Everyone has heard the word ‘narcissist,’ but how many of you have actually encountered one for real? The fact that you’re reading this tells me that you either have a narcissist in your life, or you’re keen to learn about how to handle a narcissist if one ends up in your midst.
I’m going to write this from the point of view of someone who might be in a relationship with a narcissist. Remember that narcissism can affect every type of situation in life, from friendships to working relationships, family relationships to simple interactions with people who briefly enter your life.
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist is someone who displays an inflated sense of self, illusions of grandeur, and someone who simply cannot be wrong — ever. True narcissism is down to NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and is a total lack of empathy.
A narcissist, a true one, cannot love in the same way as someone who isn’t affected by narcissism. It’s impossible to experience real love if you don’t have empathy for other people. As a result, being in a relationship with a narcissist can be extremely hard and emotionally damaging.
[Read: Feeling trapped in a relationship? Should you stay or break free]
At the start, the narcissist will the epitome of charm, they’ll reel you in and leave you addicted to their presence. Then it will all change and they’ll show you their true colors.
I know this because I’ve been there myself.
Learning how to handle a narcissist comes down to your own strength in many ways. It’s also about knowing when enough really is enough. You do not have to be at the mercy of another person toying with your emotions for the hell of it. Yes, a true narcissist has a personality disorder and cannot actually help the way they are. It doesn’t mean you should put up with it. [Read: Why narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do]
Narcissism exists in many different degrees. You could have someone who only has a slight amount of narcissism. It’s easy to deal with them when they’re being their narcissistic self. However, there are those who are extremely narcissistic and difficult to be around. In that case, the only answer is to walk away.
For those of you who aren’t at that point yet, or simply don’t want to be, let’s look at how to handle a narcissist in the best way. [Read: How to stop giving the narcissist the attention they crave]
How to handle a narcissist
First things first, are you sure you’re actually dealing with a narcissist? Remember, we all have times when we’re a little mean to people we love, usually because we’re dealing with stress or some other issue in our lives. Just because your partner has been slightly narcissistic once doesn’t mean it will be repeated. If you notice signs of narcissism on a regular basis, you need to kickstart your coping mechanisms into gear.
It’s a good idea to do some research into the different types of narcissism. Find out where your partner’s trigger points are. For instance, a vulnerable narcissist is someone who actually deflects compliments. They do it so you’ll give them another one. In this case, they have a real self confidence problem and rely on others for self validation. [Read: What types of narcissism should you be on the lookout for?]
However, a regular narcissist is someone who believes they’re the best of the best, and anyone who disagrees is just downright wrong.
There are also dangerous types of narcissists, such a a malignant narcissist. In this case, just leave. Don’t try and handle them, just go. You will not leave this relationship in a good way if you stay.
Assuming you’re dealing with a regular or a vulnerable type, it’s important to set boundaries. The reason I say that is because they will push you and test your limits. When they understand where your limits are, they’ll pull back, and try and prod you closer to the edge again. They’re doing this to work out how far they can go. When you reach the end of your tether, they’ll likely turn back into the charming person you met and reel you back in.
The only way to get around this, if you choose to stay, is to set boundaries. [Read: A relationship with a narcissist and what it means to love one]
How to set boundaries with a narcissist
When setting boundaries understand your own limitations. Identify what you will and won’t put up with then tell your partner. Be firm! Tell them “if you do that again, I will walk away.” If they do it, you need to grab your things and go.
Of course, it might not be that drastic. You could say that if they do it again, you’ll just walk out and not talk to them. In that case, if they do it, you have to follow through with what you’ve said you’ll do . If you don’t, they’ll call your bluff time and time again. It’s all a game to a narcissist in many ways. Be firm and stick to your intentions.
The more you do this, and do what you say you’re going to do, the less likely your narcissist will carry on with that particular prodding behavior. Of course, they might find another way to test you, but you’ll simply repeat the process and almost train them to not do it.
In some ways, understanding how to deal with a narcissist is the same as teaching a child the difference between right from wrong. You are not wrong in what you’re doing. You’re not going insane when they tell you that they never said something and you know they did, and that you’re not going to be manipulated by gaslighting techniques. Be firm. Be strong. Always remember that if you need to walk away, you can. [Read: How to know when a narcissist is gaslighting you]
Knowing when to walk away
Part of how to handle a narcissist is also about knowing when enough is enough and you need to walk away. If your relationship wears you down, you become isolated from friends and family, if you feel like less than yourself, or you doubt your own sanity, recognize the signs and get out of there.
Yes, it will be hard. I know. I’ve done it myself.
You will question your decision time and time again. Yes, they will come running to try and change your mind. You have to be strong. Break free clinically, i.e. delete and block, take your things and go. Do not be tempted to call them or see them one last time. They will only drag you back. [Read: How to set boundaries with a narcissist and weaken their hold over you]
It’s important to remember that if you reach the end of your tether, the relationship is not going to change. They can’t change because narcissism is part of their personality and unless they’re prepared to admit fault and admit that they need help, and then follow through and get it. There is very little hope for the relationship. Very few narcissists actually ever admit they’re wrong, so admitting they need help is not likely.
Take yourself out of the situation by realizing you deserve better. Then, go out and get it.
[Read: The red flag signs you’re dating a narcissist and you need to get out now!]
Understanding how to handle a narcissist really comes down to understanding the condition, setting boundaries, doing what you say you’re going to do. Then, if necessary, walk the hell away.
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