What To Expect When Living With A Narcissist

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don’t think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not a woman in that same role.

People that have Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) are actually pretty common and can be found in all different paths throughout your life. There will more than likely come a time when you find yourself working with or living with a narcissist.

Whether it is a sibling, parent, or spouse you many not have the ability to avoid them all together so you must face the odd and learn to cope with living with a narcissistic personality.

At times a narcissist will be charming, funny, caring, and even romantic…… and with a flip of a switch they will be angry, arrogant, hurtful, and deceitful.

While you may not be physically hit or physically abused in this relationship, your heart will be broken 10,000 times. Even if you think you are a “strong” person and can handle it; your strength is not really strength, but rather, denial. The following list is just a taste of what you can expect when living with a narcissist.

surviving narcissism

50 Things To Expect When Living With A Narcissist

1. He will always define the terms.

2. You will live by a set of double standards.

3. You will not be truly listened to.

4. He will never resolve a conflict, as a result, they will continue to repeat.

5. He will rarely consider your feelings; and will only do so if it serves him somehow.

6. He will never apologize in an authentic way that acknowledges his behavior or your suffering.

7. What will matter most to him is how he appears to others.

8. He will ruin all of your birthdays and holidays (unless he can somehow make it about him, i.e., HIS favorite band will play at your birthday party, a trip planned “with/for” you will be to a location that HE wants/needs to visit, etc….).

9. He will be sullen during (or cause a fight before) events that are important to you because they are not about him.

10. He will NOT show up for you at times when you need a partner the most and will be rageful if you are upset about it. (The more distressed you are the more delight in abandoning you).

11. He will demand forgiveness for his bad behavior yet do nothing to earn back your trust or change his behavior.

12. Your expectations will be managed down to mere crumbs; to the point where you will be happy just because he isn’t giving you the silent treatment, yelling at you, or cheating on you.

13. You will never win.

14. He will be dismissive and, at times, cruel to your pets.

15. Beyond the initial stages of dating, he will make NO effort to befriend your friends or family unless knowing them benefits him in some way.

16. He will tend to make you his scapegoat.

17. He will dump his shame and rage on to you.

18. Simple conversations will become crazy-making endeavors.

19. You will find yourself walking on eggshells.

20. You will lose yourself because you will be trained to focus only on his feelings and reactions; never mind yours.

21. You will experience the silent treatment.

22. You will experience cognitive dissonance, confabulation, and gas lighting.

23. You will find yourself telling a grown adult how to have normal interactions with others.

24. Your relationship will revolve on a cycle: waiting — hoping — hurting — being angry — being punished — forgiving — forgetting — again.

25. He will isolate you from your friends, family or financial support and then blame you for depending on him.

26. He will say cruel and judgemental things about the friends closest to him while being nice to their faces.

27. He will blame you for all of the problems in the relationship.

28. You will blame yourself.

29. He will use your weaknesses, traumas and intimate secrets against you.

30. You will experience many dramatic exits, followed by a reappearance of the N acting as if nothing unusual had ever happened.

31. He will act like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

32. He will not do his fair share of household responsibilities and will criticize your efforts.

33. He will come and go as he pleases.

34. When you try to hold him accountable he will fly into a rage.

35. He will not answer questions directly.

36. He will never ask you about your day and wish you to “have a good day.” He will never show genuine concern for things that you care about (unless it’s something he cares about.)

37. You will feel stuck and unable to leave him.

38. You will miss him and wait for him all the time.

39. He will project his bad behaviors onto you and you will project your good intentions onto him — neither is accurate.

40. When you finally break because of his crazy-making behaviors and the insanity of the relationship, he will call you a lunatic, others will think you are a lunatic, and you, yourself, will believe that you are just as bad as him (realize, there is no moral equivalence between expressing frustration and intentional abuse.)

41. No one else will see it. This will cause you to question your reality.

42. The entire experience will result in trauma for you because it is interpersonal violence.

43. He will compare you unfavorably to other women, especially his ex.

44. You will begin to feel crazy; then, over time, you will begin to feel numb.

45. If you go to couples counseling it will not work, and will most likely backfire on you. (Please realize you do not have a marriage problem, your partner has a mental illness.)

46. He will triangulate you with the other women in his life, causing tension and drama between them and you, while he remains unscathed.

47. Once you start to wise up and pull away he will begin to smear your character behind your back in an attempt to turn people against you. In fact, he was probably doing this throughout your entire relationship.

48. The negativity and cruelty with which he speaks about his former relationships will befall you as well should you find the strength to leave him. Brace yourself.

49. Most people will never fully believe your account of the relationship and the psychological trauma can take years to understand and recover from.

50. Your value will be diminished to the point of nothingness in his eyes. In fact, mere strangers will hold more weight in his eyes than you will.

living with a narcissist

No human being is a match for these tactics, and if you do try to match the narcissist’s game with any of the narcissit’s tactics — the narcissist immediately pounces on your lack of integrity, which throws you into the despair: The narcissist doesn’t believe I am a decent person (this destroys your soul and mission to ‘change’ the narcissist …) or you will feel the incensed mind-bending rage of: Who are you to accuse me of lack of integrity?

Whichever way it goes, you end up battered and distraught, and the narcissist obtained narcissistic supply and the omniponent knowing that he or she can have this effect on you…

You can’t shrug off allegations like the narcissist can. The narcissist, once securing you in their life, actually doesn’t care whether or not you think the narcissist is a good person.

The narcissist is simply in the game for the two reasons that narcissists interact with anyone:

  1. To secure narcissistic supply, and
  2. Having a person to hurt in order to offload their tormented inner self.

You have to accept that the narcissist simply does not hold or even care about the model of love and relationships that you do. His or her values, needs and neuron brain pathways are miles apart from yours.

Remember that this is just a taste of what to expect when living with a narcissist. There is even more pain and suffering that will accompany you in you time with them.

If you choose to remain in a relationship with a narcissist here are a few simple coping skills that will be useful in surviving and maintaining your own mental health.

Coping Skills to Survive Living With A Narcissist

Set and Enforce Boundaries

Become aware of personal limits, needs, desires, irritants, and aspirations. State these clearly to the narcissist. Actively promote self-care in all interactions with the narcissist. Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable just because the narcissist tries to get you to do it. Only do things you feel comfortable doing.

Let the narcissist deal with his or her own disappointment when this happens. Return to active interaction with the narcissist only after the manipulative behavior stops. Trust your own judgment.

Maintain A Support System

Develop a support system of 3 or more healthy adults who are in no way charmed by narcissistic behavior.

They may have narcissistic family members of their own, but they must distinguish between genuine and manipulative behavior styles.

Every week, confidentially and respectfully share healthy adult viewpoints among support system members to counterbalance those of loved ones who function emotionally at the level of a toddler.

Spend time with people who give you an honest reflection of who you are. 

In order to maintain perspective and avoid buying into the narcissist’s distortions, it’s important to spend time with people who know you as you really are and validate your thoughts and feelings.

Draw A Line In The Sand

Make a list of at least three behaviors neither person in the relationship will tolerate. When the list has been agreed upon, make a sign and put it up where you both can see it.

When either person breaks a rule, the other partner must point it out in private, calmly and with respectfully chosen words.

The partner who acted out must clearly apologize and state clearly the plan they have in place for making certain this does not become a pattern in the future.

If one partner ignores the agreement more than three times in any three month period, the relationship should be renegotiated with a trained professional present.

Identify Escalating Behaviors

Although not all narcissists are prone to physical violence, there are enough that are to warrant watching for this trait if the narcissist displays some of the warning signs.

Potential signs of escalating behaviors that might forewarn of physical violence could include:

  • Possessive or controlling behavior
  • Verbal abuse
  • Constant criticism
  • Undue control of family finances
  • Isolation from family and friends
Living with a narcissist

Living with a narcissist is never easy.

Accept that you cannot change their personality. Nor should you want to. 

If it’s that bad, consider leaving the relationship or limiting contact. But if you want to continue living with a narcissist, do your best to put these protect yourself with these strategies.

-Be A Warrior-

4 thoughts on “What To Expect When Living With A Narcissist”

  1. I am going through the trauma of being married to a narcissist for 27 years. He has even turned my children against me and into believing him. My own mother doesn’t believe me anymore. He has convinced everyone that I’m mad and wants to put me in a mental hospital. He wants to change my doctor because my doctor sees right through him. Your article has opened my eyes. Thank you. God bless.

  2. I started dating my (N) when I was 17. We were married when I turned 19 and had our first child at 20. I started trying to escape by her 1st bday. This process left me homeless on drugs and with out my lil one by the time she turned 4. I managed to completly seperate myself from him. I got back on my feet working legally seperated and joint custody in place. We actually became friends again. I first lost my car then my job then my apartment. He offered me help to get back on my feet.I slept with him and got prego. and sucked completely back in. my son is turning 5 now. And I feel theres no way out im completly isolated from any support. My only family in other states. and under such control I cant even go to the grocery store with out being timed and told what im allowed to spend. I refuse to leave without my children. And dont know what to do. i cant go but i cant stay . thank you for this information I have never come across anything so accurate word for word. I was giving up and feeling more alone then ever until I clicked on a random pin on my pinterest feed. nothing has ever pin pointed everything im experiencing so accuratly and the validation means so much.

  3. Except for 43 & 46, I experienced these traits on about a two week cycle for 16 years. We broke up and it took me a whole year to get him out of the house. That was two years ago. I still experience some of these behaviours because he tells me that I kicked him out with nothing, withholds child support and neglects his children. He moved in to a family friends home. I genuinely don’t know what happened but that couple is now broken up and the woman and he are now in a relationship. I’ve never done a stock take on this because I didn’t honestly view him as a narcissist. He totally is! Now all three of my children display narcissism (which I read is fairly typical – as they grow out of it as they age);however, my daughter is getting worse. Her behaviour triggers me and there is often conflict. In trying to determine if my child is a narcissist I found out I was trapped in a relationship with one for a long time.

    I’ve got some healing to do and boundaries to set.

  4. This was so good. I have been experiencing hypermnesia and then a huge burden of shame for my past as I dated a Narc from 18 till 23. I didn’t know it could be considered as trauma so I always tried to down talk it but this has stopped serving me because these depressive cycles keep coming back and this time during corona with so much uncertainty going on, the trigger has hit harder and longer! I am so happy for this blog post and others. It answered my question that trauma can also happen from narcissistic abuse even if it didn’t happen during childhood. Too little talk about it

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