Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD is something you might encounter just about anywhere. You could end up working with someone who has it or even have a family member (like a sibling, parent, or spouse) who’s dealing with it. In some situations, you might feel stuck with them and don’t have the option to just walk away, at least not at that moment.
Living with someone with narcissism can be a real emotional rollercoaster. Their behavior can be quite charming, funny, and romantic at times, but it can also be downright arrogant, hurtful, despicable, and deceitful. Some people can manage to handle this wild ride, but for many, it’s a real challenge to keep a narcissistic relationship going.
Narcissism and codependency
People who find themselves in what’s often called a ‘codependent’ situation but don’t necessarily suffer from a mental aberration like a narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder can actually end up in a rather complicated yet oddly fitting relationship with a narcissist.
So, let’s break this down. A codependent person typically struggles with low self-worth, but here’s where it gets interesting: their self-esteem gets a bit of a boost from being around a narcissist. You see, narcissists tend to have these charismatic, extroverted personalities and an air of success around them. This aura of the narcissist makes the codependent feel somewhat better about themselves.
But here’s the kicker: Having low self-respect also makes them more likely to put up with the narcissist’s not-so-nice behavior. They might feel guilty about affirming their needs, but strangely, they find value in loving and caring for the narcissist. It’s like their self-worth is tied to what they can give, rather than who they are.
Now, there’s another twist to this tale. Some folks who grew up with narcissistic parents end up in relationships with narcissists too. It’s like they’re drawn to the familiar, even if it’s not healthy. Psychologically, it feels strange to enjoy the company of someone who’s charming on the surface but can also be manipulative and abusive, just like their parent was.
Now, what happens when someone realizes they’re in a narcissistic relationship? Well, they’ve got a few options on the table. They can choose to leave the relationship altogether, which is often the healthiest choice. Another option is to limit their interactions, especially if the narcissist happens to be a parent you are no longer living with under the same roof. But for those who decide to stay and feel emotionally susceptible to the narcissist’s influence, they’ve got to learn some serious coping skills to sustain their mental and emotional well-being. It’s like survival mode in the world of relationships!
Is it realistic to have a healthy relationship with a narcissist?
Can you coexist happily with a narcissist? Well, the answer isn’t as clear-cut as we’d like it to be. The truth is, it varies from person to person and situation to situation.
For some, to live with a narcissist when leaving is not an option is manageable, and they find a way to make it work. On the other hand, it can be incredibly challenging for others. It all comes down to your specific circumstances.
Successfully living alongside someone with narcissism often hinges on two key factors: setting realistic expectations and maintaining firm boundaries. These are like your secret weapons in the battle to protect your mental and emotional well-being. Think of it as your armor against the sometimes challenging dynamics of dealing with a narcissist in your life.
In essence, it’s about finding a balance that works for you, one where you can preserve your own happiness while navigating the complexities of having to live with a narcissist when leaving is out of the question. Remember, it’s not easy, but it can be done.
How to live with a narcissist if you cannot leave them?
Dealing with a narcissist you’re stuck with can be quite a challenge, but with a little practice and a lot of patience, you can make it through. Fortunately, by putting these 10 survival tips into action, you can significantly improve your situation and bring some much-needed ease into your life.
1. Build yourself a safety net
People who aren’t part of your close-knit family might be pretty taken by the charm of the narcissist. It can be tough to make them see that your experiences with the narcissist are completely different, and this might make you feel like you’re on a lonely island of misunderstanding.
But don’t fret! It’s essential to seek help from others and create a support system comprising of grown-ups who can’t be swayed by narcissistic antics. Some of these folks might have narcissists as family members, or they could’ve been through the wringer with a narcissist themselves. There are even those who’ve never had the pleasure of meeting your narcissist and won’t be fooled by their charm. Your support system is your ally in times of need!
2. Set boundaries and enforce them
Don’t ever feel like you have to do something that doesn’t sit right with you, just because someone’s pushing you to. It’s totally okay to stick to your own wants, needs, and boundaries.
If a narcissist gets upset because they don’t get their way, let them deal with their own disappointment. You’ve got to take care of yourself and your own well-being.
Remember, it’s important to be aware of your limits, what you need, what bugs you, and what you hope to achieve. Don’t hesitate to make the narcissist aware of these things and make sure to stand your ground in maintaining them.
3. Figure out win-win formulas
Sure thing! Dealing with narcissistic individuals can be a bit of a puzzle, but here’s a friendly tip for handling those tricky situations. You might notice that narcissists tend to ask for things that can feel pretty contradictory or confusing, and they can get pretty upset when things don’t go their way.
One strategy that could help is to work on finding solutions that benefit both parties, what we call “win-win” formulas. By doing this consistently, you might find that the narcissist gets tired of their usual “no-win” tactics and looks for other ways to achieve their goals.
If you want to dive deeper into the art of finding win-win solutions, you can check out websites on “conflict resolution”. They often have some great advice on ways to create harmony and understanding in challenging situations. It can be a handy skill to have in your toolkit for dealing with tricky personalities.
4. Rein in your emotions
It’s important that both partners in a relationship treat each other with kindness and respect. There might be moments when you both get frustrated or upset, and that’s completely normal. When one of you needs to talk about your feelings, it’s essential to take ownership of those emotions instead of placing the blame on the other person for causing them.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re treated with disrespect or anger, don’t hesitate to address it right there and then. Focus on how you’re being treated and make it the main concern. If necessary, take a step back from the conversation and let your partner know that you’ll be happy to continue when you’re treated with the respect you deserve. Communication and mutual respect are key in any relationship!
5. Recognize gaslighting
When you’re dealing with a narcissist and they tell you something, but later on, they act like they never said it or insist they said something else, and then they blame you instead for not paying attention or possessing a bad memory, chances are you’re facing a classic case of gaslighting. It’s that sneaky mind game that can really mess with your sense of reality.
Narcissists often pull this trick to keep you on your toes, making you question your own sanity. Sometimes, it’s not even a grand plan on their part, but more like they’re just going with the flow of their own needs, and they conveniently forget what they previously mentioned. It can be super frustrating to deal with, but being aware of it is the first step to protect your sanity!
6. Get adept at negotiation
Discover the art of negotiation – it’s a game-changer in various aspects of life. Explore what you can and can’t negotiate. You might come across behaviors that you don’t particularly enjoy, but remember, not everything is a deal-breaker.
Yet, striking a balance is crucial. If you allow every little thing to slide, you could end up in a position that’s hard to bear. Don’t feel pressured to give in just because someone, even a demanding one, wants their way. Your boundaries matter, too!
7. Hold on to your self-respect
The self-absorbed person is all about taking care of their own wants and doesn’t really care about what you need. This kind of behavior, together with the associated negativity, can really take a toll on your self-confidence. You might start doubting yourself and stop trusting your judgment.
But you know what? You’ve got to keep that self-esteem up and running. And the secret sauce is to give yourself something that the self-absorbed person won’t give you – a good dose of positive vibes.
So, go ahead and be your own cheerleader. Say nice words to yourself, pat yourself on the back for even the tiniest victories, and don’t forget to remind yourself of your best qualities. And while you’re at it, hang out with people who genuinely appreciate and believe in you. You deserve it!
8. Don’t hide things
It can be super tough to open up about having to live with a narcissist. It’s totally normal to feel a bit ashamed or awkward, especially if you’ve been trying to protect them or cover for their behavior.
But you know what? You don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to a close friend or a family member you trust. Sharing your feelings with a confidant can be a huge relief.
And here’s another idea: consider seeking help from a pro. They can provide you with the means, courage, and determination you need to deal with the situation better. Remember, you don’t have to handle it all on your own.
9. Make efforts to know the narcissist
Pay attention to and pick up on the signals in a narcissist’s body language. You see, a narcissist’s non-verbal cues can give you a glimpse into their hidden emotions. They might be masking their anger, perhaps due to not receiving the attention or admiration they desire.
Keep an eye out for signs of anger on a narcissist’s face when a situation could be seen as critical or challenging to their authority. By decoding the body language of a narcissist, you could potentially help ease some of your emotional ups and downs and strengthen their positive emotions and connections.
10. Keep a lookout for devious behavior
While not all folks with narcissistic tendencies are physically violent, it’s still a good idea to be cautious if you notice any danger signs. Here are some potential red flags that could indicate a risk of physical assault:
- Being Jealous or Controlling: If you feel like someone is becoming overly possessive or trying to control every aspect of your life, that’s definitely a sign to be aware of.
- Verbal Abuse: If you’re on the receiving end of hurtful or demeaning language, it’s a clear signal that something isn’t right.
- Constant Criticism: Continuous criticism can erode your self-esteem and may be an indicator of more serious issues.
- Financial Control: If someone is taking undue control of your finances or restricting your access to money, that’s a sign to be cautious.
- Isolation: If they’re isolating you from your friends and family, it’s important to recognize this as a concerning behavior.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to seek support and advice from professionals or trusted individuals if you find yourself in a situation where these warning signs are present. Your safety and well-being are paramount.
The Bottom Line
When leaving is not an option, navigating life with a narcissistic individual is an intricate and often challenging journey. While parting ways may not be feasible for various reasons, it is crucial to understand that there are strategies and resources available to help individuals cope and protect their emotional well-being.
By setting healthy boundaries, seeking support from therapists or support groups, and practicing self-care, those in such situations can find ways to minimize the negative impact of narcissistic behavior.
Remember, you are not alone, and there are ways to maintain your own sense of self and resilience in the face of these complex relationships.