Narcissist is a common word we hear a lot of, these days. Before we talk about how to deal with a narcissist, you need to keep in mind that this is a term that’s also thrown around quite a lot, and unnecessarily too. If someone shows one slight narcissistic trait, they’re labelled a narcissist. However, it’s important to understand that we’re all little selfish from time to time and we all do things we wish we hadn’t – doing those things occasionally doesn’t make you a narcissist.
If you have someone in your life who has narcissistic traits, it’s important to handle it in the right way. Learning how to deal with a narcissist is all very well and good, but if this is someone you’re in a friendship or romantic relationship, it’s a far better option to walk away.
That might sound harsh, but spending an extended amount of time around a narcissist will not end well for you. Trust me, I know.
[Read: How to tell if someone is a narcissist and recognize them instantly]
First things first, let’s really nail down what a narcissist is, versus what it isn’t. There are many common misconceptions about narcissists, which doesn’t help you to really identify this trait in someone close to you.
Many people with narcissism actually have a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD for short. However, there are many people who fall into the narcissistic spectrum, but don’t display enough of it to be diagnosed. That doesn’t help when you’re spending time round them.
To define it simply, a narcissist is someone who lacks empathy. That’s probably the easiest way to describe it, but it’s a little more in-depth than that.
A narcissist lacks empathy and that means that they cannot love someone in the same way as someone who isn’t narcissistic. And they can’t relate to another person in a sympathetic and loving way. Narcissists are extremely selfish, self-absorbed, and controlling. Manipulation is their go-to method of handling people and you’ve probably also heard of gas-lighting too. [Read: 16 signs and tactics real manipulators use to manipulate everyone in their lives]
A narcissistic has an inflated sense of self and assumes that they are the very best at everything, and anyone who disagrees is wrong.
Describing a narcissist is difficult because it sounds like you’re describing a cartoon villain. However, when you’ve spent any amount of time around someone who is truly narcissistic, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a draining, confusing, and manipulative feel and it’s something which is extremely unhealthy on both sides. [Read: 15 signs of a taker in a relationship – Are you a giver or a taker?]
When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you can’t truly class it as loving and genuine. Narcissists cannot love in the regular way; they can control and they can manipulate, but they can’t give and experience love in a way that will make you happy. Instead, you’ll be controlled and you might not even realize it’s happening because they’re so good at covering their tracks, turning on the charm when they think you’re figuring them out, and also manipulating you into doubting your own thoughts.
You might love them but the sad truth is that there is no happy future in your relationship, because a narcissist won’t change. [Confession: Loving a narcissist and what it really means to be in love with one]
To help you identify a narcissist in your life, let’s identify some common narcissistic traits. Before you can learn how to deal with a narcissist, you have to know one when you see one.
Narcissists believe that they are the most important being on the planet and you should drop everything and do whatever they ask you to do, and also be a mind-reader when it comes to their needs.
The opinion of a narcissist is the law in their mind. If you try and voice your own opinion, it will be pulled down, belittled, or even laughed at. When learning how to deal with a narcissist, you need to hold onto your sense of self, to avoid feeling less than you are. [Read: How do narcissists end a relationship – The ways to predict their mind]
Despite their arrogant front, narcissists are actually very easy to hurt and they require constant validation and admiration from those around them. If they don’t get this, they can become very moody and withdrawn.
If something doesn’t go quite how the narcissist wants it to, you can expect them to move into angry outbursts, passive aggressive behavior, or for the silent treatment to be used. These are all methods of controlling a partner or friend, because they know that the other person will respond to them in order to pull them out of their negative mood. [Read: How to respond to silent treatment and stop being power-played by a narcissist]
A narcissist will often exaggerate everything to make themselves appear richer, stronger, more successful than anyone else around them. This can be frustrating because it’s simply not possible for them to just be who they are.
The best car, best phone, best partner, best house, best job, they have to have the very best of everything and they will show it off to the max. It’s not unusual for a narcissist to seek out the most attractive partner and simply use them as a trophy. [Read: 14 signs you’re a trophy partner and being used only as an ego boost]
Narcissists often try and attach themselves to those who are famous or in power, because this makes them appear important by association.
Gas-lighting is a very common technique used by narcissists and it makes the victim start to question their own sanity.
For instance, a narcissist will tell you they will meet you at x restaurant at x time. When they don’t show up and you call to ask where they are, they’ll tell you they never arranged that with you and call you crazy. You then start to question whether you really did make it all up. It’s effective because the more it’s done, the more you start to believe it. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship and shut it down for good]
Because the narcissist has to be the most important person in the room, they will belittle everyone else to make themselves appear better in every aspect possible. It can be very difficult to watch and even harder to experience when it is happening to you.
A narcissist is a bully, whether they appear to be or not. There are several different types of narcissism.
For instance, a vulnerable narcissist appears to be lacking in confidence and needing a little TLC, but underneath it all they’re just using that façade to pull you in and make them feel better about themselves. Bullying isn’t always straight up name calling, sometimes it can take different forms but a regular type of narcissist will certainly go down the old-school bullying route, for sure. [Read: What are the different types of narcissists you should be on the lookout for]
The world that a narcissist lives in is totally made up in their own head. It’s a world where they’re the best of everything, and they’re in charge. Of course, when they get a reminder that this isn’t reality, they start to lash out.
When it comes to knowing how to deal with a narcissist, you need to understand that their sense of entitlement is huge. They expect everything to work out for them without any work and when it doesn’t, they sulk and find it hard to express or control their emotions.
When someone is in a relationship with a narcissist, they’ll probably end up isolated from their friends and family members. The narcissist wants their partner to be totally reliant upon them and that means pulling them away from any outside influences that could cause a problem or call them out. [Read: 21 big signs of emotional abuse narcissists use to keep you isolated and alone]
When learning how to deal with a narcissist you’ll quickly find that they expect you to do whatever they tell you or whatever they want. And they will not react kindly when you don’t do it. They are the best in the world as far as they’re concerned, and that means you should do whatever they demand.
Narcissists can’t experience empathy and that means they’re not able to appreciate how another person may be feeling or that they have needs and wants too. This is one of the single reasons why being around a narcissist is so difficult – everything is about them.
Criticizing a narcissist will never end well. They’ll probably shout and go into a rage, give you the cold shoulder for a very long time, or use passive aggressive behavior to try and get you to apologize and go back on what you’ve said. Narcissists believe they are the best but they also have a desperate need to be validated. When that doesn’t happen, they really don’t like it. [Read: Narcissistic rage and ways to handle the angry backlash of a cornered narcissist]
Narcissists have issues with emotions. They can’t feel them in the same way and can’t process them in the same way. That means they often have emotional swings which they can’t process and that results in difficult and challenging behavior.
When learning how to deal with a narcissist, be it a lover, friend, colleague, or even family member, it’s important to have information to hand. This means you’re already one step ahead of the game and you won’t be manipulated as easily as you may otherwise be.
Let’s look at a few ideas on how to deal with a narcissist, so you can work out what to do next. Of course, my advice to you is to cut your losses and move on. But if you feel you need to work your way out of the situation first, let’s cover some things you can do in the meantime.
Power is in knowledge, so make sure that you do as much research as possible about narcissism. Use all the links you find here in this article and they will help you to figure out what is going on behind the scenes. [Read: What causes narcissism? The facts and theories to understand a narcissist]
When something happens or they say something to you which is hurtful, take some time alone to challenge the experience and put it into perspective. That will stop you from being manipulated quite so easily.
You have to come to the very firm conclusion that in this relationship/friendship/situation, your needs will never be a priority and will never be attended to. You will always come far, far down the list of priorities, and that’s simply not something you should ever have to put up with.
Know that the fantasy of what the narcissist has designed is just a ruse. They will appear charming, funny, loving, sensitive, and successful, but it’s simply not true.
They’re not charming, they’re just able to turn on their charms when it suits them. And they’re certainly not funny when they’re belittling you. They can’t love you in the regular way. And they have no idea what sensitivity really is. Successful? That’s probably an illusion too. It’s normal to want to be with someone who appears perfect but a narcissist is far, far from perfect. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do]
It’s vital that you set healthy boundaries, that you voice them, and above all else, that you stick to them and do whatever you say you’re going to do. If you tell the narcissist that if they shout at you one more time you’ll just walk away, you have to do so. Expect your boundaries to be tested; it’s a narcissist’s nature.
A little earlier, I mentioned challenging words and actions in order to keep them in perspective. In addition, you have to avoid taking things personally because that makes you a prime manipulation snack.
Just don’t bother. Seriously, save your breath for something more interesting if you want to know how to handle a narcissist without losing your mind. You’ll just tie yourself up in knots and feel extremely frustrated. [Read: How to stop giving a narcissist the attention they so badly crave and cut their narcissistic supply]
You don’t have to do this alone. When learning how to deal with a narcissist, you need to have those around you on board. If you’ve become isolated from them, reach out; they’re probably waiting for you to do so. Then, you can work out a way to get your life back on track, with their help to make you feel stronger.
Make a plan and stick to it. If you’re going to leave a lover, work out what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and make sure you cover all options so that you don’t have to go back for anything. Your friends and family members will help you with this. [Read: How to break up with a narcissist and fly out of their gilded cage]
By turning your attention onto yourself, you’ll feel stronger, more in control and the narcissist will find it harder to manipulate you.
[Read: How to break a narcissist’s heart, and why it’s almost impossible to do]
Learning how to deal with a narcissist comes down to understanding the traits and knowing that it’s not about you. Then, you need to work out what is best for you and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as you can.
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