People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are difficult to deal with because they can affect you to the point of emotional exhaustion. A narcissist will be the first to tell you that you are wrong and the last one to stop talking…about themselves.
Their manipulative tactics, need for attention, and constant teasing can make you feel like you are going crazy. It is critical to know how to deal with a narcissist because they will put you in a place where you feel powerless or unimportant since you, or no one else for that matter will ever be adequate or impressive enough for them.
If you are dealing with a boss, parent, sibling, colleague, or romantic partner who is a narcissist, it can feel impossible to manage, but that doesn’t mean that they are impossible to love.
To know how to deal with a narcissist, it helps to look out for some of the signs and know where they are coming from. Especially if you are not aware that the person standing before you has NPD, it can lead to long-term emotional and self-esteem issues for you.
They might make you feel like the most remarkable and fantastic person initially, but eventually can make you feel like you are no longer the person you used to be. So, the more informed you are about how to deal with a narcissist or how to deal with a narcissist in a relationship, the less power you give them to affect your emotional state, which is precisely what they are looking to do.
How to deal with a narcissist is less about labeling or trying to change them (because you can’t) and more about learning to manage your own emotions. Here are a few tips regarding personality signs to look out for, what causes narcissistic tendencies, and how to deal with a narcissist in a relationship:
Have some empathy, even if they do not
A narcissist will not validate your feelings or make you feel understood. They cannot empathize or sympathize when you are going through something or having a bad day. It is not because they have not been there themselves, but they just won’t admit it.
Empathy is a vulnerable place, and it requires connecting to something within yourself to connect with another person. Narcissists are actually quite vulnerable beings at their core; in fact, “vulnerable narcissism” is one type or main category of narcissism.
Their outer shell is self-absorbed because deep down they do not grasp the concept of their own feelings, even if they truly are dealing with shame and self-esteem issues. You can’t expect a narcissist to understand your emotions, let alone admit that they do because to them it would be a sign of weakness.
Knowing how to deal with a narcissist in a relationship begins with understanding what kind of narcissist they are. A vulnerable narcissist does not actually feel that good about themselves, despite acting the opposite.
A vulnerable narcissist is more covert and introverted, and when they seek pity or flattery, it might not be as easy to notice, but they will do it to boost their sense of self-worth.
Know your worth and do not react
A relationship with a narcissist might look like you continually getting teased or being put down because it makes them feel powerful. They want to lower your self-esteem to build their own, and they will enjoy getting a reaction out of you because it means their actions are “working.” But, reacting to their childish or over-the-top behavior is not how to deal with a narcissist in a relationship.
This person will undoubtedly hurt you at times with the words they say, and it can cause you to question if you are too sensitive. When everything you do presents a problem for them, remember that that is their problem, even if they have a way of making you feel like everything you do is wrong.
Do not apologize and do not react. If they try to take away special moments for you and make it about them, then you need to find a way to celebrate life’s big and little achievements either with yourself or someone else, without allowing them to make you feel guilty about it.
Help them or leave them
The sad reality about narcissists is they typically bounce around between relationships because they lack the qualities that most successful relationships need.
Or rather, they have the traits that push people and good relationships away. If you intend to stay with this person, you should do everything you can to get them professional help. Their personality cannot be changed, but psychotherapy can help improve and alter their behaviors.
Knowing how to deal with a narcissist in a relationship does not all have to fall in your lap; their personality disorder is not your responsibility or area of expertise, so the intervention of a professional is necessary for things to get better.
If things do not improve or worsen, you need to look out for yourself at the end of the day. Sometimes managing and knowing how to deal with a narcissist in a relationship means cutting ties, which even a breakup with them will surely require some management.
Ending things with a narcissist can be almost as difficult as managing a relationship with them, so if it gets to this point, you will want to prepare for it. When you first end things with them, know that it will not really be over. They will panic and charm you the way they did in the beginning and try to convince you that they have changed. They will want to hurt you for abandoning them and try to make you feel jealous by doing things like stealing your friends.
Make sure you surround yourself with a support group of people who can remind you that you haven’t done anything wrong and that you did what you needed to do.
This person might try to contact you for more chances or harass you, so always remember what you deserve, and when you end things, do not offer up any more opportunities and block them from your phone and social media accounts. It may sound or feel harsh, but you might never feel fulfilled in a relationship with a narcissist because they will never feel content.
If the person you are dating is always on the lookout for something or someone better, then know that it is okay for you to look for something better too. At the very least, you need to look out for yourself.