Why is it so hard to say no to narcissists?

If you have a narcissist in your life, you probably know that they run the show. It’s all about their needs, their desires, and their preferences.

What’s more, it seems that you have no choice but to follow their wishes. 

In a relationship with a typical person, you’d have no problem saying no from time to time. With a narcissist, it’s different.

You wouldn’t dare tell them no. Doing so would be far too difficult and honestly frightening. 

Why is it so difficult with a narcissist? Well, to start, their ego doesn’t understand “no.”

Reasons it’s so hard to say no

Difficulty saying no to a narcissist is a common struggle. If you’re experiencing this, you’re not alone.

Narcissists expect to get their way, and they’re pretty demanding people. When you find yourself having a hard time saying no to them, it’s usually for the reasons below. 

Their sense of entitlement 

Narcissists believe they should have all of their demands fulfilled, and they cannot fathom a scenario in which someone tells them no.

Because of this, they can be quite persistent in getting their way. This makes it extremely difficult to tell them no.

They’re vindictive 

Since narcissists believe they’re entitled to have their way, they also believe they have a right to punish you for not following their rules.

So, if you tell them no, you can expect some form of punishment or retaliation. In many cases, this can cause a hesitancy to say no.

Most people would rather give the narcissist what they want, instead of dealing with the consequences. 

Manipulation is the name of their game 

Narcissists are master manipulators, so they’ll get you to say yes, even if you don’t really want to. 

Let’s say they want to borrow money. They may make grand statements about just how soon they’ll pay you back, only to never follow through.

Or, they’ll use gaslighting to manipulate you into giving them their way. They’ll make statements about how you’re being unreasonable, and they’re really not asking for much. 

Ultimately, they twist your arm to get you to give in. 

Playing the victim

If there’s one thing a narcissist can do flawlessly, it’s play the victim. It’s difficult to tell them no when they have some sort of sob story to sell you.

When they take the victim role, you’ll feel almost obligated to give them whatever they want, because you feel sorry for them. 

They maintain a strong sense of control 

Narcissists need to maintain power and control over others. Being in a position of control feeds their egos and allows them to use others to their advantage. 

It seems impossible to say no to them because they hold all the power in your relationship dynamic. Failing to give them their way would almost feel like violating the rules of an important authority figure. 

You’re eager to please 

Narcissists are experts at seeking out people pleasers. They choose people who they know will fulfill the narcissist’s own agenda.

If you’re having a hard time saying no, it’s probably because you’re someone who naturally enjoys caring for others. You feel obligated to make people happy, so you’d feel guilty if you let the narcissist down.

The narcissist takes advantage of your kind and giving nature, because they know they can get whatever they want from you. 

They create doubt and confusion 

Narcissists are great at making people doubt their own instincts. 

Throughout your interactions with them, they’ll be sure to insult your intelligence or point out any other flaws they perceive in you. 

As time goes on, this erodes your self-esteem and makes you question your own perceptions. So, if you’d normally tell them no, you wonder if it’s really the right thing to do.

Since you no longer trust yourself, you’ll convince yourself that whatever the narcissist wants is reasonable. Rather than saying no, you give them what they want. 

They play on your emotions 

The narcissist knows you’re a genuine and caring person, so they know they can play on your emotions to get what they want out of you. 

They will shower you with compliments and flattery to make you feel good, only to follow this up with some request for a favor. Since they’ve just built up your self-esteem, you can’t help but say yes. 

Alternatively, the narcissist may play on your soft side, selling you on the idea that whatever they’re asking is for a good cause. Saying no doesn’t even seem right to you! 

Triangulation tactics

Finally, narcissists love to use triangulation tactics to get their way. Triangulation occurs when the narcissist pulls a third party into your relationship dynamic to make you feel jealous or guilty.

Perhaps you deny some sort of request they’ve made of you. Rather than respecting your boundaries, the narcissist will bring another person into the situation.

She would do it for me,” they tell you. Now you’re jealous, and you compete with this third party.

You can no longer say no because doing so could mean losing to this other person! You give in to maintain your sense of security in the relationship. 

Seeing through narcissistic tactics 

When you have a hard time saying no to a narcissist, you probably believe that saying no was the wrong thing to do. Try not to get caught up in this way of thinking.

You have a right to stand up for yourself and your needs. If your gut tells you to say no, this is the right choice, even if the narcissist convinces you otherwise. 

The narcissist’s viewpoint is not reality. If they try to guilt you or manipulate you into giving them their way, it’s because they feel entitled to get whatever they want. 

Deciding to say no

I don’t intend to tell you what to do. Only you can decide the best choice in a given situation with a narcissist.

However, I encourage you to think before giving into the narcissist. If you feel compelled to say no, explore your reasons. Is their request excessive or unreasonable?

Are you simply unable to do what they’re asking because it would cause you more harm than good? Chances are, if you’re considering saying no, you have a valid reason.

Looking out for manipulation 

Consider whether there is any manipulation in the narcissist’s request.

If they portray themselves as innocent victims, try to charm their way into your wallet, or tell you you’re unreasonable for not helping, they’re probably manipulating. 

Take threats with a grain of salt

Finally, as you’re thinking about whether to give into the narcissist, remember that their threats are just another attempt at manipulation.

Maybe they tell you someone else in their life will give them what they want. Good! Let that person meet the narcissist’s needs if you cannot. 

If they threaten some sort of retaliation, recognize this, again, as manipulation. If you’re truly fearful for your safety, tell them you will seek outside help. This should shut them down fast, because they don’t want to look bad in public. 

The bottom line

The narcissist thinks they should get exactly what they want at the exact moment they ask for it. They’re also willing to manipulate, exploit, and coerce to get their way.

This makes it incredibly difficult to tell them no, but it doesn’t mean no isn’t an option. You have a right to decide for yourself! 

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