37 thoughts on “11 Ways to Set Boundaries with Narcissists

  • June 22, 2017 at 8:20 am
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    Great article, well written and thought.

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    • June 24, 2017 at 11:04 pm
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      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.

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      • June 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm
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        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

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  • June 22, 2017 at 9:14 am
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    Good read….

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  • June 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm
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    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.

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  • June 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm
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    Hmmmmm sounds very familiar.

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  • June 23, 2017 at 8:09 pm
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    Great article! Thank you.

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  • June 23, 2017 at 8:21 pm
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    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.

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    • June 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm
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      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

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      • January 8, 2018 at 6:21 pm
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        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.

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  • June 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm
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    Thank you for writing this article!

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  • June 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm
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    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!

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  • June 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm
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    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.

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  • June 28, 2017 at 8:17 am
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    What do you do if the narcissist is the POTUS ??

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  • June 28, 2017 at 9:09 am
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    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
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      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. 😉

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      • February 19, 2018 at 10:32 am
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        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.

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    • June 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm
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      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

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  • June 28, 2017 at 9:55 am
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    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!

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    • May 20, 2018 at 5:07 am
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      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?

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  • June 28, 2017 at 10:42 am
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    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!

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  • June 28, 2017 at 11:11 pm
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    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?

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    • June 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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      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

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    • May 20, 2018 at 6:59 pm
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      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.

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  • June 29, 2017 at 11:13 am
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    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.

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    • June 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm
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      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

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    • February 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm
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      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.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 8:53 pm
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    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.

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  • February 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm
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    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!

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