63 thoughts on “11 Ways to Set Boundaries with Narcissists

  • June 22, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Great article, well written and thought.

    Reply
    • June 24, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Can be possible that several siblings having a narcissistic behavior?
      Is that possible the narcissistic subject can recruit more to attack?
      What to do?
      Thank you very much.

      Reply
      • June 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm

        Dinorah,

        Siblings in the same family can have quite difference experiences of narcissistic parenting. They can also react quite differently. It is nice when you have at least one sibling who can validate your experience and become an ally, but that doesn’t always happen. When it does not happen, and particularly if one or more siblings align with unhealthy narcissistic behavior or parenting, it is especially important to find allies outside your immediate family of origin — whether they be relatives, family friends, in-laws, your friends or significant other, or in support groups or the helping professions.
        Dan

        Reply
    • October 8, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      That was a great read. Made me feel better and learned a few more things. Thank you…

      Reply
  • June 22, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Good read….

    Reply
  • June 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Thank you. I took notes and will start practicing these tips. I am dealing with everything you mentioned with my adult daughter. She is also bipolar and a recovering addict. I thought recovery would make things better, but I see now it is much more than I realized.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Hmmmmm sounds very familiar.

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  • June 23, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Great article! Thank you.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    How do you set limits when you have to travel to see a narcissistic person and stay with them. Always starts out positive, then comments start seeping in until it is cloistering.

    Reply
    • June 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Hi CathyG112,

      It can be stifling to share close quarters with a destructive narcissist. Many people find it worth it to stay somewhere else when you visit, even if the narcissist doesn’t like it or you have to spend more money. If that’s not possible, one approach is to use your next visit as an experiment and simply observe what the narcissistic person does, how it affects you, and how you respond. After the visit you can, with a trusted friend, therapist or in a journal, think about what you learned from the experiment. The good thing about approaching this as an experiment is that whatever happens is data to learn from, so there are no failures.

      Dan

      Reply
      • January 8, 2018 at 6:21 pm

        I have found that staying with my sister would work for one night….. but by the second night, things would change. It was confusing to me but I did not evaluate it cognitively. Should have taken Dans’ advice (even tho I didn’t have it then). Should have looked at it as an experiment. She would find problem after problem ….and I usually left after 2 nights so I never really made any concrete conclusions. And as we all know…..we give our family the benefit of the doubt because they are family. I know so much more now…..wish I knew it then.

        Reply
  • June 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for writing this article!

    Reply
  • June 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Sometimes you have to tell people to go pound sand. The scared little child hiding behind that big meanie persona (narcissist) will place value judgements on your feelings…. Anger is bad, Mkay!

    Reply
  • June 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Dan,

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I currently live with a narcissist. I feel as if I am going in circles at times. If I go along with him for the moment it keeps the peace, but how long can I do this for? I know I need out, I find myself spending to much time attempting to keep the peace just so I can get through the day. I am a recovering addict, in a sick way, it’s as if he has become my drug. How do I let go without feeling like I am going to lose myself? I would love to seek professional help.

    Reply
  • June 28, 2017 at 8:17 am

    What do you do if the narcissist is the POTUS ??

    Reply
  • June 28, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I don’t know if they are narcissists, but a lot of the men on my father’s side (including my father) definitely have smartest person in the room syndrome. For instance I have an advanced degree in a subject and my father, uncle, and a few cousins have, in between them, taken two intro courses on it.
    Yet they continually talk down to me about it, try to lecture me about my area of expertise (I have a PhD in it and used to teach it and their “opinions” on the area would fail them in an intro course.
    Add in some pretty strong racism as well and it makes for a nice holiday. I have more or less stopped talking to all of them but still talk to my dad weekly. I had to set firm boundaries – I told my dad that if he wants to be a part of my family (I have a wife and 2 kids) he cannot say racist things to me or my family. It hasn’t really worked but I can at least tell he is trying.
    Still, in the back of my mind I have decided to have less contact. The kicker for me was he still insists I don’t know what I am talking about in regards to my area. It is not only that, he throws in personal insults like, “Well I don’t listen to every idiot out of college.” I am 34 and currently make more than he ever did in his career.

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    • June 28, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      Discuss these episodes with your spouse. they can be entertaining eye rollers after the fact for the two of you to share on the drive home. What we have done is try to laugh about it later. It can be genuinely funny to listen to people lecture you about your field of expertise.

      I have had this happen a few times too. I don’t know if you’ll ever get full credit for your hard work from your family but this problem isn’t uncommon. I have other friends who have complained about the same thing as well.

      I have had family try to explain a technical subject to me that I deal with regularly as part of my career. Their understanding was completely off the wall. It was like inadvertently catching someone in a lie. They clearly know very little about what they are talking about. Initially I was mad b/c it was insulting but much later I realized how humorous it all was. Now years later I am very good at keeping a a straight face and letting them ramble on.

      It has taken a long time but there is a glimmer of hope as this particular part of my family begin to realize that I know what I’m talking about. 😉

      Reply
      • June 30, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        Hi Joe,
        That sounds like progress.
        Thanks for posting your supportive comment.
        Dan

        Reply
      • February 19, 2018 at 10:32 am

        I can relate to Joe’s comment about being the smartest one in the room. My husband had worked in food service as a General Manager for many years. My sister would converse with him about it and tell him how things should be done. She has never worked in food service.

        I’m just coming to realize how narcissistic she is.

        Reply
    • June 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Nate,
      It can be trying when family members put you down. Setting boundaries as you are doing, though sometimes emotionally difficult, is often the best step you can take. Thanks for sharing about your situation.
      Dan

      Reply
  • June 28, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Wow! I wish I had read this article years ago. I am, fortunately, now divorced from a narcissist. The more I read about narcissism, the more my marriage, my behaviors, and my ex’s behaviors make sense. I am so happy to be away from him, but I will never be free of him because we have a 12-year-old son. My goal is to protect my son from the behaviors that dragged me down for years. Your article will help both of us to have a healthier response to the craziness that my ex imparts. Thank you!

    Reply
    • May 20, 2018 at 5:07 am

      How did you do it? I am sitting here crying my eyes out, understanding that I cannot take anymore. In the first years of our marriage I tried to understand why his family didnt like me. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the problem. But I have always been there for him, every time they tore him down I built him back up. I always worked furiously behind the scenes to ensure his success so he would feel better about himself. I always put him first. But he does to me what his family do to him. And I just cant take anymore. I feel so stupid and so hurt. I have given this man 25 years of my life. How do I disengage without ripping my own heart out. I am an idiot because I still love him so much, but I jave to love myself. I have put my life on hold and sacrificed so much every time he had a crisis but he has never been there for me. Last year he jad a cancer battle and for months I sllept on the floor of hia room, barely leaving hia side for a minute. We beat the cancer and since then hia behaviour has gotten even worse. He refuses to go to therapy and treats me like an idiot and tells me I am an idiot. He calls my parents names and constantly screams at our kids. I am starting to see the same behaviour in my oldest daughter. How do I tell my kids that I am about to tell their dad to leave? How do I tell him that I cannot do this anymore? That I have nothing left to give?

      Reply
      • May 30, 2018 at 12:19 pm

        Hi Mama,
        You share a poignant dilemma, of trying to accommodate a narcissist, giving so much to them in an essentially one-way exchange. Now it sounds like you are consciously weighing whether you want to continue that, whether doing so is healthy or viable. Those are important questions. You might want to seek advice counsel from a trusted friend or qualified therapist at this time, as this can be a difficult transition.
        Thank you for sharing your story with the community.
        Dan

        Reply
  • June 28, 2017 at 10:42 am

    This is psychobabble, which is certainly not rare these days. But if psychologists and psychiatrists have behavior so well categorized and defined then why are more and more people considered to have a mental illness? Oh wait I forgot a couple of things. First, the DSM V (psychobabbler’s bible) says 25% of Americans are mentally ill simply by definition. Next, if not mentally ill they would not need meds, for which the psychobabbler gets kickbacks from big pharma.

    I did, however, like the one comment about the smartest person in the room syndrome. Bottom line, if you have someone who continually displays this kind of attitude or behavior kick them out of your life for good!

    Reply
  • June 28, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Question :
    Do narcissists know they are narcissists? Is it worth to tell a narcissist that he/she is a narcissist to help them to understand themselves better?

    Reply
    • June 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Hi Leo,
      Generally in dealing with narcissistic people I find it is better to discuss specific behaviors which you would like addressed, rather than talking about their character or telling them they are narcissists.
      Dan

      Reply
    • May 20, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Of course they know, although they might not think or refer to themselves as such. Many narcissists are quite intelligent. They are perfectly capable of putting on a completely normal facade whenever necessary. If they are able to recognize the occasional need to do this, then they are also well aware that they really aren’t like other people. I’d be willing to bet most of them understand themselves extremely well. They just don’t happen to see anything wrong with it.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I read the article and it makes sense, I am not sure if my husband is mentally ill or if I am. My husband believes that no matter what he says to me or how he acts towards me, I should stay calm and not get upset. When he is finished with his fits, I should then be okay and we can go on as if nothing has happened. I am having a difficult time with this, as it takes me time to get over his words and actions. He tells me that I am the one causing problems because I cant just let it go when he gets his anger out. He wont allow me to have anything to do with my family and I have no friends. He is very jealous and always accuses me of doing wrong things. It used to be only verbal, but lately he is threatening to hurt me if I dont do what he tells me. He has tried to take our 11 month old son and leave, and when I refuse to let him take him, he threatens to hurt me. Not sure what I should do anymore.

    Reply
    • June 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Hi logkay,
      Threats of violence are never okay, and should be taken seriously. You may wish to consult an attorney and a therapist for advice specific to your situation. Counseling with your husband may help if he is willing to address his behavior.
      Dan

      Reply
    • February 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      Logkay it doesn’t matter a jot whether your husband is mentally ill or not. He is very jealous, controlling and violent and you need to get out of there immediately before he can physically hurt you. I hope you have done it by now. Don’t stay as he is dangerous to yours and possible your babies health.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    My experience tells me that you can’t possibly know when, how, and which boundaries people with these traits will transgress. You’d have to have eyes in the back of your head, cameras in the room and be on guard all the time.

    I’ve done boundary setting for decades now and they just do some other thing that is blatantly disrespectful.

    Best to just get away from them.

    Reply
  • February 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I really appreciated this article. At the age of 59, I have found myself dealing with my sweetheart’s “best friend”, a flaming narcissist (my first ever!). Such a fascinating situation, but also fraught with a lot of frustration! I’m very grateful for the Cliff notes…. thank you!

    Reply
  • July 9, 2018 at 1:33 am

    After nearly 28 yrs with my Narc husband I filed for divorce 5 days ago.
    The pathological lies, cheating ,abuse ( physical and emotional ) the isolation . I hit my limet and bottom. He keeps an apt in a city in another state fir work. I dint even know the address. His seacret . I wish he would just stay there.
    The abuse increased after I had to call the police twice in one night after he was in a drunken rage. Breaking down the front door. Smashing a heavy wood tray over a barstool that was ment to hit my head.screaming die, die. Why can’t you just be dead? The gaslighting has become intolerable. I just want out of this nightmare. He controls all money . And will most likely starve me .Will fight me tooth and nail . It’s going to be hard as it’s a high conflict divorce , we have many assets. And status and money is ALL he cares about. I’m in fear for my life. I have very little time to plan my escape. But it beats dying for a monster. Why I stayed so long I am working with a therapist to figure out.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    I’m so relieved, as an adult, to discover my mother is a severe narcissist who always made me feel like I’m the guilty, psycho, inferior one in our terrible relations. I do love my mother, tho, and don’t want to run to the opposite end of the world to just escape her. I want to learn how to still be around her sometimes but keep my feet on the ground. Can you direct me to some literature or place on this forum where I can learn what to do and say? I’m already thankful for your comments here. They are helpful, too.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve been dealing with this for a few years. My g/f wife to be if we actually ever marry as that comes with a demand that we go to Italy to be married or we don’t get marrierd.

    I started reading up on narcs bpd about 4yrs.. I was being called names, belittled, then ignored and the when I spent money on her, well . I was best guy that n the world..

    I’ve looked back at ever vacation we took I. The last 8 yrs.. everyone had drama.. either we didn’t stay long enough and had to stay one more day1. One new yeara at bed and breakfast.. supposedly the in keep was prejudice and therefore she was not in the mood to be intimate… Went out of town for Xmas. Having a great time. Wake up on one of mornings with all kinds day of drama and being accused of whispering she was a slut to her… I don’t talk that way and never thought about calling her those things…

    Last here come her birthday. .for months she wants something over the top.. she wants $3k trip.. spends tons of many cuz it is a big deal.. I told her no.. and fro 2 months back and forth.. the day shows up.. I. Cornered to confess if I have a surprise or am I just a jerk with no trip?.. 5 says of silent treatment… No trip.. ened up spend about 2k on so e furniture she wanted.. yeah cuz I caved to have some peace. In the end.. no thank you, no gratitude.. just silince cuz I should have had something big planned..

    I am subjected to inquisitions.. where am I going, with who .. when am I coming back and why am I ditching her for a few hours. I’ve been accused of flirting with family.. and even have crushes on on her friends and family . It is insane… While you love a person who you are trying to comes to grips with that does not see you in the same light.

    Reply
  • October 25, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Thank you so very much for the tangible suggestions and for providing support to those enmeshed in relationships that are generally one-sided. As I’ve been learning over the past two or so years and with the help of your article, there certainly is hope that I can be at peace once again and can continue working toward letting go of the unhealthy attachment, even though I feel I cannot entirely “escape” from the one, who I believe to be a narcissist in my life.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Just spent almost 2 weeks being verbally abused by 2 older siblings (68 and 72 yo). I had to be in their orbit due to a dramatic decline in our elderly father’s health. This article was helpful in providing specific actions to protect me, and thoughts on choices moving forward. I waited too long to leave this family of origin emotional abusers. I’m not sure how to start again and how to rebuild my life but thank you for this helpful article.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Thank you for reminding me of these things. My father is a narcissist. He dominates conversations, making everyone feel like they’re being held verbally hostage. He never lets my mother think for herself. He speaks for his children and promises things on their behalf when they’re not around just because he wants to be perceived as the family boss. (All his children are adults with their own families). About once a month he does something incredibly foolish or insulting. People then stop talking to him. When he figures out no one wants to listen to him, he starts acting over-the-top “nice” in a way that feels very fake. People get comfortable eventually and then he just goes right back to his old habits. It’s a nightmare to live with this guy. He’s put us in danger on numerous occasions for the sake of his ego. And when you ask him why, he usually replies with a sentence that starts with, “I just wanted to show everyone…” If I had money I would move as far away from him as I could and never speak to him again. The “gray rock” thing really resonates with me. In the last two years I’ve taken to thinking about him as “my mom’s husband” and that my real father died a long time ago. It’s sad, but I think it’s what keeps me sane.

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    • December 10, 2019 at 9:04 am

      Excuse me l laughed so much eith this oh don’t get me wrong, this is exactly my Dad!!!!! Exactly my situation!!!! Its so sad so disappointing so damaging but reading these articles helped me see another side the komic tragedy!!!!!

      Reply
  • December 3, 2018 at 2:05 am

    I’m in a battle right now with a narcissist. Socially she spends the whole time hanging out with my husband: entertaining him, flirting, touching etc. He laps it up and clearly prefers her company to mine. At the same time, she panics if I so much as speak to her husband: she runs over and interrupts our conversation every time. Slowly it’s dawned on me that he fancies me. He has a certain, subtle modus operandi that know doubt she recognises… It’s clear they have marital problems, as we do, and that we’d all rather swap partners; but she doesn’t play fair. She regularly texts, phones, emails and lunches with my husband and has put me in a position now where I make excuses and no longer attend the usual get-togethers. Frankly, I just don’t know how to handle it. I’m angry, very angry. It takes a lot for me to lose my temper, but when I do… Well, I think it’s better to stay away, but that leaves people wondering and her husband confused, I know. He now regularly has lunch with my husband in town on workdays and I feel he must be pumping him for information about me – is she worth leaving his current wife for etc. I really feel powerless, angry and in the dark. It all seems too hard, too complex and difficult. I’ve lost hope of it ever being resolved. Ultimately I feel this narcissistic woman wants to take my husband but cannot countenance the thought of me having hers! Perhaps she wants both! Any thoughts or suggestions? We’re not young; there’s children involved; it could be very messy. I’m keeping a low profile because I feel frightened and overwhelmed by her overpowering personality and outrageous behaviour. She’s super-extrovert and I’m a bit of an introvert. I feel I’m being treated very shabbily or at best overlooked and misunderstood: by my husband, her and even ‘him’ because of his regular lunches with my husband. Doesn’t it occur to him that I find it strange and off-putting that he’s lunching with the man who is, essentially his opponent?

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  • February 26, 2019 at 11:01 am

    I have a sister that is a practicing prescription drug addict and a full blown narcissist. I wish I could cut ties with her completely but she has kids that I love dearly and I feel i can not abandon. I have many fears on how her sickness will affect her children but I am powerless to do anything to about it. Dealing with her is the single most difficult thing I deal with in my daily life. I thank you for this article because it gave me some useful information that I feel i can use in my life.

    Reply
  • March 4, 2019 at 10:52 am

    The jerk who runs our local gym is a narcissistic verbal abuser. He has body shamed me four times, demeans my efforts, gaslights – confuses my frustration over a stupid gimmick he sold me – and no, he will not hear my reasons or refund my money. I’d go to another gym but there isn’t one for 50 miles. He is the only show in town and I need to use the equipment on my weight loss journey. I made the mistake of hiring him as my personal trainer but have only utilized his services one time and never will I ever again do so. I try to go at times he is not there, but due to my work schedule, that is difficult. I have, in the past week, stopped talking to him, do not respond when he calls out my name, and avoid eye contact even when he gets in my face. My fear is that he will block me from using the gym and he could do that. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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    • March 4, 2019 at 11:43 am

      Alice,
      It sounds like a difficult and stressful place to work out. Simply minimizing or stopping all interaction with him, as you are now doing, is one path. However, you have to take account of the stress it causes you just being around him, and measure the costs of that to your emotional health as you work to be physically fitter. If he does anything illegal, such as prohibiting you from taking advantage of what you paid for, you can always seek help through the legal system. Are their friends, or others who use the gym, that you could ally with and feel more support when you go there? Could you supplement your workouts with other physical activities you can do on your own, not at the gym? At any rate, thank you for sharing your experience with the community.
      Dan

      Reply
  • March 6, 2019 at 12:57 am

    Hi Dan, Thank you for thoughtfully assembling this profoundly realistic explanation about what to expect when dealing with certain types of users/abusers.

    My father is undergoing the ordeal of an indictment and trial for child sexual abuse against multiple individuals and really, he just uses and damages/victimizes everyone around him, in a sickeningly versatile fashion. I ran far away from him, then slowly let him back into my life until the extent of the these issues came to light. We use the word “narcissist” but we, in the family, suspect that other descriptors may eventually be chosen. In a sense the Narcicist label, which he proudly wears, just minimizes the shocking extent of his willingness to victimize others. He is so shockingly judgmental of everyone, and delivered a custom-tailored version of shame to each individual in his life such that we were not mutually aware of the situation, because who wants to admit being made to feel like shit?

    He would criticize a person’s appearance, money management, life priorities, educational choices, how they functioned as husband /wife, on and on and on. He did this to me from day 0. Meanwhile child sex abuse!!! His capacity to shock, horrify and more importantly, harm those around him … just leaves me speechless.

    I feel bad, not being willing to extend more compassion. But he has simply worn everyone out with his cycle of articulately stated remorse… yet then re-offending in numerous ways…. how much is enough?? There is no feeling of safety with him…worse, he nearly robbed me of my ability to feel safe in the first place.

    Anyway, what you offer is realistic descriptions of how to manage a relationship while admitting that sometimes we do have to step up and realize that it’s OUR CHOICE to be in it with them, and we can make the opposite choice too, often times: get out, get far away, for good.

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    • March 6, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Ethan,
      Well said. You express the dilemmas and sense of shock people can have around many narcissists . . . while also pointing out that we have a choice about whether and how to include a narcissist in our lives.
      Thank you,
      Dan

      Reply
  • March 16, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    Even though I’ve been married for 28 yrs, our family therapist just named my husband a narrsist. I’m a learner by nature, so have been doing my own research and boy have my eyes been opened. THIS is what I’ve been dealing with all these years. No wonder things never made sense til now. Thank you for being part of my journey to rediscovering me. I’m not at the end of my rope yet, eternal optimist I guess, BUT what is different is now I know I have options…options I never gave myself permission to even think of before. THANK YOU!

    Reply
    • March 16, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Missy,

      Knowledge is power. Glad to hear you feel empowered and that you have options. Thank you for sharing your story,

      Dan

      Reply
  • March 18, 2019 at 10:12 am

    I am greatly appreciated for this useful article ! Thank you!!!! Reading your post and going to see my therapist is definitely help me on how to ease my emotional level for dealing with narcissists ( my ex-husband and my older sister). I got a restraining order against my ex but I am live in the same area with my older sister. The truth, sometime I forget the steps giving/advising when see them face-to-face. My fears and emotional take over all my thought! I feel like a small sad person! I am trying to cut my sister off with no contact. It’s not working and she becomes even more emotional abusive. She is crying in front of me and my kids, saying I have changed and become a different person. She is looking for fight all the time and end up with: I Love you so much and I miss you, little sister! Why don’t you come over anymore at my place with your kids! My kids don’t see your kids anymore…how do you do in this case, I don’t want her in my life anymore but she is nagging/complaining that I am the wrong one !

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    • March 18, 2019 at 11:28 am

      Jazmine,

      That sounds like such an emotionally difficult situation. But it sounds like you are holding your own, setting healthy boundaries, despite all the emotional tugs and manipulation.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Dan

      Reply
  • April 16, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for your book about Controlling Parents; it changed my life. I was able to forgive my father before he died. Next step is to forgive an aging narcissist mom….and test my ability to run the experiment of finding my boundaries in their presence. I don’t expect to “win” — my job is to put some distance in between us while still being present.

    Reply
  • July 27, 2019 at 3:41 am

    Thank you for a brilliant article. I wish I had read this year’s ago.
    I seem to attract narcissistic men and I wonder if my mother was one too.
    Yes I wish I had set boundaries instead of getting enmeshed with it all, the mental beatings I got, resulting in my self belief that I was all the bad things they have said. Probably reflecting how my mother implied I was. It is hard to break free, I have a sense of wanting to make it better so they would love me back. I guess that will never happen. So I remain feeling unloved like e i always have.
    But I go on and it’s been hard. Thank you again for a great article.

    Reply
    • July 27, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Anget,
      Your heartfelt post on Psychcentral will no doubt touch many readers in similar situations. You are not alone in your experiences. I am sorry you have suffered in relationships with narcissistic people; you do not deserve to be treated poorly. You do not have to suffer and you do not have to take the things that have been done to you out on yourself. If you are ever concerned that you may be at risk for hurting yourself, I urge you to call a qualified therapist in your area, your local crisis hotline, suicide prevention center, 911, or go to the hospital emergency room. There are much better ways to make the pain stop and there are professionals who can help you. In dark times many of us feel hopeless and alone but dark times pass and feeling better is possible.
      Dan

      Reply
  • August 3, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    This article came up at a the perfect time for me and I would like to learn more specifically on this topic. I left my spouse of 8 years, but we still communicate mostly by phone straightening out some financial stuff. He still won’t own up to his wrongdoings he just changes the subject with false accusations. So I’m trying to limit our conversations, not talk about touchy subjects and gray-rock as much as possible. He still gets to me, interrogations, accusations and snide remarks insinuating things. Learning how to set boundaries better while we still need to communicate is what I need the most. I would greatly appreciate some recommendations on more books or articles on this subject. Thanks for such good advise.

    Reply
    • August 4, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      A narcissist has a bewitching manner of forcing into YOU what he thinks matters. But you don’t have to buy it. If he thinks you should be ashamed and knows all the buttons to push, realize that but don’t accept it. You

      Boundaries? Ok so how about: Having some kind of “sunset” for all this “stuff we have to figure out”

      That could go on forever! And the narcissist might be invested in MAKING it take forever. They enjoy the supply. Many families feel they are gleefully doing it from the grave for crying out loud.

      So whatever it is: an actual court date for final divorce, a mediator to settle the financial nonsense, whatever. Don’t let it take decades. What’s important to him doesn’t matter that much. Now you get to set your own priorities. You can shrug off the nonsensical comments and refuse to engage. Of course it gets to you. Keep at it you can do this.

      I guess my point is, if you let them wear you down, they will. This is why it’s so important to embrace the fact that you can survive without them, and the endless chain of demeaning conversation CAN be interrupted and life will go on. So get a plan and put an end to it. You know it won’t stop otherwise.

      > He still won’t own up to his wrongdoings

      Doesn’t matter. You’ve moved on. Don’t be invested in making him do this. If YOU are bringing it up, you are contributing to the debate. Do. Not. Engage. How much effort are you willing to give, how much are you willing to sacrifice to get a few insincere words of contrition or crocodile tears? It’s a waste of time. This is a new stage of moving on that you may not have reached yet but when you do you’ll finally be free.

      Reply
  • September 20, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Dan, thank you for a great article!

    Question for you: Can narcissism rub off where a spouse, after decades of marriage to a narcissist, become disordered themselves? My husband’s sister is married to one of the most narcissistic men I have ever met and I’ve noticed recently that she is displaying more narcissistic traits. It seems reasonable that dysfunction breeds more dysfunction and attending family functions with this pair has become unbearable to the point where I refuse to attend or engage with them again in any capacity. The final straw came a couple of months ago when hosting a family get-together for my husband’s family and I was grieving the loss of my brother whom had taken his life five weeks before. These people did not offer any condolences or even acknowledge my brother’s death, but instead my BIL antagonized me by bringing up Robin Williams’ suicide and mental health which was very upsetting to me although I didn’t show it, then he proceeded to talk about the fallacy of faith and religion and went on to say there is no God, there are no miracles and then attacked my Christian faith and criticized Christians. I guess I erroneously believed most people were aware about the heaven and hell debate regarding suicide but also recognizing and respecting the importance of faith of the faithful during difficult times such as this that even mentioning these topics is unconscionable let alone trying to discuss them. There is so much more to this story I could continue on but the bottom line is that I am so very hurt and angry by their lack of compassion, empathy, sensitivity and awareness and their complete disregard for my emotional well-being that I am unable and unwilling to forgive them especially since they should have known better – they suffered a tragic loss about 25 years ago when their teenage son was killed in a car accident and know firsthand how painful loss can be.

    When my husband spoke with my SIL shortly after this horrific episode, she really couldn’t understand the problem and I’m disappointed and astonished that she is blind to her husband’s toxicity and concerned that she has also become toxic herself and I have noticed subtle changes in her attitude and treatment of others that she’s become narcissistic. So back to my original question: Does long-term narcissism breed narcissism in others?

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  • October 8, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you for the article. It is nice to have someone spell out some concrete steps rather than just telling people to set boundaries.
    I deal with an elderly parent who is possibly a vulnerable narcissist and suffers from untreated depression and anxiety. At her MD’s suggestion, she is finally talking about seeing a therapist, which I think is wonderful, but she insists I attend with her, which I am not willing to do. When I tell her I won’t participate (I don’t tell her why), she rages and says it is proof that I don’t love her and runs down the litany of how everyone in the family treats her badly . Do you have any insight about whether family therapy sessions can actually be valuable when narcissism is a factor? We don’t live together, if that matters. I really want her to get the help she needs, but I don’t have the emotional energy to be a part of her therapy. She also has a history of dragging others, mostly boyfreinds but also me and my sister when we were kids, to therapy to “fix” relationships, which, in the past has meant the other person learning to see things her way. If family work can be helpful with narcissists, I could reconsider once she gets established with someone and I see improvement. Thanks for your input.

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