Appealing to good intentions (part five)

This was one of the most helpful parts of the article to me.  Gaining insight into how real his ‘intentions’ are vs. reality.

Bolding below is mine.

“People who are engaged in defending their internal grandiosity may become adept at giving ostensible apologies that really amount to self-justifications. Narcissistically driven people do not seem to understand that saying one is sorry represents an expression of empathy with the injured party irrespective of whether the hurt was intentional or avoidable. The woman who is kept waiting and worrying when her husband is late coming home will feel immediately forgiving if he expresses genuine sorrow that she has suffered on his account. In narcissistically defensive states, however, people seem to go by the general rule that such expressions of sympathy and regret are called for only if they were “at fault” in some way. Thus, the tardy husband meets his wife’s anxious greeting with, “It wasn’t my fault; there was a traffic jam,” communicating not remorse but resentment of her distress and rejection of its validity.”

This is my life with him.  It’s so helpful to me to understand this.

More from the article, and bolding is mine:

“The organizing, overriding issue for people with narcissistic preoccupations is the preservation of their internal sense of self-cohesiveness or self-approval, not the quality of their relations with other people. As a result, when they feel their imperfections have been exposed, the pressing question for them is the repair of their inner self-concept, not the mending of the feelings of those in their external world (cf. Stolorow’s [1979b] definitions of narcissism). They are consequently likely, in a state of defensiveness about exposed faults, to protest that they meant to do the right thing, as if the purity of their inner state is the pertinent issue – to others as well as to themselves.”

This rings true here over and over and…   This is why when he says “I meant to...”  or “That’s not what I meant...” or expresses how he supposedly feels vs. his actual behaviors/words, his feelings seem to be his gauge for assessing accountability on his part.

” the rectification of an error is an admission that an error has in fact occurred. … If one displaces the issue to the area of intention, an error has not occurred, since one’s intentions were faultless.”

And this is apparently why actual ‘amends’ or ‘change’ doesn’t seem to matter as much as what he intended or meant or expressed at any point.

Really interesting in a very sad way.  I can see this when ‘he gets upset that I’m upset that he upset me’.  He’s offended that I took offense at his offending me.  He’s so sincerely upset, so sincerely offended, that it confuses my sensibilities.  This is why when my truth radar has automatically been scanning the interaction, and I could sense that he authentically feels like a victim.  This used to automatically send me on an inner frantic search as to what I’d done to cause this. 

Now I can see it happening in the moment, and I can know what’s really going on, but no amount of truth seems to make it past his self-perception that he’s ultimately the victim somehow.  It doesn’t matter that I’m okay with him having faults, weaknesses, and making mistakes, as long as he owns them and works on them, because I have faults, weaknesses, and make mistakes too.  All that doesn’t matter.  It matters to him not what he actually does or doesn’t do, or does or doesn’t say, but what he meant or intended

This explains why he can be cruel and cold to me, but still be perceived by himself (and most of the world) as a really nice guy.  Most others don’t get his cruel and cold facets directed at them.  They get the absentminded professor, the teflon screw-ups that somehow weren’t really his fault since he didn’t ‘mean’ them, and the charming, funny guy that couldn’t possibly want to hurt someone.  Because that disarranges the senses somehow.  But did he?  Did he mean to hurt?  Is he really that disconnected from the aggressive part of the passive aggressive?  The longer that I’ve lived with him, the more I’m inclined to think that he is aware of how he’s hurting me (or whoever).  Again to paraphrase Dr. George Simon, He sees, but he doesn’t agree.  He’s aware, but he doesn’t care

As long as he can think of himself as a nice, hard working, good guy with good intentions, then I’m just an unreasonable and unappreciative person that he can push against defensively.



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9 Responses to Appealing to good intentions (part five)

  1. GainingStrength says:

    Ah the good intentions. The I didn’t mean to hurt you, you think I did that on purpose? My internal answer: YES!

    My favorite quote on good intentions: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Even my PAH (+covert aggressive, +verbal, emotional, psychological abusive, etc.) just averts his eyes, nods his head sagely, and has no reply to that one.

    Of course, that doesn’t last too long before he’s back to telling me all of our marriage problems are my fault.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      “The I didn’t mean to hurt you, you think I did that on purpose? My internal answer: YES!”

      I’ve told him that statistically, the odds are against him that there could be years of a repetitive behavior being accidental. Nice try though.


      • Exodus says:

        Well, yes of course it surely seems that they do these things on purpose because any reasonable empathic human being would not repeat behaviors that get negative responses. That would be considered abnormal behavior. I can’t think of any animal that continues to do something that results in pain and suffering unless they have brain damage. But, aside from that, it’s a bit too uncanny that I can predict when my husband will do something to me which indicates that there is a deliberate (subconscious or conscious) intent to punish me. I’ve been with him long enough that I know all his tricks in his basket. If I give him a deposit, he will most likely lose one of the checks and if he doesn’t lose a check he will use his debit card on something wasteful and unnecessary. I can’t ask him or expect him to do anything without being punished.


    • newshoes says:

      I hope you don’t buy that it’s your fault. It really isn’t. Even if you do give them exactly what they want, they still find something to bitch about and get back you for… no matter what, with these people, we’re screwed.


  2. Exodus says:

    PJ’s, from the very beginning I found myself always telling my husband that I didn’t think he was stupid, I just believed that he simply didn’t CARE. Whenever he would screw up and have an ‘ accident’ he would act like he didn’t even care. He never apologized and certainly never tried to learn from his mistakes. He surely doesn’t act like he cares about me at all even though when I tell him this he is quite quick to respond with, ‘ But, I do care! I do care!’.

    Since those days, I’ve come to realize that most of his canned responses are just Pavlovian responses that have no substance behind them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newshoes says:

    PJ’s, all those questions that you are asking yourself: “did he mean to hurt”, the only answer here is yes. He’s aware of the pa behaviours that make you sad, mad, resentful and hurt. But they cannot stop it. I have yet to meet a pa person who has made real change. They may mellow out a bit getting older but some don’t, some get worse. Because it’s always about them, not about you. And I know that’s hard to hear, and believe me I have hoped that mine would eventually get better and he has, don’t get me wrong except that the past hurts cannot be undone anymore. They chose to continue to hurt the people that they love because THEY are hurt, THEY need an ego boost, THEY THEY THEY… need something to make them feel better and cutting the people they love down does. After an event, mine is right as rain again, but before and during, he’s like a thunderstorm ready to errupt, you know it’s coming but you can’t stop it and you can’t do anything about it but wait it out. They can care, sure, but it will always be about them, no matter what.


    • Exodus says:

      NewShoes wrote, ” They can care, sure, but it will always be about them, no matter what.”
      No doubt that is true.

      Any display of concern is manufactured for their benefit in order to support their charming and sensitive personality. For example, my husband who didn’t talk to his sister for probably 15 years suddenly became Mr. Lovey Dovey nostalgic when she was diagnosed with cancer and on her death bed. He made the trips to the hospital and he played the part of the caring brother as long as others were there watching. It was so truly disgusting that I could barely stand being a part of it. Then when his coworkers began sending him cards and hugging him, etc.. , I almost lost it and told the truth. The only reason I didn’t say anything was out of respect to his sister and family. His sisters children know the deal and they don’t respond to his act.

      Anytime that my husband is kind to me, I know it’s only for show. He just wants to be able to show or tell others what he did or how he supported me. If there was no one else in the world, he would never have any reason to be kind.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      newshoes, if it helps, most of my questions are rhetorical at this point 😉

      “After an event, mine is right as rain again, but before and during, he’s like a thunderstorm ready to errupt, you know it’s coming but you can’t stop it and you can’t do anything about it but wait it out.”

      That is a great analogy!

      Liked by 1 person

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