The term “narcissist” typically refers to someone who is both self-absorbed and emotionally distant. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a serious mental illness after all, and should be diagnosed by a trained mental health professional.
Some narcissistic traits can be displayed without the presence of NPD. A few examples of them are:
- being in continual need of adulation
- using other people for your own benefit
- lack of awareness or consideration for the needs of others
However, despite having a high opinion of themselves, people with NPD or narcissistic traits are generally highly sensitive to criticism.
Here are some helpful suggestions for interacting with someone who suffers from NPD or narcissistic tendencies, as well as advice on knowing when to cut ties and move on.
1. Accept Them for Who They Are
Those who have a narcissistic personality might be very charming when they want to be. Their lofty ideals and guarantees may entice you. Because of this, they may also find widespread favour in the business world.
Look at how they treat others when they’re not “on stage” to gauge whether or not they’re worth becoming involved with. No reason exists to suppose they won’t treat you the same way if you discover them lying, manipulating, or otherwise disrespecting others.
Your wants and needs aren’t relevant to a narcissist, no matter what they tell you. And if you do try to bring it up, you could get some pushback.
If you’re dealing with someone who has a narcissistic personality, the first thing to do is recognize that this is who they are and there’s not much you can do about it.
2. Break the Spell and Stop Focusing on Them
Someone with a narcissistic personality can make you feel like you should focus on them constantly. That’s on purpose; people with narcissistic personalities crave attention of any kind and will go to great lengths to ensure they get it.
Sooner or later, you could give in to this strategy and put your own demands on the back burner to make others happy.
They may never stop acting like attention-seekers, so you shouldn’t hold your breath. No amount of compromise or accommodation to their wants and demands will ever be sufficient.
Don’t let a narcissist into your identity or your view of the world if you have to deal with one. That includes you. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, ambitions, and aims on a regular basis.
Act alone and schedule some “me time.” Just focus on taking care of yourself and realizing that it’s not your responsibility to make other people happy.
3. Be an Advocate for Yourself
There are times when doing nothing is the best course of action. However, this does depend heavily on the nature of the connection. Different approaches may be needed, for instance, when interacting with a boss, parent, or spouse as opposed to a co-worker, sibling, or child.
Narcissists take great pleasure in seeing others’ discomfort. Assuming this is the case, it’s best to keep your cool and not exhibit any signs of irritation, as this would simply encourage them to keep going.
You owe it to yourself to make your feelings known if this is a person you care about and want to keep close. Do your best to maintain a serene, peaceful demeanour.
You have an obligation to let them know how their words and actions affect you. It’s important to be clear and consistent about what you won’t tolerate and how you want to be treated. But beware: it’s possible they won’t get it, or care.
4. Define Your Limits
Narcissists tend to be very preoccupied with their own needs and wants. They may feel entitled to enter any room they like, examine any item you deem worthy of secrecy, or prescribe how you should be feeling. The person may provide unwanted advice or claim credit for your work. Or to coerce you into discussing sensitive matters in front of others.
They may also be quite borderline in terms of personal space, always pushing others out of their way. The vast majority of the time, they simply don’t notice them. Because of this, it’s crucial that you make your desired limits crystal apparent.
For what reason should the repercussions bother them? For the simple reason that a narcissist will only care about anything when it directly affects them.
Make sure it’s not just a threat for the sake of it. You should only threaten repercussions if you intend to follow through with them. If you don’t convince them now, they won’t trust you later.
Let’s pretend a co-worker has a habit of parking their car in a spot that makes it difficult for you to reverse out. A firm request that they give you space is the first step. Then, outline the penalties for not obeying your wishes.
For example, if you can’t safely back out, you’ll have their automobile towed. The important thing is to actually do something about it and get in touch with a towing service the next time this occurs.
5. Anticipate Resistance
Someone with a narcissistic personality type will react negatively if you confront them.
They may try to impose their own conditions after you’ve spoken up and established limits. Another tactic they may use to control you is to make you feel bad about yourself or blame you while they’re the ones being unreasonable and controlling. They could try to appeal to your emotions. You should get ready to defend yourself. They won’t take you seriously again if you go backward.
6. Remember That You’re Not at Fault
It’s quite unlikely that someone with narcissistic personality disorder will apologize or take responsibility for their actions if they’ve wronged you. Instead, they shift the blame for their own poor actions onto you.
Accepting responsibility for a disagreement may seem like a peaceable solution, but you don’t have to put yourself down to save their pride. You are already aware of the facts. No one should ever take that away from you.
7. Discover a Community of Care
Try to surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals if you can’t avoid that person entirely. Emotional exhaustion is a common side effect of being in a toxic relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality.
Get back in touch with old friends and make an effort to build relationships with new people. Hold more frequent get-togethers with relatives. Take a course to learn about a new interest if you find your social circle to be narrower than you’d like. Participate in group activities or lend your time to a worthy cause. Find a way to interact with others that will increase your chances of meeting compatible new people.
8. Demand Immediate Results, Not Empty Assurances
Those who have a narcissistic personality trait are excellent at providing assurances. They assure you that they will carry out your wishes and avoid carrying out your worst fears. In general, they say they’ll improve. And they could actually mean what they say. But there should be no misunderstanding that the promise is merely a means to a goal for a narcissist.
After achieving their goal, their desire to continue working diminishes. Don’t assume that their statements will be matched by their deeds. You need to assert yourself and ask for what you want. Demand that they meet your needs before you agree to theirs.
To not give in on this issue is crucial. Maintaining coherence while doing so will aid in establishing the point.
9. Realize That the Narcissist Might Benefit From Therapy
Those who suffer from NPD frequently fail to recognize a problem, at least in themselves. This makes it extremely unlikely that they will ever seek help from a counsellor.
Nonetheless, those who suffer from NPD often also struggle with substance misuse, mental health issues, or personality quirks. Someone may decide to get therapy if they are experiencing symptoms of another disorder.
You can encourage them to seek out professional assistance, but you can’t force them to. It is entirely their duty, not yours. Keep in mind that even though NPD is a mental health illness, it in no way justifies harmful actions.
10. Recognize When You Need Assistance
The mental and physical toll of maintaining a relationship with a narcissist can be significant. See your primary care physician if you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other medical conditions for which you can’t find an explanation. You can get referred to therapists and support groups after you’ve had a check-up.
Activate your social support system by contacting close friends and family members. We can do this together; individual effort is unnecessary.
When to Stop:
Individuals who exhibit narcissistic traits may also have abusive communication styles.
List of warning indicators for an abusive partner are:
- insults and name calling
- humiliating and patronizing behaviour
- shouting and making threats
- conflict based on envy and false charges
Watch out for these other red flags in the other person:
- putting the blame on you whenever something bad occurs
- maintaining a close eye on your whereabouts or making an effort to isolate you
- conveying how you should or should not be feeling
- habitually shifting blame for their own failings onto you
- Trying to make you doubt your own perceptions by denying reality or gaslighting
- minimizing the significance of your feedback and requirements
But when is it acceptable to give up? There must be ups and downs in every relationship. Despite this fact, you should probably end things if:
- The person you’re with is verbally or emotionally abusing you
- A sense of being dominated and manipulated is settling in on you
- Physical harm has been done to you, or you fear for your safety
This has been a guest post sponsored by An Epic Series of Failures Series at bookslilke.net.
We at Anglia Counselling Ltd have extensive experience guiding those affected by narcissistic personalities, whether they be family, partners, or in other areas such as the workplace. We offer face-to-face appointments and global online sessions.
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).