Having a sustainable relationship with a narcissist can be challenging. Here is a list of tips to help you stay in a relationship with someone who is narcissistic. Realize that some of these tips contradict each other; this is because remaining in a long term relationship with a narcissist is a contradictory endeavor.
It is recommended that you understand that the relationship rules for narcissists are different than those for others. The following suggestions will help you to have a close, ongoing relationship with a narcissist:
- Make sure you collude with your narcissist to reinforce his belief that relationships are one-sided and that he is entitled to have a fantasy wife, child, etc. Become comfortable at living with double standards and performance based approval.
- Do not require him to share in household or child-rearing responsibilities. Make sure you are willing to carry these weights yourself.In fact, make sure you are ultra-responsible in all areas of your relationship. Do not expect the relationship to be 50-50. A more realistic expectation is that he will require 100 percent of your emotional energy and almost, if not all, of your personal identity.
- Be available as a sponge or garbage pail to absorb his rage and shame. When he needs a place to dump all his negative emotions, make sure you are readily available with a willingness to listen, understand, forgive, and feel empathy for his anger.
- Let go of your need to be listened to, validated, or respected.
- Become comfortable with indirect and incomplete communication. Learn well how to navigate silent treatments and gas-lighting. Do not expect dialogues, but learn to be a captive audience for long monologues and diatribes. Do not ask questions for anything requiring a specific answer. Learn to solve problems without your loved-one’s input or approval.
- Try not to venture too close to an independent thought. Be sure and check with your narcissist to see if your idea is accurate or smart. He, after all, is an expert on everything and knows what is best. In fact, sometimes it is recommended to steer clear of thinking for yourself altogether.
- Embrace your relationship with betrayal. Your narcissist will betray you. It might not be sexually, but it will be in one form or another, particularly designed for your specific susceptibilities.
- Realize that love to you and love to your narcissist have entirely different meanings. For a narcissist, “love” happens when you are a secure, stable source of narcissistic supply. Understand that when a narcissist tells you he loves you it means you are helping him feel good about himself by providing steady narcissistic supply.Narcissistic supply is what narcissists depend on for emotional “stability.” Typical forms of narcissistic supply include sex, power, control, one-sided relationships with no accountability, compliments, subservience, obedience, admiration, and other requirements unique to the individual.
- Lose yourself in him. Be what he wants you to be. Don’t have your own individuality. To do this, let his words and actions convince you that your value is based on what he claims it is.
- Learn to dissociate from your emotions. Being with a person who cannot attune with you, see you for who you are, care about your feelings, or value you for your individuality is very painful.It is important to numb your emotions by dissociation, or some other means of anesthesia. It is too hard to feel the emotions engendered by your unmet relationship needs, so being adept at emotional numbness is a recommended goal for a person who wishes to remain close to a narcissist.
- Be a ready and willing scapegoat to his anger. Narcissists are always angry – their anger is either expressed covertly or overtly. Be open to taking all the blame for everything he is angry about.And even if he’s angry for another reason, be willing to try to fix it for him and make things better.Be aware that a key characteristic of a narcissist is that he is chronically angry. Learn to adjust yourself to this reality.
- Become comfortable with loneliness. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is a very lonely experience. The more you learn to live with emotional deprivation, the better you will fare in your relationship.
I must warn you, that if you decide to become emotionally healthy, set boundaries, speak up for yourself, and do not follow the above suggestions, your relationship with your narcissist may not be sustainable. Because narcissists need narcissistic supply like you need love, if you do not remain a good supply source (as these tips are designed to ensure) then you may lose this relationship altogether.
For some, this thought may be very devastating. It is, after all, very rewarding to spend one’s time with a person so invalidating, self-absorbed, uncaring, and full of emotionally dysregulating behaviors.