What to do about a narcissist

Narcissistic personality disorder is a fascinating topic. If you know a narcissist, reading about it will feel like all the pieces of a really difficult 1,000 piece puzzle suddenly slotting neatly together.

Ignoring red flags is typical of empaths who fall for narcissists, so I thought it might be helpful to write about some of the things I’ve read about this disorder. If any of the below resonates with you, I hope you feel inspired to do your own research and soul-searching so you can escape your situation and begin the rocky road to recovery.

Here are some things you might find interesting about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD):

  • People aren’t born with NPD written into their DNA. It is a personality disorder that typically develops in response to a neglectful or abusive childhood.
  • The key markers of a narcissist are: total lack of empathy, compulsive lying, holding grudges, great at deluding themselves and others, playing the victim to manipulate empaths, demeaning and bullying others to mask own low self-esteem.
  • Narcissists aren’t always larger-than-life, selfie-taking egomaniacs. There are covert narcissists too. These are harder to spot, and can be more dangerous. They usually play the victim, or Mr. Nice Guy/Girl to get what they want.
  • Narcissist partners will make everything your fault – they will play on your feelings of shame or dislike of conflict. They will never apologise or accept blame. Don’t ever expect to get closure after narcissistic abuse. They believe in their core that it was all your fault.
  • Narcissists flip between love-bombing you and abusing you – they might put you on a pedestal by expressing their undying love for you, but you’ll feel like there’s something false about it, like you’re a doll, or a play-thing because their actions don’t always align with their words. As time goes by they’ll switch to criticising you, gaslighting you, destabilising your sense of reality and projecting their own shortcomings onto you.
  • Narcissists rarely know they’re narcissists.

Every article I’ve read about NPD has one piece of advice: if you think you have a narcissist in your life, get as far away from them as possible. They aren’t capable of real love. They form attachments to people they gain something from, but it’s not love. Love is reciprocal; it is born from mutual respect, understanding and compromise. Narcissists are parasitic. The narcissist will always put themselves first, whatever the cost, but they will cleverly package it up as love for you (I lied to you because I wanted to protect you, etc.). They’ll also nurture a fantasy that your love transcends normal boundaries: it’s special, one-of-a-kind (no-one will ever love you like I do).

If you’re a kind, empathetic but not very assertive person, you’ll probably feel so sorry for them that you’ll follow them into the dark. Every time they hurt you, you’ll make excuses for them and you might even subconsciously enable their victimhood by starting to feel like the bad guy. Feeling emotionally trapped, you might fulfil the prophecy and become the bad guy: escaping the relationship in covert, cowardly ways, such as emotionally detaching, or seeking love elsewhere. This behaviour will be seen as proof that you’re a bad person unworthy of love. In order to nurture your sense of worthlessness and prevent you from leaving, the narcissist will tell you that your transgressions define you, and that no-one else could possibly love you because of them. But they still won’t let you go. And you’ll still feel sorry for them – probably forever.

Be strong. Own your mistakes but understand that you were played. Pick yourself up and leave the narcissist. There is a better life for you.