Plausible Deniability is the Narcissist’s Free Pass

When the narcissist is confronted with a lie, he will instantly create plausible deniability so that doubt is cast on the very facts/evidence laid out before him (or her!). Within seconds, a narcissist can spin a story to cover a story to cover a story, intentionally confusing the accusing partner who has typically taken great pains to present evidence that couldn’t possibility be denied. It’s amazing how they do it and it’s even more amazing how we fall for it or accept the lie that covers the lie. But this is how the narcissist gets a free pass in everything he or she does.

Plausible deniability is what makes us look the other way, give this person another chance, give the benefit of the doubt. With just enough plausible deniability in a story, a narcissist can get away with murder while holding the bloody knife! This is truly a talent because the narcissist, as busy as he is day to day, must always be ready to create a story on the fly to cover the initial story that he spun to perpetuate the lie – but he does it and he does it well! What do you mean you saw a naked girl running out the back door this morning? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Was my car here? No! What do you think – that I parked it down the street? Yeah, right! I went to work early…call my boss…go ahead do it. Unless you have pictures, you better fucking back off. Somethings wrong with you. And unless you DO have those pictures, what the fuck are you going to do? It doesn’t matter that you saw it with your own eyes!! It doesn’t matter that you chased her down the street!! His car WASN’T there (how convenient!) and you better shut the fuck up! Yes, plausible deniability is an amazing thing.

I really started thinking about this particular narcissistic maneuver yesterday after receiving a heart-breaking comment from a woman who is going through hell right now and happened to stumble across my book. Her descriptions of her narcissistic husband’s crazy-making behavior, the silent treatments, and her manipulation-induced reactions were a chilling reminder of how often I dealt with the same crap no matter how many facts I laid out before my ex. The standard response was always to deny, deny, deny or to completely ignore – and then distract from – the obvious truth by shifting the blame onto me somehow until he had me begging to be forgiven for confronting him. How crazy is that?

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To create plausible deniability is a narcissist’s tactic – a defense mechanism – for automatically kicking back the insinuation that he would even ever consider doing whatever it is you’re accusing him of doing.  It matters not that evidence of his betrayal is front and center. Evidence and fact mean absolutely nothing. Evidence, in fact, will piss him off.

What are you talking about? You’re delusional.

That’s right..just keeping bring up the past!

Now you’re just making shit up. I think you’re bi-polar.  

Now I know why nobody likes you. You’re a liar!

I think you need to get professional help. You’re paranoid.

Oh…and let’s not forget the silent stare (which says all of the above and more).

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The words used by narcissistic partners appear so amazingly similar and universal because narcissism stems from an ideology that runs very deep…an one-way ideology that spawns the pathological relationship agenda that I talk about in my books.  This particular manipulation is so nefarious and passive-aggressive that it is often referred to as covert narcissism. And, yes, it most certainly does appear many times to be a covert operation, doesn’t it?

Because it is extremely hard for someone normal to fathom thinking in the capacity that it always appears a narcissist is thinking, we choose, instead, to “sort of” believe the lie. Sometimes the narcissist’s lie is so ludicrous that it’s even easier to “let it go” rather than imagine that he really meant to do what you think he’s done. We bargain with logic. Sometimes we’ll let the evidence go in lieu of confronting him at all lest we take the risk of stumbling around trying to get our words right. We develop that crippling codependency to hope that does nothing but get us into trouble. The N, of course, is hip to all of this and counts on our confusion – and his own absurdity – as his free pass to do just about anything he pleases during the relationship and get away with it. We start to count on the plausible deniability ourselves so that we don’t have to deal with it after all!

I mean, it’s not as if we’ve never tried to get the truth out of the narcissist, right? And when we do dare to attempt it? Well, here’s an anecdote from my own relationship archive that describes what happens:

[One time, way back, I was driving my car with the N in the passenger seat and I, for whatever reason, felt triggered into bringing up a still-unresolved situation where I knew for a fact he had lied to me. I wanted the truth and I wanted it right then but he would have none of it. The loud and very heated conversation (that I’m sure many of you will find familiar) went something like this:

Me: (screaming) What about that?? Tell me the fucking truth! Why did you disappear?? Where did you go??? Why did you do that to me??

W: I already told you.

Me: Told me what? No, no, no…what you told me a lie. You vanish for two solid weeks and then text me with a frigging lie about flying back east to see your dad?? I SAW your truck in town and I want the truth!

W:  (very calm) Wow…you’re not well…what is your problem? What brought all this on?

Me: Answer the question! I saw your truck…I checked the airlines. You didn’t GO ANYWHERE. Don’t you get it? DON’T YOU GET IT???

W: (talking over me) There is something wrong with you. I’m sick of this shit. I don’t think I want to do this anymore.

Me: Don’t try to twist this around. Just tell me the truth. For once, tell me the fucking truth. Where were you those two weeks? Do you have PICTURES of your trip? A boarding pass? ANYTHING?

W:  Oh my God, just shut the fuck up.

Me: No, you don’t. You just expect me to believe a ridiculous, stupid story. You don’t even own a suitcase! You’re not going to tell me, are you? I just have to let it go, is that it?? Is that my only option to everything??


Me:  What?? That you went back east?

W:  YES!!

Me: But IT’S A LIE!! I saw your truck and Chris saw you!

W: Really now? Did Chris see me with someone?

Me: No, but that’s not –

W: See?? What more do you want from me? Shut THE FUCK UP!!!

Me: Stop telling me to shut up! The fact is that YOU WEREN’T AT YOUR APARTMENT FOR TWO WEEKS!! You were somewhere with SOMEONE, now tell me the truth!


Me: Stop lying! Oh my God, I’m begging you to STOP LYING.

W:  You’re just a bitch. You never believe anything I say anyway, so what’s the point?

Me: (sobbing) Please…the truth. Just tell me the truth.

W:  That’s it. I’m done. Let me out of this car!

Me: It never ends…oh my God…

W:  Yeah, tell me about it. You must really, really hate me. I am so sick of this.

Me: Over and over and over….please…

W:  That’s right…just keep bringing up the past…

Me: The past? How can you say that? We’re talking about last month!

W:  We were having a great day and you just had to fuck it up, didn’t you? That’s what happened here so don’t try to blame it on me. No wonder everyone thinks you’re a bully.

Me: A bully?! Who’s everyone?? Name someone!

W: See? This is what I mean.

Me: What the fuck are you talking about? That’s a distraction! I know what you’re doing…

W: Oh yeah, I forgot…you know everything. You’re just so much smarter than everyone else. Tell me, how does it feel to be so smart?

Me: Oh my God…you are so mean. Please stop.

W: Stop what? I didn’t start this. You did, you moron!

Me: (sobbing)

W: Yeah, it’s always my fault. If I’m so bad, then what the fuck are you with me for?!

Me: All I wanted was the truth. I don’t even know.

W:  Yeah, well, that makes two of us. You better just take me fucking home before I lose it.]

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Sound familiar? I have a name for this type of manipulation – the distraction reaction – and if it wasn’t so despicable, it would be actually very funny. We’ve all been there and I’m sure most would agree that the above conversation describes, more or less, one of the more fairly common manipulative, word-twisting narcissistic scenarios that occur whenever we dare to request the truth.  And, although it’s exhausting for us, for the N, it’s just business as usual. The narcissist enjoys The Lie so much that he’ll lie even when the truth is a better story.

Yes, I remember it well…the stuff nightmares are made of. It is these types of conversations that should remind us how just how sacred No Contact really is…how beautiful and calming is that lovely sound of silence.

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  • Chris

    March 4, 2016 at 10:24 pm Reply

    Ive just been discarded by my N ex boyfriend – he was wonderful , giving , i spent most of my time with him , i was happy , thought he was ?
    His daughters age 29 and 32 didnt want to know me , he said ? Then in just 4 months , just after taking me on holiday abroad – he wanted a 2 week break ?
    I was stunned and hurt – we had no rows just a lovely time together – hed learnt slot about me — my fears – other women and being alone .
    Then i cslled him cos the txts snd cslls chsnged , i asked if he had snother woman / he denied and put the blame on me to the point i was apologising ?
    Cmas came andche had a party – invited a woman i thought was dangerous and thay spent most of the night together in frontvof me sndcall the guests – i was in bits and very ill .
    And so my n had started the second phase . Next i found a txt from a differentwoman of course i was nits and awful with a bad mind – how dare i touch his propertyy his phone .
    The phone he put in his boxers , took the toilet , the shower ? The phone never stopped . On our 1st anniversary he showed me a photo of a woman on his phone ? His ex – i didnt know he had one ? She was lovely – he wished he could have stayed with her , he was still tslking to her just as he met me – i asked to see both last txts of these women – he accidently deleted them !!!!
    Course i was mad , bi polar , too suspicious . He had another 2 week break not seeing me . He made promised to go to parties with me and bsck out at the ladt minute . I spent 3 weeks looking after him after an op and 4 weeks later i catch him out that hes met a womsn for lunch – i challenge him snd he only went for a chat- he didnt cheat or lie or deceive ? I was mad and my past was making him pay .
    Theres so much more in all this time .
    We were meant to go together , he got my family excited thst they would see me after 7 years , and now i wasnt going . I was devasted at the betrayal and not seeing my family .
    After 5 weeks of him coming and going and rows it was my fsult and how dare i accuse him – he had never seen another woman never had sex with another woman . He discarded me like something of his shoe , 15 dsys before xmas – it was agony and hell . I went to see my family the journey there snd bsck horrific snd sad snd painful . I missed him my N . I blamed myself . He came my work wen i arrived home , tol me he met someone else was falling in love , was sleeping with her – i fell apart he said he wanted nothing to di with me – i was beside myself . Turns out he was with thecother one at leadt 9 months wen i found hed gone for the meal .
    Im in sgony – my head spinning , cant sleep , i gave my all – he ssid thst aswell and i lost him snd everything cos i should have listened it was just a meal ? I miss my life and wot i thought my future was and him – but it was all fake and its agony trying ti be myself again . Theres more to my story pain anxiousness wondering waiting , him disappearing , times not matching . Suddenly having to work and no signal there , i wouldnt wish this on anyone . How and wen does it end . Theres no contact . But my heart and soul are broken . I lost a job cos of this so im in a mess with finances . My worst fear was to be left for another woman and the loliness that follows – he gave it me without remorse or regret .
    He had me on a pedestal , his trophy , and knocked me off without looking back .

    • Zari Ballard

      March 9, 2016 at 9:19 pm Reply

      Hi Chris,

      You are at the very beginning of a long and winding road to recovery but please choose to accept the journey. This guy will never ever change…he actually feels good when you suffer. What a mean fucking bastard! I don’t know if you are able, but please consider booking a consult with me so we can hash it out and try to create you a survival strategy. I know what it feels like to know about the OW but there’s ways around that feeling. Yes, your worst fear happened..that one thing you’ve always gotten anxiety over and felt desperate about when he’d disappear….I remember it well. But guess what? The worst is over….you don’t have to worry about him doing it or spend half your day trying to PREVENT him from doing it because IT’S ALREADY DONE. He’s already cheated (and then told you about it no less!) and guess what? You’re still alive. He’s still the same piece of shit he’s always been and better her than you.

      Read my books if you can, especially “When Love Is a Lie”…you will see yourself all over it. If you ever do book a consult, I’ll gladly send you all three in PDF. The more knowledge we have the better….he never had you on a pedestal, girl. The relationship was in your mind. He’s a phony, a fake….and he doesn’t deserve to have you love him.

      Stay strong and please do write when you feel the need! I am here to support you and don’t ever forget that!

      Zari xo

  • Lorie

    December 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm Reply

    I tried to post my first post last night as I was in day 2 of no contact and needed some help. I am 10 yrs in 7 of those oblivious to the affairs. I was 2nd shift come to find out she was 3rd. The other women is who told me … she had texted from HIS phone 3 yrs ago and that is how I found out as she had read all of his texts. She was leaving him … this had happened to her before. She is the one who told me he had NPD…. As time has gone on this EX has been completely in his life… I think on both of there parts, The last straw here is 2 weeks ago I caught them sexting. I confronted… the silent stare, then the twisting. So I let for 1 night. -went over the next day to discuss and a condom was missing. Yes I had counted them that is how far it had gone. Confronted and the answer was “Look nothing went all the way and you broke up with me before anything. You were being paranoid and you got mad and said we were done. Then I got mad.” Like that meant it was ok. Then he said he was going to have no contact with her. So on this Monday.. guess who texts me. She had gotten my number out of his phone before but she texts me that he is calling her in the a.m. and she wants it to stop as it is pissing her boyfriend off. I think she is also a narc… keeping him on the side as she texted me to tell him to stop calling her. Its all horrible, my nerves are shot… No contact is very hard .. the games never stop… I feel weak… like I will see him and he will convince me that it is all her. She is the one who told me once that “I am friends with all of my Ex’s” and I read that in one of your blogs. For years I have talked about the games games games. The cell phone hiding, the lies. All of that has an answer of course… it was because he didn’t want to hurt me that she was still calling him. In June he had went of course behind my back.. all was wonderful before that when I came around the corner and low and behold she was coming out of his driveway. I went in… and the stare, the lie and when I said… I SAW HER… he still tried to lie by saying it was his friend. .. I stormed out… and called said he was sorry… for me to come over and when I did not.. he said ok I am locking up I will be alone all night if you need me honey.. I am here for ya. So I did a drive by 6:30 a.m. and guess who was coming out of his driveway again.. Even after all of that I still went back… and there is more of course lots more. I though have been working on it mentally for along time. This last time when I tried to explain to him you don’t have a fight and then call someone over and go screw them in an instant if you are truly in love with me. You would fight for me as I am not the one sexting my ex.
    I have no one to talk to so it helps to write it down. How can I even want a loser like this to call me. I think it is because I just want him to understand. To get the picture…. Probably to have closer, but there is no time ever that I have tried to make him understand that he understood. My feelings have never mattered and when the pretending that nothing has happened rears its ugly head again it just shows me that there is no emotion. There has been many a time that I have said.. when I catch you it just makes you smarter. I know the condom thing really caught him off guard and I have to tell you I feel quite proud of myself although now that also makes him smarter as he will have the stash to replace it. Like that is ok.

    • Christy

      July 29, 2016 at 2:03 am Reply

      I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. All im doing is helping him cover his tracks. Youve got to start trying to remove all emotion from the situation. Its not easy. Ive been married to an NPD 12 years. Same shit. Ill be looking at the conversations he is having with women on social media and he looks me right in the face and triesto lie….?!!! Mind boggling, but thank God im finally getting past trying to wrap my head around how he is and the down right evil shit he does. And thats what happens with us, its crazy, but it becomes like an addiction. We dont even realize the routine we become accustomed to, and thats their love bombing. Though we cant ever do enough. Thats just the way theyre wired. It isnt you. Nothing wrong with you! Except enduring mental and emotional abuse for so long, the worst kind in my opinion and ive dealt with all kinds of abuse my entire life, has a horrible effect on us to our core! This is his viscous cycle that he will repeat with who ever he is with, forever! And yes his side piece is a hystrionic narcissist, and he is a covert somatic. Like the man im with. No fun! About 4 years ago I literally felt like i was dying inside. My spirit was fading fast. Thats a bad place to be! Ive developed C-PTSD. Honey, he knowsyour triggers and laughs every time he sets you off. Its horribly messed up! Youve got to heal lady. Your spirit! You have to see your self worth. It doesnt depend on him. Youre worthy of love, of someone loving you instead of playing the mindf#@k game constantly! We become co-dependant on them. We become dependant upon trying to please them for love and attention and effection. To have partner we deserve. And that partner we deserve isnt there, in our NPD signifigant others. Only thing you should try to wrap your mind around as far as he is concerned, is that he will not change. The more you are aware and see through and call him out on his games, the worse it all gets. Im in the devalue and discard phase and its 11 years of hell wrapped up into one big messed up cruel game after another. Theres a web site i came across a few years back that really helped me with me and the co-dependency and healing the innerchild. Its called joy2meu and i really found it helpful. Youve got to concentrateon you and work on you. Keep busy occuping your time learning more about you. Dont worry bout who what or where hes doing, you already know! And you deserve better! You have more to offer than that kind of hell. So dont take it when its offered to you. I know it hurts. All of life is a lesson. Learn from it and rise above! Jump out of his viscous cycle. That burden isnt yours to carry. When we get past the pain of it all and we learn and we grow from what life hands us, the strength and the wisdom gained are great rewards I promise! Stay strong, keep your head up. All you can control in this life is you. We cant control any other person, even if you know its for their greater good, people have to want to change. And according to a Narc, they are GRANDiose, theres nothing wrong with them, its us and everybody else, so why would they change…? And they dont change because they wont change. The more you see through their games and call them out on it the more you willbe “devalued and discarded”. As you know, it is hell! Best of wishes to you. I hope you break free from his viscous cycle!!!!

  • Lorie

    December 11, 2015 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Day 1 of NO CONTACT. The beginning of the end of a beautiful/horrible 10 yrs. I found out about my Narc actually from the women he was with. She had had enough and he was seeing us both at the same time. I was 2nd shift basically come to find out and when I left his house at around 11 pm she would come over after work 2-3x a week and sleep over so she was 3rd shift. I would never have known if she would not have texted me from HIS phone herself and introduced herself, told me she was leaving him and that she had stole his phone and read every text we had together. I could have him. She told me the story of him not being able to be with only 1 person and I cried and cried as I could not believe it. It was very traumatic. It was a dual relationship and she said there was another at some point. This was 3 yrs ago so I was mindless for 7 yrs. For some reason he begged me that I was the only one and twisted it all and somehow I stayed. He told me never again etc. After this I started watching. He hid his phone and when I called him on it.. it became twisted just as you described. Well I found out the code and when he was passed out I would look. There would be many texts to this girl and in the last 2 yrs he has been/screwed her many times. Sent her flowers on Valentines Day and said it was just a friendship.. didn’t mean anything when I called him on it. In June I caught her leaving his house just as she was driving away and he said it was not her… and even when I said I saw her he still looked right at me in the eye and said it was not her. All the while telling me how much he loved me and he will be right here waiting for me if I needed time. He says he doesn’t know why he does it but he will do whatever it takes to make it right. Again major crying… This time is different I haven’t even cried. 2 weeks ago he was sexting with her again and I called him out… it became the twisted mess and I left and did not come back the next night. Come to find out … (as I counted them) a condom was missing. He of course twisted it all because how could I count them. It was my fault. This plausible denial is really spot on. He would just stare at me as I would cry and tell him how awful this is to know and how could he do this to us? There would be no emotion. Nothing.. like he was a zombie. I remember thinking how can he do this and just look at me like nothing was happening. That is the no empathy part. I to also seem to go back most of the time for some sort of answer for closure you describe. That is what has trapped me in the past. I would need to know face to face how and why he would do this. .. why I have no idea.. I guess because I felt like he really loved me so how could he do this, but as I read through all of this documentation I realize it has to stay no contact. He will beg and say FINE You did this and say I love you all in the same breathe. He will say its all her fault she has something wrong with her but when I say.. really? You cannot say your in a relationship with someone he leaves the room. The last straw was just this week when she again texted me and told me he was calling her and for me to tell him to stop it. I never could believe I was so gullible and so stupid, I too had been building to basically leave for a year. I finally have done it…but I feel like I have nerves coming out of my body I am so stressed. I would leave nothing there so I would never need to go back. He has called 1x and texted 1x and today I am feeling weaker….. but I must prevail as it will never get better no matter what he says as it has not in all these years. Even if he is not a Narc he still has not been faithful, but it is really scary to read this… but it makes me feel better and I came across it looking for exactly these answers. Naming Plausible Denial kinda cracks me up as well now there is a name for it. I am very worried about Hoovering… as he will say.. “Honey what are you doing come over”.

    Thanks for listening… staying strong.

  • Kerry Brown

    November 22, 2015 at 8:55 am Reply

    It amazes me to see how they are all one in the same…the conversation l just read is almost quote unquote of me and a former boyfriend/N, and also and ex husband. So unoriginal, it proves to me that the narcissists in my life are interchangeable just as l am interchangeable to them.
    It also proves to me that in finding the second N l was really picking up where l left off with N #1…my unhealthy behavior was looking to get everything l needed from #2 that #1 never gave. Very insightful and very helpful.
    I realize how badly my heart aches for something real…..

  • Kirra vassallo

    November 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm Reply

    That’s me

    • Zari Ballard

      November 21, 2015 at 1:35 pm Reply

      Hi Kirra,

      I think I can safely say that we’ve all been there, done that. You’re not alone and the company is actually pretty damn great:) Stay strong, sister!

      Zari xo

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