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Surviving a Narcissistic Relationship

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

It's not always possible to remove yourself from a narcissistic relationship.

So how does one survive? Well, in the same way that you hold a porcupine…very carefully.

Whether the narcissist is your spouse, partner, neighbour, boss, friend, parent or sibling the ground rules are the same. You need to learn how to manage the beast.

The first thing that you need to understand is that these people are deeply insecure and chronically threatened by the world. They cannot regulate or manage their feelings, especially frustration. They are hypersensitive to any type of criticism and they lack empathy.

Talking with a narcissist is a lot like walking through a minefield. To avoid being blown up, every step requires tremendous deliberation and careful thought. To prevent ending up in conflict, stop pointing out their shortcomings. Avoid defending yourself or asking them to take accountability for their behaviour. Minimise their abuse and save your energy- you know the outcomes and the patterns. There is literally nothing anyone can do about a narcissistic or toxic person and there is no treatment for the narcissist because they will never take accountability or accept they have a problem.

So, learn how to protect yourself against toxic people and toxic situations.

Avoid those situations that trigger the narcissist in the first place. Be realistic about them if you are stuck with them and maintain the boundaries you need to stay healthy and sane in the face of them. These narcissistic and toxic people will never change or have a moment of enlightenment. There will never be the ‘Ah Ha’ moment where they get it. They will never apologise for all the hurt that they have caused, nor will they ever start getting it right and allowing everyone to live in peace and happiness. The happy ending will never come, but you can re write a more realistic ending with the knowledge and understanding of the narcissist in your life. The sooner you understand this the better your mental health and wellbeing will be. The narcissist feeds off the damage, pain and hurt that empathetic people give them – so stop feeding the narcissist.

Once you attract one narcissist into your life you may attract more. You may begin to make accommodations for narcissistic behaviours, always appeasing them and validating them, compromising for them, and succumbing to their reality. You become accustomed to these patterns and are less likely to recoil when you meet a narcissist. Your patterns can be changed, but it will require you to identify them and doing things in a different way.

Ensure your support systems are in place. Do not stop seeing family and friends, even though the narcissist will make it hard for you to do so. Be firm with your boundaries and ensure regular physical contact with the people who give you unconditional love and support.

Organise mental health assistance. Therapy is a great place to vent your feelings and find comfort. The narcissist will be critical of you doing this, but do not allow them to stop you. This is an important support for you to maintain your sanity and emotional wellbeing. You need to hear the voice of a rational and sensible advocate who can assure you, you are not going insane.

Expect the narcissist’s behaviour to continue. This means that you can protect yourself from the disappointment when you see the behaviour happening again and again. Understanding the narcissists need for chaos and drama can take a soul sapping situation that seems hopeless and transform it into something that is still exhausting - but at least it’s predictable.

Don’t fight back. Narcissists need you to do this. They enjoy watching you cry or become upset. They need someone to dump their deep shame and self-loathing on top of. Refuse to fight back or respond to their criticism and projections. Meet their rants with a complete flat line and non-reactive blank stare. With this consistent response, they have nowhere to unburden themselves. This will make the narcissist go crazy. They are powerless over you. You have rendered them ineffective to control or manipulate you.

Demonstrate you don’t care with every choice you make. Refuse to show the narcissist that they have any capacity to make you enraged over decisions that they make. Be nonchalant about the nonsense they bring up – show them that you could not care less or are bothered in any way- it will blow their mind and they don’t know what to do with you.

Stop being a narcissist pleaser.

Let them believe that you respect them and play to their ego. Don't let them know you are to them. Stay independent emotionally and financially. If you don’t need to hang on them for everything then you will be better off. Try and work hard to create your own life.

Stay distant from them. They are testing you all the time so the less they know about what is going on in your head, the better.

Listen to your inner voice and trust yourself. As soon as you have the support and resources- leave them.

Want to learn more?

  1. Enroll in our online course, "Identifying the Narcissist"

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