Most of the advice you hear when you have a Narcissist in your life is that you need to cut them out and go no contact.
I believe that this is applicable when leaving an abuser if the situation permits.
However, what about when the narcissist is the father/mother of your children? What about when they are a family member or a boss? The reality is that you are not always going to be able to cut them out of your life, and you also may want to have some sort of standing relationship with them.
If that is the case then you are going to want to disarm the narcissist. You are going to want to navigate the relationship carefully as you are dealing with someone who will try to play on your emotions at times.
#1. Don’t try to prove anything to them
You will never be good enough for the narcissist.
It doesn’t matter if you get that promotion, if you obtain the “perfect” body, if you are the best parent, none of it matters.
A narcissist wants to ensure that you feel inferior and unconfident. The way that they bring about this feeling is by invalidating your experiences and even who you are at your very core.
It’s time to stop trying to prove yourself to the narcissist. Stop trying to gain their approval, their admiration, or their acceptance, because the whole structure of narcissistic abuse is designed to make you feel like you are not enough.
#2. Don’t show any emotion when they are provoking you
For me, this is the hardest thing to do when interacting with someone who has narcissistic tendencies.
Normally I have great conversations which are why my work and personal life involve navigating and juggling a lot of different types of relationships. However, this doesn’t translate when it comes to someone who is narcissistic.
“Instead of understanding an alternate perspective, the narcissist distorts information about the person’s feelings and uses this against the person, claiming they are “irrational, too sensitive, or overly emotional. -Erin Leonard, Ph.D
When dealing with one of my family members I have learned to keep my emotions hidden so that they have nothing to latch unto. Even when they are trying to pick a fight I remain calm and will remove myself from the situation. Eventually, the family member will get bored and stop provoking me.
#3. Keep any personal details to yourself
When we have people in our lives we often want to share intimate details about ourselves because it is going to help us become closer to our friends and family.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder. They will take your personal feelings and use them against you at the worst moment possible.
Keep things as casual and surface-level as you can when you are communicating with someone that you know is manipulative. This way they won’t be able to twist something you say and when things aren’t personal it’s easier to stay detached.
#4. Set firm boundaries and don’t explain yourself
A narcissist isn’t going to like the fact that you are putting up boundaries to ensure that your feelings are being taken care of.
We often believe that everyone has empathy and cares about our feelings if they are in our life and that simply isn’t true.
“The narcissist doesn’t care about your thoughts, feelings, reasons, or excuses. This is the nature of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).” -Psychology Today
Toxic individuals don’t like boundaries because it means they are no longer getting something from you that they were before. When you suddenly start setting rules they are going to notice.
You don’t have to explain anything to them. Hold firm to your boundaries and try to disarm the narcissist instead of letting them get under your skin. Always remember that your emotional health is what is most important when dealing with a toxic and narcissistic individual.