Strategies for Dealing with Narcissistic People
Excerpt from Randi Fine’s Book, Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivors Guide to Healing
If you are looking for someone to fulfill your needs, give you support, and appreciate the best you have to offer, don’t rely on a narcissist. Narcissists are limited emotionally. They will never be who you want them to be. The sooner you can accept this fact, the better off you will be.
You have probably seen glimpses of that ideal person in your narcissist and told yourself that there must be a good person somewhere inside of him, that there is always hope he might change. Since the narcissist is human you will catch glimpses of humanity, but never empathy. Be careful not to allow these brief emanations of kindness to fool you into believing in the narcissist’s potential. He is only nice and kind if there is some personal gain for being so. Forget about potential. What you see is what you get.
Following are tips to help you manage the narcissist in your life. You must strategize to protect yourself just as diligently as he strategizes to abuse you.
- Stay emotionally distant. If you continue to live with the narcissist do not share any of your feelings or emotions with him. Be guarded. Do not let him see you get upset. Do not try to rationalize with him. He sees these things as weaknesses and will use them against you. If you are physically removed from the narcissist, the same applies, but it may be easier to do.
- Do not give advice or tips to narcissists. They will take your helpful words as criticisms and lash out against you.
- Check your sense of humor. Narcissists have no ability to laugh at themselves. You and he do not find the same things funny, and he is easily offended.
- Postpone and delay rather than confront. If you feel like a conversation is not going well or you are being criticized, make excuses that will buy you time and cool his emotions down.
- Be direct and concise when you speak to the narcissist. The more you elaborate, the weaker you will appear to him. You do not have to explain yourself or fill in uncomfortable silences. Just say what you have to say and leave dead air space.
- Never negotiate with a narcissist. You will lose every time.
- Never give a narcissist a second chance. If he has made a promise and does not keep it, do not let him convince you that he will do better next time. He will not. If he disregards a boundary that you have set, follow through on the consequences you previously established.
- Manage the narcissist’s wayward emotions and moods. Think of him as if he is a child having a temper tantrum rather than an adult who has power over you. Try to allay his anxieties and fears. It is his fragility, not high self-esteem that causes him to bully.
- Convince the narcissist that you are playing on the same team he is. Do not give him reasons to treat you like an enemy.
- Have no expectations of the narcissist. He will never consider your feelings, take responsibility for anything he does or apologize for hurting you. He does not care about you and never will.
- Accept that what you see is what you get. He will never change into the person you want him to be. Don’t let him fool you into believing he will. Remind yourself of this often. Create an affirmation you can say to yourself to reinforce the fact.
- Try not to take his treatment of you personally. It is a symptom of his insecurities. It is not about you.
- Stay focused on your personal objectives. Do not let the narcissist side track you. Do whatever it takes to reach your goals. Be patient and be smart.
- Exercise self-control. Narcissists are button pushers. They love reactions and they love drama. Do not feed into the things they do.
- Never accuse or blame the narcissist. Take responsibility for all your feelings by using “I” statements.
- Never demand or give ultimatums. If you want to sway the narcissist in a particular direction, frame it in a way that appeals to his ego. Instead of saying, “My office is having another family picnic. I always want to go and you never agree to it. If you say no I am going without you,” you could say, “My boss asked about you today. He thinks you are so intelligent and interesting, and looks forward to seeing you at this year’s family picnic. The girls in my office hope to see you there too. They always talk about how handsome and charming you are.”
- Narcissists feed off of compliments. Nothing soothes the savage beast more than having his ego stroked. Tell him how successful he is, how nice he looks, and how much you admire the ease in which he relates to people.
- Narcissists use fear to control their victims. Do not show him that you are afraid of him.
- Take nothing the narcissist says at face value. He lies and manipulates even when there is no reason to. Be discerning with everything he tells you to avoid falling into his traps.
Ending a telephone conversation:
- Always be the one in control of the conversation. End it immediately, without explanation, if the narcissist starts crossing boundaries. Just say, “Okay, I have to go now.”
- Do not allow the narcissist to ramble on and on. Set a time limit to prevent him from sucking you into his drama and then adhere to it. Again, no explanation is necessary. It is simply time for you to go.
- Narcissists are not interested in what you have to say. They don’t care about what is going on in your life. The fastest way to get them off the telephone is to talk about yourself or something you know disinterests them. Do not let them get a word in edgewise. Watch how fast they hang up.
- Remove yourself and your children from any abusive situation as soon as possible. Do not leave forwarding information with anyone they are in contact with or anyone who can be manipulated into giving it to them.
- Do not suffer in silence. Do not be secretive about your abuse. Reach out to others; just be careful who you share your problem with. The last thing you need is to be judged or blamed. If you cannot trust anyone you know, enlist the support of a mental health professional who understands.
- If you expect to have contact with an estranged narcissist, let others know where you will be, how they can reach you, and when you will be leaving.
- Always have an exit strategy. Do not allow yourself to be cornered or isolated.
- If you feel threatened and cannot calm the situation down, call in law enforcement.
- If you suspect that the narcissist you are living with is dangerous, prepare ahead of time. Have all your important papers ready to grab and take with you at a moment’s notice. Have emergency numbers coded and programmed into your cell phone.
- If you want to leave but are afraid to, enlist the support of your state or local domestic violence assistant programs before making any moves.
If you are contemplating leaving your narcissistic abuser, do not clue him in ahead of time or threaten to leave. Be very smart. Plan your strategy and when you are ready, just leave.
Do not give him time to withdraw all your money out of a bank account or spend it all, charge up credit cards, defame you to your employer or anyone you may need to be reliant on, or destroy your personal property. Irate, vindictive narcissists are notorious for doing all those things.
After you leave, immediately cancel all joint credit cards and close all joint bank accounts. Do not take any of his calls or answer his emails. Block him on all social media accounts. If he shows up at your door, do not let him in. Call the police if you have to.
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