How to deal with a Narcissist you live with?

The worst of the repeat domestic offenders are the Narcissists. If you ever encounter one or worse live with one, turn around run or alternately, move out right away.

Who is a Narcissist?

According to Wikipedia, Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory, which was popularly introduced in Sigmund Freud‘s essay On Narcissism (1914). The American Psychiatric Association has had the classification narcissistic personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) since 1968, drawing on the historical concept of megalomania.

Who is a Narcissitic Person?

All of us are Narcissistic to an extent. However, in the context of this post, a Narcissist is a person who is battling with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
For a narcissist, s/he is literally the centre of the world and everything/everyone is a larger extension of his identity/personality. Not only will you end with a poor self-image living with these people but they will make you believe that living with a poor self-image is good for you and they are the ones who will make it better.

Types of Narcissists:
According to Joseph Burgo, Ph.D in his article on Psychology Today, there are mainly 5 types of Narcissists that we encounter.

I have personally encountered ‘The Grandiose Narcissist’ and the one not mentioned in Joseph Burgo’s list, the ‘Vulnerable Narcissist‘.

My Take On It From Personal Experience And A Bit Of Research:

The Grandiose Narcissist and the Vulnerable or a Covert Introvert Narcissist is the most often referred to in Popular Psychology.

Both these characters have been detrimental in the damage they have done to me. However, it is easier to cope with a Narcissist if you don’t share the same roof. I was spared from the Vulnerable Narcissist. The Grandiose Narcissist and I share the same roof.

I find The Grandiose Narcissists much worse, perhaps due to my regular exposure to them or perhaps they are worse.

Anway, these extroverted individuals are loud, people pleasers, will do most tasks assigned to them efficiently – they are the life of the party. However, their dark side emerges in their near inter-personal relationships on a daily basis. They are controlling, manipulative and will expect you to acknowledge, answer to and fulfil every whim they impose on you. Remember, to a narcissist, you are the extension of their personality in their heads, so it is natural that you succumb to their subtle or sometimes not so subtle emotional outbursts/pressure.

And, if within a domestic setting they are compelled to agree doing something very normal for other people against their will, and if you are the reason they need to succumb to it, their pride is hurt. Their world comes crushing down on them since they are no longer in control. Not only do they feel lost and extremely yet unreasonably wounded, they make it a point to humiliate the one that perpetrated this violence on them.

One of my personal experiences:

For instance, due to the absolute lack of options available, I had to ask the Grandiose Narcissist for a ride to work. Due to reasons where she might have been under more trouble people-pleasing wise, the narcissist reluctantly said a yes.

Now, during this fifteen minute drive, the individual created her alibi that gross injustice was done to her by my act where I may have abused her verbally and threatened her or coerced her to agree to my demands.

Just how?

Well, it is simple. This is just an example of the lengths a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder can go to. She dropped me to work on a scooter. During the entire 15 minute ride on this lonely pathway where the traffic is rather infrequent, she sobbed uncontrollably and did not cover her face and although few but people kept staring at her all through the ride – so as to humiliate me and create an alibi in the process.

My poker unemotional face does not help matters for me either.

Anyway, since I am used to this behaviour, I showed no mercy and accepted the ride right upto my destination while the individual drove back to wherever she came from doing whatever she was doing in the first place. She was getting late for a bath after which she had nothing much to do except watch her favourite TV Show.

Why am I sharing this supposedly personal account?

If you live with a Narcissist, move out. If you encounter a narcissist, turn around and run away, don’t look back. These people cannot be helped because they feed on their pride, and their pride makes it difficult for them to resort to accepting that something is wrong with them. All hope is lost for them, they cannot be helped.

Things you can do to shoo off a Narcissist:

1. Ignore
The first time you ignore, they will be wounded. They will hurt with their words, they may get abusive but you need to maintain your stand.

2. Maintain your stand
Once they know that abusing you will not get them their attention either negative or positive, they will go to more intense lengths. Maybe, they will screw things up for you intentionally so you have to acknowledge they exist and in the process you feel a lot of emotional pain. But, don’t make that mistake. Whatever, they do, do not pay attention.

They will also create alibis around sharing with other people – neighbours, common friends, family members, near and distant relatives about how you are the worst person on the planet and they are being victimised by you. Mind you, this can go on for weeks.

How to counter this?
Speak up. Maintain clear communication. Get off your sorry ass and pick up that phone call your near and distant relatives, family members and meet friends and be nice to them. Communicate what is wrong between this person and you and rather tactfully so.
How will this help?

Even if people don’t believe you, they will at least be confused enough and not be able to make a judgment on you right away. If the narcissist can create alibis to screw you over, why can’t you to protect yourself? You are only communicating the truth. The only difference you are consciously letting a lot of community members in for your protection.

3. Again, maintain your stand
Now that they have tried screwing things up for you, abusing you and none of it works – their next step will be to go out of their way to please you. They will do all the things you possibly love and will make you feel special – like no one on the planet exists. They will be so nice to you that you will forget anything bad ever happened.

Most of us make the fatal mistake at this stage and acknowledge that the narcissist has changed. Sadly, they haven’t. If you give in to this temptation, a couple of weeks later, you will be back in the vicious circle. Worse, you may have even lost the drive to make the change or escape from them.

If you give in
All the community support you would have eventually got will go down the drain. People will stop taking you seriously. No matter how much we say we can survive on our own, it feels nice to not have misunderstandings or awkwardness with people in our lives minus the narcissist. Community support matters no matter how much we try and reject it. So, don’t give in to the temptation because people will think, you were the narcissist and it is you who was screwing the wonderful narcissistic person up and the narcissist was the nicer person in the equation to begin with while you were only playing the victim card. So, maintain your stand.

4. Ignore
Once you have set the boundaries between you and the narcissist that there is no hope ever of converting you into a slave of their dominion, you are free. The narcissist will simply dismiss you as a fly who doesn’t deserve a second of their attention – that you are the most wasteful creature on the planet. They wouldn’t care whether you lived or died. Secretly, you have already died the most hateful death in their heads – so you are fine.

5. Bliss
You no longer have that person in your life and you can move on. Rehabilitation takes a while – living each moment step by step – it takes time for the newfound freedom to sink in – feels almost unnatural like you don’t deserve it. But you do, trust me you really do. Everyone, including the narcissist, deserves an abuse-free life.

The Most Important Thing

What if the Narcissist and I live under the same roof & I cannot move out?

Here’s what I have done and still do on a daily basis. Here’s what you can do too:

Limit your communication as much as possible. Complete stop in the communication is not possible but become a wall when they are around. Do not let them into your world. Close down and shut off. Ignore them the best you can. Eventually, they will dismiss you as a non-slave someone wasteful.

1. Focus on Making Your Life Better – Pick up Projects you have been procrastinating. Mind you, there will still be lapses here and then and not-so-nice encounters between you and the narcissist but in time the intensity will reduce. Be prepared.

2. Stay focused on getting financially independent.

3. If possible, take counseling sessions to get clarity in your head.

4. Build a strong network of loved ones you can reach out to. Don’t let this be a random phone call – make the effort to be in the lives of your near and dear ones. Add value to the community around and they will stand by you when no one is. Don’t write the whole world off because of one mentally unwell person.

Note that recovery from mental, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse, in fact, all forms of abuse takes a while – yours will too. But, hang in there. You are your own hero and you can make it happen. The key is to keep going even on the bad days. Do your work because you must.

5. Take time to feel sorry for yourself but once you have – move on and do what you must to Heal!

I know we all can do it. The Narcissist him/herself too can change for the better if s/he opens his/her heart and accept all the good that he/she deserves and that we don’t need to manipulate to achieve our ends – ultimately love and recognition.

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