If you are reading this article, you want to know how to deal with a narcissist.
It is highly likely that you are dealing with an acquaintance, friend, or loved one who has traits associated with narcissism or has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
There are key differences between these two terms.
Clinicians define Narcissism as a personality trait in which the person imposes a certain sense of self-importance on themselves.
All of us have experienced some level of narcissism at some point in our lives.
This trait exists on a spectrum where healthy narcissism exists on one hand (supports positive purpose and self-worth), and negative, pathological narcissism exists on the other.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, on the other hand, is a complex personality disorder that usually accompanies other affective and personality disorders.
I would surmise that in your real-world setting, knowing the differences between NPD and narcissism is more of an academic exercise and that you are most interested in successfully navigating life with a narcissistic partner.
That’s why you are here, correct?
In this article, I will review the classical traits you will see in someone with NPD and how you can protect yourself from being negatively impacted by such behavior by your friend or family member.
I will provide eight practical tips on how to deal with a narcissist so that you can get on with living your life free of frustration while maintaining your self-worth.
From understanding their behavior patterns to establishing healthy boundaries, you will learn how to navigate this complex dynamic and protect your well-being.
So, without further delay, let’s get into it…
- Avoid direct confrontation with narcissists and frame negative feedback as a compliment to avoid triggering their anger.
- Hold narcissists accountable for their promises and challenge their deception before fulfilling their requests.
- Clearly outline and prioritize your own boundaries in the relationship, and avoid accepting blame from narcissists.
- Recognize when professional help is needed and seek counseling from a licensed professional, such as Anchor Therapy, for specialized assistance with narcissistic abuse.
Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder vs Narcissism
Knowing the difference between Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Narcissism is the first step towards effectively managing and responding to the challenging behaviors of someone you believe to be a narcissist.
5 signs of people with narcissistic personality traits (Narcissism)
- Controlling or manipulative behavior: Narcissists will exploit others or keep them at a distance to maintain control
- Entitled sense of self: Narcissists think they are superior to others, deserve the best, and are above the rules
- Arrogance: Narcissists tend to be rude or abusive toward people they consider to be inferior to them
- No empathy: Narcissists cannot relate to others’ feelings, wants, or needs.
- Crave Admiration: Narcissists constantly need validation, praise, admiration, and getting their egos boosted
To get an in-depth overview of the traits exhibited by narcissistic people, I recommend reading my article here.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
NPD is a mental health condition that often accompanies other affective and personality disorders.
According to DSM-V, NPD is characterized by at least five of the following traits:
- Requiring constant, excessive admiration
- Exploitative behavior, taking advantage of others for one’s own gain
- Displays arrogant behavior, attitudes, and actions
- Excessive sense of entitlement and self-worth
- Has pervasive thoughts of success, power, beauty, and intelligence
- Has a sense of grandiosity or self-importance (often exaggerates achievements)
- Often envious of others
- Lacks empathy toward others’ feelings and circumstances
- Believes they are one-of-a-kind and can only associate with others of equal caliber (see my article on cerebral narcissists)
Another aspect of their personality to note is that people with NPD have egos that are easily bruised.
They cannot handle the slightest criticism, no matter how constructively it is worded.
If you are dealing with the following behaviors from your partner in a relationship, you may be dealing with a narcissist:
- They constantly gaslight you or make you question your own reality
- Do not think about your own needs or wants (constantly)
- Blame you for things you have no control over
- Prevent you from interacting with your friends and family (Isolation)
- Tell you where to go and what to do
- Tell you how to think and feel
- Try to make you believe that their problems and issues are actually yours (Projection)
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8 Tips for how to deal with a narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist can be overwhelming.
Many people may even become depressed as their quality of life crumbles due to the pressures of being in such a toxic relationship.
Here are some practical tips for dealing with a narcissistic person:
1. Set Boundaries
Narcissists love to cross boundaries while protecting their own.
So, set clear boundaries with narcissistic individuals.
Clearly and strongly make your thoughts known to the individual, and let them know your “red line” will not be crossed.
Enforcing your boundaries will prevent their manipulative behaviors from affecting you.
Recognize and confront their narcissistic traits, such as gaslighting and exploiting others.
By setting boundaries, you maintain the upper hand and assert your needs and limits in the relationship.
Practice self-care to prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Remember, you can’t change or fix the narcissist, so focus on protecting yourself and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Seek support from trusted friends, family, or support groups to strengthen your resilience.
2. Avoiding Personalization and Blame
When communicating with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic characteristics, it’s important to remember that you aren’t responsible for their behavior.
As I have mentioned, narcissism is a personality disorder marked by a grandiose sense of self-importance and a lack of concern for others.
Individuals with this disorder may exploit and manipulate others for their own gain.
It’s crucial to maintain your health and wellness in these interactions.
Remember, you aren’t to blame for their actions or how they treat you.
It may be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you’re dealing with a narcissist, and their behavior doesn’t excuse or reflect on your worth.
When the narcissist projects their blame on you, it’s best not to accept it.
3. Do not react
Narcissists love to agitate you and manipulate your emotions.
They are seeking to bring out your anger or hurt.
Remain calm and composed when communicating with a narcissist, refraining from reacting impulsively or emotionally.
It’s important to remember that a narcissist thrives on attention and reaction, so by not reacting, you’re taking away their power and their opportunity to take over the conversation.
Avoid any opportunity for the individual to engage in projection.
When faced with a narcissistic individual, it’s crucial to recognize that their behavior stems from deep-seated insecurities and a lack of empathy for others.
While it may be tempting to engage in a heated argument or match their level of self-centeredness, it’s essential to maintain your emotional well-being.
Instead, focus on practicing empathy without enabling their harmful behavior.
4. Avoid direct confrontation
To effectively handle a narcissist, it’s important to avoid direct confrontation.
Since narcissists are often manipulative and have a deep need for attention, engaging in direct confrontation can lead to toxic relationship dynamics and escalate conflicts.
Furthermore, calling them out will only make them more angry.
Here are some ways to communicate with a person with narcissistic tendencies:
- Stay calm and composed during interactions.
- Use assertive communication techniques to express your needs and boundaries.
- Avoid getting drawn into their manipulative tactics.
- Practice active listening and validate their feelings without compromising your own.
- Build your self-esteem and practice self-care to maintain emotional resilience.
- Remember that you can’t change a narcissist, but you can develop skills to communicate and protect yourself effectively while maintaining a relationship with this person.
5. Emphasize the need for action over empty promises
Highlight the importance of prioritizing actions over empty promises when communicating with narcissists.
Narcissists often make grandiose promises but fail to follow through, leaving you feeling disappointed and frustrated.
To effectively deal with narcissists, it’s important to set boundaries and hold them accountable for their actions.
Instead of relying on their empty promises, focus on the actions they take to demonstrate their commitment.
If you find that their promises consistently ring hollow, show them that you’re willing NOT to fulfill their requests until they follow through.
6. Don’t put up with their behavior
This aligns with setting boundaries above – To communicate with narcissists effectively, consistently assert your boundaries, and do not tolerate their behavior.
Here are some strategies to help you navigate interactions with narcissists:
Set clear boundaries
Clearly communicate what you’ll and won’t accept in the relationship.
Be firm in asserting your limits and expectations.
Reinforce boundaries consistently
Repeat your boundaries and reinforce them consistently.
Narcissists may test your limits, so staying consistent in your responses is essential.
Use assertive communication
Use ‘I’ statements to express your feelings and needs without being aggressive or confrontational.
This approach promotes respectful and direct communication.
Avoid enabling harmful behavior: While practicing empathy, be mindful not to enable the narcissist’s harmful behavior.
7. Know when to seek professional help
If you find yourself struggling to communicate with a self-centered narcissist effectively, it may be beneficial to seek professional help.
Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging and emotionally draining, as their manipulative behavior and lack of empathy can make it difficult to establish healthy communication patterns.
A licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide you with the guidance and support needed to navigate these complex dynamics.
They can help you develop effective communication strategies, set boundaries, and manage your emotional responses.
Professional help can also assist in recognizing patterns of narcissistic abuse and determining when it may be necessary to leave a toxic relationship.
Remember, seeking professional help isn’t a sign of weakness but a proactive step towards your own well-being!
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8. Know when to leave the relationship
Recognizing the signs of a toxic relationship is crucial in determining whether it’s time to consider leaving a narcissist.
Here are some indicators that it may be time to leave the relationship:
- Emotional and psychological abuse: If the narcissist consistently belittles, manipulates, or gaslights you, it’s important to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.
- Lack of empathy and support: Narcissists often lack empathy and are unable to provide the emotional support you need in a relationship.
- Constant control and manipulation: If the narcissist is constantly trying to control your actions, isolate you from loved ones, or manipulate you for their own gain, it may be time to leave.
- Violation of boundaries: If the narcissist repeatedly disregards your boundaries and crosses lines that make you uncomfortable, it’s essential to prioritize your own safety and well-being.
Watch the informative video from a well-known YouTube channel that provides 5 strategies for navigating narcissistic relationships:
In conclusion, dealing with a narcissist can be challenging because they can’t stop being a narcissist.
However, you can protect your well-being and maintain your sanity with the right strategies.
You can regain control of your life by understanding their behavior, setting boundaries, avoiding personalization and blame, and communicating effectively.
Additionally, finding and immersing yourself in a healthy support system is key!
Remember to prioritize self-care and recognize when you need help.
And if necessary, recognize when it may be time to leave a narcissistic relationship.
With these techniques, you can find ways to deal with and navigate this complex dynamic and protect yourself from the detrimental effects of interacting with a narcissist.
Let’s move forward and break this cycle of narcissistic abuse!
Remember that you are NOT alone – there are MANY survivors of narcissistic abuse!