How To Deal With A Narcissist When You Can’t Go No Contact
If you have a Narcissist in your life and you ask for advice on how to deal with them the most common answer you will get is – Go No Contact – in other words get away from them, run and keep running and never look back, cut them out of your life, get rid of the toxic person and detox yourself of the toxins they’ve injected into your bloodstream, block them, blank them, ghost them, give them the silent treatment…
No Contact has become such a de facto answer to the question – How Do I Deal With a Narcissist? – that any discussion about your particular situation which might not allow for No Contact with your Narcissist gets ended before it even begins.
In short – you get cut off by those who cut their Narcissist off. They went No Contact, found that this worked for them, therefore it should work for you too and if it doesn’t… they don’t want to hear about it.
To be fair to them they can only speak from their personal experience and if they don’t have any personal experience of being unable to go No Contact due to extenuating circumstances then… that’s the end of the conversation.
If you try to continue the conversation by pointing out a ‘but’ you could get labeled as a ‘help-rejecting complainer’.
I was researching the ‘help-rejecting complainer’ the other day while trying to find information for a commenter on one of my narcissist posts. Their description of their ex sounded like a Covert Narcissist, the kind of narcissist which tends to play the victim and who often genuinely believes their own victim play.
Covert Narcissists in my experience are help-rejecting complainers (or Yes, but’s… in Eric Berne’s Games People Play).
If you’re dealing with a Covert Narcissist reading up on help-rejecting complainers might prove useful.
Please note that sometimes rejecting help is a healthy thing to do if the help being offered is not helpful.
Some of those offering advice on how to deal with Narcissists can sometimes come across as Narcissists themselves… in some ways it comes with the territory of this subject.
And some of the tactics which people advise for dealing with Narcissists are eerily similar to the ones which Narcissists use…
when they’re bored of you as you’re no longer providing them with the nurturing and nourishing narcissistic supply which they need,
they’re fed up with you,
you’ve failed to live up to their expectations and they’re disappointed with you, once upon a time you were their ideal perfect person, the special one, the knight in shining armor, the hero who would save them but then they found all these faults and flaws in you and now you represent everything they don’t want for themselves,
you’re the villain,
they don’t like what you as their personality mirror is reflecting back at them,
so they discard you, have no further use for you at this time,
they’ve decided that you’re a Narcissist, the toxic one, the negative influence who drains their positive, the insensitive one, the selfish one who isn’t willing to sacrifice your comfort for them by walking on the eggshells around them (stop breaking their eggs, man!), you’re not fixing their problems like they thought you would…
excerpt from – Thought Catalog: It Is Not Your Partner’s Responsibility To Fix What’s Broken Inside Of You by Heidi Priebe
This article is not about Narcissists or going No Contact, it is a thoughtful and beautifully written perspective on relationships, heartbreak, and being human, and is something I think everyone should read for their own benefit.
No Contact is good advice… if you are able to do it.
If you are able to do it, it is not an easy thing to do for multiple reasons.
Some of the difficulties will be ones which you create for yourself – letting go of a relationship is never easy even if it’s bad for us (like any bad habit with which we’ve formed an alliance, an attachment, we’re addicted to it, it provides us with something, it strokes, soothes, is a coping with other difficulties mechanism, and quitting it is hard no matter how often we tell ourselves that it’s unhealthy for us to keep doing it).
Some of the difficulties will be ones which your Narcissist creates for you – if the Narcissist is attached to you, has written a prominent role for you in their lifetime movie, is addicted to what you provide for them, they’re not going to let you go just because you want to go.
No Contact is only easy if:
1 – your Narcissist isn’t really a Narcissist. They may be a Narcissist in your eyes and experience, and once you think they are it’s nigh on impossible to stop thinking of them that way, but they’re not really a real Narcissist. Perhaps they’re narcissistic, maybe even very much so, but when push comes to shove they’re not that committed to the narcissistic way of life. They don’t have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they’re just an a-hole, selfish, self-serving, vain, putting themselves first rather than putting you first, etc.
If you want to go, they’ll let you go. Their pride will step in and stop them from pursuing you or the matter further. What you’re doing is hurting them and to avoid further hurt they accept your decision to avoid them.
It is never easy to take a good look at ourselves and what our accusations of others say about us, it’s so much easier to do that with others and notice how they’re not checking themselves, but sometimes doing it can change not who we are or who others are but how we perceive things and that can change how things play out… it might even move us out of a rut we’ve been pacing in frustration.
Sometimes it is them and not us… and sometimes it is us and not them… and sometimes it’s a combo… a chemical reaction between them and us which keeps making an explosion in the relationship lab.
2 – your Narcissist is a real Narcissist but they were done with you, they were in the process of discarding you, were only keeping you because they hadn’t found anyone else to replace you or they had found someone else but you were still useful as a tool to help them win the love of a new person.
One of the Narcissist’s specialties is making other people feel special due to ‘winning’ their love and attention, and the easiest way to do that is to give the impression that you’re stealing them from someone else, if you manage to do that… how special are you!
They love comparing, contrasting, causing conflict, and making everything a competition.
I love my wife/husband/lover/best friend/partner/family but…
they don’t understand me…
you do, you understand me…
I’ve never met anyone like you who could see into my soul and know me, my needs, desires, and give me what I need without my asking for it…
you’re my everything I’ve ever wanted, but…
They couldn’t possibly leave the person they are with…
Not all Narcissists are callous in their treatment of others, especially not when their persona demands that they are the ‘good’ one. A Narcissist playing the ‘Good Wife’ (I used ‘wife’ because of the TV show, and because this was my mother’s favourite ‘role’, but you can insert whichever alternative word suits your story better if you have been involved with a Narcissist who plays the ‘good’ one) is going to play it to the hilt…
They need you to break up with them so that you are the ‘bad’ one and they are the heartbroken hero who now needs someone else to help them heal from being mistreated by a villain. They are relieved that you’ve finally got the message (they were worried that you’d ruin their story for them) and that you’re now playing the new part they have written for you in their story… which they will tell to others, charming the romantic, sympathetic and empathic souls out there with the quest to love them as no one has ever loved them, to make them trust in love again, to save them with real love…
excerpt from – A Terrible Husband: 9 Signs You’re a Toxic Person
I came across this intriguing and excellent blog when someone I follow on Pinterest was pinning articles related to the question – What if you’re the toxic person rather than the other person whom you think is the toxic one?
That kind of question and variations of it will come up repeatedly when you’re trying to sort through the mess which comes with being in a relationship with a Narcissist.
There is no guarantee that going No Contact will solve your problems with a Narcissist and give you the freedom to never have to deal with them ever again.
Even if you get that kind of guarantee and freedom… you might find it hard to move on.
Just because the door to our cage is open doesn’t mean we’ll step out of it – it’s a scary world out there, with lots of scary people too, and this is a safe place. While we hate the devil we know, at least we know this one… sort of.
And we tend to bring the unclaimed baggage from one relationship into another. When we don’t get closure… we keep seeking it. We want the loose ends to be tied up…
but what if the loose ends don’t want to be tied up…
What if you can’t go No Contact with a Narcissist?
What if you have children with the Narcissist.
What if the Narcissist is a work colleague, a boss, a business partner.
What if the Narcissist is a parent, a sibling, a child (this one is probably the toughest… even if this is not a competition… as it provokes very uncomfortable questions about you as a parent. Sure, you can blame the other parent, but…).
What if the Narcissist has been given a position of power over you and your life through no choice of your own in a manner which means you can’t go No Contact unless you’re willing to completely change where and how you live, and doing that might take longer than waiting them out.
What if you just can’t get away from the Narcissist in your life.
What if you have to learn how to deal with them.
excerpt from – The Atlantic: The Case Against Reality
This article isn’t about Narcissists, and isn’t really helpful or relevant to the post… or is it.
If, like me, you grew up with Narcissists (according to me), this kind of article and the concepts within it will become familiar territory.
Spend enough time in the company of a Narcissist and you’ll be arguing about what is and what isn’t reality with the Narcissist, with others, with yourself, and at some point you’ll end up wondering if anything is actually real of if it’s all just an illusion, personal, social, or otherwise.
To a Narcissist snakes are snakes until they’re not and snakes aren’t snakes except when they are and then they’re snakes until they’re not snakes and they’re not snakes until they are snakes… why did you think the snake was not a snake, no they never said it wasn’t you must be mad of course it’s a snake, if it looks like a snake and hisses like one then it must be… no they never said it was a snake, why do you keep insisting it’s a snake when it’s not, just because it looks like one it doesn’t at all your eyes must be deceiving you… and that’s why you were hit by a train, they’d have warned you about the train but… you never listen and you would have probably told them that the train was not a train.
Dealing with a Narcissist is a minefield for the mind.
It makes a pin-cushion of your heart (only the Narcissist will get bored of using pins, they’ll use whatever sharp objects they can find or blunt ones) and your feelings will get battered.
You’re exhausted before, during and after with no rest stop in sight.
It’s an endless game of human chess without the structure and rules of a game of actual chess. And this type of chess isn’t about who is more intelligent – intelligence is often a weakness when it comes to playing human chess with a Narcissist so don’t count on your high IQ status to be a good thing.
In fact don’t count on any of those things which society tells you are worth having as part of your personality or character if you’re dealing with a Narcissist.
Someone asked me to write a post about reverse psychology and the Narcissist…
using reverse psychology on a Narcissist can work, and can sometimes produce some rather satisfying results,
particularly if they’re expecting you to be critical of them (which they do as this is how they are – it’s also a big fear for them) and you’re not – this will throw their planned response (their prepared counter-attack) out the window and they may be so relieved that you praised them instead of criticising them that they’ll love you forever (forever in Narcissist time is relatively short) and will be a happy puppy dog seeking to please you to get more praise from you…
or if they’re expecting you to defend yourself against one of their awful truth about you attacks and you don’t, instead you agree with them, you’re as awful as they have said you are, poor them for having to deal with awful you – this can derail their diatribe and storyline and may even have them arguing against you about how awful you are even though a second before they had a different argument. This is a weird turn around… and can be quite enlightening and insightful into just how insignificant their viewpoints, opinions, and judgements about who you or others or themselves are.
excerpt from – Psyblog: The Unexpected Way To Win Any Argument
This is a quick overview of a study and its preliminary results.
I’ve tried something similar when dealing with the Narcissists in my life, and can confirm that it works but only in the short term… as there is just so much extreme agreeing you can do before you have to deal with self-disgust and other consequences of using a tactic which requires that you deviate from your authentic stance.
Using this long term can result in your own reality becoming warped – mind you, if you’re in a relationship with a Narcissist that’s going to occur anyway.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a Narcissist can use reverse psychology and any other tactic too, and most of the Narcissists I have known do exactly that in many ways. They can do it instinctively with very little thought or effort… whereas for you it can be burdensome and a ponderous endeavour – it’ll eat away at your foundation, shake your building… while for them it’s a mild breeze.
Anything you can do they can do too and are probably doing it before you think of doing it… because they research, read up on and study this kind of thing long before it dawns on others that they might need these sort of things.
Be careful when trying to manipulate a manipulator – they’ve been doing it longer than you have and it’s hard-wired into their system.
It’ll be fun for them, they’ll be energised by having found a worthy opponent to beat – while it’ll be hard work you don’t want to do for you.
Whatever you come up with as a tactic to deal with them, it’ll work for as long as it works and then stop working because just like those computers in dystopian future films they’ll adapt, figure out your new moves and find a way to counter them offering you a new set of problems to deal with. But those new problems… they’re just the old problems repackaged with a label claiming that they’re new and improved.
This article is aimed at professional therapists (or clinicians as the author calls them), however if you’re dealing with a Narcissist, particularly of the Covert kind, it’s an excellent read as anyone who is in a relationship of any sort with a Narcissist will find themselves being their therapist one way or another. And a Narcissist of any variety is a difficult client.
Narcissists can take something simple and make it impossibly complicated… then they’ll turn on you and accuse you of being the one who made something simple complicated. You ruined a perfectly good mood, day, event, moment, relationship, with your drama.
All they wanted to do was… but then you… and now it’s…
While you’re reeling from a close encounter of the fourth kind, and attempting to untangle yourself from a web stickier and more debris-laden with the desiccated particles of bodies of previous victims than those of an unusually large attic spider, they’ll be moving on to the next complication which will also be your fault at some point.
Fix one issue and there’s a whole queue behind it waiting for you to fix… none of your fixes will fix things, in fact every fix will make things worse than they were before – you’re helping them make the once simple more complicated that the complicated they made it.
But you have to do something, don’t you, because doing nothing isn’t a viable option… or is it?
Sometimes actively doing nothing is a viable option when dealing with a Narcissist.
As long as you react to their every move, they’ll keep throwing quests, problems, messes, chaos at you… they have an endless supply of all of those things, they can magically make them appear from absolutely nowhere. They are the person who finds a fly in their soup in a world where flies don’t exist and neither does soup.
But if you meet their mess or problem with a shrug… you have no idea how to solve this and you’re not even going to try. Yep, it’s a mess, so what, and you’re not going to tidy it up because it is what it is and it may as well stay that way.
That will disturb them… you’re messing with their system, their orderly disorder. They enjoyed making the mess and presenting you with it… but part of their enjoyment required that you react to it by tidying it up (so they can pretend they never made it). You have to tidy it up!
Your Narcissist relies on you to keep their system going… and if you step outside of the lines they’ve drawn for you and which you were always afraid to cross, you might find that things aren’t going around in that rut they usually go around in with you being the responsible one and them being the irresponsible one.
Take a walk on the irresponsible side… at least as far as being responsible for them is concerned.
That question they want you to answer… you don’t know the answer, and don’t care to find one.
They need you to do their thinking for them, so that they can then pretend they did it, but what happens if you don’t.
They need you to do their feeling for them, tell them how they should feel and what to do with what they feel, but what if you’re out of the feeling for others business.
Yep, it’s urgent but everything is with them, it’s all a big emergency and… and so nothing is.
If they want an answer they should look elsewhere, you’re done searching, you don’t know and if you ever knew… they can search through your previous answers.
Maybe it’s time they did some of their own dirty work…
or find someone else other than you to do it for them.
Just because you have to have them in your life doesn’t mean you have to do it on their terms and conditions (which are always subject to change on a whim).
I said something similar to someone who commented on one of my Narcissist posts and their reply was that they couldn’t do that, allow someone else to deal with their Narcissist, that they were willing to sacrifice themselves to save others from the horror of being in a relationship with their Narcissist.
You do realise that no one is going to be grateful to you for your sacrifice… including you.
I have to admit I did something similar with my mother and… I’m still waiting for my Nobel just as my mother is still waiting for her Oscar.
While this article is on an astrology blog but it’s not about astrology, it’s about a person observing themselves and others and going hmmm… what can I learn from my observations?
There’s a lot to learn from looking at what we’re looking at…
and what I saw when I looked at this post was something expressed by someone else which I sometimes think myself but don’t always say out loud – such as that even very good advice isn’t always right for you… and that sometimes the only way to find what advice is right for you is through living and experiencing what is happening to you, making mistakes, trying things out, figuring your story out for yourself.
And what you figure out for yourself… may not be right for someone else.
If you have to deal with a Narcissist…
take some time to think things through,
use critical thinking while abstaining from being critical of yourself (I know that’s hard but give it a go… the worst enemy when dealing with a Narcissist isn’t always the Narcissist but ourselves and what we do to ourselves when we allow ourselves to be under their influence and believe that they have all the power and we have none… an easy habit to get stuck in)
tell your story to yourself and don’t just be a teller and talker but also be the listener, really listen to yourself tell your story as you wish others would listen to it if you were to share it with them,
hear your voice and what it is saying in all the ways it speaks, see your body language, feel the flow of your energy, understand what you find so hard to say,
be the person you wish other people would be for you,
take care of yourself and pay attention to yourself,
acknowledge your problems, troubles and pain, don’t dismiss them because others have it harder (my Narcissist mother used this one to shut me up for years… this one still shuts me up), but don’t make them the star of your show – and don’t make your Narcissist the star either. You are the star of your story. That’s sometimes hard to accept but give it a go.
Don’t assume anyone else would be better suited to handle your situation for you or would be you better than you are you, it’s tempting to do that especially as we experience ourselves from the inside out and that makes us too aware of how much we lack and how much we want to be all those others whom we only experience form the outside…
they all seem to have better lives, a better grasp of how to solve life’s problems… but do they or are they, like us, putting on an ‘I’m fine’ show.
Just as you can’t solve the issues which your Narcissist wants you to solve for them… others can’t solve your issues for you – you have to do that. Even if someone else helps you, you still have to help them help yourself.
And sometimes nothing and no one seems to help… does that mean nothing and no one will ever be able to help and you’re forever stuck?
I don’t know…
but I’ve been there and what I did was to just keep going even when I didn’t feel or think I was capable of doing so… because even when we can’t keep going we do it anyway.
What is it that keeps going… get to know it and yourself.