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Dating A Narcissist: What It Feels Like & How to Help them Change

Narcissists belong to one of the worst categories of people you can date. So when dating a narcissist, here are some ways you can make them more selfless.

dating a narcissist

We’re not going to sugarcoat this for you, and here’s the harsh truth – dating a narcissist is the absolute worst.

In their perspective, nobody else is worth a fraction of their time and energy but them. You’re practically living in their world, even if it takes two people to be in a relationship with each other.

The honest truth is that dating a narcissist is similar to dating a wall. You like them, and they use you. Period.

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, and acknowledging it from within. But that is true for all of us.

[Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

What does dating a narcissist feel like?

When you date someone so self-absorbed that all they care about is themselves, it’s the most frustrating thing in the world. We wish we could limit it to just this adjective, but that wouldn’t be accurate. Dating this kind of person can also lead to tendencies where they can be manipulative and controlling to get you to do what they want.

Again, when you date a narcissist, you’re living in their world, and everything you do is according to their terms. So you shouldn’t even be shocked by their lack of empathy or consideration for others. This is all just a part of the package in dating a narcissist, and there’s no going around it. [Read: 16 clear signs you’re in a narcissistic relationship]

Sure, they can change and become better. But they need to want it for themselves. You can’t change them, only they can if they try.

The only thing you can do is help them reach their best potential, but that won’t be possible if they don’t first see an error in their ways.

If you’re wondering what it feels like to date a narcissist, read this confession on what it means to really be in a relationship with a narcissist. And if you’re already dating one and want to help them change for the better, read on!

Dating a narcissist – The little steps to help them change 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 have 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. *Just so you know though, changing them is almost impossible!*

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 miserable* is possible.

1. Introduce the concept of empathy

The main reason a narcissist acts and feels the way they do is because 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.

When you’re dating a narcissist, the concept of empathy is basically uncharted territory for them. They’re either unable to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, they don’t know how to, or they don’t want to.

So, to be fair, if they don’t understand how anyone feels but themselves, then it isn’t easy to care about anyone, is it? They simply don’t get anyone else’s feelings.

The good news is that you are never too old to learn to empathize. For the narcissist, it will not come naturally. You need to make them understand exactly why empathy is such a big deal and how it can benefit them to empathize.

If they can just learn to have a little empathy, maybe there’s hope after all. [Read: How to stop being a narcissist and stop 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, deserving 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. Remember what we said about narcissists tending to manipulate or control people?

If you’re aware of these tendencies and you don’t let them go away with it, that’s how you can get a narcissist to change their ways possibly.

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: What is the worst thing you can do to a narcissist to hurt them]

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.

You need to disallow this at all costs, and this is where setting firm boundaries come into significance. If there are ground rules or boundaries, it’s unlikely they’ll keep insulting you with name-calling. 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.

Abuse is simply a big no, and it doesn’t matter how much you walk away. The moment there’s any form of abuse, walk away. No, run, as fast as you can. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you and using you already]

4. Only take responsibility for the things truly your fault

The narcissistic personality is excellent at not taking responsibility for 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.

This is also why they love playing the victim and feeling sorry for themselves, just to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. A narcissist will never say sorry and if they do, it’s often a manipulation tactic to switch the blame. If you feel like their 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 and manipulated by lies and mistruths, and are guided only by what’s factual, they just might start to see what part they play in your life. [Read: Reasons why playing victim makes your life worse]

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 with angry bursts or intimidation. If an argument with them becomes an attempt to shut you down, refuse to take it, and walk away.

People make a common mistake when dating a narcissist: constantly letting them get away with every outburst and tolerating each one, thinking they’ll change. Of course, it really is possible for them to change their ways, but not when you keep tolerating their behavior.

Instead of allowing the narcissist to control you, you have to instill the fear in them that you’ll walk away and leave if they try to manipulate you, and don’t hesitate to let them see that.

After you walk away enough, they stop stamping their feet to get what they want. And 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 lies as facts 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. Gaslighting is the most common manipulation tactic that narcissist love using, and they’ll continue using it on you if you let them.

When dating a narcissist, you must spot the signs early on that a narcissist is gaslighting you.

Most importantly, refuse to let them get away with any manipulation tactic. Remember, you need to challenge a narcissist and remove the feeling of power they get from controlling others. [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 the cost of your sense of identity.

The key to dating a narcissist is to always put yourself, your safety, and feelings first. It’s so easy to lose yourself to the point where you’ve realized a little too late that you’ve given up everything at the expense of a narcissist. They took advantage of you, and you just let them.

Dating a narcissist will blind you into giving everything they want, so you must love yourself more than you love them.

Put yourself first always. When you know you’re dating a narcissist, always pay attention to how your relationship affects you, so you can 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. They’re looking for an apology from you or they want you to accept that the blame is on you, which isn’t true. They can’t handle confrontation or accountability, so shifting blame is the easiest thing for them.

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 you’re working so hard to teach them. The world is not their oyster, and they need to stop assuming the world revolves around them, and them alone.

9. Break the spell and don’t focus on them

A narcissist thrives on making everything about them, which is why they’re such attention seekers. So in dating a narcissist, you need to break the spell by ensuring you’re not catering to their every whim and fancy at your expense.

Don’t allow yourself to push aside your boundaries or disregard them for your narcissist partner.

They aren’t the priority in your life, you are. The more you end up providing every one of their needs, the more they’ll keep doing what they do best, which is treating you like a trained monkey for their amusement.

You need to take control of your life and prioritize yourself, and avoid giving them the narcissistic supply they so badly crave. [Read: Narcissistic supply – How to stop giving the attention they crave]

10. Speak up

It’s so easy just to shut your mouth and refuse to say anything when you’re dating a narcissist, but that won’t help you get anywhere. People who are narcissistic and self-absorbed by nature will steal your voice and not respect any opinions or thoughts you have in any situation.

So when they’re hurting you or disrespecting you in any way, you need to speak up. The general rule of thumb in dating a narcissist is never to let them get away with what they’re doing.

Don’t buy their lines claiming, “This is who I am. If you really loved me, you’d accept me unconditionally” or the eye-roll worthy line, “if you don’t love me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” used in all the wrong circumstances by a narcissist to justify their shitty behavior.

These are just some of the more cliche lines narcissists love using, so don’t give in. Tell them how they’re negatively impacting your life, and don’t allow them to make it your fault. [Read: How to be assertive – 17 ways to speak your mind loud and clear]

11. Focus on actions rather than words

Another thing narcissists love doing is making all sorts of false promises, just to give you hope that they’re going to change and become better. They love saying all kinds of flowery words without ever intending to meet them or deliver through them.

The worst part is, they might even believe their lies themselves, so you end up feeling bad for them. Don’t. You need to insist on actions rather than words.

So if you’re dating a narcissist, focus on seeing changed behavior through their actions. Stand your ground and only give in once they’ve delivered what you want.

12. Find a support system

Dating a narcissist requires a support system. Otherwise, you might just lose every bit of your sanity and yourself if you don’t have one. We know how easy it is to push your friends and loved ones away and make your narcissist partner your everything.

However, you need to have a support system if you’re attempting to change them and become better. It will take a lot of willpower and patience to deal with a narcissistic partner, so a support system is a must. [Read: 13 traits of toxic people that can hurt and emotionally damage you]

Otherwise, your narcissist partner will have complete control of you, and it’ll be easy to give in to everything they want you to provide. Having a support system will let you stay accountable for what you’re dealing with. They’ll remind you that it’s not your fault on the circumstances they’re manipulating you into thinking it is.

13. Know when to walk away

We know this feature is all about changing a narcissist. However, it doesn’t always happen that way. Anyone who has ever dated a narcissist will tell you that sometimes, they’re just too damaged and far gone to change. Also, it’s never your responsibility to change or fix them.

Especially when their narcissism is just too deep-rooted in them that it’s almost impossible to change, that burden is no longer on you. If none of these tips above on dating a narcissist have worked and they’re still getting worse by the day, it’s time to save yourself and walk away.

They’re never going to change, and it’s time you accepted that. We know how much you wanted them to become better but sometimes, it’s just not possible.

[Read: 19 signs of emotional damage and ways to get past them]

So, how do you date a narcissist?

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, these days, you need to realize that narcissism has turned into a catch-all phrase to define anyone who’s just being selfish!

Sometimes, a person may not even be a real narcissist or maybe on the lower end of the narcissistic spectrum, but you’ll come across several people calling each other narcissists just because they don’t care about the other person or decide to use others for their pleasure.

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.

[Read: How to manipulate a narcissist and help them change for the better]

Dating a narcissist, especially if they’re a real narcissist, feels like the worst thing in the world. It can leave you exhausted and drained, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. At the end of the day, the choice is yours whether to be patient enough to try to change them, or walk away.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...