Health

Narcissists Love to Say This One Thing to Defend Their Bad Behavior

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Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a clinical psychologist and author who specializes in narcissistic behavior, and helps people recognize the telltale signs of abuse in narcissistic relationships. In a recent video on her YouTube channel, she highlights a common refrain that narcissists will use in order to normalize their bad behavior to a friend or partner: “Nobody’s perfect.”

As Ramani explains, the biggest challenge with this statement is that on its own it is impossible to argue with, because it’s true.

“Perfection is a nonsense word when it comes to understanding human beings and human relationships,” she says. “To say nobody’s perfect is like saying the sun is hot… The issue is that this idea of ‘nobody’s perfect’ is also often thrown around in narcissistic relationships as a way of excusing big ticket mistakes like infidelity or major lies or betrayals.”

When a narcissist uses this as an enabling phrase, placing their specific harmful actions in the context of a universal truism, it further perpetuates the gaslighting that is likely already happening in a relationship. And if the narcissist’s partner is an empathetic person who tries to see the argument from both sides, this defense can often work as a distraction tactic.

“It provides the narcissistic person with a quick justification, the fight moves away from the lie or the abuse, and it moves over to a discussion of ‘nobody’s perfect,'” she says. “It puts you in a catch-22… If you say something like ‘that’s not true, I’m perfect,’ that’s not going to fly because you’re not perfect either. If you fight that nobody’s perfect premise, you’re more likely to be met with contempt or mockery… Then the whole conversation devolves into them painting you as a self-righteous believer in your own perfection.”

This becomes an even bigger problem when it is reinforced by people outside of the relationship who might be trying to offer support or advice, leaving the victim feeling as if they are the one being unreasonable.

In any kind of relationship, if somebody comes at you with the “nobody’s perfect” defense, Durvasula recommends asking yourself a couple of questions. How harmful was what they did? Is this bad behavior a one-off, or repeated as part of a pattern? And is your partner making an effort to change so they won’t make the same mistake again?

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