Hello, hello and thank you for being here! As we navigate our relationships it is important to accept that involvement with anyone (friend, family member, spouse, acquaintance, etc.) with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) comes with difficulty. We can lessen this difficulty greatly by accepting some well-known truths about people with NPD, and adjust OUR lives accordingly. It is with this in mind that we will discuss “What Not to Do” with the narcissists (narcs) we may have in our lives. How WE adjust our lives is the most important piece here; someone with NPD is highly unlikely to change, so change and adjustments must be made on our side. Ultimately, it is my hope that eventually (the sooner the better!) none of us have a narcissist in our lives – at all.
“When we expect normalcy from someone with NPD, we lose. We simply MUST adjust our expectations and how we live our lives when involved with a narcissist (narc). If we don’t we allow further abuse, further torment, with no end in sight. It will be up to us to change, as the individual with NPD is highly unlikely to change – at all.” L.A. Gilliam
Let’s take a look at what NOT to do in your dealings with a narcissist:
- Do not confront the narcissist about their ‘bad behavior’. One of the hallmark traits of a narcissist is their very inability to admit and take responsibility for their abusive behavior. When we expect a quality, HONEST, and productive conversation about their behavior it is likely WE will be blamed. You may hear statements like, “You make me act that way”, or “If you wouldn’t have _____, then I wouldn’t have ____.” Our expectation of authentic introspection and honest communication from a narcissist is a lose-lose proposition. We simply CANNOT expect something out of someone they have no capability to give. Remember, NPD is a very REAL, documented, researched, and quantified mental disorder.
- Do not question their lies. There is absolutely no need to question their lies; see the first bullet point for the reasons this will be unproductive. Someone with NPD lives in LIES, through and through, and many believe those lies as the truth. This is manipulation, gaslighting (see previous articles), and questioning lies will leave you even more frustrated, angry, and upset.
- Do not expect their words to be honored; do not expect promises to come true. Someone with NPD is a skilled actor who will say anything to anyone under any circumstances to get their needs met at that moment. Here’s an example: When you set a boundary, the narcissist may say something like “I didn’t know that was important to you (never mind that you have explained yourself 1,000,000 times), but now that I know, I will make an effort” – and then – there is NO positive action whatsoever. A narc will give lip service at any time to get their needs met. Another example would be in the ‘love bombing’ stage after a breakup. The narc will promise the world, trips, helicopter rides, a boat, trips (things that were told to me post-breakup), all in an effort to ‘win you back’. Do NOT fall for these statements; they are only further manipulation to see what it will take for you to acquiesce. This is lip service ONLY; there will likely be no promise ever fulfilled.
- Do not expect positive change. By the very definition of NPD and research backs this up, narcs are UNABLE to change in lasting, permanent, positive ways. Oh yes, they can ‘fake’ it temporarily to further their agenda; roping in and keeping the victim in the relationship. Narcissists have a PERSONALITY DISORDER, not a treatable mood disorder, chemical imbalance, or behavioral challenge. Therapy is just another opportunity for them to ACT; there have been many therapists also tricked and manipulated by a skilled narcissist. Therapy is widely used with efficacy and effectiveness in serving and supporting many mental disorders; this is simply NOT the case with narcissistic personality disorder. Again, things may change superficially and temporarily; lasting, permanent positive change is highly unlikely. Any narc able to change permanently in positive ways does not have the personality disorder. Do not expect permanent positive change.
- Do not expect honesty, integrity, nor authenticity. This needs to be repeated; narcs do not process the world nor anyone in it, NORMALLY. We cannot expect how we live OUR lives to correspond with how a narc lives their life. This is not possible, and you will be setting yourself up for much torment and pain if you continue to expect a narcissist to live like you do, to process things normally, or to be able to be honest. Remember, they are different and live differently. This must be accepted fully. This also leads to the next point……
- Do not expect empathy, sympathy, nor understanding from a narc. A narcissist is UNABLE to see YOUR side of any issue, unless your side serves THEIR PURPOSE. A narcissist has no internal mechanism to truly CARE about you, therefore your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, perceptions, and emotions have no value – unless they are aligned with their own. Ask yourself when is the last time the narc in your life AUTHENTICALLY cared about your thoughts and feelings? If you have someone with NPD in your life, the answer is never. I remember asking my ex narc point blank, “Can’t you see how I would feel that way?” The reply was, “No. I cannot.” Simple. What I was feeling was DIFFERENT than how the narc felt, and there was no ability to put themselves in my shoes. Doing so serves no purpose nor VALUE for the narcissist; THEIR purpose is the only one that matters. There will be no empathy, understanding, nor sympathy from the narc, yet you will be expected to give all the above constantly, consistently, without break. We are there only TO SERVE the narcissist; this must be remembered.
- Do not expect your boundaries to be respected nor upheld. This aligns with the above point; OUR needs, wants, and desires have no value to the narc and neither do our boundaries. Behavior that is unacceptable to us doesn’t matter to a narc; they have no interest in what doesn’t work for US. A narc will retaliate, punish, and belittle you for your own boundaries; they are invested in denying you WHO YOU ARE. You have no rights in the eyes of a narcissist, therefore boundaries are not important to them. You might notice the narc has no boundaries themselves, allowing exploitation and the taking advantage of say – their finances. This is because the narcissist CANNOT BE alone and they are unwilling to risk family or friends ‘leaving them’ if they deny a financial request. I can’t tell you the number of stories I was told by the ex narc about family members who would take advantage financially – all the things the narc ‘had to pay for’; all presented negatively. The narc would not set their own boundaries however, to eliminate the chance for family and friends to take advantage in the first place. A narcissist will not set boundaries out of FEAR of losing ANY source of narcissistic supply; they simply would rather give to others than be without said person/people in their lives. They live in fear of being alone. WE have to hear all about it however, as they are not willing to take responsibility for ending exploiting behavior themselves, and they will live with internal animosity toward those they willingly give money to. Quite the paradox, isn’t it?
So, here we are again my friends. The above outlines just a few things to keep in mind when dealing with a narcissist. WE must be the ones to adjust our own lives, as the above items are HOW THE NARCISSIST LIVES. This must be accepted. Only you know if you are willing to live this way; if you have had a narcissist in your life at any time, the above will all seem familiar. Please, adjust your life to ensure safety and security; emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. A narcissist has no interest in helping you life your best life, and you will need to be the one to make sure that happens. Again and ultimately, it is my hope that eventually (the sooner the better!) none of us have a narcissist in our lives – at all. Best, L.A.