Guy is Dating Button Pusher (Dear Abby) – Provoking Fights: One Common Aspect of Narcissistic Abuse
February 2023 update: the behavior this man describes sounds a lot like narcissism. His girlfriend is probably a Narcissist – whether she’s a Grandiose, Communal, Vulnerable, or what other type I cannot tell for sure.
But it’s very common for Narcissists to intentionally pick fights with their target, or to keep badgering them until they explode in a rage.
Narcissists pick fights and try to enrage their victim to regulate their emotions (it brings them relief to cause their target to lash out in anger), and they also enjoy being able to turn to the just-exploded target and patronizingly sneer at them, “Look at how crazy you are.”
Yes, the Narcissist provokes you into reacting – by getting you to snap and to scream, yell, etc – then they have the nerve to victim-blame you for the very reaction that they provoked in you in the first place.
If you want more detailed explanations as to why they engage in this behavior, please start researching the topic of Narcissism.
This letter comes from the same series of letters I quoted from in a post the other day.
This guy wrote to Dear Abby saying:
• I am currently in a relationship that’s great except for one thing. She knows what “buttons” to push to make me angry, and she’ll continue to push them.
No matter what I do, she’s in my face. It just seems she wants to argue until I reach the point of exploding.
I try to walk away, go to another room, ignore her, tell her she’s making me angry — yet she continues. I’m all for being able to walk away and then talk about it later — and I have confronted her on this. What do I do?
— FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA
• What do you do? You break up with this toxic individual who enjoys goading you to the point of exploding, and find a woman who is a lot more compatible.
— end —
I just wanted to say, the woman this man describes in his letter to Abby sounds a lot like my sister. I’ve written about my sister a time or two in the past on this blog.
I didn’t have anything resembling boundaries with my sister, or with anyone, until a few years ago.
Back when I lacked boundaries, though, I did end up sort of standing up to my sister a time or two.
Initially, I tried to avoid her rants (when we were visiting in person) by getting up and leaving the room, only she’d follow me room to room to keep yelling.
I love my sister, and she has her rare moments where she is pleasant, but…
But my sister is a button pusher. She enjoys pushing you to and over the edge, starting fights.
She will take what you have told her in the past – personal, painful (or embarrassing) details you’ve shared with her – and any time she gets angry at you, she will “fight dirty” by going for your soft sensitive areas – this means she will throw in your face any deeply private painful thing you’ve previously shared with her, and she does so on purpose to hurt you.
My sister will go after those few topics she knows you find sensitive, and she camps out on them, all to upset you.
I did learn from experience and after reading a slew of online magazine articles that people like this cannot change, nothing I can say or do can change them, and the only thing you can do is cut contact with them.
I wrote about some of this in this older post here:
(Link): When Your Secrets Are Used Against You (Hax Advice Column) – sounds like one of my family members
I find it interesting that advice columnists, psychologists, and relationship experts all give the same advice: they tell someone who is dealing with someone like this to break things off, or to avoid the person, or only stay in minimal contact.
It’s very sad. I wanted to have a good relationship with my sister and be able to phone her once a week or month and chat with her, but she doesn’t make that possible.
Out of self-defense, I have to keep my distance from her and when I do talk to her, I’m careful not to share anything too deeply personal or intimate, usually.
Edited to add more pertinent content here:
A video or two that may help you to understand better:
(Link to You Tube video): 3 Reasons Narcissists LOVE to Provoke You to React, Explode & Get Aggressive
(Link to You Tube video): The “hangry model” of understanding narcissism
(Link to You Tube video): Why Narcissists Pick Fights
(Link): Dear Abby – She Wants A Divorce From the Husband Who Hid His Vulnerable Narcissism (Emotional Abuse, Extreme Pessimism, Victim Mentality, etc) While They Were Dating