Everyone loves a winner! Okay sure, but what is winning? You can win the lottery, or other games of chance. But, that’s random dumb luck. To win at sports, chess or competitive quizzes, for example, requires skill, regular practice, strategy and intelligence. Winning friends, admiration and public opinion involves emotional intelligence, personal salesmanship and some form of social attractiveness. You can also “win” by cheating, other forms of deception, seduction, emotional manipulation, con artistry and/or intimidation. And this, is what winning means to narcissists and how they go about it.
If you’ve self-respect, integrity and a conscience, you may ask yourself, “Who’d want to win by lying, stealing, manipulating others into feeling sorry for you and/or bullying?”
Someone who only cares about getting what they want. And, will do whatever it takes — including criminal behavior — in order to get it. By the way, lying to a Family Court judge and law enforcement (e.g., false abuse allegations) are both crimes. Crimes that usually aren’t prosecuted, but they are crimes.
What winning means to normal’s.
Have you ever won or earned a medal, distinction, diploma or certificate at something? Whether it’s academic, athletic, professional or philanthropic victories, achievements or honors, it feels great, doesn’t it? You worked hard and your efforts are then proven, recognized and rewarded. If you’d cut corners or done something dishonest to win, would it have felt as good to you?
I’m guessing it wouldn’t have felt as good. As a person of integrity, your conscience wouldn’t allow it. Not so for narcissists and other characterologically disturbed people.
The Fearsome Foursome.
What kind of personal psychology makes this possible? One that’s comprised of psychological constructs I refer to as the Fearsome Foursome:
- Professional victim or martyr identity.
- Pathological entitlement.
- Control freakery.
- Emotional reasoning.
I’ve discussed each of these at length in other articles and videos. So, I’ll only briefly summarize them here. A professional victim or martyr identity says, “I’ve been wronged. I’m special. Therefore, I’m owed.” This gives rise to pathological entitlement. Entitlement says, “I’m special. The rules don’t apply to me. I should get what I want without having to do anything for it, but because I AM SPECIAL.”
Control freakery is how these individuals disavow objective, provable facts (not alternative facts — alternative facts are LIES), accountability and exposure of their behavior from entering their Narc Bubbles. In other words, they control their alternate “reality” by controlling its inhabitants. Finally, emotional reasoning is what they use to justify it all.
What winning means to narcissists and borderlines.
Primarily, narcissists declare “victory” in two ways. The first is by declaring themselves the victim. The second is by taking what they want by any means necessary (excluding honesty and fair play, that is), and then declaring themselves the victim/winner.
Winning via being the victim.
Yes, this is nuts, but being seen as a victim is what winning means to narcissists and borderlines. I’ve discussed professional victimhood in other articles, too, so will keep this short. Basically, here’s how it works.
Nancy the Narcissist or Bob the Borderline manufactures a conflict. They name call, make shit up, blow things out of proportion, gaslight, project, threaten divorce, pout, rage — you know, the usual. After several hours of this, you say, “Will you just shut up, man?!” And then, the victim playing begins.
How could you talk to her like that? Who do you think you are to tell him to shut up?! You’re sooooooo disrespectful!!! Don’t you know how his older brothers bullied him? And his last four wives?!?!? Don’t you know how mean her parents were to her when she was a kid?! YOU NEED TO APOLOGIZE!!! RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!
Next, you’re guilt tripped, pouted, ignored or raged at until you admit you’re wrong, apologize and kiss the narcissist’s or borderline’s ass until they decide you’ve been punished enough. Until, that is, they’re ready for their next drama feeding.
Winning via taking.
Narcissists, borderlines, histrionics and psychopaths are often breathtakingly emotionally immature. They seem to get a charge from engaging in never-ending power struggles with their parentified partner or parentified ex. (After the love bombing stage, these individuals usually project a parental role onto their adult partners). As just described, they’ll go round and round circles over some pointless conflict. There’s more to this than just wanting to perpetuate their victim narratives.
They want to WIN. However, they don’t want to win through rational arguments, fairness, merit or skill.
First, many of these individuals aren’t capable of critical thinking. They’re primarily emotional reasoners. Psychologically speaking, they’re chaotic and primitive, hence, they’re infantile behavior and attitudes. Second, like children, they can become lazy and give up when a task or skill isn’t easy, or requires sustained effort. Just because they’re often incapable of forming cogent arguments or winning on merit doesn’t mean they don’t want to win. Or, if they can’t technically succeed, to be seen as winners.
So, if they can’t win fair and square, they simply take what they want. In fact, I hypothesize that they experience greater pleasure by taking things they’ve neither earned nor have a right to, than attaining their desires honestly. For narcissists and borderlines, winning is about bolstering their fragile, fragmented egos.
For healthier individuals, yes, there’s an element of ego. But, it’s more about enjoying the fruit of one’s hard work and talent. Furthermore, healthier individuals continue to work hard and adhere to good sportsmanship even when you don’t succeed. This isn’t true of narcissists and borderlines.
Winning vs. taking.
Again, for narcissists, winning isn’t about recognizing the effort one’s made to train for a 6k race or win a game of skill like chess. They want to be seen as “winners,” but don’t want to do the work to win legitimately. Furthermore, an honest win doesn’t do harm to one’s opponents beyond the natural disappointment of the loss, that is.
Think about it. Which feels worse? Giving it your best and coming in third place to an opponent who also worked their butt off and won? Or, losing to some trustafarian who’s the CEO’s genetic run-off/poster child for the Nepotism Dunning-Kruger Effect? I imagine the latter would suck more. Or, at least, it would to me.
Narcissists and borderlines are sadists. Sadists derive pleasure from inflicting pain and humiliation on others. (Honest sadists don’t play the victim during and after doing so, however. Hypocritical sadists, do).
Thus, hurting opponents/enemies with lies, cheating, theft, smear campaigns or violence provides the narcissist or borderline an even greater sense of winning.
If you’re married to, dating or divorcing a partner with these issues, you are their enemy.
This becomes especially obvious after you separate. In order for narcissists and borderlines to feel like they’re winning, you must lose. Relationships are zero sum games. The game’s objectives are to exert control and inflict pain. They achieve this by:
- Taking something away (e.g., money, love, material possessions, self-respect, self-worth, etc.)
- Destroying something or someone you love (e.g., a prized possession, your reputation or livelihood or a child.)
- Forcing you to take something (e.g., abuse, infidelity, their debt, their vacation choice, etc.)
- Turning a positive into a negative (e.g., something good happens to you and they devalue it, ignore it, and/or minimize it.)
Narcissists and borderlines “win” by hurting others. It’s not a win unless they can take something from you, even if it holds no real value for them. The value is in taking it, taking it by force or duplicity and without your consent.
What winning means to a narcissist: No one else can have anything good.
To illustrate, here’s a quote from a Shrink4Men Forum member:
It’s simplistic, but I think that they see both winning and taking as gaining control. They don’t want some control, they want total control. It’s like the bully picking on kids they know they can beat or stealing something they have no interest in. It’s not that they wanted the candy or care whether you have it. They need you to know they can take it away from you.”
Real victory, imaginary victory, Pyrrhic victory — it doesn’t matter. Narcissists must believe they’re taking the long end of the stick, more scoops of ice cream, regardless of whether or not they even like ice cream or have any intention of eating it.
There isn’t enough breast milk in the world or toys or candy or money or attention or love. Depriving others of what they enjoy and love is also what winning means to narcissists.
Narcissistic and borderline envy.
Narcissists are often incapable of being happy for the good fortune of others, including something as trivial as a compliment. They’ll seethe with jealousy, anger and resentment and denigrate or ignore any success you achieve, for example, a promotion. Unless, of course, they’re able to misappropriate your good fortune or achievement as their own.
For example, you wouldn’t have graduated medical school without all of her
late night rages “words of encouragement” and sacrifice of giving up her job to support you.
Narcissists experience the success of others as personal slights and deprivations. In other words, something good happening to someone else means something good isn’t happening to them and they can’t have that. Instead of being happy for you and proud of you because you earned a promotion, they’re envious and experience a sense of lack. The failure of others is also what winning means to narcissists.
From the Shrink4Men Forum:
They are consumed with petty jealousy. Whether it’s someone’s time, affection or gifts, they want it. If people are kind to you, validating or generous, it makes you stronger and harder to control, plus it means you’re getting something they’re not getting it (even if they have their own already).”
Another Forum quote:
My surviving sister is a narcissist who is never happy unless she’s taking something from someone. Usually in the form of relationships. Over the years, she has sought to divide my siblings into rival factions (thank God we all figured it out years ago) while being everyone’s best friend. She has caused trouble with in-laws who didn’t deserve it then tried to cultivate “loving” relationships with my nieces and nephews — most of them have figured her out by now and will tolerate her, but are leery. It’s like she can’t stand it if someone has something she doesn’t have, even if it is by nature theirs, like a parent-child relationship. She has tried over the years to alienate my son from me. It’s not working. 😉
I agree, it is about taking, taking = control, and controlling others is the “win.” Not that it makes them happy. In my experience the most threatening thing to my BPD/NPD is other people liking me. She works hard to derail those relationships and then later revive them without me as part of the loop (if she can). She’ll easily lie about what others say and think about me to try to drive a wedge between me and them.
Taking = Winning. If they, themselves, didn’t have to make the sacrifice for the gain, then it’s a win. Doesn’t matter how trivial. If they can order someone else to get up and refill their drink for them, it’s a WIN. If they can extort money from their ex-husband under the guise of being, “for the kids,” it’s a WIN. It’s the reason they have boundaries and why other people’s boundaries are an insult to the BPD.
Narcissists are sore losers and sore winners.
Even when they “win,” they’re still not happy. Anyone who’s witnessed a narcissist lose understands what it means to be a “sore loser.” Narcissists are also sore winners. They’re not gracious in victory. Nor does winning bring them any real lasting pleasure. They may flash The Smirk™ when they think they’ve bested you, deprived you, hurt you, and/or pulled one over on you, but it doesn’t make them happy.
And that’s the rub. Winning through lying, cheating and bullying isn’t legitimate. And deep down, I believe narcissists and borderlines know that, which serves to make them angrier and more bitter. It also breeds more envy and resentment of people who work for their successes and for people who are genuinely kind and decent.
Narcissists refuse to accept that happiness comes from working at something and then savoring one’s accomplishment. Instead, they try to puff themselves up through posturing, self-promotion, attention-seeking and taking (or plagiarizing) from others what they’ve done nothing to earn nor deserve.
Pitching a fit and bullying others until you get your way isn’t an accomplishment. Any 3-year old can do it.
Narcissists and borderlines are often very successful at declaring themselves victim winners and forcibly taking the laurel wreath, but taking isn’t winning. Ultimately, taking pleasure in hurting others, taking what doesn’t belong to them, bullying others into getting their way, and taking material assets they’ve done nothing to earn doesn’t make them happy and it doesn’t make them winners.
It makes them miserable, pathetic LOSERS.