Having a narcissist as a partner can be extremely challenging. Narcissists think that the world revolves around them, and they often get close to someone only for their own wish-fulfillment. They are completely self-centered, and their needs always come first.
You certainly know that this isn’t the way to go in a relationship. Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect, honest communication, trust, and real connection. This isn’t something that a narcissistic partner can offer.
If you fell in love with a narcissist, only to realize it later, when the personality traits you were initially attracted to started to annoy you and get in the way of your own happiness, you should definitely do something about it.
Getting out of the relationship may be the easiest thing to do, but it’s not always the smartest. Choosing the path of least resistance is easy, but what if you’re married? What if you have children together? Even if you don’t, it may be really worth to fight for your relationship, but you first need to know what kind of narcissist your partner is.
What Type of Narcissist Are You Dealing with?
Not all narcissists are alike, so you need to know which one your partner is so that you can effectively deal with them.
There are two types of narcissists:
- Vulnerable narcissists
- Grandiose narcissists
Vulnerable narcissists are quiet, reserved, and sometimes even appear shy. They’re introverted, very sensitive, easily offended, and seek a lot of attention and sympathy.
They often resort to manipulation, playing the victim card to get the attention they need. They mask their low-confidence with arrogance. Their narcissistic traits are often difficult to pick up, as they kind of fly under the radar.
Grandiose narcissists are hard to miss, with their huge confidence, self-esteem, charm, and extroversion. They believe that they are better than everyone else, have a huge sense of entitlement, lack empathy, take people for granted, and want other people to admire them.
That’s what makes them feel powerful, which helps them compensate for their deep insecurity. They often seem cold and selfish, and they’re actually proud when people call them out as such. To get the admiration they need, they resort to guilt-tripping and trump their partner’s confidence and self-esteem.
How to Deal with a Narcissistic Partner
Whichever type of narcissist you’re dealing with, the following tips will help you take huge steps toward effectively improving your partner’s behavior.
- Identify the Source of Their Narcissistic Behavior
Knowing where your partner’s narcissistic behavior comes from will help you know exactly what to do. Maybe their parents pampered them too much or expected too much from them. Perhaps their parents taught them to hide their emotions, which bottled up for years.
It’s also common for physical violence, or witnessing any kind of abuse as a child, to turn someone into a narcissist. Find out where your partner’s insecurity, anger, and arrogance come from so that you can effectively reassure them, and calm them down.
- Kill Them With Kindness
Being kind and positive all the time isn’t the best solution, but finding the right balance will help you. Don’t add fuel to the fire whenever your partner starts a fight, or become mad at them when they criticize you or get on your nerves in any way.
Communicate with your narcissistic partner in a kind way, without sparking arguments, even if they try to do so. Speak to them about acceptable behavior, as well as about consequences for breaking the rules, without any reprimand.
Talk to your partner without fear, showing them that you are a kind, loving, caring person who deserves love and respect.
- Stay Positive and Keep Your Self-Worth
You need to understand that you truly deserve love and respect and that you’re capable of admiration. This is why you should try and stay positive, even when you feel like burying your face in the pillow and crying.
That would only irritate your partner, and fuel their aggressive behavior. If you choose not to show that you’re ruffled by your partner’s behavior, they’ll eventually stop getting under your skin. They’ll see that they’re not making you suffer, so they won’t find any more pleasure in it.
- Keep Your Sense of Humor
Narcissists have no sense of humor, and they often don’t appreciate wits aimed at them, as they offend very easily.
However, you can crack a joke about your partner’s egocentric traits, and make them actually smile. You can point to the stuff they need to change that way, but make sure you’re not cruel about it. Make humor constructive, and it may become your most powerful weapon for battling narcissism.
- Seek Counsel from a Professional
It’s important to know when a narcissist may need professional help to change their behavior. As many experts suggest, narcissists can change, but they need to truly want to change.
It’s an enormous step for a narcissist to even admit they have a problem, let alone to decide to take a very long road for treating it. If you recognize that your partner can benefit from professional counseling, kindly and very carefully advise them to do it.
If they’re not comfortable with in-office therapy right away, suggest taking an online marriage course. There are plenty to choose from, so take the time to find the best one for dealing with narcissistic partners. An online marriage course will help you strengthen your marriage, teach your partner how to value you, and help you build a better future together.
What If Your Narcissistic Partner Can’t – Or Rather, Won’t – Change?
You need to understand that changing anyone’s personality traits is extremely difficult. It will take a long time for your partner to cure, so to speak, their narcissism, if they do decide to try.
But if they remain stubborn and don’t want to try and change for the sake of your relationship or marriage, you should seriously think about whether they deserve you. Ask yourself if that’s the life you want to keep living and make a smart decision for yourself. Put yourself first, and choose to be happy.
Living with a narcissistic partner can be a chore, but the aforementioned tips can help you turn it into something better that’s worth fighting for. But regardless of whether your partner decides to improve, or you choose to move out of your relationship, remember that you deserve love and happiness. Let that guide you, and you’ll emerge victorious.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.