What Are the Best Tips for Coping with Narcissism?

Narcissists rarely maintain healthy relationships.
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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Coping with narcissism can be very difficult, since people who suffer from this personality disorder often don't have the skills to relate to others on a mature emotional level. The causes of narcissism are believed to include childhood neglect or abuse, which can leave the adult narcissist struggling with fears of abandonment, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness or shame related to childhood trauma. As a result of these feelings, many narcissists are manipulative, abusive and controlling. They are unable to understand or appreciate the feelings, opinions or needs of others, making conflicts frequent and conflict resolution nearly impossible. Coping with narcissism in loved ones generally requires a strong sense of self, personal needs, and boundaries, as well emotional support from healthy adults and a certain level of control over one's own emotional reactions.

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Psychologists generally agree that a strong emotional support system is one of the most essential elements of coping with narcissism in others. Narcissism can and almost always does have a devastating effect on relationships, such that most narcissists find themselves unable to maintain healthy, long-term relationships. Persons attempting to cope with a narcissistic partner, co-worker, or relative are generally advised to seek the support and friendship of at least three, but preferably more, emotionally and psychologically healthy adults. These should generally be people who will refrain from supporting, encouraging, or in any way defending the narcissist or his behavior. Regular, frequent meetings with this support network can be invaluable to those coping with narcissism, since they can provide the opportunity to discuss the narcissistic behavior from a well-adjusted perspective.

Most people cannot cope with a narcissist if they themselves do not have solid personal boundaries. Those coping with narcissism in others are typically advised to remain very clear on their own needs, desires, and limits. The narcissistic person may habitually attempt to manipulate those close to him. It is considered important to resist this manipulation, so as to remain within the realms of one's boundaries at all times.

People who suffer from narcissism are generally well-known for subjecting their loved ones, partners and friends to violent emotional outbursts, threats and even violence. Those who struggle to cope with this behavior are generally advised to reign in their own emotional reactions, instead responding to the narcissist's outburst with calmness. The narcissist should generally not be expected to relinquish his position, but may continue to make unreasonable demands and perform unacceptable behaviors. Friends and loved ones coping with this behavior are typically advised to insist on receiving respect and consideration from the narcissistic person, even in the face of extreme anger or emotional manipulation. Attempting to cope with narcissism can, however, cause so much distress that many experts advise simply terminating any relationship with a narcissistic person, if possible.

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Discuss this Article

anon354359
Post 3

A few additional observations: Mental illness and stupidity aren't the same thing. Persons with NPD are often highly intelligent and hold important jobs. They don't respond well to counseling since they see nothing wrong with themselves, and they are frequently smart enough to fool even the best of counselors into thinking they are completely normal. I once had that happen to the extent that a couples counselor (a woman) pegged me as a chronic complainer and actually began flirting with my narcissistic mate!

In the narcissist's view, it's always the other person who is wrong or at fault. They will often twist the facts, project, gaslight, throw a tantrum -- whatever is necessary -- in order to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and to uphold their lofty opinion of themselves, even though such arguments can appear far-fetched and childishly ridiculous to the observer. This sort of behavior, however, is invariably reserved for spouses and close family members. Persons with NPD are very careful to "maintain appearances" in front of others.

Be careful who you confide in, as it can easily backfire and you will look like the crazy one. The only person with whom I can discuss the narcissist in my life is a friend whose father was a narcissist. Extended family members didn't believe me when I cautiously broached the subject because he is always on his best behavior around them. They think he's really a nice guy and that I'm too sensitive. They never see the person I see.

anon307044
Post 2

I don't know how to approach my wife about her behavior because she will never consider my feelings.

We have been married for 33 years, and never in 33 years has she ever genuinely apologized to me for anything she has ever done. I don't know why she doesn't find it odd that I am usually the one apologizing and in 33 years, she has never had to apologize - and believe me, I am not the only imperfect one in the relationship.

While the description of narcissism is good on this write up, I don't know how to truly determine she is a narcissist. She matches every description on here except the one about not being able to keep a job. She did manage to move up throughout her company over a period of 32 years. She had to retire due to a disability.

I just don't know how to say for sure she is a narcissist, but she certainly has a way of never showing me that I matter in her life from a loving perspective. I just don't feel as if she cares about anyone's feelings but her own and our children. She makes me feel like a doormat.

I don't want to lose her because I care deeply for her but I do feel disrespected and unappreciated and that what I feel does not matter at all. Her feelings are more important than mine. She has even been accusing me of lying and just tells me to my face that she doesn't believe me when I say something, even though it is the truth. And I have never lied to her in my life. Really, I have never lied to her unless you count surprises for birthdays and such lying. I have kept her in the dark about birthday and anniversary surprises but lying about misdeeds? Never.

anon278819
Post 1

I disagree with you on the cause of narcissism here. My son has narcissistic personality disorder and was never neglected or abused. He was given nothing but whole and appropriate love and support throughout his entire childhood, but he is now 21 and shows all the signs of it. However, his father (who was not involved with his upbringing) is a diagnosed narcissist.

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