7 Smart Ways to Deal With a Narcissist

Besides the #1 go to solution for dealing with a narcissist: LEAVING – let’s explore some tips when we’re forced to deal with this nasty person in the workplace, in our families, with our inlaws, etc.

Managing our own emotions in the face of a disordered person’s roller coaster emotions and moodiness can be quite a challenge.  The important point to remember is to engage your boundaries and know what belongs to the narcissist and what responsibility belong to you.  They may be a disordered person but we still need to protect ourselves from their behavior having a negative effect on us.

Negative behavior: that of the toxic bully will use his or her mood swings to intimidate and manipulate others.  It’s this aspect of moodiness that inflicts enduring abuse and misery.  If you observe these people closely, you will notice that their attitude is overly self-referential.  Their relationships are prioritized according to how each one can be used to meet their selfish needs.  This is the kind of toxic behavior I want to look at.

How can we best manage the fallout from other people’s relentless toxic narcissism?

1.  Move on without them.

If you know someone who insists on destructively dictating the emotional atmosphere, then be clear: they are toxic.  If you are suffering because of their attitude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn’t seem to help them, and they don’t seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, “Do I really need this person in my life?”

When you delete toxic, narcissistic people from your environment it becomes a lot easier to breathe.  If the circumstances warrant it, leave these people behind and move on when you must.  Seriously, be strong and know when enough is enough!  Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being enough to remove them from bringing down your emotional atmosphere.

A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking.  If you must keep a truly toxic person in your life for whatever reason, then consider the remaining points…

2.  Stop pretending their toxic behavior is OK.

If you’re not careful, narcissistic people can use their moody behavior to get preferential treatment, because it just seems easier to quiet them down than to listen to their grouchy rhetoric.  Don’t be fooled.  Short-term ease equals long-term pain for you in a situation like this.  Toxic people don’t change if they are being rewarded for not changing.  Decide this minute not to be influenced by their behavior.  Stop tiptoeing around them or making special pardons for their continued belligerence.

Constant drama and negativity is never worth putting up with.  If someone over the age 21 can’t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, it’s time to…

3.  Speak up!

Stand up for yourself.  Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others – cut in line, take money and property, bully and belittle, pass guilt, etc.  Do not accept this behavior.  Most of these people know they’re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted.  In most social settings people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up, so SPEAK UP.

Some narcissistic people may use anger as a way of influencing you, or they may not respond to you when you’re trying to communicate, or interrupt you and suddenly start speaking negatively about something dear to you.  If ever you dare to speak up and respond adversely to their moody behavior, they may be surprised, or even outraged, that you’ve trespassed onto their behavioral territory.  But you must speak up anyway. You’re doing this to discharge the frustration in your soul that results when you bite your tongue and hold your own truth inside. You are worthy of speaking up on your own behalf.

Not mentioning someone’s toxic behavior can become the principal reason for being sucked into their mind games.  Challenging this kind of behavior upfront, on the other hand, will sometimes get them to realize the negative impact of their behavior.  For instance, you might say:

  • “I’ve noticed you seem angry.  Is something upsetting you?”
  • “I think you look bored.  Do you think what I’m saying is unimportant?”
  • “Your attitude is upsetting me right now.  Is this what you want?”

Direct statements like these can be disarming if someone truly does use their moody attitude as a means of social manipulation.

Even if they say: “What do you mean?” and deny it, at least you’ve made them aware that their attitude has become a known issue to someone else, rather than just a personal tool they can use to manipulate others whenever they want.

If they persist in denial, it might be time to…

4.  Put your foot down.

Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it.  It’s all about finding the strength to defend your boundaries.

Demonstrate that you won’t be insulted or belittled.  To be honest, no one has ever had much luck trying to call truly toxic people (the worst of the worst) out when they’ve continuously insulted them.  The best response we can hope to receive is a snarky, “I’m sorry you took what I said so personally.”  Much more effective has been ending conversations with sickening sweetness or just plain abruptness.  The message is clear:  There is no reward for subtle digs and no games will be played on your end.

Truly toxic people will pollute everyone around them, including you if you allow them.  If you’ve tried reasoning with them and they aren’t budging, don’t hesitate to vacate their space and ignore them until they do.

5.  Don’t take their toxic behavior personally.

It’s them, not you.  KNOW this.

Narcissistic people will try to imply that somehow you’ve done something wrong.  And because the “feeling guilty” button is quite large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  Even when the situation seems personal – even if you feel directly insulted – it usually has nothing to do with you.  What they say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.

6.  Practice compassion.

Sometimes it makes sense to be sympathetic with toxic people whom you know are going through a difficult time, or those who are suffering from an illness.  There’s no question about it, some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, or even mentally and physically ill, but you still need to separate their legitimate issues from how they behave toward you.  If you let people get away with anything because they are distressed, facing a medical condition, or depressed, even, then you are making it too tempting for them to start unconsciously using their unfortunate circumstance as a means to an end.

We can’t “help” someone by making unwarranted pardons for everything they do simply because they have problems.  There are plenty of people who are going through extreme hardships who are not toxic to everyone around them.  We can only act with genuine compassion when we set boundaries.  Making too many pardons and allowances is not healthy or practical for anyone in the long-term.

7.  Take time for yourself.

If you are forced to live or work with a narcissistic person, then make sure you get enough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate.  Having to play the role of a “focused, rational adult” in the face of toxic moodiness can be exhausting, and if you’re not careful, the toxicity can infect you.  Again, understand that even people with legitimate problems and clinical illnesses can still comprehend that you have needs as well, which means you can politely excuse yourself when you need to.

You deserve this time away. You deserve to think free from external pressure and toxic behavior.  No problems to solve, boundaries to uphold, or personalities to please.  Sometimes you need to make time for yourself, away from the busy world you live in that doesn’t make time for you.


Posted on September 28, 2014, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I give credit to my Dad who DID WANT TO DISCUSS THINGS…and he acknowledged how he could be sometimes. A wealthy man in life, spirit, and love (he so loved our Mom and us) and all of his pets.
    Thank You, Dad! You hit the Bulls’ Eye!


  2. So very well written, thank you. The perspective of this piece is not one of a victim, but from a human who realizes life can knock us down from any direction. This reworks the familiar tools and places them in the hands of those standing on firmer ground. I see extremely sound advice and the repetition of clarifying boundaries; in addition, the author has an understanding of the black hole and vampiric dangers the narcissistic mental disease has in & of itself. I shall look forward to more.


  3. What if your defense is not to say anything because nothing is going to change? She’s going to do what she wants to do anyway. For the last four years we have asked my fiance’s mother not to buy us Christmas presents. This Christmas we even argued to the point of yelling and shaking with frustration only to wake up christmas eve to a bag of presents taped to our door. So all the arguing was for nothing.


  4. I just wondered whether anyone else has come across a Narc later in life as many of the posts suggest otherwise. I met the N on a dating website. I had just turned 60 at the time and he was 66. I think I may have come across one other Narc in my whole life, a long time ago, a so called “friend” in school who used to cause me no end of trouble. Anyway, after a long period being alone I, like you all, thought “this is it!” I’ve found my soulmate. However, the honeymoon period only lasted six months before I found out he was cheating. That was 2 years and 4 months ago so he is now almost 69 years of age and still lying and cheating and causing chaos etc etc. I have found no contact extremely difficult but 2015 is the turning point and, anyway, I don’t love him anymore, so it should be easier, although I know a couple of months down the line I will start missing him. It’s always him that makes contact first, I never do, but the next time he does I am ignoring him and not responding. I feel if I don’t do it now I never will. Anyway, as I said, he is coming up for 69 years of age and is going to die a sad lonely old man. Do they never learn? Never change? Never regret the love they have thrown away? Do they really prefer to die lonely and bitter? What a horrible existence.


  5. Reblogged this on Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD and commented:
    Great advice on how deal with narcissists and their abuse.
    Thank you!


  6. I am lucky that I was only with mine for 7 months. Hopefully that will be it. He left a week and a half ago. I am heart broken and devastated. I miss him being here. Most of the time. I don’t know why. He lived with me… Off of me for those 7 months. I own my house, pay the bills and raise my son. He… nothing much. I HATED it at first. I had never dealt with anyone like this before. We broke up with the threats he was giving me. I missed him. I ended up changing the way I looked at things, cause I couldn’t change the situation. I didn’t care that I paid for him anymore. I did fall more in love. GAH! He is such a taker, taker, taker…He moved out and in with his kids mom. (KARMA tho– broke his foot the day he left me.) He was mad cuz I didn’t come get him. I told him I would, but never told me if he needed me or what. Then a week later, he found out I got a neighbor guys number again, after he told me to delete it. I did. But, got it again. He was beyond mad, he was going to drive with his broken right foot. I went to the gathering anyway. (Yay, me!) Then he told me that he was done with me….still?? He is living with his ex wife. I wanted to make sure he meant it and we were really done. I told him that I thought he should know that I had plans to go celebrate my birthday with a guy friend. OH MY!!! He came unglued. He made it seem as if I was cheating on him and I was the biggest whore. WOW! Now, his tools have been stolen from my house the night I was suppose to go out. I canceled cuz he was freaking out. They were stolen while I wasn’t here. I don’t know what was even left in the garage. He moved some of it last Saturday. I didn’t see or really know what he has. He is blaming me for being part of some set up. He says he is going to have me prosecuted and checked at work and for something else that happened in the past about destroying his truck? He is making me a little nervous of course. I don’t know what he will do. One of the first things he said to me was I better be talking to the insurance company… Interesting when he is laid up and can’t work and he has been selling all of his stuff lately. He said he was leaving the state.
    I was very happy to find these articles and people writing in and to know that I am not the only one dealing with these types of behaviors. This is the longest he has gone without texting me and belittling me. I am a little nervous of what he is going to do. I don’t like knowing that the garage was broken into. (Even tho, I think it was his friends and they may try to set me up. But still. Then I seem like I am crazy for thinking this stuff.) Keep posting away. I feel better hearing the stories.


    • I believe it WAS him who took the tools. Ns love to create drama so that they get sympathy and attention and you get the blame 100%


  7. So I just looked at my ex N fb and cried my eyes out. He looks so happy and Im not. Why do these people take everything that u r only to destroy you? I miss him sometimes and then I dont. One minute im happy he dumped me because I have my freedom. But my loneliness is so bad it mkes me feel like my old self. What do I do? A part of me still loves the man I thought he was. I dont wanna date or talk to guys. When I start I just stop.
    Everyone says move on but I just can’t.
    I dont understand myself. I feel so lost and confused all the time. He is just here in my mind and I keep trying to shut him out but he is here. Will I hurt forever? I
    keep feeling the psin from the night he ddumped me. I loved him so much. I justwant to make sure he stays gone forever.


    • You sound like me Kia….. they take it all from you, make you feel bad if you need something, and leave as if we were nothing. Mine is jumping into a rebound and using the same words he used with me to get this person… he is letting me take all the blame and goes on with his life as if we were not together for 5 years. I too wonder how I am going to get through this. No one else saw what I saw, he has a mask he wears and tricks everyone. I was yelled at and used as a garbage can. I got him a job, a car and helped him get through court stuff. Anytime I asked for help or suggested I wanted to see him, I was a problem to him. If I had a regular concern, he made me feel like I was awful for not trusting him. He rarely texted or called and when he did he made me his problem. He broke it off when one day I asked if he could come help at a landscape garden clients house. His response “you don’t ask me for help, I will tell you when I can come help”


      • Because don’t surround yourselves with assholes, you won’t be so depressed.. Been there done that.. Enjoying your peace alone is far better than suffering with someone. courage is sometimes all you have… Hold onto that because you should be proud you can say you are STRONG. what people give out eventually returns.. Yes it’s a lonely world.. Yet being a little lonely is far better than being abused…


  8. Hi Steve so nice to see we’re not forgotten ! Sam has become a dad I’ll send you a picture , he’s no longer working away doing farming but got a factory job ictw switches ? I think but he really enjoys it he likes little fiddly things and being kept busy so ideal really, Rosie working foe Estée Lauder and ash still doing hair dressing , I’m working for disabled at a home in wickham , but to be honest the last few years not been good we all moved out of family home only to highlight the devostation of mental cruelety !! And the effects it has on whole family so been really struggling with that , Rosie madly had a break down , I actually did !! Oh it’s been hell but all sorting its self out but all the stress has left me with a bad heart literly as high blood pressure caused my heart to enlarge and still gong for test to see where we go from here ! But I’m glad to say we are through the worst and on the up starting with my new grandson , he’s gorgeous , I’ll let Sam know. You’ve text , he’ll like that , how did the log cabin go. How much time do you spend in it ? And your teaching are you enjoying it. What else you been up to ? Great to here from you again , it really is . Take care , kim x

    Sent from my iPhone



  9. My N has given me ptsd and it is awful. Its amazing how he has already posted on a dating site 6 weeks after we broke up. He is a very lonely person he even says he thinks so. Amd he blames everyone for his problems. From everything that he has told me it seems like I have dodged a huge bullet. The lonliness is what gets me. I just dont understand why he made me out to be such an awful person. I guess he is somebody elses problem now. I wish with all my hwart he wasnt this way but o well. Writing here gives me a place to release my frustrations. Thank you


  10. I’m continually amazed just how much Narcs take, take, TAKE….and give little, if anything, in return. (I’m now examining my 26-year, off-and-on, affair with a now-exposed narcissist. I’m blogging on it at https://exit4a.wordpress.com)


  11. Reblogged this on Healing my codependency and regaining my life ! and commented:
    spot on… work life… bully… Thanks for that post !


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