Dating A Narcissist: How to Teach Them to Change for the Better
Narcissistic personalities are difficult to deal with, let alone love. Whether you continue dating a narcissist or not depends on how much you invest.
I am just going to put it out there, narcissists have become the new target for all things shitty. Sure, they aren’t the easiest people to get along with, but who among us is perfect? One of the biggest misnomers out there is that no one is capable of dating a narcissist. The reality, there is someone out there for everyone.
True, people don’t normally change, and we all revert back to our natural tendencies, but that does not doom a narcissist to their narcissistic ways eternally. One of the key elements to change is recognizing what needs to be changed. But that is true for all of us. [Read: 7 big clues to help you identify immature people]
Dating a narcissist – 8 little steps to changing their behavior
If you are in a relationship where you feel depressed, strung out, crazy, frustrated, and upset all the time, the answer to whether you should leave is undeniably yes. But, if you have the capacity to help someone change and the strong self-esteem it takes to shrug off the manipulation most narcissists throw their victim’s way, maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to walk away.
If you maintain your own self-identity, stand up to the narcissist you love, and help them to come out the other less-narcissistic way, dating a narcissist *while not miserable* is possible. I am not going to lie, it will take a whole lot of effort and determination to alter them enough to harmony for you. But, if you are already in love and you want to stay, take matters into your own hands and show them how to change their narcissistic ways. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism most people overlook until it’s too late]
#1 Introduce the concept of empathy. The main reason a narcissist acts and feels the way they do is that they never learned the basic human emotion of empathy. Empathy is not something that you are born with. You are taught empathy through modeling and relationships with other people.
For some reason, the narcissist never learns how to walk in someone else’s shoes. So, to be fair, if they don’t understand how anyone feels but themselves, then it is difficult to care about anyone. They simply don’t get it. The good news is that you are never too old to learn to empathize. For the narcissist, it will not come naturally.
But, if you can get through to them and get a narcissistic personality to see someone else’s point of view, there just might be hope for them. Encourage feeling for other people whenever you can. Maybe it will start to rob off on the person you date. [Read: How to stop being a narcissist and using the people who love you]
#2 Challenge them. The narcissist does not like to be challenged. They operate by thinking they are smarter, more cunning, and far more important than anyone else.
Not used to people challenging them, if you stop letting them get away with thinking they are queen or king bee and challenge them to examine who they really are and their importance in the world, it could bring them down a notch.
They will not like your challenge and seek to take you out and react with anger. That is why one of the determinations of whether you should stay or not is going to be whether you can deal with the wrath of trying to make a narcissist less narcissistic.
Don’t always give in or acquiesce to what they say. Do question them, but also, look out for yourself. In time, and maybe with some desensitizing to their ego, they just might stop considering themselves so much better than everyone else. [Read: Relationship with a narcissist – What it really means to love one]
#3 Disallow name calling and insults. One of the cornerstones of the narcissistic personality is to use intimidation and name calling to make themselves feel superior. It isn’t just about being out on the playground, when fighting with a narcissist, they hurl insults at you and call you names.
If you want to continue dating a narcissist, lay down some ground rules. The first being that they may not disrespect or call you names. But, if you put down an ultimatum and draw a line in the sand, be ready to walk if they cross it by saying ugly things or trying to manipulate you by being verbally abusive.
In the end, no matter how much you love a narcissist, you can’t allow them to abuse you either physically or abusively. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]
#4 Only take responsibility for the things truly your fault. The narcissistic personality is excellent at not taking responsibility for anything. Like anything! If you want to continue dating a narcissist, only take on the responsibility of things actually your fault. Refuse to allow them to put things off on you.
If you feel like your stories don’t line up right and their version is not true, refuse to accept it. Stand your ground. Once they see you can’t be confused by lies and mistruths and guided only by what’s real, if you take responsibility for your own actions only, they just might start to see what part they play in your life. And, their actions might not always be glowing or good.
#5 Don’t react to their outbursts. Walk away. When you do challenge the narcissist or try to go against their beliefs, they will not be happy. Often, they overreact by angry bursts or intimidation. If an argument with them becomes an attempt to shut you down, refuse to take it and walk away.
If you don’t stay, it becomes nothing but a hissy fit. After you walk away enough, they stop stamping their feet to get what they want. They might actually have a conversation like a real-life grown up. [Read: 13 grownup ways to deal with the mean people in your life]
#6 Refuse to be gaslighted. Narcissists do something called “gaslighting.” When confronted or blamed, they take everything out of their arsenal from the past, from your past, hell from anywhere, to throw at you to confuse and set you off balance.
By the time they’re done, you are so turned around you don’t know which side is up. If you want to continue dating a narcissist, refuse to let them throw in everything including the kitchen sink.
When having a conversation, or even an argument, force them to stick to the situation at hand. Keep them from going outside of it or bringing the past into it. When they start to veer away from what you are really discussing, get them back on track by shutting them down.
Remind them of what you are discussing and don’t allow them to bring anything else into the situation. [Read: 16 signs your lover is trying to gaslight you]
#7 Love yourself more than them. Often, the reason it is so hard dating a narcissist is that when you love someone, you start to love them more than yourself. That is the intent of a narcissist. They want you to love them as much as they love themselves.
That comes at a sacrifice to you and your sense of identity. The key to dating a narcissist is to always put yourself, safety, and feelings first. That doesn’t mean you don’t empathize with them, that means that you can’t stop caring for yourself like it is an either/or situation.
Put yourself first always. Stay concerned about how the relationship affects you to stay mentally strong. [Read: 15 ways to discover the self-love and happiness you crave]
#8 Stop things from getting personal. The narcissist feels like everything is a personal attack on them. If you confront them, make sure to take emotionally charged words out of the equation. Remind them frequently that what is being said or done, was not personal.
If they accuse you of embarrassing them, don’t give in by apologizing. Instead, explain to them that you weren’t trying to embarrass them. You just stated a fact.
If you get the narcissist to see that not everyone around them is out to get them, get above them, and that the world doesn’t revolve around them, they might start to develop the empathy that you work hard to teach them.
Dating a narcissist is not easy. But, let’s face it, no relationship is easy. You will read a thousand articles on the internet about how you can’t date a narcissist or that you shouldn’t. But, I would insist that the new narcissistic personality, in some cases, just used to be called “selfish.”
The notion that you can’t change people is true to some extent. We all have habits and tendencies that define us. But, there are ways of making ourselves less “us.” If you want to continue dating a narcissist, try to help them see their unproductive behaviors.
But, if you are dating a narcissist and you feel horrible, depressed, no self-esteem, and are hopeless that they can change, you have your answer. Time to say adios, even if you love them. You can’t love anyone more than yourself, period.