11 Mandatory Rules for Dealing With a Narcissist

By Kim Saeed | Contemplating No Contact

Jan 08
how to deal with a narcissist

Wondering how to deal with a narcissist?

You are not alone.

Many online blogs and support groups for victims of narcissists have sprouted up over the years, as people have realized the damage a narcissist has done in their lives.

All of this online support for victims of narcissism can bring a sigh of relief – phew! I’m not crazy!

But you probably also want practical information.

How do I deal with that narcissist? What do I do? Can I stand up to a narcissist?

How to Deal with a Narcissist

Dealing with narcissists is challenging. You can’t necessarily outsmart a narcissist, as they tend to be very cunning, manipulative people who are used to getting their way.

However, you can use smart strategies to deal with the narcissist and mitigate the damages.

Here are a few strategies to deal with the recalcitrant narcissist in your life:

1. Establish and Stick to Boundaries with the Narcissistic Person.

We often have this unconscious idea that we are held hostage to anyone who wants to talk to or interact with us. You can and should say no to the narcissist who is being overly demanding of your time.

For example, if a narcissist is hogging up all your time on the telephone, just tell them you need to go. Hang up if you need to. Don’t let them monopolize your life.

2. Use Empathic Validation if You Need to Confront a Narcissist.

“Empathic validation” is a fancy way of saying, butter up your criticism with a compliment first. In fact, criticism (for anyone) is often best accepted in a sandwich form – compliment, constructive criticism, compliment.

3. Avoid Sharing Too Much Information with the Narcissist.

The acronym “TMI” (Too Much Information) is often said jokingly when someone discloses some personal info that may be a bit too personal. But remind yourself that “TMI” with a narcissist is just about anything personal, because the narcissist can and will use that against you.

For example, let’s say you share with a narcissistic person that you were fired from a job once due to inputting the wrong information into a computer. The narcissist is likely to bring that up again, often in a nasty way, say, each time you use a computer. Or, worse, they will bring it up in front of a person you are trying to obtain a job from.

4. Don’t Make the Mistake of Assuming the Narcissist Cares.

Don’t ever assume that the narcissist has genuine feelings or cares. This can be one of the toughest realizations for a kind, caring person. It can be very hard to believe that another human being is really that cold and calculating. We have a tendency to go into denial about this sort of thing. But just try to drill this into your head: Narcissists really don’t care.

5. No Drama! Let the Narcissist’s Games Roll Off Your Back

Narcissists are experts at games and drama. The extremely talented narcissist goes even a step further – they stir up the drama, and then sit back, above it all, acting like they had nothing to do with it.

For example, a narcissistic mother would stir up a rivalry and animosity between two sisters. She’d say one thing to sister one, and then another thing to sister two. Then you, as sibling #3, gets put in the middle.

If you confront the mother about this, she’ll deny that she had anything to do with the drama, and then act all aggrieved that you’d even suggest she’d do such a “horrible thing.”

Try not to get sucked into games like this.

6. Don’t Second Guess Yourself with a Narcissist.

You don’t need to justify yourself to the narcissist. But, that’s the game they are going to play with you. It’s all about making you doubt yourself and your perceptions.

What narcissists typically engage in is an insidious psychological technique called “gaslighting.”

On a very simple level, it goes like this:

The narcissist does something selfish, and you confront them on it. The narcissist then twists this event around to make it sound like you were the selfish one.

Narcissists are experts at reframing reality in a way that makes them look good and you look bad.

While it can be infuriating and confusing, don’t fall for it. Stick to your guns.

7. Remember: With a Narcissist, It’s Not Personal and Never Was.

With a narcissist, you really truly are just a pawn in the game of life to them. And, if it wasn’t you who took their abuse, it would have been someone else. While this may be cold comfort, do try to remember that you didn’t do anything wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with you or bad about you if you have been the victim of a narcissist’s abuse.

8. Do a Reality Check After the Narcissist Spins a Story.

Narcissists are typically liars, and not only that, they are usually good liars. Part of the reason for this is that they don’t feel guilt in the way other people do.

So, when the narcissist tells you something (particularly about someone else) that is very upsetting, take a deep breath. It may not be true at all!

Check the veracity of the statement before being sucked into the drama (remember our story about the narcissistic mom).

9. Don’t Try to One-Up the Narcissist.

One of the worst things you can do with a narcissist is to try to beat them at their own game. Don’t show off with the narcissist. Don’t brag, preen, or otherwise try to make yourself look good in front of the narcissist.

Narcissists are the kings and queens of self-aggrandizement. If you try to compete with them on that level, you will always lose.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should act like a wilted flower and just slink around when the narcissist is in view. Work on having a healthy self-esteem and try to be as natural as possible.

10. Get Away from the Narcissist.

While this may not be feasible for the long-term, if you can, consider separating yourself from the narcissist as much as possible.

If you are still married to the narcissist and have children, consider the long-term effects of emotional abuse on the kids. It may be best if you leave.

However, if you do decide to maintain a relationship with a narcissist, try to keep some distance.

Get time away from them as much as possible so you can center yourself and get back in touch with reality.

11. Ignore the Narcissist – That’ll Really Get ‘Em.

Narcissists thrive on triggering reactions from people. This is how they gain power over you – while you lose control.

So, when the narcissist goes on the attack, one of the most effective ways to deal with it is to just ignore them. This can be challenging, as narcissists have an intuitive way of pushing buttons in people. Deep breathing and stress reduction techniques can help you keep your cool.

Get a narcissist to leave you alone

Keeping Your Cool Around a Narcissist

You may have noticed a theme with the recommendations for dealing with a narcissist. That theme, in a nutshell, is:


Sometimes, the best way to stand up to a narcissist is to simply remain calm.

In general, you’ll do best if you can reduce your emotional reactions to the narcissist in question.

This can be very challenging, however, as the garden-variety narcissist is typically an expert in pushing buttons. They seem to have a superpower which allows them to know just what will trigger a reaction in the people around them.

In order to keep your cool, you will need to work on yourself.

There are many different ways to do this, including seeking help with a therapist or pursuing self-help strategies.

Mind/body techniques such as meditation and yoga can be extremely helpful in reducing the temptation to react to a narcissist’s antics.

You can also consider joining a support group, where you can commiserate with other victims of narcissists. This is especially helpful if you are dealing with a narcissist who specializes in gaslighting, i.e., making you think you are the one to blame for everything, when it’s really them.

The Narcissist in Your Life Does Not Have to Define You

Fortunately, the more you practice “not reacting” to the narcissist in question, the better you’ll get at it.

Soon, you will learn how to deal with the narcissist without that person ruling your life. The path won’t always be easy, and you will have moments where you slip up and lose your cool.

But take heart – it can and will get better.

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(7) comments

Anonymous January 15, 2018

I have a narcissistic mother and sister who have no regards of what I feel every time when they do or say something hurtful to embarrass, belittle, and guilt-trap me. My mother is passive aggressive, not doing anything to take care of us, left us when we were kids, taking things from me but have no awareness on the needs to reciprocate nor take care of my well-being. My sister feels like she would not make any mistakes & often blames me for every little things that I am struggling with because of low self esteem and anxiety. Even having low self esteem and anxiety is my fault because I am the “weak” one in her eyes. Often gaslighting me by invalidating all my feelings and thoughts and even making me feel horrible about my situations and underachievements. She has no regards to my fears, worries, depressions, pressures, pains, and even when I was crying she could turn on the TV & watch it by putting the volume to the loudest. Told me that I am embarrassing her because of the ways I deal with passerbys on the street or those sale persons in the shopping malls. I never scolded those who approached me abruptly trying to sell their products. I said thank you with a smile. But for my sister this is not enough, it’s impolite because my facial expression was not “nice” ? Every little things can be used to put down my self esteem and I am constantly worried about saying or doing things which would upset her. She’s not happy with WHATEVER things I do. Told me that she’s only “reminding” me of those things because she “cares” about me? But does it have to be involving playing with my self esteem and disregards my feelings and needs? Every little things is not good enough in her eyes. She’s my sister.I’m staying with her. What can I do?

    Kim Saeed January 15, 2018

    Gosh, Anon. I wish I had some helpful advice. If I were in your shoes, I’d consider leaving. There’s really not much you can do to placate people like this. I found that the only way to find peace was to leave.

    Wishing you all the best…

Denise January 11, 2018

Great advice. I have just currently started a “therapeutic” separation with my husband. Last night he started texting me with nagging questions. I put up a boundary and told him if he continues, I would block him. He continued and I blocked him. I thought to myself, “You’ve come a long way, Baby”. LOL. I never stood up for myself until recently and it felt good.

    Kim Saeed January 13, 2018

    Good for you, Denise! 🙂

Michelle January 10, 2018

Excellent Article. I unfortunately know Narcissism very well and all the the techniques above do work. Just remember it NEVER goes away…..you must continue and stay one foot in front of the Narc to survive!

Sandy January 9, 2018

The day you can turn the corner from “what can I do to keep from losing him?” into “I don’t need to do that to keep him!” is a great day indeed, and worth working hard for. And once you admit to yourself he/she has been wiping their boots off on your back all along, it is time for you to take the reins back and get to that place in your life where you can say NO ONE will EVER treat ME like that, EVER again. It is not easy, but it is SO worth it! ~~~Free since 10/2014

    Kim Saeed January 15, 2018

    Absolutely, Sandy! It’s a great day, indeed! I’m so happy you’ve been free for a while 🙂

    Kim XoXo

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