a subsequent relationship with one, trying to please
these people. I was determined to fix them, make them happy, and save the relationship all on my own.
Nothing worked, and I eventually left both relationships. Instead of constantly working to please a narcissist, Dr. Elinor Greenberg had some recommendations on how to deal with blame-shifting. These were published in a February 2019 article on Psychologytoday.com. Greenberg said:
Show empathy. Greenberg said to mirror what you think the narcissist is feeling. You can use statements such as, “I know that’s frustrating for you,” or “I can understand why you are upset.”
Offer to help. You can offer to help a narcissist by saying something simple like, “Please let me help you.” Some narcissists may welcome the assistance, while others may feel even more inferior with your suggestion and offer a blunt “no” as a response.
Understand that you may spend the entire relationship trying to manage the feelings of a narcissist. It is
constant work, like managing a child’s temper tantrum and helping solve the relationship’s problems…at the same time and on your own.