It’s Ping Pong: Lessons in Communicating with a Narcissist 

“What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?”—colloquialism

Recently I reviewed Richard Gannon’s video about narcissists’ use of word salad and I promised you I’d share a real life example. In this example you can see that my narcissist isn’t interested in working toward a solution.

I’ve changed a few details for anonymity’s sake, but the words are mostly unaltered from the original text messages.

Me: Our kid is sick. The school called and he needs to be picked up. He needs a doctor’s note to return. It’s your day with the kids, so I really need you to pick him up and make the doctor’s appointment arrangements.

Narc: (no response for 20 minutes)

Me: I’m going to drive to the school. Our son needs to be picked up. However, I CANNOT watch him today or take him to the doctor. I really need you to make those arrangements.

Narc: Does he have an appt? I’m busy. Why is the school sending him home?

They didn’t call me

Me: No he doesn’t. You’ll need to take care of that. You also live much closer to school than I do, so you really need to pick him up.

Me: (send a screenshot of the original text)

Narc: What does that pic have to do with anything?

Me: That’s is the text message I sent 30 minutes ago about picking him up. Are you going to get him or not?

Narc: I have to call the doctor, and go all the way across town to their office?

I’ve been cleaning the damn house.

Narc: I’m not paying attention to my phone

Me: Are you going to pick up our son? Today is your day with the kids.

Narc: I want to know why the school is sending him home.

Me: Because of the virus his sister had. He seems to have it too. Are you going to pick him up? I’m in my car about to pull out of the drive way.

Narc: He got it FROM there!! Did he throw up?

Me: All I need to know is if you are going to if Pick him up.

Me: He needs to be picked up now.

Me: Yes or no

Narc: I want answers


Narc: Are other kids going home as well?

Narc: I can pick him up if you make the Dr arrangements while I’m driving

Me: Fine. Please get in the car and get him now.

Narc: There’s no time for this

Me:  He is your son. Make time.

Narc: That’s not what I meant.

You’ve got PAID time off and school is out for the summer.*

Me: Are you going to get him now? Yes or no

Narc: Are you making the appt?

Me: Yes. Omg. Please tell me if you are picking up our sick kid.

Narc: Yes.

Me: (sent appointment details)

Narc:  This was not about picking up Dax. A: how do they know it’s the virus B: he got it from there

Me: I answered you through the portal Unless there is an emergency with the children or pick up/drop off needs to be amended on short notice, I will not be replying to any more text messages today.

*He was off work on the day of this conversation. I was working and had a day of meetings. I don’t even get summers off anyway.

Dana Morningstar at has a list of 13 most common features of narcissists word salad. 

  1. Conversations that are generally repetitive, and never end with a resolution.
  2. Circular conversations.
  3. Condescending & patronizing tone.
  4. Accusing you of doing things that they are doing (projection).
  5. Different masks are seen.
  6. The eternal victim.
  7. You begin explaining basic human emotions and/or behaviors
  8. Excuses.
  9. “What in the world just happened”.
  10. Random words and phrases strung together.
  11. “Plausible Deniability,”
  12. Incoherent mumbling.
  13. Denying their own bad behavior, and instead, bringing up (and focusing on) the victim’s.

I think we can safely check off numbers 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 13. One and two are pretty obvious. Six, seven, and eight are all related to having to explain to him that he really needs to stop cleaning the house and take time for his sick child. Eleven is part of a larger issue that I see with him. My narcissist never wants to give definitive answers like “Yes, I’ll pick him up.” If he gives definitive answers he has no wiggle room later. Number thirteen may be a bit of a stretch. While he didn’t seem to be blaming me, except maybe when he said I was off, he did want to turn the situation around on my son’s school. He was very focused on that and blaming them for the situation. And while triangulation wasn’t on Morningstar’s list, there’s some thrown in this conversation.

Do you see any other red flags?

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