5 Ways to Cope with a Narcissist in Your Family


The term “narcissist” has become a buzzword, and most of us can relate to being a relationship that is never about you. But what really is a narcissist? Are you really dealing with a narcissistic relationship? 

A woman puts her face in her hands in frustration.

What Is a Narcissist?

A narcissist is not just a self-absorbed person but is someone who functions in relationship with all-encompassing need to be admired and devoid of empathy for others. They see themselves as the center of the universe with a grandiose sense of self, and demanding that those around them fall in line with their narrative.

True narcissism is a psychiatric diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). However, a wider population beyond this diagnosis have narcissistic tendencies

Signs of a Narcissistic Relationship

A good summation of a narcissist is someone who must always be the victim and the hero. Everything is always about them, from the subject of conversation to driving all plans made. It’s about what they want, how they feel, and what they need. The feelings, ideas, and needs of other people are dismissed or never even considered.

The narcissist sees themselves as the exception to any rule; rules do not apply for them. How they look or are perceived is the top priority, with a need to uphold their ego and narrative.

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Narcissists can be extremely charismatic and convincing, blinding others to their true tendencies. They will go to great lengths to uphold the narrative of being the victim and hero, including manipulation, lying, denial, and demanding others play along with their version of reality.

If you are dealing with a narcissistic relationship, here are some ways to cope moving forward. 

1. Set Boundaries 

Consider the ways the narcissist causes emotional upheaval and set boundaries. This could be seeing each other less frequently or only in certain settings.

Depending on the level of dysfunction or even abuse, leaving the relationship altogether may be necessary.

2. Refuse the Drama

Chaos and drama may be their norm, along with a need to assert control, but these don’t have to be your norm.

Stop Square

3. Don’t Receive Accusations

Accusations from a narcissist are often self-revelations. Refuse to receive these accusations as the truth about you and remember that his or her truth is not the truth.

4. Refuse to Engage

With chaos and drama as the narcissist’s norm, he or she thrives on creating drama in order to feed his or her narrative as victim and hero. Any engagement in an argument or heated discussion gives the person a chance to maintain or assert control. Calmly refusing to engage and walking away disrupts this dysfunctional cycle.

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5. Release Expectations

Empathy and understanding cannot be expected from a narcissist. They cannot give what they don’t possess. In other words, water cannot be drawn from a broken well. Instead, build a system of mutually supportive relationships with other people instead.

Life with a narcissist can fall anywhere on the range of mild dysfunction and difficulty to outright abuse. Depending on the circumstances, a clear exit from the relationship may be an obvious choice. However, when it comes to family or marital relationships, professional counseling is advisable. 

When dealing with a narcissist, nothing is ever about you. It’s important to remind yourself that the pathology that drives this behavior is also not because of you and not your fault. 


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