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Dealing with a narcissistic partner

Navigating Narcissism

The importance of knowing what you’re dealing with when you are navigating narcissism

Few words in the English strike as much fear as the word ‘narcissism’, but what is it, and what method is used for navigating narcissism?

At the core of it, narcissism simply means to think about and prioritize the self. We all need a touch of narcissism to function or else we would be at the whim of every bad idea that the people around us have. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), however, is when a person is PATHOLOGICALLY self-centered and inflexible to the point of damaging themselves and relationships around them.

At its core – NPD is about shame. Theoretically, there IS a wonderful human being trapped in there, but there are so many walls and traps that they have laid down since childhood, that, unless that person makes an EPIC move to wellness, we will simply get hurt trying to reach them. The further we try, the more scared they get, the more traps they lay, the more damaged we become.

Healing from a narcissistic relationship – whether it be from a spouse, parent, coworker, boss, etc. – is rooted in recognizing that you can never make the person sitting in front of you a better person and really focusing the attention back into ourselves.

There is so much to know about dealing with a narcissist, but here are 3 tips to START to deal with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder:


  1. Figure out if they have NPD in the first place.

    There’s a difference between being selfish (putting myself first out of reflex, but I’m able to consider others when it’s brought to my attention), autistic (I care deeply about others, I simply just don’t know what’s going on), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline, Avoidant Attachment Disorders, and a slew of other diagnosis that could even exist at the same time (for example, being a narcissist AND being autistic).

    Advice coming from a therapist, it’s really hard to know if someone’s a narcissist – a lot of times the narcissist might not even know if they are a narcissist. I commonly come across people who feeling guilty and mistakenly think that they are narcissists. It’s not an easy label to figure out.

    Why? It’s because to know if someone is a narcissist, it’s about the MOTIVATION and thought process than understanding the behavior; and the person that TRULY knows their motivations is the narcissist themselves. We never know if they’re truthful, so the second place is watching their behavior over a long period of time and recognizing patterns – and that takes work!

  2. Calling a spade a spade.

    Navigating narcissism is an extremely hard step for a lot of people because, most of the time, there is a strong reason that we bought into the narcissist in the first place. Narcissists subconsciously choose people for a reason, and we are subconsciously vulnerable to narcissists for a reason. A general tendency is that it’s usually related to self-esteem on both sides, but how that specifically works in your case is going to be individualized.

    Unfortunately, over the long term, the narcissist might do individual nice things, but when you understand the motivations behind it, it’s always calculated for a second gain. They will ALWAYS prioritize their pursuit of toxic self-esteem over the relationship, and that’s why they tend to have a lot of relational issues.

    Calling a spade and spade usually comes with a lot of pain while coming to terms with things, so having both the help of a therapist and social support (family, friends, etc) are crucial in this step.

  3. Figure if you’ll stay or go.

    Look. Flat out, I’m not here to demonize narcissists, because we all have our demons.

    People CAN be narcissists and do a pattern of good things.

    People CAN be narcissists and do a pattern of bad things.

BUT, there’s a massive distinction between malignant (bad intentioned) narcissists that actively harm people for their self-esteem (lying, gaslighting, stealing, sabotaging, controlling) that then branches into potential domestic violence for yourself, children, animals, coworkers, family, etc.; and garden variety narcissists that are JUST pathologically selfish.

Whether the narcissist is malignant or garden variety, they STRONGLY tend to follow the same pattern of behavior once you track it.

It’s really up to you to decide if this is something you can live with and you’re comfortable, or if you want better for yourself and to move on.

One thing I’ll add – narcissists, in my observation, are not rare in the slightest, so it wouldn’t be that surprising if you know or even dated one.

BUT, if it’s time to move on, that’s when we gather our coping tools, we brace our spirit against the pain, and we reach out for help – and my door is always open to help you navigating narcissism and walk you through the process of healing. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.