You shouldn’t treat a narcissist as just another person. Their behavior is not typical.
You very much need to adjust your expectations regarding what you should and shouldn’t do with a narcissist.
If in doubt, don’t do any of these things…
1. Trusting them.
When dealing with a narcissist, it’s essential to never trust them at face value.
Their self-centered nature means they can’t help but manipulate and lie to others.
So, always maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when interacting with a narcissist to avoid falling for their deceitful traps.
Narcissists are skilled at creating a false image of themselves to gain approval and make others believe in their grandiose sense of self. Keep this in mind and be cautious when they share stories or information.
It’s not uncommon for narcissists to twist the truth in order to maintain their carefully crafted facade.
So, if you can, verify what they tell you. And if you can’t verify, assume that there is at least some untruth in what they say.
And never, ever trust them to keep something you tell them confidential. They wouldn’t know what a secret was if it slapped them in the face. In fact, they will actively seek to use anything you tell them against you.
So, say as little as you can when you have no choice but to interact with a narcissist.
2. Trying to argue with them.
There’s no reasoning with a narcissist.
Therefore, there is no point in trying to argue your point or case with them.
If you do, the result with almost certainly be harmful to your emotional well-being.
Instead, stay composed, do not allow your emotions to control you, and seek to disengage at the earliest opportunity.
If you want to state your case, do so once and only once. The more you try to defend yourself, the more the narcissist will spin you round, confuse you, and make you doubt the point(s) you are trying to make.
Narcissists often use arguments as a means to manipulate and control their victims. By engaging in one, you are perpetuating the power struggle, one which the narcissist will always win.
So, stop trying to defend, explain, or rationalize your way out of the argument. You don’t need to prove your worth or justify your point of view.
Know your limits. Set yourself some clear rules of engagement in your head and stick to these.
You can try to move the conversation away from the argument to something more neutral. It might work, but don’t hold your breath. And if it doesn’t, it’s time to walk away—figuratively, and even physically.
3. Believing you can change them.
It is vital to understand that you cannot change a narcissist. Not even a little bit.
Their personality traits are deeply rooted in their past and their psyche. Any attempts to change them will likely be met with resistance and even aggression.
Very rarely does a narcissist think they need to change, and so trying to convince them otherwise is like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon—impossible.
Instead, focus on managing your interactions with them and establishing healthy boundaries.
Accept the narcissist for who they are. Recognize their limitations and avoid unrealistic expectations of them.
4. Forging romantic relationships with them.
Entering a relationship with a narcissist is a terrible idea. Truly awful. Don’t even think about it!
Romantic relationships involving a narcissist almost always lead to mental and emotional turmoil—if not destruction—for the other person.
A narcissist’s fragile ego and fantasies of perfection, power, and success lead to an unbalanced relationship dynamic, where the narcissist may consistently undermine and belittle you.
Their unquenchable need for attention and admiration often leaves little space for your own needs, causing you to feel consistently undervalued.
What’s more, they dehumanize you, seeing you as nothing more than an object for them to own and do with as they wish. They will gaslight you, love bomb you, and generally make you doubt yourself, your feelings, and your perceptions of the world.
They will try to isolate you, diminish you, and leave you feeling trapped and helpless.
Oh, and if you manage to leave a narcissist, never, ever return to them. No matter what they say or do to try to convince you to give them a second chance, do not believe them,
Put yourself first, stay as far away from them as you can, and never even entertain the idea of getting back together with them.
5. Expecting them to take responsibility.
Narcissists rarely ever take responsibility for anything they do, unless they think they can gain from doing so.
What usually happens is that they will blame others for their mistakes and refuse to apologize or admit fault.
So, if you’re holding on to some faint belief that they will one day realize what they have done to you and say sorry, then you’ll be waiting a long time.
If they’re not denying responsibility or shifting the blame, they will manipulate the facts or deflect attention away from the point at hand by attacking you with some unrelated matter.
6. Playing their games.
Everything is a game to a narcissist. And they are just begging you to play it.
Because they know they possess the greater skill, cunning, and determination to win.
They’ve got a whole bag of tricks to beat you down with—gaslighting, triangulation, playing the victim, smear campaigns, employing flying monkeys. And that’s just for starters.
You can try all you want to get one over on them, to make them feel small, to make them back down. Your chances of success are slim.
And even if you manage to somehow win one battle, you can be sure they’ll win the war. And you’ll suffer plenty of damage in the process.
So never take the bait. Avoid getting sucked into a narcissist’s games. Disengage from their drama, walk away, and stick to your boundaries once you have done so.
7. Expecting them to care.
Narcissists have almost no genuine empathy. They have cognitive empathy—that is, they can identify your emotions (which is why they are so good at manipulating them)—but they are unable to feel emotional or compassionate empathy.
They don’t feel what you feel, and nor are they moved to help you feel better.
You can’t expect them to support you emotionally because their ultimate goal is always a self-centered one. They might pretend to care about your needs, but really, they are so focused on their own needs and wants that yours don’t matter to them.
In this sense, narcissists are entirely cold-hearted.
8. Having kids with them.
Deciding to have children is a life-altering decision—one that can bring both endless joy and huge challenges.
Only, if you have kids with a narcissist, those challenges grow tenfold.
Narcissists make lousy parents. They see children as objects just as they do you, and this allows them to treat those children badly.
So, as the other parent, you will likely have to protect your children from the narcissist. This leaves you even more open to abuse and attack.
What’s more, narcissists may use your children as weapons with which to hurt you. They might turn your children against you, which is a heartbreaking and terrifying prospect, I’m sure you’ll agree.
It’s almost impossible to raise kids in a healthy environment if there is a narcissistic parent in the picture. So best not to let a relationship get that far.
9. Trying to expose them.
As much as you may want everyone else to know how much of a tyrant a narcissist is, expect them to rain hellfire down on you if you ever try to expose them.
Narcissists are highly sensitive to criticism and will react with anger, aggression, or manipulation when they feel threatened.
What’s more, you risk others turning against you because narcissists are skilled at shifting the blame, discrediting others (i.e. you), and manipulating the narrative in their favor.
Remember, self-image is extremely important to a narcissist, and if you try to harm that image by revealing their true nature, they won’t sit idly by and allow you to do so.
And as I said above, you should never try to play a narcissist at their own game. You’ll lose.
10. Believing you are immune to their manipulation.
You may believe you can handle a narcissist, but always remember that they use sophisticated tactics to manipulate and exploit others for personal gain.
You are not immune to these tactics, especially when some tactics don’t directly involve you. Whether through flying monkeys or smear campaigns, a narcissist can hurt you indirectly by convincing others that you are a bad person.
Nor should you believe you are immune to the charm a narcissist often possesses, or the immense pressure they can put you under.
It’s easier than you think to let your guard drop, see your boundaries fall, and find yourself doing things you don’t want to do.
11. Making an enemy of them.
A narcissist is a formidable enemy, and I’ve explained why throughout this article.
You should do everything in your power to avoid antagonizing them and making yourself a target for their anger in the process.
Narcissists feed off the energy of others, and that energy can be both positive (admiration and praise, for instance) or negative.
They really won’t mind if you try to hurt them by attacking them. In fact, the drama this stirs up is like honey to a bee—they thrive off it. It gives them all the encouragement they need to go on the offensive and use their full repertoire of weapons to destroy you.
The number one tip for dealing with a narcissist will always be this: try to avoid having to deal with them in the first place. Whenever possible, put distance between you and a narcissist.
Should you have to engage with a narcissist for reasons outside of your control, remember never to do any of the things listed above.