Dealing with a narcissist can be very challenging. Narcissists can drain your energy, make you feel miserable, and manage to focus all the attention on themselves. For a lot of people dealing with a narcissist is simply too much. They sooner or later start avoiding them. For others, the narcissist’s spouse or relative for instance, this may be impossible. For them I created this Dealing with a narcissist page. Here you’ll find easy tips and tricks to make living with people with a narcissistic personality disorder (a lot) easier. In case it’s difficult to bring these tips into practice, please contact me.
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Here are the 7 tips and tricks you can use to start dealing with a narcissist in a healthy and productive way.
Some experts believe there are two types of narcissists: the grandiose narcissists and the vulnerable narcissists. The grandiose narcissists behave grandiose, arrogant, and seem unaffected by criticism, whereas the vulnerable narcissists are easily hurt, ashamed, and are very sensitive to criticism. From a distance these two sub-types seem really different, but if you have a closer look then you see that in the presence of relatives or good friends the vulnerable narcissists behave grandiose, arrogant, and seem unaffected by criticism, whereas the grandiose narcissists are easily hurt, ashamed and very sensitive to criticism. In other words: even though they may seem different on the surface, I believe there is simply just 1 group: the narcissist. And the narcissist behaves differently around different people depending of their relationship to the narcissist.
So we have to take a look at the relationship you have with the narcissist, because that eventually determines how the narcissist treats you.
If you are a distant friend, relative or a somewhat distant colleague of the narcissist you may perceive him or her as friendly, social, charming, but also a little bit intimidating (verbally or non verbally). When you get to know him better you may think of him as a very confident and persuasive person.
If you are a good friend, a relative or his partner you will see a different side. He feels superior to you, tries to exploit you, denies you the pleasure of success (or tries to take credit for it), doesn’t care about your feelings or needs and doesn’t listen to you at all. If you oppose him he can get aggressive (verbally, non verbally, and physically), remorseless, and revengeful. And he demands admiration, a lot!
Usually someone with narcissistic personality disorder had an unhealthy childhood, unfortunately. The narcissist received (1) too much praise and no criticism at all or (2) too little love and empathy. As a result narcissism can develop, (1) because a child can develop a sense of entitlement or grandiosity, or (2) because he can develop poor self-esteem, depression, and the need to exploit others. In the first case the narcissist needs to think of himself as a superior person and needs admiration from others to maintain his self-image. In the second case the narcissist never received love, affection, and empathy and simply doesn’t know how to show it himself. He does, however, know how to exploit others because he saw (one of) his parents do this all the time.
So in a way dealing with a narcissist means dealing with someone who has issues himself. The problem is: they don’t know they have issues and they will deny it when you confront them. In fact, they may even turn against you or walk away from you. In some cases, for instance at work or in a relationship, this is not really what you want. So now that you know that they have issues themselves what can you do to make dealing with a narcissist easier for you?
Dealing with a narcissist can be physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting, because they tend to drain your energy levels. They are really good at playing tiring mind games and you aren’t even aware of it in most cases. They play these mind games because they want something from you. At the same time if you want something from them you need to play mind games as well. You’ll have to think about your upcoming conversation with the narcissist in terms of: what do I want from him and how can I get it? And perhaps even more important: how can I keep control of the conversation? Because you will end up doing something for them instead of the other way around if they take control of the conversation. In other words: dealing with a narcissist is tiring, so figure out what you can give and take.
Ask yourself the following questions:
People with narcissism have difficulties understanding what other people’s needs are. And even if they do realize someone else needs emotional support or someone to simply be there for them, they usually see this in terms of: “How can I benefit from this sooner or later?”. If you expect someone with a narcissistic personality disorder to give you emotional support, to help you out with something, or to do you a (big) favour, then expect to get disappointed. Dealing with a narcissist can be exhausting if you expect too much.
So ask yourself what you need of this person and see if this is what he can offer you. If he can’t offer you what you need then stop asking for it (because it will frustrate you) and find someone else who can be there for you.
In the end it’s important that you can find a way to deal with a narcissist and that means that you have to lower your expectations in this regard. He or she will not adjust to you (because they think they are perfect), so you have to do that to a certain extend.
Dealing with a narcissist becomes a lot easier when you stay away from their mind games. Why? Because you’ll end up doing something you don’t want to or saying things you didn’t want to. Another reason is that the narcissist simply enjoys mind games, because that is when he is in control. Being in control is important for them. It gives them the feeling of power and of being better than you. The moment they are about to lose the discussion they easily change tactics (like changing the subject or playing the victim) to gain control over the discussion again. If, somehow, they can’t get the upper-hand in the discussion don’t be surprised if they go berserk (shouting, screaming, throwing objects, cursing and so on). Why do they go berserk? Probably because they can’t deal with the frustration of not being in control. You probably don’t want to have such a scene. So what can you do about it? I guess the best thing is to recognize the games and to stay away from them. The moment you recognize them you can address them. Here are a few examples of mind games narcissists like to play and some tips of how to deal with them.
Winning the narcissist for you isn’t a very realistic goal given the fact that they only care about themselves. So the moment a narcissist likes you a lot it’s probably because you feed his ego, because you make him feel very important, and because he can exploit you (emotionally, mentally, and physically). The moment he finds a better person for his needs or the moment he can’t use you anymore, he will simply drop you like a rock. It’s a lot easier to keep the narcissist on a safe distance.
By challenging the narcissist’s desires and wishes you may become his enemy. A narcissist enjoys seeing someone suffer, humiliating someone, and being in control all the time. So imagine what happens if you become his enemy? The narcissist will do everything to make you suffer. Everything he can use against you he Will use against you. Try to avoid challenging the narcissist’s desires and wishes, try to stay out of it.