Do you think you know a narcissist? Narcissism is a particularly difficult personality trait, and it is important you know how to identify and deal with a narcissist in your life.

How to Spot and Deal with Narcissists

What is a narcissist?

A narcissism is a mental health condition characterized by an inflated sense of self worth, an excessive need for admiration and attention, and a history of making choices to benefit themselves, along with a lack of empathy for the people that choice might hurt.

However, behind this confidence in people with narcissistic personality disorder, is a fragile self-esteem.

In a more general sense (and the type of narcissist that I am talking about in this article) a narcissist is someone who holds some of the traits of narcissism– doesn’t necessarily meet the diagnostic criteria for narcissism as a personality disorder.

Narcissism and narcissistic traits often begin to show up in teens and early adulthood, and the factors that lead to it are, without doubt, complex. It’s probably a combination of genetics, neurobiology (meaning how the brain is wired and how it affects behavior and thinking), and environment (the way the person was raised).

Behind every narcissist is a deeply insecure person.

Studies suggest that as many as 6.2% of the population of the US have narcissistic personality disorder. However, many more will have enough narcissistic traits that they can be harmful to others around them.

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Understanding Narcissism

It’s important to understand why these people act the way they are acting. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, or sinister, or out to hurt anyone. Unfortunately, however, narcissists can be toxic–even though they rarely intend to be.

Psychiatrists and psychologists aren’t entirely sure why people develop narcissism, but they have suggested it may be a combination of genetics and childhood experience.

Some studies suggest that narcissism may be caused by parents who overvalued the child (i.e., told them they are worthy of special treatment because they are superior and have treated them as such), or by parents who undervalued them (i.e., shown them little love, attention, or praise).

Whatever the cause is for developing narcissistic traits, we do know that narcissists find it very difficult to have any healthy or meaningful relationships–in either their personal or work life.

Psychological analysis of narcissist has revealed that on the outside, they look like they are assertive, arrogant, and full of confidence; but really they are anxious, suspicious, and sensitive.

Because a narcissist feels “small,” they find ways to make themselves look “big.”

Different Types of Narcissists

Narcissists can be divided into two large groups. Cast your eyes over the office for a second. You can probably spot a narcissist. Look for the person leaned against the wall, bragging about his new car and telling everyone how much he deadlifted at the gym this morning. He’s probably gesticulating wildly with his hands, standing a little closer to people than they are comfortable with, and speaking louder than is appropriate.

  1. This is the overt narcissist. This type of narcissist is easy to identify. They brag; they boast; they show-off.
  2. The covert narcissist, however, has the same selfish ulterior motives and the callous disregard for the feelings of others, but, at first glance, might seem the same as everyone else. These people are like chameleons. Instead of being loud and arrogant and obnoxious, they are more withdrawn and are easily overlooked as narcissists.

Where an overt narcissist will criticize people and put others down, the covert narcissist has more subtle mannerisms.

A covert narcissist may even try to pretend to be the victim, while they are trying to convince you that everything is your fault and nothing is their fault.

In the field of psychology, narcissists can be split into two similar groups–”grandiose” and “vulnerable” (also known as “hypersensitive”). Scientific studies on narcissists have shown that whether an individual is an extrovert or introvert will determine if their behavior is overt or covert, but, regardless, the root cause and emotions motivating the narcissist remain the same.

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Signs You’re Dealing with a Narcissist

You can usually tell if someone has narcissistic traits–though it might take longer if you are dealing with a covert narcissist.

One scientific study has actually suggested that the best way to identify a narcissist is to ask them how much they agree with the sentence “I am a narcissist” on a scale of 1 to 7. Strangely, narcissists do seem to be good at knowing they are narcissistic.

However, it’s rarely appropriate to ask someone this.

Instead, look out for these key signs to know if you are dealing with a narcissist. 

  • They often exaggerate their abilities–particularly their intelligence, power, or physical attractiveness.
  • They take advantage of people and then show no remorse.
  • They crave admiration and / or attention.
  • They become very jealous over minor things.
  • They are less likely to support democracy (according to this study).
  • They’re ultra-sensitive to criticism or anything they may consider as undermining them.
  • They demonstrate a short temper (particularly, they lash out if they feel criticized).
  • Narcissists also may lash out when they feel like they’re not getting special treatment.

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Weird Things Narcissists Do

You won’t ever truly be able to get into someone’s head to understand the ins and outs of their brain and why it works the way it works.

However, in addition to the above signs, you might be able to spot a narcissist–or someone with strong narcissistic traits–by being aware of some of the weird things narcissists do. 

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Immediately Appears to Trust and Confide in You

Whether he’s telling you about his messy divorce or the abusive relationship he had with his parents, the narcissist will give the impression that he deeply trusts you, and you are the only person he can talk to like this. 

These types of stories are designed to gain sympathy, force a feeling of intimacy, reel you into their lives.

(In relationships, this is known as love-bombing and should be seen immediately as a red flag.)

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Repeat ‘Secrets’ They Have Already Told You

Similar to the stories above but often more outlandish, and, unbelievably, a narcissist will also try to convince you they are telling you a top secret. Maybe they will say they used to be part of MI5, or something more subtle like saying they know two colleagues had an affair–or other over-inflated office gossip stories.

They tend to repeat these “secrets” (which are often–if not always–lies) because they are part of their canned stories designed to impress people by making themselves look great, or to divide people by making others look bad.

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How To Deal with a Narcissist

The chances are that you are reading this article because you are already dealing with a narcissist. I’ve put together some advice for how to keep healthy boundaries with people who have these traits.

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Don’t Take it Personally

Whether it’s a partner, an ex-partner, friend, colleague, or family member, having to deal with a narcissist–or somebody with narcissistic traits–can be challenging and hurtful. The first thing to remember is that this isn’t your fault.

A narcissist’s problem is within themselves–not a problem within you.

When you’re being berated and criticized, it can be difficult to not take this personally, but try to view the situation as if you were an outsider. Is this really all your fault? Is this person trying to manipulate you?

It takes some skill and perseverance to stop taking the attacks of a narcissist personally, but is one of the most vital skills in emotional intelligence, since as you will encounter people with these traits throughout your life.

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Set Boundaries

It’s okay to have friendships, even relationships with narcissists (remember, they are battling a mental health problem and we all have our flaws, yet still deserve to be loved). However, you need to be strong in setting your boundaries. Consider your own feelings and what you need to stay happy and healthy, and communicate your needs.

Perhaps this means limiting the time you can spend helping them or reassuring them, or maybe it means that the narcissistic colleague you have at work stays a friend only at work.

Establish these boundaries, and communicate them clearly: “Please, do not contact me after 6 p.m.; I have a family I need to spend time with after work” or “I am not comfortable with you swearing at me like that; you need to stop.”

Having your boundaries so clearly laid out and in writing, if possible, shows the narcissist that their tactics to control you are not working, and it also means that you can keep track of how many times they have disrespected you and overstepped a line.

In the workplace this can be an important step in recording unhealthy or damaging behavior toward you, since you have clear examples of when someone has overstepped your boundaries.

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Is Your Boss a Narcissist?

Working for a narcissistic boss can be particularly challenging.

While you’re likely to be able to control your friendships and relationships, it’s unlikely you get to choose who you have for a boss.

If your boss consistently takes credit for the work of others, constantly brags about how he is great at closing sales, and focuses conversations around himself and his own work, then it might be that you are in fact working with a narcissistic boss. If you’re not sure, scroll up to the list of symptoms and see if they sound like your manager.

Narcissistic bosses tend to be unpopular and rarely considered  good leaders, as their teams will often be demoralized and frustrated at having to deal with such a character. Unfortunately, there is little you can do other than keep up the spirits of the team when you have the emotional strength to do so, and keep asserting your boundaries with your boss.

Here are a couple of pointers to get you started

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Be the change you want to see

In the absence of healthy management, teams have to stick together and work even harder on team morale to foster a happier atmosphere. This means defending your colleagues when they are unfairly under attack from your narcissist boss, being kind to your team members and encouraging them, and continue trying to be your best self.

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Take time out when you need it

Excuse yourself for a few minutes when tensions have started to rise, and head outside for some fresh air and a walk around the block. You can’t control the emotions of your boss, but you can control your own emotions. If your boss has started to lose his temper with you, or is trying to guilt-trip you, firmly explain that you’re not comfortable with this.

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Keep your distance

It can be tempting to get your narcissistic boss on “your side,” but the chances this will happen are slim.

It’s usually better to keep people with strong narcissistic traits at arm’s length.

Instead of saying yes every time your boss invites you for lunch or for a drink after work because you have a sense of obligation, keep this type of socializing infrequent. Allowing yourself to get too close to someone who you know is manipulative only opens you up to manipulation yourself.

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Can narcissists change?

The short answer is yes, narcissists can change. However, there are many barriers that prevent them from seeking effective treatment. Since narcissists care so much about being seen as powerful, admitting they have a problem and actually wanting to change their behavior is usually the biggest obstacle in the way of a healthy future.

Additionally, since they tend to show little or no remorse or empathy towards other people, they are unlikely to want to be a better person for the sake of their loved ones and those close to them.

Instead, narcissists have to come to the understanding that their behavior is hurting themselves.

For change to occur, the narcissist must understand and accept these four key points…

  1. It is their own actions that are creating their own negative feelings.
  2. They must have reached a point where their behavior is making them so unhappy that they are motivated to change themselves.
  3. They have to accept that their behavior is a choice and they can choose to change (this is probably the hardest point here for narcissists to overcome).
  4. They must learn to recognize when they are making a damaging narcissistic choice and have the willpower to make a different decision (even when they are upset, angry, or feel like lashing out).

If someone can recognize these traits in themselves and actively seek help with their behavior, there is no reason a narcissist can’t change.

Now that you have this better understanding of narcissism, it’s time to take the tools and techniques from this article and keep them with you for the next time you face a narcissist.

74 replies on “How to Deal with Narcissists (Even Your Boss or Coworker)”

  1. Amanda Markel

    What can I do if I have been in a long term relationship with a person who has the narcissistic and narcism disorder it’s almost unbearable the way I’m treated verbally mentally and physically? Please I need some help and guidance!?

  2. pranesh

    I’ve a brother with this disorder and I don’t have any support. Even parents are believing what he says is right. Everyone in this world, people are not right at all the times. but, my parents think like that. Nowadays my life is like I’ve no reason to live. I’m tired off his shit torture. I was doing my work from home he’d sit simply and disturb me and that will be his routine job and he don’t even have an job. After that I’ll ask why are you telling this to me? after that he’ll start a fight and portray me as an bad person in front of all. Even parents also think like he’s right at all times. So, it’s like a key to him so that he can do any mistakes and they can forgive his mistakes.

  3. Alyssa B.

    I would love to see the article re-written with the subject narcissistic as a female, especially a female boss. I would argue they are more difficult to spot because people are more willing to believe many of the toxic traits are her strong sense of self and confidence. Truth is, they get away with it, they are loved by many because they can put on a show that not many people are used to seeing. Their toxic traits have been excused and allowed them to become master manipulators.

    With men, we see it all the time, it’s nothing new for society to see and roll our eyes at. Even in 2021, it is still far less common to have women in powerful positions. I would love to read how you may approach or handle a relationship with a narcissistic female boss, as I suspect this would be different than your stereotypical male narcissists road map.

    1. Kelly

      Yes! I have a female boss that cultivates a culture of fear. She will tear you down, and then the next day offers you praise. She doesn’t fit all of the characteristics of a narcissist and I am trying to figure out if that’s what she is or if it’s something else. She does to take credit for other people’s work, She just instills this overbearing sense of control and beratement. I have to continually remind myself that it’s not my fault. Good article.

  4. Semakaleng Mokoena

    I have a boss with the condition. Honestly before knowing about this condition, I was forever wondering with all the why? Why is she always taking credit from other peoples work and all the wrongs has to be blamed on someone, she is always correct and knows everything, always trying to put down the best workers, cannot accept the good deeds of other rather bring the bad experiences of those people.

    Cannot stand to see a team cooperating rather will dismantle with back chats…. A complete distraction of the organization.
    Since I know about the condition I’m in a better place to condition myself in her presence, expecting anything negative and I’m learning to control my emotions though it’s not easy.

    Being in a silent mode and not absorbing any negatives has made my work space a bit better though if she cannot access me she then uses other people whom are not aware of her personality challenge.

    Thanks for the article

  5. Jess.

    I feel like an anomoly. It seems to be a genetic disorder in my family. They all fall under the overt and covert narccasism spectrum. They ticked all the warning signs. (And on the covert side they guilt trip, manipulate, blackmail etc.) And have unhealed wounds/trauma/mental illnesses/alcoholic addiction they refuse to seek treatment for. Boundries are crossed all the time. My emotions are often rejected and demeaned. There is a sense of ‘respect your elders’ and children should be seen and not heard. So much so, that at a family gathering, I was shouted at/belittled/verbally abused over a tiny accident. And the rest of family blamed me when I stood up for myself. Makes me feel so alone. At 24, I’m a self healer, practically estranged from parents, because of reasons mentioned above and because of recovering from psychological abuse / complex trauma, ednos, depression and anxiety. Grew up as a parentified child to both my seperated parents listening to things no child should hear . Now my step sister is showing worrying signs of depression/social anxiety and after I left home at 16, she took ‘my place’ emotionally. She’s 14. We’re HSP’s too. So find it hard not to take on others emotions when we’ve been crafted to do so for survival, stop hoping they can change, wanting to help and heal. Any advice Vanessa on what to do and how to navigate that space? And help my sister too? I feel overwhelmed and find myself feeling like I cant take it anymore. Feel the weight of so much. And having to now help my sister to unlearn those voices not her own. Tempted to just go live in the woods somewhere as a hermit at this point haha. 😂 (Btw thank you for All the work you do Vanessa. It’s absoloutly fascinating and incredibly insightful.)

    1. Jay

      We all want to help our siblings in situations like this. Unfortunately, the only way they can truly get that help is to believe they need it and can see the things you are seeing. They may see what you are, but if they are too young to leave, they are trapped. Speaking as a victim of childhood abuse, I was in that position, and it took a very long time to break out of the damage it caused. I had no guidance along this path, and I started doing better with therapy and getting away from the negative influences in my life. I am not an expert by any means, but the best thing you can do is be sympathetic with your step sister and keep good vibes around without being overly positive or accidentally lessen the severity of/discredit their problems. Mental health can be tough because it isn’t about telling someone they have a problem, it is about processing things in a healthy manner as well as believing those problems exist so the person experiencing them actually can accept help.

  6. Tom

    I have come across some over the years . What they do is that they just listen to themselves and never try to listen what you have to say.Even If you’re going out with them they choose everything

  7. Laurie

    My narcissist husband turned me into a stay at home wife, but now complains about it?! He used me to watch his kids, bring him meals at work, drive him around, etc, etc. I have been there through doctors appts, his unstable work life, his non stop complaining about his exes, and me. I’ve grown to hate him, not interested in intimate physical relationship, due to his incessant LYING. HES stayed out all night for almost 2 months. I’m sure he was cheating. He denied, but a couple months later was told by a friend that he came up as her perfect match on a dating website. He controls how much money I get, or don’t get, doesn’t pay bills on time. He’s a deadbeat husband. He gets loans and starts fights before they are about to come through so he can go on shopping sprees. Never been taken on a vacation, a hotel, nothing. I understood when we got married years ago that I just go a gold band because he was poor, as he’d say, but looking back, it was just that he didn’t care, when he came into money, he only got me a cubic zirconia on EBay for $20., but he would buy himself a gun, and other high ticket items. Been with this sick condescending puppy for almost 15 years. I try to ignore him as much as possible. He only cares about computers, cell phones & porn. Needs new attention all the time. Supposedly has Adhd. I think it’s More like bi-polar but missing one component of it The majority of the time, so they say no. He is an obsessive compulsive, who even on his days off obsessives about rushing through things, even hurrying to unlock the door. He’s nuts, and it’s gotten worse over the years. He’s 51 and I’m 56. I’d save money if he’d give me more than just crumbs. Wish I’d never met this Loser. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I find all of your post describes what I go through. Thanks for being out there! ❤

  8. I have just realised my neighbour of thirty years is a narc. Over the years I have let her get away with slights and lies , one of which was directed at my grandsons appearance. It is done in such a way that you think you must have imagined it. Some of the fanciful lies I have been told defame her husband who has no idea she has told me that. One of the lies involved me signing paperwork in regards to said lie by ommission. I asked her “if I would lose my house over it” as a joke. I later on, five years, found she had bought an investment property a couple of streets over!. I only signed the paper!. She had gastruc banding and because of the dramatic weight loss I couldnt not comment. She then told me she went to dietician and went on a diet. The thing is I already knew about it and didnt pull her up on it because she is very vain and only dud it because her two daughters had lost a lot of weight also due to gastric banding for which was her fault they had to have the operation in the first place…they were competition as far as she was concerned so overfed them.. she is overtly ckass consuious and every friend that lasts 2 years are better off financially than her with all the bling. There is always some bust up whereby you never know the full story but it is because she oversteps the boundarys with them. She then tells me she is “dissappointed” in them. While she is being best friends with these women she keeps a low prifile with me and it took me a while to notice the pattern. I think they are cheating on Centerlink but you could never prove it due to the nature of the living arrangement, but it is all to do with keeping up appearances rather than admit your in trouble financially in your 60s and downgrade to a less expensive home, she would rather risk ending up in goal instead. She lied to my face that her husband had a sexual encounter with someelse as a backstory to backup the fact her husband is getting old age pension…but she works. The piece de resistence for me was the fact that I heard a heated argument one night next door between their daughters boyfriend abusing her husband. I told my daughter I had heard this blowup in confidence. Without going into more sordid details it got back to my neighbour that we heard the argument . Well it was a screaming match actually and the language durected at the hysband was out of order because the man is not a well man. It didnt go down ti well that she knew I heard it all. She and the daughter thought I was being a nosy neighbour but unfirtunately I have hearing. It was a bit wkward after that but it caused a bit of a soyr tadte in my mouth because fir years I have been lied and my intelligence insulted like im a freaking idiot and I hear one bloody feral argument and Im out if line???. Well there son was getting married and we have always socialised together for 30 years almost ,plus we got invite to engagement so thought due to ettiquette we would get invite to Wedding. I didnt think much about it and then my husband announced a few weeks ago all of a sudden out of the blue that he was going to their sons bucks with her husband and another friends husband. My husband looked at me and asked when the wedding was. I said baffled that I didnt know I dont have an invite. Well my husband goes ti the bucks and this other husband would definately have been invited as would everyone at the bucks night. My husband wouldnt enbarrass my neighbours husband like that so didnt say anything. The thing was my neighbours husband didnt bloody know we werent invited!!!. He just assumed we were . Im livid. How rude of my neighbour to do that to my husband. Im furious actually with her. She put my husband in a shithouse situation and I reckon she did it on purpose. I know her husband didnt know. That is what is burning me that deception..the non wedding invite im not even worried about. The whole reason she did that is because we know too much because we live right next door to them and if we did indeed go we could show her up by inadvertently dropping a few bombshells innocently. We have been drilled before by their friends who dont know if what they have been told is the truth. Thirty years and we are just discarded like nothing. AND shes disappointed!

  9. Jenn

    I have just had the courage to tell mine to leave me alone today. Over the years when she phones she picks terrible times and because she has time to sit on the phone for an hour automatically thinks you can also. Conversations usually about her boyfriend, and his cancer and OxyContin addiction. I survived cancer 4 years ago myself after a brutal treatment regime, which she knows about, and she has no idea that I may not want to discuss the topic so much because she is incapable of putting herself in someone’s place to see how they might feel. She had no interest in how I was and as a matter a fact I told her things numerous times but the next times, (only because she’s asked). I spoke with her she had forgotten what I said and only remembered where she was up to with news of her own life. She used to phone twice a week but I told her it was too often and so she put me on ice for 6 months to teach me a lesson. Started calling again a couple of weeks ago, same old thing. Then, trying to be kind to her, and thinking if I invited her over we could have a laugh and different conversation for a change. She cancelled on me 3 times and on the 3rd time tried to reschedule for a forth. When I told her it was fine if she cancelled again but I couldn’t make another time for a visit for a while, she bombarded me with phone calls and texts telling me why she can’t drive and wanted to phone me to tell me the “the long story”. I immediately said no. Don’t make the plans in the first place! I had bought food for her visit which is now sitting in my fridge going rotten. Her only interest in me is getting me on the phone when she’s bored or lonely. She HATES texting and I found the reason is because she can’t engage me. Most my texts are making quick plans or a quick hello. I think of the countless hours this woman has sapped out of me to gain sympathy, cure her Bordem and vent and it truely makes me ill. If you have anyone like this in your life, get rid of them. Completely toxic and selfish and before you know it, you are left feeling like I am. That I was mean and abusive for being assertive. They thrive on the way they make you feel.

  10. Dan

    I haven’t heard about Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) before, thanks for helping me widen my horizons 🙂

  11. Buzz

    I had a friend, and the more I was around him the more I found out he was narcissistic. At first I just thought he was windy. I had a small business deal with him for a couple of years. Finally I distant myself from him. But it did not take much for him to get mad. He would also exaggerate everything. He’s in his 60’s and was a successful person. Come to find out, when he was about 6 years old his father left him and his 2 sisters. Finally his mother could not take care of them, so she put them in an orphanage. His 2 sisters got adopted while he spent another 2 years in the orphanage without any visits from his sisters. He finally got taken out by a farm couple. But I think what happened to him when he was young is what caused him to become narcissistic and the need for constant attention.

  12. Mary

    Its is my opinion that people who have a giving, kind nature and who show great concern towards others attract these type of people, they do not know unconditional love they know a love that means using one, when their needs are not met are they are done using you that is when you get ignored until possibly the next time……………… when people show you who they are the first time, believe them, do not try to repaint them

  13. Mary

    I have been involved with a guy in Canada who has for the past eight years put me on a roller coaster ride. I am thee only person who is supportive towards him, his always the victim, no matter how hard one tries to come up with solutions for his endless issues he enjoys been the victim, its always everyone else who is to blame. He lack empathy with me, he is not at all supportive, it goes about him. He disappears often and then returns with lies, saying he was in jail for assault which one finds out is not true, or he was in hospital and had a stroke, we live in different towns, thankfully, he is very abusive with his mouth at times, he is always right and everyone else is always wrong, his two faced, he is different in public to what he is in private, he is a liar, he cheats, but accusses me of affairs something I am not doing, if you down or ill he laughs at you but when he is ill he demands great care and support. These type of people do not understand unconditonal love, they understand a love as long as they can use you, if they cannot use you you do not hear from them until the next time when they need help, they toxic people and evil, they will not change as much as one believes they will, the person who is the most supportive towards him that been myself is the most abused and neglected, time to move one and forget this waste of a skin truth…………….

  14. Jess

    How would you like it if you won an award, your name is announced, and someone loudly proclaims “That’s my student! I taught her everything she knows!” and even escorts you to receive your award….when NO ONE ELSE in these competitions ever has that happen. Suppose this happens not once but a number of times, and when you ask him not to do that anymore, you are met with sulking and later, arguments because after all, he was just proud of you, he was just having fun? Never mind that he wins his own awards in these competitions, Never mind that you are so thrilled when your name is called and this is YOUR personal honor that you’ve earned, your time to enjoy. Those things don’t matter to a narcissist. He has also done this to friends and acquaintances as well. And this situation is just a drop in the bucket compared to the times I have endured with a man who insists on being the center of attention in the least little situations…..eating at a restaurant, shopping at a supermarket, sightseeing on vacation, visiting with relatives….you name it. It’s exhausting, embarrassing, annoying, and it sucks the life out of you. It will never, ever be about you, it will always be about him and his feelings. And if you’re not careful, you will wake up one day and realize that a large piece of you is gone and you will struggle to try and get it back. If you’re young and you find yourself with one of these people, RUN. They disguise themselves very well at first. If you don’t know them well, you will find them engaging, charming and a laugh a minute. Spend enough time in a relationship with one and you will realize what you’re dealing with…..insecurity personified. Again…..RUN. It’s not worth it.

  15. Peyton

    After being single for almost a decade (just wanted to raise my children without chaos) I fell in love with what I now unfortunately know to be a narcissist. He was amazing at first, the most charming man I had ever met in my entire life! He said I was The one! Talked about getting a house together, possibly adding another child to the mix, and spending eternity together. Then it was like a light switch flipped, he went from Jeckyl to Hyde in the blink of an eye. Luckily for me I had some experiences with people in my life who had chemical imbalances or other personality disorders so I was on to him right away but just thought he was bi polar which is hard to handle but I’ve done it before and I loved this man and was in it for the long haul so I tried. Over the next few months my life was a roller coaster, the downs were terrible, so terrible I ended up on an anti depressant for the first time in my life. The ups were so minuscule but I would take just about any bone he would throw me, it was enough to keep me hanging on. I was so depressed, confused, and thought something was wrong with me. One of the things he sweet talked me with in the beginning was what a great listener he was and how important it is to have communication and that if I ever needed to talk about anything he was there for me. However everytime I wanted to talk, he would ignore me, had I dare tried again he would get irate or break up with me, it was so devastating. We were together for about a year, I never met one friend or family member of his, never saw him on a weekend, blew me off every holiday, and he lived 3 streets away! If I saw him under his conditions, he was extremely sweet and spoke to me so politely. Everything was under his control, if I so much as touched him the wrong way he would grab my wrists or snack my hand away. He was so sweet but so cruel at the same time, this had me so confused. No one understood why I didn’t confront him, I didn’t either, i would have such angry conversations with him in my head but when id see him he was so sweet so I was afraid to bring things up and always felt like I walked on eggshells with him. He let me hang onto him for months with just text messages, finally I just couldn’t do it anymore, we never actually broke up, I thought he’d realize my worth after being apart and realize no other woman would tolerate him like I did but he moved on immediately and within 5 months bought a house with someone, I should have known, he was eyeing me up while he was with his last girlfriend still, he bounces from one relationship to another in a heartbeat. At first I was so hurt but realized this new woman is in for the ride of her life, he needs her for personal reasons that I’m not going to get into but I’m assuming that’s why he rushed her into a house, he had to hurry before she saw him with his mask off!!! I normally laugh and smile all the time, the past 2 years of my life I have not laughed or smiled much, have been so depressed and can almost see a black cloud every time I pass him on the road etc. this man was like venom to me, yet I didn’t want to let him go. After reading a ton on victims of narcissistic abuse, I’ve realized everything I felt was common and now everything makes perfect sense to me. This has been my rode to recovery! There are several key points highlited over and over in all the research I’ve done (and I’ve done a lot!). 1. There is absolutely nothing you or anyone can do for these people ever, so RUN, run like your hairs on fire! 2. No Contact is the ONLY way to start the healing process 3. It is NOT you! 4. They worship and charm you then they Devalue, destroy and discard and have zero remorse. Surround yourself with good quality friends and family and get these Toxic people out of your life for Good!

  16. Teresa Hartley

    I lived with a narcissist for three years ..first few months were like heaven ,he was charming ,loving and made me feel so special…virtually overnight he changed -became moody said I was suffocating him and that he needed space ,started going out at nights ,using computer and hiding his phone ,lies and cheating even with family members in cahoots etc ..made me feel like nothing I can describe ,he used exs to sleep with and then turned back on the charm with me -ashamed to say I was one of those sad people who thought I could make a.difference if I stood by him ..I always looked back to the initial stage of our ‘love’..only after two suicide attempts did I finally read about narcissism and then it hit home ..I was one of his harem !!..I left but still answered the intermittent calls and text for a further two years before I finally realised if I wanted some sort of life I had to just let him go …still think of him even now and still scared for the people he is yet to meet …that’s my experience of surviving a relationship with a narcissist. ..please just go can’t help him but you can save yourself x

  17. sweet

    Its so sad to think the majority of women put up with so much bad behaviour . I have been with my partner for just under three years. He moved in earlier this year, i had my reservations about how conflict was resolved. Which i voiced to him. The worst thing i do in our relationship is a couple of days quiet when im annoyed (yes i know i should do something about it) but does that excuse the being screamed and shouted at the finger pointing in my face. The total lack of empathy, he will not even acknowledge how i feel about anything, i just get told that i am diverting the conversation away from me (as at the time he is having a major go at me). Its all about how he feels, my feelings do not matter. At the moment we are in the all i am getting is sarcastic comments, i can tell he is angry, but what do i say, i am told what i say is [email protected] and what i say is wrong. I can tell he is waiting for me to say something but what can i say.
    Two nights ago he moved into my spare room, i still do polite i ask him if he wants dinner i just get a no or “dont put yourself out”. Its his birthday Thursday i have arranged for us and his four other friends to go to dinner, i have ordered a jacket that i know he will like. At the moment i am just trying to keep busy he doesn’t come home till late then sits in my spare room. Like i am the devil, like i have wronged him so badly. The worst thing is waiting for him to come home, my stomach churns to the point i am almost shaking because i know inevitably i am going to get my head chewed off spat out and trodden on. Because thats how its always been.

    1. Joseph Brian Adcock

      Do yourself a favor – leave the relationship quickly.

      Set a realistic time line to physically separate *not under the same roof – and within 2 weeks*

      Work out all money matters with your partner – but the second the next tantrum comes – walk away and have either a trusted friend or paid attorney contact them for resolutions with real property, liquid cash/any investments.

      Do not look backward – it sounds like the bad definitely outweighs the good and unfortunately each day you waste – is nothing but doing yourself – and your very short life here among us a serious disservice. Think about it – I have had so many friends die lately never having been or known themselves and what it’s like to be “good” with you and healthy in your own head. Just don’t look in the rear view – take whatever good or lessons learned and move swiftly and deliberately forward with YOUR life. Your partner today – they aren’t your partner. You owe it to yourself to get yourself healthy and it starts with eliminating toxic people. Sorry to say it but you should probably think about adopting the mentality of “forward thinking for me” only! Best of luck to you.. 🙂

  18. Jackie

    I have come to realize my husband is a NPD too. I like this blog because all the other information out there always describes the narcissists as a person who is hostile. I haven’t seen this yet and it would surprise me because I associate anger as someone who gives a dam! Plus so far everything is going his way so no need for anger yet. He just started to go back into working for himself and he needs me to do all his paperwork and have been doing a lot for his business. I don’t asked to be paid all I ask from him is to go on vacation for a few days. This shouldn’t be such a big deal but when we did go on vacation (our anniversary) he just sat there!!!! He wouldn’t do anything unless I flat out told him lets go here, when and where!! If I did do this we would do nothing! He was no interest in anything that isn’t about him PERIOD!!! I look back and I have realized that we have never had intimacy in any other way than sex! Never shared any hopes and dreams with me! He will hold my hand out of habit but that’s it!! What has really made me stand up and take notice was 2 things:
    1st my dog died and her and I spent a lot of time together and sadly I realized she was the only one who cared about me!!
    2nd I have health serious concerns and when I mention anything about my health and look over at him all I get is a blank expression…NOTHING…No CONCERN FOR MY WELL BEING…NOTHING!!!!!

    Once when I was choking and he was sitting right next to me I was struggling to catch my breath!!! He never showed any concern any emotions!! After a few minutes I started to think about that and then I started to get anger “WHY DID YOU JUST SIT THERE” most people would had felt worried… NOTHING!!! All he said was ” OH I HAD YOUR BACK!” I said how?!! He said had I lost consciousness he would have given me CPR.. He said that with no emotions! Even my choking wasn’t about me it was a his moment for him to prove himself again nothing about my well being!!

    But anyways I never though of showing the empathy card I guess because I feel like I am disappearing more and more in this relationship and GIVING YET MORE IS SOOOO MUCH TO ASK FOR!!

  19. Eric

    I just got into a relation ship with what I assume now is a narcissist and I feel in love with her but she’s driving me crazy. She won’t shut up and when I try to talk I only get about three words in and she cuts me off. It doesn’t matter what I am doing it drives her crazy to the point she will do about anything to get my attention. I wrote her a twenty three page letter explaining what was going on and how she made me feel. The only reason she was able to read it is because it was about her. I can deal with all of it but the constant talking and attention. I’m going insane. Is there any kind of medicine. If I’m ride then will that change anything. She’s been through relationships that didn’t work and now I’m wondering why so I even thought about turning the tables and being a narcissist myself. Suggestions?? Anyone…

  20. becca

    I have a really annoying friend. She is so obsessed with herself, she is a great actress but she can be really very ‘full of herself ‘ I don’t want that. But every time I try to talk to her she always goes on to a strop and really is very unkind.

    for example: When I was discussing with my friend (will not be named) I told her that she was a good friend and that out of a lot of people I am greatly happy to be her friend and that I trust her by far. My other friend (the narcissist) ears dropped on my conversation and started to clam shut, she ate her food in silence and ignored everyone until me all asked her what was wrong. Then she had a drama attack and said “So I can’t be trusted than, no one trusts me,” . I got angry because it was a private conversation and even my other, other friend who I had know for 10 years had the courtesy to not listen and interact. The narcissist was so upset and I was angry. She has a tendency of bringing her personal life into this and saying that her life is great and her life also sucks (doesn’t make sense) then she said that I was disrespectful. I when I grow up want to be a psychiatrist and I read things to boost my knowledge, I’ve read only 1 book on the subject and she claims that I am a self less person apparently a condition in psychiatry, she told me that I wasn’t a physiatrist yet and I should stop analysing people when I wasn’t. She drags her personal stuff in the argument to make the people she’s arguing with feel guilty and stop but I know as a fact I am stubborn. she then mentions about my friend that backstabbed me and gossiped, that same week I lost all my friends because of her but she (the narcissist) said her life at school was worst.
    we have a band together along with someone else so we practised in the piano room, our pianist went away to let us sort this out and so we talked. She thought that I in the wrong even though she ears dropped on my conversation, blamed me, and now wanted to accuse me of hurting her feelings. She kept talking and didn’t let me answer and only explained from her perspective. She thinks she did nothing wrong! And were still at this argument. what should I do?

  21. Liam Hayes

    I have had some encounters with narcissism in my life. Currently in my life, none of my close relationships are with a narcissist. I would agree that they likely would resist change.

  22. Donna B

    My husband is every bit of a narcissists abuser, he has literally drained me of my energy, he has knock the hell out of me.. I feel so belittle, stomped, beat, and drained.. My self worth I fight each day to regain it back!! Fighting back with him, is so useless, I have stop answering all his phone calls, it gets him home that night when I don’t answer his calls and he has to drive 2 and half hours back to work in the wee hours of the morning.. I will have to leave unannounced and take myself and our son to a shelter for women, to get away from him.. My children from a previous marriages does not like him at all.. My oldest daughter he has so much ugliness about her and my grandchildren.. I have anxiety attacks and I am stress to the moon.. Practically I have rebel against everything he ask out of me.. This has been going on for 14 years!! I can no longer live this way.. It will be the death of me!

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hi Donna, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Please know that we are here for you. Virtual hugs your way!

      Danielle | Science of People Team

  23. Rita Hemingway

    HI, All,
    I have a friend who is very narcissistic! She continuously talks about herself. If any conversation is going it ALWAYS has to revolve around her, what she does, says, where she goes, her family and she very rarely lets anyone turn the conversation around, so much so that it gets very boring and it is now getting on my nerves. We are due to go on holiday soon and I don’t want to fall out with this lady and ruin the holiday so can anyone PLEASE give me any advice on how to handle this situation. We do clash as friends and this really is not jealousy, I would much rather listen to other people as well as her.

  24. Bridget Cameron

    I find that using empathy and compassion with narcissists always just leads them on to keep the conversation and action resolving around them, and leads to the dynamic of becoming the rescuer, which is not at all conducive to the empath/sensitive who is trying to care for them. Being a rescuer, only leads to be used ( to provide narcissist supply), abused ( when you touch the topic of truth about the reality of subjects related to them, or of being used- which happens due to being drained from getting nothing in return- which the narcissist expertly turns around and directs it back upon the carer, or when they feel that you are a threat to them being in ‘control’ even if you are the best person to take control in a life/death situation!). The best way to deal with narcissists it to leave them alone, keep way away from them, and if you have to be with them for any reason, just throw compliments and flattery at them, as this way you will not be exposed to their toxicity! Then, run… get out of there quickly, cause they will forget about you the moment you are not around to boost them up, and do things for them, as to them a person that ‘supplies’ is an extension of themselves, and do you want to be an extension of them?

    1. Joi83

      Perfect summary! This is literally what I went through with a close friend. I cannot even begin to tell the story b/c it’s too long but you definitely covered all bases. I kept getting drawn in thinking I was being a good friend and thinking that I couldn’t abandon her like so many others had but it took me researching this disorder to finally accept that this is indeed what she suffers from and there is really nothing that I can do. It’s beyond draining. All you can do is pray for them and keep it moving…less interaction really is best. Sucks but it’s the truth.

  25. Robby Smith

    This is an interesting article. I did not know there was an actual diagnosis for narcissistic people. thank you for the research as I now know how to deal this type of person.

  26. Michael Readman

    I agree with peter. Narcissists are often unable to love anyone other than themselves. They are best avoided than understood. There is no reward that will come from attempting to understand and please a narcissist. The most experienced of practitioners and psychiatrists understand this concept – though many of them will never admit to it. Conclusively, you have to limit the amount of affection and empathy you give to a person who does not understand reciprocity – otherwise they will just drain you dry.

    This woman does not understand what it is like to actually deal with a narcissist . She is just regurgitating the same rigmarole most college students read in their textbooks these days. Narcissists know that how they behave hurts others around them, but refuse to change because it takes too much effort for them. Some narcissists deserve to have their insecurities thrown at them, especially if they are intentionally hurting you after you’ve already openly told them their behavior hurts your feelings. If you really want to psychologically shake a narcissist, The worst thing you can say to them is that they are average, or below average or to put them in a situation where they are reliant on you for validation – then let them down . They will try to hide a reaction behind the “mask” they’ve created to hide expressions, but look at their blinking patterns and you will see that what you are saying is getting to them.

    I’ve dealt with narcissists, drug addicts, autistics, bi polars and schizophrenics. I’ve been through hell and back. Do I regret the people i’ve dated? Of course not. There was a time when they broke me down, but now if another one of them try to stand in my way – they will be at the mercy of my sword crafted from experience and knowledge.

    that’s all i have to say, may the rest of you learn to slay the evil that is out there. Good luck on your journeys.

    1. Lola

      Wow I can’t appreciate your comment enough! I’m married to a man that’s a full blown Narcissist and I know he takes so much pleasure seeing me hurt, disappointed, and lost. He’s so manipulative, condescending and arrogant to an unbearable level. Everything argument and all the wrong in our marriage is solely my fault, according to him. He lack empathy, understanding, and support for me. I can’t even go to him to a concern without him saying I’m trying to argue. I can have a heart to heart conversation with this man!Lately, I’ve decided to fight fire with fire and turn the script on him. I’ve started to treat him exactly the same way he treats me. And surprisingly I don’t feel sorry or remorse cause I know he will say or do things to hurt and won’t give a damn, so why should I give a damn about his feelings. I get a smirk everything he does not and I feel he knows what he’s doing. Never remorseful or apologetic even when confronted. So now let the game begins. Two can play that narcissistic game!

  27. Joe

    Behavioral Investigator. Why imply integrity to what is considered nosy, then to publish findings as educational information, gossip monger

  28. Joe

    The general interest level and academic approach is great for people unscathed by such topics that are really just entertained and amused with gossip level criteria. But to rely on the info for any worth other than entertainment gossip is assumptive expectation and foolish. I won’t even bother to directly reason with it for more, just thought I would say so for anyone on the idea of throwing empathy in where non is noticed other than another means to exploit. Your human nature, and that of others is used against you interpersonally in cunning manipulative ways undermining normal expectations, roles, emotions, personality traits, integrities to keep the narcissistic supply is second nature for the narcissistic and often they don’t even realize it so they are truley uneffected by what they do seemingly remorseless even when repeatedly demonstrated as such they enjoy the repeated distress and power to cause it relying on your empathy and compassion to remain as a source of validation to their false self valuation. It’s non-negotiable only remolded into the same theme reissued continually deceptive and incalculably to ones deficit. Offering empathy best not be tied to reality because theirs no sympathy. Offer sympathy but do nothing you don’t to for your own self. “What your personal passion project?” Is a red flag question to me of a gossip.

    1. Donna Bullard

      Not to be picky, but your condescending undertones coupled with obfuscating verbiage begs the question: what are you trying to accomplish? Having a mediocre vocabulary and knowing how to wield it are not the same thing. I can not decipher if your intent is to belittle the reader or belittle their abusive narcissist, Or is it just to hear yourself talk.

      I wouldn’t comment if I thought your intent was non-malignant. It seems like you want to blame the victim rather then the abuser. If I have the wrong idea, I apologize. However, if that’s the feeling I get from the construct of your sentences and the use of your vocabulary, well……,then…….? Maybe you’re seeking praise? Idk. Just didn’t like the obfuscation and moralizing with obvious superiority.

      Still in recovery from a sociopathic narcissist —-

      Is that oxymoronic? Or a redundant term??

  29. elliefrost

    There are some narcissists that you cannot just walk away from; like a parent or child. All you can do is work on your own issues and set boundaries. And be nice and understand where they are coming from. I appreciate this article.

  30. I have someone in my world who’s a narcissist but it took a long time for me to realize it. For quite a while I supposed I was earning her trust and when that happened, she’d finally show some interest in me for a change. Obviously that never happened and ultimately I was exhausted by the one way relationship.

    Funny thing is, I felt bad about stepping away from the relationship – thinking I might be hurting her feelings.

    Silly me… she probably never noticed! LOL!

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hi Kelly, thank you for sharing your experience! It can be very difficult to leave the relationship, because it’s natural to want to continue trying to make it a two-way street. Sometimes, removing yourself (like you did) is the healthier alternative! -Danielle and the Science of People Team

    2. Patrick R

      It is very tough to deal with a narcissist. In general they are very unhappy people because they know something is wrong, but due to the very nature of narcissism they will never admit it. Since the disorder itself prevents them from ever admitting they have a problem or are ever wrong about anything, they will never get better or change. That is why it is best to leave them alone/ get away and stay away.

      1. caroleann2

        Very true. They will never seek help. If they were forced to go to a shrink they would just try to manipulate him/her. It would never work, just a complete waste of money and time. Escape from the narcissist and save yourself.

    3. amanda rodriguez

      Kelly I had a friend like this and it completely broke my heart to end the friendship. We had a mutual friend that she thought was on drugs and on my birthday at dinner she brought it up. I reassured her it was merely stress that had black circles around his eyes because he had just lost his job. She took the conversation from the table and went back to her boyfriend and told him. Her boyfriend who is a friend of his went back and told him everything that was said at the table. My friend had called me thinking I had went and said something negative about him and I told him the truth I informed him of how the conversation started and how she brought it up and my mind was blown because she had blamed everything on me. Later on that evening she called me asking me why I was talking about her. If I was her friend why am I speaking about her behind her back. She told me friends don’t act this way and that I was a screwed up individual. At this point I was pissed off I have always defended her I have always been there for her and at this time it dawned on me that she was out of control. I told her she needed to stop playing the victim because that was her favorite roll. I told her that she took a misunderstanding and made it into something bigger. I told her that until she realized all the drama she had caused she and I do not need to speak……. I haven’t heard from her and that was almost 2 years ago

  31. Peter Mizla

    The lady is obviously misinformed. Narcissists- at least those diagnosed with the Personality disorder- are almost impossible to deal with in a relationship. What she suggests is give someone like this endless unconditional love and empathy- while you the partner get little to nothing. Leaving one drained, with a diminished self esteem- and no sense of self. This lady may be ‘book smart’ but has no real life experience dealing with clinical narcissists or psychopaths- both which are destructive people.

    1. chasburf

      She astutely points out that this not a black and white disorder, but like most things, is a spectrum or continuum of behavior. I didn’t get from her that it was advisable to deal with people who are at extreme end of the scale…she didn’t use her time to offer any advice on that in this brief segment. In addition, there are various causes of narcissism. For instance, I recently learned quite a lot about people with Asperger’s Syndrome, also a condition that shows up in a wide spectrum. This is a mild form of autism where the brain is actually physically different. These people are usually very intelligent and creative, and even though they have a hard time not focusing on their personal world to the relative exclusion of the world of others, they are rarely hurtful or harmful or manipulative like other kinds of narcissists can often be. You expect too much in 6 minutes, and common sense would dictate that her advice is intended for friends, family members, and other acquaintances who merely have a leaning or tendency toward these conditions.

    2. Thinkmore

      I agree. She doesn’t have any education in this – when you read her profile) so why would she be an authority on narcissism?

    3. Jen

      The man I married 3 years ago is not the same man I met. I have researched this personality disorder over and over. It appears my husband displays so many narcissistic traits and I am getting so very exhausted, and he will definitely deny he has narcissistic traits. He says he loves me, but I do not see it as unconditional love. And, with so much verbal abuse over the past few years, I no longer feel the love I once felt for him. He doesn’t see any of this and everything seems to be my fault, of course. I do not know how much longer I can deal with this. I am not sure if I need to try to continue to work it out with him or just give up and suggest divorce?? I am now beginning to lean towards the later as I am exhausted with the roller coaster ride of this marriage. I feel as though I am wasting my life and could end this marriage and go have fun with people who do not want to argue over everything that isn’t always mutually agreeable subjects/feelings/situations. I miss the old me that was so carefree, easy-going, happy and having lots of laughter in my life.

      1. Matty

        Hi Jen, you poor thing, I too have a Narc and they are truly exhausting, demoralizing and sometimes dangerous to be around. Its your hubby who has tried to destroy your soul to make himself feel better, that’s why you are feeling like you have lost yourself in this relationship. If you get away from him time will heal you and I promise you will laugh again and feel true love. Be careful when you leave him, as this is the worst type of rejection you can put on a Narc, to walk out on him, so maybe do it in secret. Good luck and remember Narcs are master manipulators.

      2. John

        Hi Jen, I read your story several times to make sure I understood everything you had to say. I’m so sorry for all that you’ve been through and all that you’re going through now. I feel as if I know your feelings of exhaustion because I just went through this with my wife of ten years. May I suggest as was suggested to me .. try writing down all of the symptoms that your husband is displaying towards you on a regular basis. Then read the book called Walking on Eggshells. If you’re a fast tracker as a think you may be, skip the book and get the companion workbook. Compare your written observations with those in the workbook. Let me prepare you. It’s a harsh reality. The best situation would be if you were the source of the problems and not your husband, because you could and would fix you – right?!! You can’t fix somebody else. Once this reality sinks in .. read about your options in the workbook – because as you described, you know you have options. Okay, I’ll fast track it for you. You can simply do nothing and let things remain as they are right now. This as you know will diminish your own happiness and lower your self-esteem even further as much as you think that’s not humanly possible. You can try making changes in yourself to help ease the pain and exhaustion that you’re feeling now, but still never addressing the real problem – your husband. And so the status-quo remains and your personal happiness remains significantly compromised. You can get your husband to accept the fact that he has some issues and hope that he gets some much needed help. Be hopeful that he does, but know that often times spouses who have personality disorders, specifically narcissistic personality disorder and even borderline personality disorder can become extremely resentful at the fact that you would insinuate that ‘they’ are the source of the problems when clearly in their own narcissistic minds – you are the problem. They can and will make your life so much more miserable as much as you think that’s not humanly possible. Or lastly – you can get out. Mind you this needs to be given a lot of careful, private consideration so that you take the actions needed to keep yourself safe and protected – physically and financially. Never assume. Know this — if you do decide to get out, it will be very sad. But once you have made the decision – know that it needs to be clear cut – a ‘no going back’ decision. Now here’s the good part. If you’ve done all of your homework, your life will instantly start becoming so much better! No – I mean it. A can of soup eaten will sitting on the floor of an unfurnished apartment in front of a 12 inch portable TV without being criticized — it will be the best soup you’ve ever tasted! No longer will you have to endure the criticisms and all of the blame that you are now. No longer will you feel so exhausted. Good friends and good family will surround you. You will find yourself smiling more, then crying, then smiling more and more. You will discover new friends and have new and fun experiences – all without the criticism and blame that you are experiencing now. Never in my life have I experienced such sadness while staying with my wife – and so much happiness after having gone our separate ways. Please know – no matter what you decide – I wish you all the happiness that you so richly deserve. -John

      3. karen

        I Also am married to someone with the same character traits. Hes never wrong and he talks and talks. He doesnt know when to let things go He never sees his wrong. Even our children hates talking to him because he physically and mentally drains us. After having a conversation about corn bread, he takes something small and makes it big. He thinks he knows everything about everytging. I have tried to be a good wife.He will take a simple ten minute conversation and turn it into a3 hour session. Afterward you are drained and often wish you never started an innocent conversation about the weather. And was sad he does it with are young kids. We have 4 boys. When he starts the long talks my sons just have a look of discuss on their face. Hes wearing his family

      4. karen

        I also thought about divorce. I feel like im on eggshells with him because I never know what might cause him get off on nonstop conversation.

      5. Linda

        Thank you John for your summary of how to handle a Narc… Mine (my ex-daughter in law) tipped me into suicide, I was in a coma for a week, and in recovery for a month… I lost my hair and had to learn to walk again. The thing is, I’ve talked to my psychiatrist about it, and he ignores me, even tho I’m immersed in this situation. He needs to read what you wrote. But I can’t get away from her because she is the mother of my only two grandchildren, and I am so bonded to them that they are my life. The meanness and attacks and disrespect are killing me 🙁 I feel like her attacks are unspeakable, and horrific! It’s not just me- she treats everyone this way, and can’t keep a job or a boyfriend. My son won’t even mention her name, and that helps him, but I miss my grandkids so much. I’m retired and side-lined, except when I see the kiddos, they think I’m the cat’s meow.

      6. caroleann2

        Jen, run for the hills! Get out while you still have a thread of self esteem left. You can never change or fix a narcissist. Let him be someone else’s problem. He will cry and beg you to stay and tell you how wonderful you are but it’s all just a manipulation to get you to stay, to get his way. If you leave, he’ll replace you quickly with another poor woman who will be his next victim.

      7. Rebecca.

        I am in the exact situation as you Jen. We’ve been married going on three years and he is also, not the man I married. I am so exsaugsted. He scares me and drains all of my self worth. Good luck!

      8. Caylee

        I feel ya, Jen. And I have been in a marriage like this for over 25 years! I finally decided to set some boundaries, threatened to leave (just until I healed my mind some, and in the meantime he could get help), but he flipped out and all of a sudden flipped it around to act like he needed to leave me!!

    4. Yonatan777

      She has done a great job identifying the traits of a textbox narcissist. However, I do agree with Peter that her solutions in dealing with them leave a lot to be desired. I do believe that to a very small degree, trying to be empathetic a bit and helping them identify problems is a good start. However, in the end, these people need to learn to be more compassionate, respectful and take time to be considerate about others.

      Narcissist Personality DIsorder really is just a more psychological catch term for a very typical phenomenon in the realm of humanity , known as being “self-centered”, “proud”, “arrogant’ , “conceited” or a mixture of any of these traits. Bad behavior needs to be amended, not condoned and accepted.

      Maybe, she was not so clear in her discussion, due to being rushed on her solutions to dealing wiht a narcissist. It sounds like she believed such a person cannot have a normal relationship, but needs someone to help them resolve issues that lead to the problem.

      I would like a deeper explanation of her solution or maybe look deeper into what she discusses before I make a conclusion.

    5. Deborah Ann Finn

      Im in a narcisstic relationship. Im a giver and he just takes and takes and takes. I just put my cat to test and the only thing he could say is whomis going to care for my feelings snd who is going to see me cry. Not once did he mention my cat or how I feel. Its just all about him all the time. I also think he is schizophrenic with bizarre personality disorders. I sm freaked out. Plus he manipulates at all times. Its all about how things appear to others. He tries to humiliate me in public in front of others to make himself look better. I find the older he gets the worse its getting. Plus he is a hoarder. I am very afraid of him. What do I do to get awat? Help!

    6. Caylee

      Peter, I agree with what you are saying, but then again, the people who state basically that this is not someone speaking to the emotional abused and telling us to “just show empathy”. It couldn’t be! Because ANYONE who knows what we go through would know that this would just “feed the monster!!” It sounds more like she is quickly giving one solution to dealing with some narcs in general. I have read something like this before on a site offering therapy.

  32. anthony123456

    empathy instead of forcing a change…smart & practical. love this stuff. Vanessa U rock.

      1. Angela

        I agree. I am currently in a relationship with a narcissist and I
        actually just found out that I will be having his child. He and I have
        been together on and off for almost 6 years, and I am just now realizing
        how bad he is. I mean, I was thinking maybe it was the pregnancy that
        caused this because he is so unwilling to think about anybody besides
        himself……so having a child?? HA. It pissed him off to say the least.
        But then I started thinking back and realized he has always been this
        way. I just wasn’t as strong before. Wow.

      2. Lain

        Omg the same for me. I am 6 months pregnant and having severe complications and instead of being concerned he planned a birthday vacation for 7 days with his mother. I am facing an emergency double mastectomy while 6 months pregnant with a breast reconstruction and he downplayed my situation by saying he feels better knowing I will be in good hands of a doctor who knows what to do for me and goes on to explain how much physical back pain and how he has been light headed and sweating at work too. I’ve done everything for this guy including pay our mortgage and all bills the last 2 years of buying my home. Getting pregnant was indeed the worst thing I could’ve done. He has a son who he blames me for not seeing bc he has to work so much. The time he is with him he does nothing with him but constantly boast about the things he does and I can never tell him or his son anything. I’m currently moved out of my home bc I was being helped with my physical limitations. His excuse was he is just too tired from working. The fact that I am moved over to my moms home is pleasing to him bc it allows him to rest and his reason for me moving is bc he has to work and can’t help me. No I left bc if I asked for ice water it was an issue, if I couldn’t bend over to pull my pants up it was drama. “He had pain too and he still does it” he has pain too and he still has to work” I told him to go to the doctor and he says why can’t u go with me? I go with u? We are in counseling and I am realizing there is no understanding for this guy. I told the truth on all these exact them and he held his excuses. He took himself to the doctor by himself without telling me finally and they told him exactly what I said to do take a Motrin it’s a possible muscle strain nothing physically wrong with u. Of course I had to force that out of him and he will never admit it. He tries to hide his narcissism by being nice to me in public but behind closed doors and on text it comes out. I can’t take it anymore. I’m planning to change my house locks and move his things out while he is gone to Belize for 7 days. I think this is the only way out unfortunately. I have told him to leave he won’t. I caught him talking to another female on his phone and he said it was to get my attention and show that he is still wanted by other women. He was married once before and she secretly left him by making him think she was moving back to Los Angeles for a job to better their family but she actually planned to leave him and never go back to Atlanta. She dos exactly that. I didn’t understand it in the beginning but I get it now. I will never be safe with him. He shows off everything I own as his own and boast about this big lifestyle that doesn’t exist. I see there is no hope. I have tried everything. I’m paying for all these counseling sessions and it’s getting no where. I can’t believe he is making an excuse for it being ok to plan a happy vacation during such a difficult time in my life. I just hope I am strong enough to make this move. I hate the fact that I may have to raise my son on my own as a single mother but I definitely don’t want him to get his personality traits and if I see any sign of it I will get him help right away.

      3. Cl

        I thought the same once too. Then came the reminder of how much genetics plays a role without the other ever being around

      4. Rebecca

        How did you ever ever ever put up with a person like this? He is downright selfish. Seriously pls leave him else you will forever rot in HIS WORLD. Vanessa was very kind to say we need to empathy for narcissist but some of them are coated with evil. Simply that. And we have no business empathizing evil intentions. You seem to be a very strong willed person having lived with this guy. Pls steer you own sail far away from him. You will be successful and more blessed. I hope you have a nice family and friends. Here’s also wishing you good health.
        *God bless!*

      5. Patrick R

        Amen Brother. My ex is a narcissist. She almost destroyed me. I was to the point of suicide because of her. I literally had to get out to save my life.

    1. Danielle McRae

      Hi Anthony, thanks for reading! We’re always looking to provide practical and useful solutions. 🙂 -Danielle and the Science of People Team

    2. caroleann2

      It’s nice that you want to compliment the writer but it is obviously an unearned compliment. Someone with true Narcissistic Personality Disorder cannot be reached with empathy, unfortunately. The only rational advice is to limit your exposure to these people and thereby minimize the amount of damage they can do to your life.

      1. Holly

        You are correct. However, there are “degrees” of narcissism and with so many enablers/nurturing types out there who believe they can change a narcissist, they will spend time (read that as: waste time), often a lifetime, trying to interact with these robots and even having children with them! The horror!

        Cater to them and they despise you for being weak and succumbing. Ignore them with the NC rule, and they will hover and reappear to keep another “source” alive and not allow you to move on. With these people, there is no way to win. Run away from them as fast as you can. They are toxic.

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