Coexisting with a narcissist can feel like trying to decipher a complicated puzzle at times. Narcissists often believe they're the center of the universe with this insatiable need for constant admiration and attention. This, combined with their limited empathy, can leave those around them feeling undervalued, invisible, and emotionally spent. However, it is possible to live with a narcissist without losing your peace of mind. All you need is a bit of patience, understanding, and a couple of smart strategies.
First you need to understand that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition where the individual has an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong sense of entitlement, and a perpetual need for adoration. Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Once you comprehend the disorder, you'll better understand why they behave the way they do, and you won't take it personally.
The key to a successful relationship with a narcissist is setting clear boundaries. Being firm here is crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Narcissists often disregard other people's space, time, or feelings. So, it's essential to clearly voice your needs and stick to them. It may be hard, as they'll try to sway you to accommodate their needs, but if you're consistent and remind them whenever they overstep, they'll start to respect them, even if it's just to avoid the constant reminders.
Less is more when it comes to sharing appreciation. Be careful with compliments and try not to feed their narcissism with too much attention. By refusing to stroke their ego, you can prevent them from manipulating you. Avoid giving them excessive praises or getting sucked into their self-centric stories. It is only natural to want to show appreciation to someone, but keep it short, for example expressing a simple thank you or good job is enough. Resist going into additional specifics and move onto the next topic.
Be an expert with your calendar. Plan your activities with the narcissist in your life and define a beginning time with a set end time for the hang out. Being around a narcissist can be mentally and emotionally draining. Hence, limiting your interactions with them and taking care of yourself is crucial. Plan activities on your calendar that bring you joy and relaxation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If they start to become overbearing with your time, seek support from other friends, family, or professional therapists if needed.
Having a narcissist in your life is definitely a challenge because they are unlikely to change their behavior significantly, especially if they don't see it as a problem. Realizing this can help reduce some of your frustration and disappointment in the relationship. However, with some practice of consistently setting your boundaries, keeping any praise short and to the point, and taking control of your calendar can help keep your sanity intact to coexist with the narcissist in your life.