Living with a narcissist can be daunting. The most likely advice you will get on this uphill task is to leave your narcissist. Leaving them though is not as easy as it is made to sound. There many reasons that can make this particularly difficult, for example, if there are children involved, religious reasons, or love. So how do you live with a narcissist without succumbing to the adverse side effects of their personality?
To embark on this long journey, you first of all need to understand what narcissism is, then you can start to gauge what is realistically achievable in your relationship and what’s not. You need too to learn your boundaries and draw a line on the ground for the narcissist to see.
Narcissists are severely focused on the enhancement of their self-esteem. The disorder itself can be characterized as an inability to regulate self-esteem healthily. This makes narcissists perpetually insecure, and while they do come off as overconfident, they do have a lurking self-doubt that contorts their view of life. If you are living with a narcissist, you need to remember that this need to enhance their self-esteem will override everything that you believe should matter.
The reason why living with a narcissist is so tricky is because their self-esteem tends to dip at a whim and on these occasions, their reaction is often adverse. When their self-esteem lowers, they will go into a self-denigrating low, often focused on shame. Alternatively, they may take the path of grandiosity puffing themselves up and devaluing anyone else around them. The way of grandiosity is usually the one the narcissist will take.
So what should you expect when living with a narcissist?
- The narcissist in your life will often devalue you in a bid to feel important. They lack empathy so they will do this with a coldness that will shock you. Unfortunately, the narcissist will even fail to register your hurt feelings. And if they do notice, they will not care. They will instead shift the blame to you and label you as ‘overly sensitive or over-reactive.
The result of this lack of empathy is that the narcissist will repeatedly hurt your feelings, sometimes accidentally or on purpose. It is an inevitable result of living with a narcissist.
- Narcissists lack an essential social skill known as “whole object relations.” To a narcissist, you are either all good or all bad; no grey zones with them. This is what causes most conflicts as far as relationships with narcissists go. While an average person can see both good and bad qualities in an individual simultaneously, a person with NPD cannot. Their view of you alternates between two extreme opinions, highly dependent on what feeling your actions have evoked in them. At one moment, you are perfect and unique, then the next you are flawed and unworthy. They do extend this poor view of people to themselves too. They in some moments feel omnipotent and entitled while in the next they may feel defective. This means that your narcissist will not see you for who you are.
- They will make you feel good during the early stages of your relationship, but as they discover your flaws, they will begin to compare you to their idealized mate, who has impossibly high human character standards. Henceforth they will continuously berate you for being flawed and unworthy in their view.
- Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self-importance and need lots of admiration, recognition, and attention to feel good about themselves. This will be a cause of many conflicts too with your narcissists. The joy a healthy relationship should offer will be temporary in yours because whenever the narcissists sense any contrary views about them, they will disrupt your relationship adversely. They will quickly forget any positive thing you have done for them, because of one negative moment.
- The narcissist you are living with will never accept blame for hurting you or anyone in their life. To them, taking responsibility makes them worthless, and so will they will not apologize to you for their misdeeds.