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How to Deal With a Narcissist (And When You Should Move On)

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How to Deal With a Narcissist (And When You Should Move On)

They seem charming. They seem too good to be true. They are complimentary and loving, and they will do anything for you.

That doesn’t sound like a description of a narcissist, does it? But it can be. Well, at least at the beginning when you first meet them, and that’s the problem. Many times, a narcissist will fool other people into thinking they are a great person when in reality, it is all just an act.

But they can’t hide their true selves forever. Eventually, their nasty side will come out, and it usually leaves other people confused.

What happened to that charming person you met? Why did they change?

They didn’t change. They were just suppressing who they really are.

What do you do if you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist? How do you even deal with a narcissist? Or should you even bother at all? Should you just cut them out of your life and move on?

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These are all important questions to consider. But first, let’s talk about some communication strategies you can use when you are talking to a narcissist.

How Do You Communicate With a Narcissist?

So, you think you are involved in a narcissist. They are not easy to deal with, so how exactly do you deal with a narcissist in terms of communication? There’s not an exact science to it, but here are some tips.

1. Don’t Expect Much From Them

Narcissists never give you much. They are too concerned with what they are “getting” from other people to be thinking about what they can do for you. The world revolves around them—not anyone else. So, you can’t expect them to do much for you. I mean, you can, but you will be highly disappointed.

2. Don’t Engage in the Negativity

Negativity is a primary tool that is used by a narcissist. After the “honeymoon” phase I described in the opening of this article, there is not much warm-and-fuzzy talk or action. There is very little positivity that happens with them. But don’t give in to it. Refuse to play that game with them. Avoiding negativity is the first step to learning how to deal with a narcissist.

3. Use Simple Replies Like “Yes” or “No”

You can never really win an argument with a narcissist. Even if you are obviously right and they are obviously wrong, they will never let you “win.” They can never admit when they are wrong. So, don’t try to convince them. Instead, just use simple answers, such as “yes” or “no.” That way, they cannot escalate the conversation to their favor.

4. Ask Clarifying Questions

If you find a situation where you cannot avoid a conversation with the narcissist, if they continually force you to engage with them, just ask a lot of questions. Ask them why they think the way they do. Ask them what they are feeling at any given moment. Most likely, they will not be able to answer you because they do not do any self-examination at all. But at least you can try to point out the flaws in their arguments.

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5. Use Humor

Humor is a good way to diffuse almost any situation. When people are angry or are arguing, they are just exuding negativity. When this happens, it becomes like a downward spiral that is difficult to recover from. So instead, try to inject some humor in there to try to diffuse the negativity in your conversations. If you don’t know how to deal with a narcissist, you can always make use of humor.

6. Separate Their Behavior From Their Character

Many times, narcissists will engage in name-calling and character attacks against you. Instead of firing back insults to the narcissist, you should separate their behavior (what they are doing or saying) from their character (who they are as a person). This strategy works well because it makes them less defensive. When you call them a horrible person (character), they will fire right back at you. But commenting on their words and actions will help them see how what they are doing is wrong.

What Does a Narcissist Want in a Relationship?

Why would a narcissist even want to be in a relationship? Relationships are about compromise and give-and-take, right? So, how could they possibly want to do that?

Well, here are some things that a narcissist might want out of being in a relationship.

1. A Sense of Entitlement

Because they think they are the center of the universe (or at least want to be), they think they deserve to have everything they want. But life doesn’t work that way. So, narcissists are looking for someone who will give them their way all the time. Their sense of entitlement is a way of life for them, and so they look for someone who will overlook this character flaw.

2. Flattery

Narcissists also have big egos, even though this ego is false. In other words, they try to make other people think that they think they are better than them. However, many times the opposite is true. They don’t really think they are better than other people, so they need flattery to make themselves feel better. They need others to tell them how good they are.

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3. Admiration

Going hand in hand with flattery, narcissists also crave admiration. They want people to love them because they don’t love themselves. Sure, it sounds like they love themselves, but they don’t. Therefore, they need to surround themselves with people who will “look up to them” because they don’t even look up to themselves.

4. Power and Control

Narcissists love to have power and control. They like to think they are superior to other people and therefore, they need to have power over them. They need to control as much of their world as they possibly can—and that includes controlling other people. That’s why they prefer to be around the kind of people who can be easily controlled.

How Do You Stop a Narcissist From Hurting You?

Being in any kind of relationship with a narcissist isn’t easy, and they will inevitably try to hurt you by getting the upper hand. They don’t care about your feelings. They only care about themselves.

So, how do you deal with a narcissist? How can you possibly stop a narcissist from hurting you? Believe it or not, there are some ways.

1. Set Boundaries

Narcissists will take advantage of you and walk all over you—but only if you let them. Remember, they want an easy prey—someone who acts like a victim. So, don’t do that! Set firm boundaries and let them know when their behavior is unacceptable. Be consistent and stick to your guns.

2. Mindset/Attitude

Everything in life is about mindset and attitude. These are important if you want to learn how to deal with a narcissist. I love the saying, “It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem.” That’s not to say that being in a relationship with a narcissist isn’t a problem—because it is. But keep your mind in a positive place. Don’t give them the power to bring you down.

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3. Don’t Take It Personally

If you remember nothing else, remember this—their selfish behavior is all about THEM, not YOU. It has nothing to do with you. They would act the same way with absolutely anyone who allows them to. So, don’t take it personally and think there is something wrong with you because there is not.

4. Don’t Let Them See You Hurt

Okay, so maybe they did hurt you. Don’t let them see you cry! They love weakness in other people—they thrive on it. When they see weakness in you, it will just encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing to you. So, don’t show them your feelings. Act courageously even if you have to fake it because it will disarm them. They want to break you down, so when you act strong, it takes the “fun” out of it for them.

5. Leave/Stop Spending Time With Them

You don’t always have the option to cut ties with a narcissist, but many times, you do. If you’ve tried all you can to get along with them and you are still miserable, then get away from them. There is no reason you have to allow them to suck the life out of you. Love yourself enough to walk away.

Final Thoughts

Even though narcissists can make your life difficult, you should actually feel sorry for them. Why? Because “hurt people hurt people.” They wouldn’t be a narcissist if something unloving hadn’t happened to them at some point in their lives.

They probably just became narcissists to survive. But while it’s okay to feel sorry for them, that doesn’t mean you should put their needs above your own. Love yourself first. Keep in mind these tips on how to deal with a narcissist. Don’t take any abuse. Stand up for yourself—because you deserve it!

More Tips on How to Deal With a Narcissist

Featured photo credit: DANNY G via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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