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How to Deal with a Narcissist

11 Mandatory Rules for Dealing With a Narcissist

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Wondering how to deal with a narcissist?

You are not alone.

Many online blogs and support groups for victims of narcissists have sprouted up over the years, as people have realized the damage a narcissist has done in their lives.

All of this online support for victims of narcissism can bring a sigh of relief – phew! I’m not crazy!

But you probably also want practical information.

How do I deal with that narcissist? What do I do? Can I stand up to a narcissist?  Watch the video or read below to find out.

[Before you read on, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my recovery course The Essential Break Free Bootcamp to become a big bestseller. To check it out, click here. ]

How to Deal with a Narcissist

Dealing with narcissists is challenging. You can’t necessarily outsmart a narcissist, as they tend to be very cunning, manipulative people who are used to getting their way.  

However, you can use smart strategies to deal with the narcissist and mitigate the damages.

Here are a few strategies to deal with the recalcitrant narcissist in your life:

1. Establish and Stick to Boundaries with the Narcissistic Person

We often have this unconscious idea that we are held hostage to anyone who wants to talk to or interact with us. You can and should say no to the narcissist who is being overly demanding of your time.

For example, if a narcissist is hogging up all your time on the telephone, just tell them you need to go. Hang up if you need to. Don’t let them monopolize your life.  In most cases, the best thing to do is block them and don’t allow them to contact you via your cell phone.  

2. Use Empathic Validation if You Need to Confront a Narcissist

“Empathic validation” is a fancy way of saying, butter up your criticism with a compliment first. In fact, criticism (for anyone) is often best accepted in a sandwich form – compliment, constructive criticism, compliment.

This is especially important when dealing with narcissists because they perceive everything as an insult, even when none was intended.

3. Avoid Sharing Too Much Information with the Narcissist

The acronym “TMI” (Too Much Information) is often said jokingly when someone discloses some personal info that may be a bit too personal. But remind yourself that “TMI” with a narcissist is just about anything personal because the narcissist can and will use that against you.

For example, let’s say you share with a narcissistic person that you were fired from a job once due to inputting the wrong information into a computer. The narcissist is likely to bring that up again, often in a nasty way, say, each time you use a computer. Or, worse, they will bring it up in front of a person you are trying to obtain a job from.

Never assume that any of your personal struggles will be treated with care by the narcissist.  In fact, sharing anything with them where you are seeking compassion or validation will likely cause them to disappear on you (i.e., the Silent Treatment).

4. Don’t Make the Mistake of Assuming the Narcissist Cares

Don’t ever assume that the narcissist has genuine feelings or cares. This can be one of the toughest realizations for a kind, caring person. It can be very hard to believe that another human being is really that cold and calculating. We have a tendency to go into denial about this sort of thing. But just try to drill this into your head: Narcissists really don’t care.

5. No Drama! Let the Narcissist’s Games Roll Off Your Back

Narcissists are experts at games and drama. The extremely talented narcissist goes even a step further – they stir up the drama, and then sit back, above it all, acting like they had nothing to do with it.

For example, a narcissistic mother would stir up a rivalry and animosity between two sisters. She’d say one thing to sister one, and then another thing to sister two. Then you, as sibling #3, gets put in the middle.

If you confront the mother about this, she’ll deny that she had anything to do with the drama, and then act all aggrieved that you’d even suggest she’d do such a “horrible thing.”

Try not to get sucked into games like this.

6. Don’t Second Guess Yourself with a Narcissist

You don’t need to justify yourself to the narcissist. But, that’s the game they are going to play with you. It’s all about making you doubt yourself and your perceptions.

What narcissists typically engage in is an insidious psychological technique called “gaslighting.”

On a very simple level, it goes like this:

The narcissist does something selfish, and you confront them about it. The narcissist then twists this event around to make it sound like you were the selfish one.

Narcissists are experts at reframing reality in a way that makes them look good and you look bad.

While it can be infuriating and confusing, don’t fall for it. Stick to your guns.

7. Remember: With a Narcissist, It’s Not Personal and Never Was

With a narcissist, you really truly are just a pawn in the game of life to them. And, if it wasn’t you who took their abuse, it would have been someone else. While this may be cold comfort, do try to remember that you didn’t do anything wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with you or bad about you if you have been the victim of a narcissist’s abuse.

8. Do a Reality Check After the Narcissist Spins a Story

Narcissists are typically liars, and not only that, they are usually good liars. Part of the reason for this is that they don’t feel guilt in the way other people do.

So, when the narcissist tells you something (particularly about someone else) that is very upsetting, take a deep breath. It may not be true at all!

Check the veracity of the statement before being sucked into the drama (remember our story about the narcissistic mom).

9. Don’t Try to One-Up the Narcissist

One of the worst things you can do with a narcissist is to try to beat them at their own game. Don’t show off with the narcissist. Don’t brag, preen, or otherwise try to make yourself look good in front of the narcissist.

Narcissists are the kings and queens of self-aggrandizement. If you try to compete with them on that level, you may end up feeling like a loser.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should act like a wilted flower and just slink around when the narcissist is in view. Work on having a healthy self-esteem and try to be as natural as possible.

10. Get Away from the Narcissist

While this may not be feasible for the short-term, if you can, consider separating yourself from the narcissist as much as possible.

If you are still married to the narcissist and have children, consider the long-term effects of emotional abuse on the kids. It may be best if you leave.

Get time away from them as much as possible so you can center yourself and get back in touch with reality.

11. Ignore the Narcissist – That’ll Really Get ‘Em

Narcissists thrive on triggering reactions from people. This is how they gain power over you – while you lose control.

So, when the narcissist goes on the attack, one of the most effective ways to deal with it is to just ignore them. This can be challenging, as narcissists have an intuitive way of pushing buttons in people. Deep breathing and stress reduction techniques can help you keep your cool.

Get a narcissist to leave you alone

Keeping Your Cool Around a Narcissist

You may have noticed a theme with the recommendations for dealing with a narcissist. That theme, in a nutshell, is:


Sometimes, the best way to stand up to a narcissist is to simply remain calm.

In general, you’ll do best if you can reduce your emotional reactions to the narcissist in question.

This can be very challenging, however, as the garden-variety narcissist is typically an expert in pushing buttons. They seem to have a superpower which allows them to know just what will trigger a reaction in the people around them.

In order to keep your cool, you will need to work on yourself.

There are many different ways to do this, including seeking help with a therapist or pursuing self-help strategies.

Mind/body techniques such as meditation and yoga can be extremely helpful in reducing the temptation to react to a narcissist’s antics.

You can also consider joining a support group, where you can commiserate with other victims of narcissists. This is especially helpful if you are dealing with a narcissist who specializes in gaslighting, i.e., making you think you are the one to blame for everything, when it’s really them.

The Narcissist in Your Life Does Not Have to Define You

Fortunately, the more you practice “not reacting” to the narcissist in question, the better you’ll get at it.

Soon, you will learn how to deal with the narcissist without that person ruling your life. The path won’t always be easy, and you will have moments where you slip up and lose your cool.

But take heart – it can and will get better.

Are you tired of dealing with narcissists and energy vampires?

Check out my groundbreaking recovery course The Essential Break Free Bootcamp

You will get practical training and exercises to help you live abuse- and narcissist-free – create better boundaries – and even get a leg up on the narcissist in your life.  (Therapists are referring their own clients to this program!)

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Leave a Comment:

Phil says July 9, 2019

I have known two guys who are narcissists.They are not handsome people who love to look at themselves in a mirror nor are they highly intelligent. I would say just average intelligence.Sometimes we kick ourselves for not seeing them for what they are a lot sooner, this can make us feel that the Narcissist outsmarted us.Not true, you just gave them the benefit of the doubt until you were sure what was going on.The two narcissist I knew were NOT super intelligent guys, just average.You just have to educate yourself how your going to make your no contact work.

    Natasha Simon says July 10, 2019

    I agree

Ginny says July 9, 2019

I’m at a crossroads. My passive-aggressive spouse, I’m seeing his covert narc-ness. It’s a new revelation after a series of events would open my eyes!
I could never overcome the problems no matter how much i changed. I’ve lived 22 yrs of feeling “not enough” nothing i do is enough. In all these years my spouse has never defended my honor to his family and allowed his children and ex wife to run my kids and I over, again and again. My spouse has no relationship with his kids and very little with his own family of origin. Which I’m positive I’m blamed for that. I see completely that I’ve taken responsibility of mending the family, taken responsibility for his moods and made excuses for his behavior and lack of response. Looking for answers I blamed myself, it must be me!
But now I see it so differently. He has driven my life to a place that I’ve lost who I am. He has a “poor me” attitude that he has projected on me for years. He feels sooo sorry for himself. He has lied, exaggerated events, struggled with porn on and off……you know “the cycle”. I’ve been stone walled, given silence treatment and felt the resentment in the room so thick, you could cut it with a knife. For years I was resented and even for my relationship with God, if you can even imagine that. All the while I was always trying to do better, be better, look better. It’s never enough for the longevity, only the short term. I see clearly what a covert narcissist is and I’ve been living the life of an emotionally abused wife for 22 years. I have had enough.

Anonymous says June 24, 2019

I appreciate that I was in a more fortunate situation in that I have my own home and could retreat to my home when things got really bad (mostly under a duvet and a bottle of wine sadly) although I spent most of my time at his cleaning, cooking, running everything and his business. Anyway, just wanted to say that I’m 3 years out of a 10 year relationship and have regained my health mostly. It is shocking the level to which as a co-dependent type, I put this person before myself as I misunderstood being controlled as someone I liked wanting me. With hindsight now, I am “grateful” to have gone through this experience as I’ve learnt to cope, dealt with most of my core weaknesses from childhood and dealing with the rage at myself for allowing ANYONE to treat me this way. Once you can mentally disentangle yourself from this person, you really do see how pitiful they are and how scary their disordered mental illness is. We are so much luckier than they are, we get to feel love, hope, joy, sadness etc which they never can. “Mine” used to look at me so enviously when i was laughing, I could never figure that out, until I understood.

    Kim Saeed says June 24, 2019

    Thank you so much for sharing. I, too, am grateful for my experiences with narcissistic abuse. While they were painful to go through, they helped me grow in ways I otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Kim XoXo

      Natasha Simon says July 10, 2019

      This is true.
      Same with me

Georgia says November 15, 2018

I’m very new to all of this. My boyfriend who is a narcissist, has been in prison for 4 years now. He has 2 more year’s left. We have been together for 12 year’s. When I first started doing research on him being a narcissist, I cried. I cried because I could never explain to anyone what I’m going through mentally or emotionally. I could never explain why I’m still with him. Until I started reading about this. I cried because I found alot of answers to my many questions he could never answer. It was all right in front of me like it was telling my story. I cried because I was relieved that someone knew exactly what I was going through and I cried because it really broke my heart even more to know they will never change. I journaled alot throughout our relationship. Book after book. I saw who he really was year 6. He changed overnight, no lying here. He stayed in bed for days. When he finally got up it was like he was a whole new person. For the next 2 years I stayed in shock because each day was worse then the day before. I was in a nightmare that just wouldn’t end. We have a 8 year old daughter who was very young when the abuse happened and then he went to prison for things he was doing away from the home and from us. She looks fwd to him getting out. They have established a established a decent relationship. She can’t wait for us to be a family. She cries for him. I love him but I hate him just the same. I don’t have anyone to talk too. We live in a very small town. It would be great to aquire some new friends going through this too. I could really use the support. It’s the holidays and I’ve become very very depressed. Thank you georgia

Shirley Akpelu says November 8, 2018

The hardest thing for me to do is keep cool. The narc knows my weaknesses and which buttons to trigger to get me going. Even when I keep my mouth shut, the narc would pick at me until I blew up and I was out of control. He was in control. But thank the Almighty,we have separated for going on three years and no contact is wonderful! I have been given the silent treatment for going on three years, but if all the narc does is lie, why even talk to him? The silent treatment is good in this case. I can now focus on more important things, getting a divorce, setting up credit union account and affordable housing with everything that was stolen from me and then some. HalleluYah! Thank you Kim for your wisdom and insight.

K says November 8, 2018

I’m amazed how much I can relate with all of this. I am truly stuck. My husband has lied and cheated on me many times and we have kids. He would always blame me for cheating.. and at first I believed it. As years go by I see through what he’s doing. I gave up a career to raise my kids. I do work now, but I don’t make enough as I use to and I want to focus on my kids.. not my career. I feel like it’s a trade off and I don’t want to sacrifice my time with my kids. Is anyone else in the same situation?

Alexis says November 8, 2018

These are all well and good, but sometimes ignoring the narc can really piss them off and they can go into a rage. I ignored one that used to work for me and a few months later he came back and broke into my house and caused a lot of damage. Some of them are violent and willing to risk consequences to get revenge. Stay safe out there.

Tio says November 8, 2018

Self focus. They have a fear to be exposed. Don”t give them munition or don’t give any emotional respons and stay indifferent. That victimidentity and controlfreakery. You are not more then a disposible wallet and a doormat to them. There are alo men who are abused by a former girlfriend ex. It goes for your wellbeing and sanity. They cry when they can”t get any supply. The narcissist manifactures problems and difficulties and an exitplan to break free must be done deleberately and careful. It is said that traumabonding can be eve more addictive then black tar heroin. maybe a specialized guide can get advice and it is custom work . You see everybody as bad and are suspicious of the motives of people and fear conspracy working against you behind your back with power and control. Some say that you must go with healthy people and it is if they are saying that you were intentionally seeking unhealthy people. If you knew that it was a narcissist you”ve been shocked. Narcissist are sick people and you can”t compare with that. .

Nikki says November 8, 2018

You make it sound so easy to leave. I’ve been a SAHM for 7 years. I cant work due to illness. HE controls all the finances and if I tried to leave I’m sure he’d do things like hide money (his accountant is just as shady as he is). I had student loans from before the marriage which he said he’d pay off, but to date not a single payment has been made. So if I left, I’d have no income, lots of debt, and 3 hungry mouths to feed. He’s managed to convince my family that I’m the crazy one, so I doubt they’d help. I really don’t see a way out. I’d have to take my kids out of private school and then what? Live on public assistance? All while he owns houses and businesses that he completely controls. It isn’t fair at all they he used me so completely and walks away better off than he was before.

    Susan says July 10, 2019

    I’m in the process of leaving a narcissist after 43 years of marriage, so have been reading a lot about the subject. One good question to ask yourself is would you be staying with him if he all of a sudden became homeless tomorrow? I’m going to lose a lot of security, but decided that my self respect was more valuable. I’d rather be poor and be able to hold my head up than stay and lose my sense of self.

Ashley says August 15, 2018

I have heard from so many wonderful ladies who have reached out to help me. I am blessed to have found such lovely people willing to let me vent and be blunt about what goes on in the privacy of my home.
Thank you gals for the much needed “shoulder” to cry on.
I’m not out yet but am making progress. I applied for a job and hope to save enough money to leave with our 3 small children before he gets the chance to discard us.
Thank you again for your hope, help and prayers!

7 Signs You’ve Arrived as a Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says July 24, 2018

[…] Healing from Identity Loss After Narcissistic Abuse On a Dating Site? One of the Top Ways to Avoid Users Online How Survivors Can Help Current Victims of Narcissist Abuse 7 Types of Hoovers and How to Powerfully Respond The Spirituality of Narcissistic Abuse 11 Mandatory Rules for Dealing With a Narcissist […]

Anna Nim says July 20, 2018

Back when my exNarc was pitting the other girl against me during our “back together” phase, she & I actually talked & figured out The Game (thanks to stumbling on Kim’s site!). I was still hooked, (of course) and was crying to her, “I am so afraid she will leave me..” She said to me (even though she also was broken hearted & still “in love” with the narc too), “I think the real fear is; what if she doesn’t…”. Oh, snap. What if she doesn’t indeed…Once your eyes are open, it is only a matter of time!

Oh. Snap.

Katie says April 22, 2018

My ex is a narcissist. We have shared parenting of our boys. He still gets to me by badmouthing me to my boys and the small town we live in. I have many medical problems and have not been able to go back to work. I don’t know what career path to choose now. I was a cat scan tech. I’m very concerned of the effect this is all having on my boys and need help to help them. I wasn’t sure this is where I’m supposed to be in order to get the help my family desperately needs.

    Kim Saeed says April 30, 2018

    You could try going to your local Domestic Violence center and getting a case manager. They will likely be able to provide you with some resources to get you and your children into counseling.

Ashley says February 9, 2018

Hello everyone. I need to be frank. I am married to a Narc who keeps us too poor to afford much of anything. So I can’t afford to pay a counsellor or seek therapy.
But here it is- I need a friend. I need a woman who understands what I’m going through who will let me talk about it without me feeling like I am over sharing or burdening an otherwise ‘ normal’ friendship.
I am alone here in my world of combatant turmoil. I feel very discouraged and I just need to be able to clarify what goes on in my life and formulate a plan to either deal with it or help figure out how to get away from it.
In short, I need a supportive friend who won’t tell me constantly I just need to leave when I doubt have a plan and nowhere to go.
Please email me if you need a friend too and we can support each other. Thanks.

angelica says January 25, 2018

I was married or shold sya am married to one that was unfaithful to me over and over, taking no responsibility but blaming me for his actions. I finally broke free with the last event when i had to file a police report against his girlfriend because she was stalking me and would not stop calling my home and he did nothing to stop it. THAT was the nail that closed the deal for me >FINALLY hitting it home after 4 years of emotional abuseetc etc…

    Kim Saeed says January 25, 2018

    Good for you, Angelica! You did a brave and righteous thing!

    Kim XoXo

Anonymous says January 15, 2018

I have a narcissistic mother and sister who have no regards of what I feel every time when they do or say something hurtful to embarrass, belittle, and guilt-trap me. My mother is passive aggressive, not doing anything to take care of us, left us when we were kids, taking things from me but have no awareness on the needs to reciprocate nor take care of my well-being. My sister feels like she would not make any mistakes & often blames me for every little things that I am struggling with because of low self esteem and anxiety. Even having low self esteem and anxiety is my fault because I am the “weak” one in her eyes. Often gaslighting me by invalidating all my feelings and thoughts and even making me feel horrible about my situations and underachievements. She has no regards to my fears, worries, depressions, pressures, pains, and even when I was crying she could turn on the TV & watch it by putting the volume to the loudest. Told me that I am embarrassing her because of the ways I deal with passerbys on the street or those sale persons in the shopping malls. I never scolded those who approached me abruptly trying to sell their products. I said thank you with a smile. But for my sister this is not enough, it’s impolite because my facial expression was not “nice” ? Every little things can be used to put down my self esteem and I am constantly worried about saying or doing things which would upset her. She’s not happy with WHATEVER things I do. Told me that she’s only “reminding” me of those things because she “cares” about me? But does it have to be involving playing with my self esteem and disregards my feelings and needs? Every little things is not good enough in her eyes. She’s my sister.I’m staying with her. What can I do?

    Kim Saeed says January 15, 2018

    Gosh, Anon. I wish I had some helpful advice. If I were in your shoes, I’d consider leaving. There’s really not much you can do to placate people like this. I found that the only way to find peace was to leave.

    Wishing you all the best…

Denise says January 11, 2018

Great advice. I have just currently started a “therapeutic” separation with my husband. Last night he started texting me with nagging questions. I put up a boundary and told him if he continues, I would block him. He continued and I blocked him. I thought to myself, “You’ve come a long way, Baby”. LOL. I never stood up for myself until recently and it felt good.

    Kim Saeed says January 13, 2018

    Good for you, Denise! 🙂

Michelle says January 10, 2018

Excellent Article. I unfortunately know Narcissism very well and all the the techniques above do work. Just remember it NEVER goes away…..you must continue and stay one foot in front of the Narc to survive!

Sandy says January 9, 2018

The day you can turn the corner from “what can I do to keep from losing him?” into “I don’t need to do that to keep him!” is a great day indeed, and worth working hard for. And once you admit to yourself he/she has been wiping their boots off on your back all along, it is time for you to take the reins back and get to that place in your life where you can say NO ONE will EVER treat ME like that, EVER again. It is not easy, but it is SO worth it! ~~~Free since 10/2014

    Kim Saeed says January 15, 2018

    Absolutely, Sandy! It’s a great day, indeed! I’m so happy you’ve been free for a while 🙂

    Kim XoXo

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