How to live with a narcissist – Hope for change?

Having a sustainable relationship with a narcissist can be challenging. Here is a list of tips to help you stay in a relationship with someone who is narcissistic.  Realize that some of these tips contradict each other; this is because remaining in a long term relationship with a narcissist is a contradictory endeavor.

It is recommended that you understand that the relationship rules for narcissists are different than those for others. The following suggestions will help you to have a close, ongoing relationship with a narcissist:

  1. Make sure you collude with your narcissist to reinforce his belief that relationships are one-sided and that he is entitled to have a fantasy wife, child, etc. Become comfortable at living with double standards and performance based approval.
  2. Do not require him to share in household or child-rearing responsibilities. Make sure you are willing to carry these weights yourself.In fact, make sure you are ultra-responsible in all areas of your relationship. Do not expect the relationship to be 50-50. A more realistic expectation is that he will require 100 percent of your emotional energy and almost, if not all, of your personal identity.
  3. Be available as a sponge or garbage pail to absorb his rage and shame. When he needs a place to dump all his negative emotions, make sure you are readily available with a willingness to listen, understand, forgive, and feel empathy for his anger.
  4. Let go of your need to be listened to, validated, or respected.
  5. Become comfortable with indirect and incomplete communication. Learn well how to navigate silent treatments and gas-lighting. Do not expect dialogues, but learn to be a captive audience for long monologues and diatribes.  Do not ask questions for anything requiring a specific answer. Learn to solve problems without your loved-one’s input or approval.

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