How to Deal With a Narcissist

If you have a friend or partner who expects constant admiration and attention but isn’t very good at being considerate of your needs or feelings, you may be dealing with a narcissist. A person with narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of their own importance but isn’t able to show much empathy for others. Dealing with a narcissist requires understanding where they are coming from while being careful to set boundaries and focus on your own needs.

Narcissists can be extremely charming, self-confident, and magnetic. You may be very drawn to a person that exudes so much self-love and self-assurance. At first they are fun to be around until it becomes apparent that they may be easily angered when they don’t receive the attention and admiration they think they deserve, and they have little consideration for the needs of others.

A narcissist’s belief in their own superiority to others is typically not based on any actual accomplishments. Although they may be very egotistical, underneath the image they project is often a sense of deep insecurity.

Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People may show different degrees of narcissism, and a person who is severely narcissistic may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). This disorder isn’t really about being vain; a person with NPD is in love with a grandiose version of who they actually are.

Other signs of NPD include:

  • A need for constant attention and praise
  • A distorted sense of self-importance that includes delusions of grandeur
  • An expectation of favorable treatment
  • Bullying, demeaning or belittling of others
  • Lack of empathy for the pain of others
  • Frequently take advantage of other people to get what the person wants

How a Narcissist Relates to Others

While a narcissist may seem very charming at first, it’s not long before there are signs that are not so charming. They may manipulate or mistreat people close to them in order to get what they want. They are extremely selfish and have little regard for the feelings of other people.

A narcissist needs continual praise and attention and may become very unhappy when they don’t get as much attention as they think they deserve. They may put others down just to make themselves appear to be superior.

When You Care for a Narcissist

A person with NPD who doesn’t recognize that there is a problem can be very difficult to live with or to spend time with. You may not have realized the person has this disorder until you are deeply involved with them, or the narcissist in your life could be a parent, coworker, or sibling. Finding a way to deal with a narcissist is imperative for your own mental health.

Narcissists may be vulnerable under their self-absorbed exterior, or they may truly believe in their own grandiosity. The more grandiose a narcissist is, the more likely they are to be manipulative or to lack remorse or empathy for the feelings of others.

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Taking Care of Yourself

Dealing with a narcissist will require looking out for your own needs, because most likely the narcissist in your life is not going to do that. In your interactions with the narcissist, avoid getting drawn into arguments or power struggles. Walk away from conflict if you have to, and be sure to set boundaries when they try to bully you.

You may find that the only way to keep peace in the relationship is to be accommodating. This can lead to a great deal of frustration on your part. Standing up to a narcissist can be a losing battle, but giving in all the time doesn’t feel right either. Working with a therapist may help you to be more effective at dealing with a narcissist.

Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

It’s fairly common for a narcissist to not recognize that there is a problem, but in some cases there is so much turbulence in their lives from strained relationships that they are willing to get help. A person with NPD may experience a lot of inner turmoil because of their delusions of grandiosity and their difficult relationships with others.

Treatment for NPD usually involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist experienced with this type of personality disorder. A combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy may be used in the treatment of this condition and may help to improve symptoms.

Inpatient treatment may speed up the improvement of symptoms for someone who is self-destructive or has co-existing mental health conditions. In this setting, a person who is narcissistic can have a focused therapeutic experience in a calm and non-judgmental environment while learning new patterns of behavior and thinking.