Psychologist Reveals What You Need To Know If You're Dealing With A Narcissist

Have you ever known – or, worse yet, loved — a true narcissist? The closer you are to someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the more likely you are to suffer from the fallout. In fact, narcissistic abuse is something that can leave the victim with a lifetime's worth of trauma or even end their life. Psychology Today notes that when combined with factors like recent life stressors, and a history of psychological trauma, there may be a link between "individuals with a pathological degree of narcissism" and a propensity for domestic violence and even (at the extreme end of the scale) murder. 

So what do you need to know if you suspect that you are, in fact, dealing with someone who may have NPD? While everyone can be a bit self-centered from time to time (social media would not exist were it not for this trait), therapist and relationship expert Jaime Bronstein points out that true narcissists go way beyond this. She says that narcissists are lacking in empathy, and " typically don't care about others' needs... just like a child, they believe that the world revolves around them, so they cannot see that other people's feelings matter." Bronstein goes on to say that while a successful relationship is one where both parties care for one another, "a relationship with a narcissist who lacks empathy is a very one-sided relationship that is not sustainable and lacks love, joy, and mutual fulfillment." 

If you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, you can call 1-800-799-7233 and go to the @ndvhofficial #NationalDomesticHotline

You need to set clear boundaries

Should you find yourself in any type of relationship with a narcissist, be it romantic, familial, or business, you will first need to figure out just what it is that you do not like about the way they are acting towards you and then set some parameters for the type of treatment you are willing to accept. Bronstein says that since "narcissists feel a sense of entitlement," you'll need to spell things out for them and "be clear about what behavior you will and will not tolerate."

You may also have to start saying a word that's rather difficult for many of us to spit out...Bronstein advises you should "learn how to say 'no'." When you're dealing with a true narcissist, this is the true magic word, since unlike "please" or "thank you," saying no means you will "not allow [the narcissist] to control you or manipulate you into doing what they want you to do if it's something that you don't want to do."

You should speak up for yourself

You'll also need to use your words beyond just learning to say no. Bronstein says it's important to stand up to the narcissist and "show them that you are strong by sticking up for yourself." She reminds anyone under a narc's thumb that "what you have to say matters, so do your best to use your voice and say what you need to say." Will this have any impact? Well, Bronstein says that the narcissist "may act like they aren't listening to you, but they can hear you."

In fact, she even recommends waiting for one of their "good moments" to gently nudge the narc towards getting some help for their disorder (since that is exactly what NPD is). She suggests " gently mention[ing] that you think a therapist could help them with anything they'd like to work on to make their life easier," although you should only do so if you feel safe in raising this issue. If there's the slightest likelihood that the narcissist you're dealing with will become angry and even violent upon hearing something they don't like, you're better off staying silent while secretly planning your own escape.

Know when you're being abused

Never, ever forget that you've got to take care of yourself first — after all, the un-empathetic narcissist will never put your best interests ahead of theirs, so the only person who's really got your back may be you, yourself. And sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to RUN FAR AND FAST!! Or, as Bronstein puts it, "If a narcissist is threatening, manipulating, controlling, or isolating you, it's in your best interest to leave the relationship or end the friendship."

Leaving an abusive relationship is easier said than done, we know, but as Bronstein explains, "Sometimes when people are being controlled or manipulated by a narcissist, they have blinders on, as they cannot see the abuse occurring because it becomes 'normal.'" She reminds us, though, that "It's not normal to be abused, and no one deserves the treatment that narcissists bestow upon people." If you're having trouble wrapping your head around this fact, or you are feeling "helpless, anxious, or lost" in your dealings with the NPD person, Bronstein advises seeking help from a therapist. She says that if you find the right therapist, one who you feel comfortable talking to, "they will be there to support you and help you navigate the complicated relationship."

Realize it's not you, it's them

Once you've established some distance and safety (or, should you have actually had some success convincing the narcissist in your life to work on changing their behavior), then you'll still have to cope with all of the damage that's been done to your own self esteem. Bronstein says you should try to keep in mind, both during and after the abuse you've suffered, that "you have done nothing wrong," because "when you are the one the narcissist is attacking, know that it is their issue that they are taking out on you." She says that while "narcissists like to judge people and put them down," this is something " they do...with everyone in their life."

No matter how the narcissist tries to convince you that their harsh words about you are the truth, they are just gaslighting you. Bronstein reminds once more that "you are worthy of love, and you have a lot to offer a relationship," but only if you're in a relationship with someone who is capable of loving you in return.