It is nearly impossible to sit down and have a healthy conversation with a narcissist because if you aren’t constantly bending over backwards to ask questions or make comments that validate and/or reassure their perspective of things, they hate communicating with you. 

Narcissists hate questions that aren’t validating or reassuring because they contradict their false sense of self. These contradictions are destabilizing for a narcissist because they make them feel like their perception of reality is being challenged and this feeling triggers their suppressed negative emotions.

This article contains all of the information that you need to understand the reason that narcissists hate questions. Communication is a fundamental requirement for a relationship to be healthy. A narcissist’s hatred for questions is a huge sign that you should escape the relationship that you have with them as quickly as possible. In a short video (see below) we’ve put together the eight characteristics that healthy relationships have that you should be aware of.

A Short Video With 8 Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship

How Does a Narcissist’s Childhood Upbringing Make Questions So Triggering For Them?

If you want to understand the reason that narcissists hate questions that aren’t validating or reassuring, you must first understand the origin story of the false sense of self that narcissists spend every second of every day trying to protect.

Our article How Are Narcissists Made is a complete guide to all of this information but it is believed that narcissism, and a narcissist’s false sense of self, originates from an unhealthy/abusive childhood upbringing with emotionally unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers. 

These types of primary caregivers couldn’t mirror the narcissist’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs so the narcissist never got the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they needed to have a healthy cognitive development and develop a realistic sense of self. 

Without the emotional skills needed to develop a realistic sense of self, narcissists turn to their external environment for the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need. (e.g. a narcissistic teenager developing his/her sense of self out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get for being really popular amongst their peers).

a narcissistic teenager who is popular in school

Narcissists dedicate a lot of time to maintaining a public persona that is charming, successful, innocent, honest, desirable, goodhearted, charismatic, and virtuous so they can get validation, admiration, and reassurance. This grandiose perception of themselves is known as their false sense of self.

The problem with a narcissist’s approach to constructing a sense of self is that in the process of it all, they are suppressing deeply rooted negative emotions that they have about themselves (e.g. a sense of inadequacy, weakness, being unlovable, unwanted, shame).

They have developed these negative emotions because of their unhealthy/abusive primary caregivers and the emotional neglect they experienced caused them to have a horrible cognitive development. This left them too emotionally stunted and immature to utilize healthy forms of emotional regulation to manage their negative emotions. 

Instead, they use the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment to compartmentalize and suppress their negative emotions. This approach to emotional regulation is extremely poor and causes the narcissist’s false sense of self to be so fragile that it can be contradicted by just about anything. 

To sum up everything that has been stated so far, the combination of the negative emotions, emotional immaturity, and false sense of self that narcissists have developed from an unhealthy/abusive upbringing has left them extremely fragile. 

They need a consistent flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance from others to feel emotionally stable. Questions that contradict their sense of self by disrupting their flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance are incredibly triggering for them. 

11 Questions That Can Contradict a Narcissist’s False Sense of Self

  1. Why do you treat people so badly?
  2. Do you seriously believe all of your lies?
  3. Why do you still talk to your ex?
  4. Why have you been telling our friends that you’ve been promoted at work? 
  5. Do you know how manipulative you are being right now? 
  6. Can you please come to couples therapy with me? 
  7. Why did you want to get married so quickly?
  8. Why did you lie about (blank)?
  9. Do you have a good relationship with your parents? 
  10. Why don’t you care about my emotions and feelings? 
  11. Why are you so selfish?
A victim of narcissistic abuse asking her abuser a questions that makes him angry because of how fragile his ego is.

How Do Questions Challenge a Narcissist’s Reality?

Questions that aren’t validating or reassuring indirectly target the positive core beliefs that narcissists have about themselves (e.g. a grandiose sense of self-importance, a belief that they are special/unique, a sense of entitlement, belief that others are envious of them).

These core beliefs play a massive part in the construction of their reality. Meaning that in the reality that a narcissist has created for themselves, they are special, unique, important, admirable, wanted, loved, etc. 

This perception that they have of themselves is very important to maintain because it allows them to keep the negative emotions about themselves suppressed. A narcissist’s positive perspective of themselves allows them to provide themselves with the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to protect their emotional stability from their negative emotions. 

It is for this reason that narcissists hate questions that don’t validate and reassure their positive perception of themselves. For example, imagine that the narcissist in your life was trying to gaslight you about something that happened between the two of you because the truth would challenge their positive perspective of themselves. 

If you were to ask them “Can you explain (blank) a little better because I don’t remember it happening like that”, they would be furious because your question is challenging their reality. 

a therapist asking her narcissistic client to explain his perspective of things.

Narcissists full heartedly believe that the world revolves around them. They believe that their distorted perception of reality is the only reality that should be accepted. When you ask them questions that don’t validate and reassure their reality, they get angry and hate the questions that you ask. 

How Do Questions Trigger a Narcissist’s Suppressed Negative Emotions?

When a narcissist gets asked a question that challenges their reality or contradicts their false sense of self, all of their negative emotions get triggered because their delusional perception of themselves and the world around them was the only thing holding them back. 

This is a huge problem for the narcissist because they don’t have the emotional intelligence that is needed to use healthy forms of emotional regulation to manage their negative emotions. 

4 Abusive Behaviors That Narcissists Use When They Hate the Question That They’ve Been Asked

The reason that you can sense that the narcissist in your life hates being asked questions is because when you ask a narcissist a question that triggers their negative emotions, they rely on different forms of emotional and/or physical abuse to stabilize their emotional stability. 

Projection

Projection is a defense mechanism that occurs when someone takes parts of their identity that they find unacceptable and places them onto someone else.

Example of Projection:

A narcissist gets asked a question that makes them feel worthless. Instead of communicating their feelings/emotions in a healthy manner, they project them onto the person who asked them a question by degrading, invalidating, and devaluing the person who asked the question to make them feel worthless.

Suggested Reading: 8 Examples of Narcissistic Projection

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic rage is an explosive, unpredictable, and unjustified response that narcissists often have when their false sense of self is contradicted. 

In a short video (see below) we have summarized our article What Happens During Narcissistic Rage (Survey With 100 Survivors). The information in the video will help you understand exactly what narcissistic rage is but we highly recommend that you read through our Narcissistic Rage Content Hub as well.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting occurs when a narcissist doubts or denies reality.

When you’re exposed to gaslighting on a daily basis, there’s a high probability that you’ll begin to question your own sanity, lose sight of your sense of self, and become so dependent on the narcissist’s version of reality that you feel incapable of conceptualizing your own perception of reality without their help.

If you were to confront the narcissist in your life because you found out that they were doing something that they promised they wouldn’t anymore (e.g. cheating, gambling, drinking, using illegal substances, smoking, etc.) they could gaslight you by saying one or more of the following:

  • Stop bringing this sh*t up. You are stuck in the past!
  • I never said that! You are putting words in my mouth.
  • You have a terrible memory, you don’t remember anything.
  • You look psychotic right now.
  • You’re reading into this way too much.
  • I don’t recognize you anymore.
  • Everyone else sees how great I am, why can’t you?

Suggested Reading: 119 Gaslighting Phrases

A narcissist gaslighting his victim

Stonewalling

Stonewalling occurs when a narcissist refuses to participate in the communication or connection of the relationship. The three biggest manifestations of stonewalling in a narcissistic relationship are the silent treatment, gaslighting with ultimatums, and intimacy anorexia

The silent treatment occurs when a narcissist stops verbally or electronically communicating with you. When a narcissist denies your reality by giving you consequences for expressing your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and/or needs, that is called gaslighting with ultimatums (e.g.“If you don’t shut up and stop complaining about the things that I am doing, I am going to leave and take the kids with me”).

Intimacy anorexia is a term that Dr. Doug Weiss uses to explain why some people “actively withhold emotional, spiritual, and sexual intimacy” from a partner.

Example of Intimacy Anorexia:

If you were to ask a narcissist a question that triggered their negative emotions and they responded by purposely withholding the forms of love that they know you appreciate, blamed you for the problems that you had in the relationship, or kept themselves busy so they didn’t have to spend time with you, that would be a sign of intimacy anorexia. 

We highly recommend that you read our article Do Narcissists Enjoy Intimacy to learn more about intimacy avoidance because it is a really common behavior to see when a narcissist hates a question that they’ve been asked.

A Short Video With 7 Subtle Signs That a Narcissist Is Stonewalling You

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Narcissists hate questions that aren’t validating or reassuring (e.g. “You are the most fit person that I’ve ever seen! How can I be more like you?!”) because they contradict their false sense of self, challenge their distorted perception of reality, and trigger their negative emotions.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References

Ramsey, Angela, et al. “Self-reported narcissism and perceived parental permissiveness and authoritarianism.” The Journal of genetic psychology 157.2 (1996): 227-238.

Characteristics of Intimacy Anorexia