Narcissists Need to Criticize

“You should have used a brush instead of spray paint.”

“Honey, that’s not what a horse looks like. Let me show you how to draw a horse correctly.  And shouldn’t the trees have green leaves instead of purple?”

“The rice needs more soy, but other than that it’s decent.”

“I know you are the one with the degree in marketing, but is that the correct font for that mailer?”

“Let me proofread that.  You usually miss something.”

“Well, at least the birthday cake tastes good.”

“Sweetie, you shouldn’t wear boots.  This isn’t the place to wear boots.”


Narcissists deliver criticisms every chance they get.  Sometimes the criticism is a veiled compliment, as in the example about the birthday cake.

Most often, they say something is okay, but……

There’s always the but.

They can never leave well-enough alone, because nothing is good enough until they’ve added something or taken something away.

They have to put their stamp on everything, and in order to do that, they first must point out what you’ve done incorrectly.

Conversely, if they aren’t attempting to put their stamp on something, it’s because they aren’t remotely interested.  This applies to anything involving children – homework, extra-curricular activities, sports or lessons.  That domain belongs to the other parent because the narcissist can’t be bothered with trivialities – like the raising of children.


When you take that deep breath and summon the courage to tell them that their criticisms hurt your feelings, they’ll be stunned.   “But I thought I was helping.  Don’t you want to know how to make the best fried rice?  Doesn’t she need to know that leaves are always purple?  I’m simply helping you to be your best.  It’s unfortunate that you misunderstood.”


It’s good to remember that those criticisms are about them.


Forge ahead.


Draw purple leaves.

Wear the boots.

It’s about them.  It’s not about you.

It never is.








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  1. Yes, they’re “helping” and you’re “too sensitive. I was complimenting you.”

    That must be it.

  2. Sprung,

    Ah…. yes. That’s a personal fav. If I had a buck for every time someone told me I’m too sensitive, I wouldn’t be driving a 12 year old car.

  3. I just received a word salad of criticisms big enough to feed an entire village! I really didn’t read it all as all I heard in my head was blah blah blah blah…and ‘dealing with you makes me physically ill’. Good, now he knows how it feels. :)

  4. Z,

    Wow. I’ve got a compost pile.

    Do mature, well-adjusted, emotionally intelligent people write something like, “Dealing with you makes me physically ill?”

    Hell, I think that all the time, but I’ve never actually written that.


  5. No, they do not write those things.
    But I am not dealing with a mature, well-adjusted, emotionally intelligent person.

    This one is better (yes they were all numbered)
    8. The only things I expect from you are pain, suffering, lack of respect, self centeredness and a lack of cooperation. You continue to exceeded my expectations on every level.

    Projection, anyone?

    Many beers! Cheers!

  6. Z,

    Yes, I’m guessing you are dealing with a 6 year old mentality with an impressive vocabulary.

    I think I’ve heard that if you number the points, they’ll hurt more?

    He’s the poster child for projection.

    Beers aplenty. I’ll raise mine to being a thorn in the side of a 6 year old.

  7. The bigger the words, the better the argument?
    I took the opportunity to let him know that I am aware of the situation that occurred not long ago.

    Here is the last of my reply:
    If passing out by 7pm after a day at the bar with your friends and (our son) has to put himself to bed at 11pm because he cannot wake you up is the way you spend quality time, then I think that taking him to Lego League is a healthier way to spend your time together.

    I couldn’t help it. Maybe it is not taking the high road, but I had to leverage the conversation and let him know that he does not intimidate me. I did not acknowledge any of his rantings as I refuse to get into a pissing match over semantics. He loves to do that. I haven’t heard back. I hope that thorn stung and settles into an infection.

  8. Z,

    It’s good for them to know that, if you have something on them, you aren’t afraid to use it.

    Six year olds scare easily.

  9. Very true! I hope you are having an awesome weekend!

  10. Z,

    We are. Enjoying being outside at this gorgeous time of year.

    Have a wonderful Sunday. ;)

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