How to Cope When You Love a Narcissist
We can't always choose who we love. While a person often feels powerless when falling romantically for another person, emotions are ultimately controllable. Perhaps, you have chosen to love someone with a narcissistic personality. This is a challenging proposition, but you can have a successful relationship with a person suffering from this personality disorder. Learn the coping strategies that can make your partnership work.
Become Educated About Narcissism
Learn as much as you can about narcissism. It is a complicated mental illness centering on an individual's inflated sense of self-importance accompanied by a lack of empathy for other people. While this is an intimidating definition, narcissistic individuals can and do fall in love and commit to romantic involvements. Research the complexities of the disorder, and you will discover such things as narcissists often experience doubts, become seriously depressed and feel shame. They are people, not caricatures, and this should never be forgotten. Read about the symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatments of the disorder to gain a better understanding and empathy for your lover.
Relationships with narcissists are often highly emotional. Your partner will likely have many moments in which he displays strong feelings of anger, disgust, sadness and frustration. Guess what? So will you. Do not try to suppress his and your emotions, instead attempt to channel them appropriately. Encourage your partner to tell you what he is feeling without shouting, cursing or otherwise acting out. You do the same in expressing your emotions. Watch out for manipulation attempts on the part of your lover as this is a common strategy employed by narcissists. Communication is vital. If he is unwilling to have a serious discussion at a particular time, calmly inform him you will address the issue when he is able to control himself. Do not give him the emotional reaction he is likely craving.
Pick Your Battles Wisely
Don't turn every slight your partner makes against you into a war. Accept that part of this condition manifests itself in snide comments, veiled or not-so-veiled insults, thoughtless actions and other frustrating ego-centered behavior. For your own mental health, you must decide what is necessary to respond to and what to let go. Set the boundaries that work for you, remind yourself and your partner of the limits and require apologies when you need them.
Take Breathers from the Turmoil
You need time to yourself and your partner needs the same. Coping with a mental illness is often exhausting for you and him. Take time off especially during periods when your partner's symptoms are escalating. Physically remove yourself from his presence for the amount of time you need to reflect and restore your energy and perspective. Alternate rest periods with activities. Enjoy the company of friends, vent all you like and take out frustrations on a tennis court, soccer field or batting cage. Tell your partner you need these times away, and do not allow him to make you feel guilty for taking them.
The primary treatment course for narcissism is psychotherapy. Many people with the disorder deny they need help so you might have to insist on it. If your partner refuses professional assistance, you must decide to either leave or stay in the relationship. Should you choose to remain involved, know that your lover's disorder will not likely change. Hopefully, he will be receptive to psychotherapy. In this case, you should follow his therapist's advice on how you can support his treatment.
Loving someone with a personality disorder of narcissism is challenging. You must maintain your own self-confidence, exercise emotional control and remain empathetic in the face of challenging words and actions.
Discover much more about mental health issues when you contact me.
The Narcissists Guide to Being a Loving Partner
Being a narcissist in love isn't easy. Whether you simply suspect your own narcissism, have been accused of it by your lover, or have a clinical diagnosis, one thing is the same: It's hard to think about anybody but yourself. Chances are, you've been this way your entire life, narcissism happens in infancy after all, and you have simply never been all that moved by other people's emotions. But you're not inhuman.
Being a narcissist doesn't stop you from needing other people, from falling in love, and caring deeply about those close to you. It just makes empathy an uphill battle. So for the single Narcissist out there preparing to be good mates and for coupled narcissists trying to be better mates, here's a quick handbook on how to be a loving romantic partner and generally a better person.
1. Make Everything a Two-Way Street
The narcissists' biggest weakness is a narrow self-focused perspective, which comes across as selfishness. Narcissists take care of their own needs first and have a hard time perceiving the needs of others. The best quick-fix for making your partner feel left out is to simply include them in everything.
The trick? Always remember to adjust for their preferences.
When you want a drink, offer to grab your partner a drink of their choice. When you're cold, offer your partner a sweater or if they want to snuggle under a blanket. If you're bored, try asking your partner if they want to blow the scene with you. Extend your bubble of self-care to include your partner and they will feel your love. Even if it's clumsy at first.
2. Check In All the Time
Most narcissists assume that people feel the same way they do. A bad day seems like it should be bad for everyone. Being happy can also mean that you accidentally overlook the pain of others. Remember that your partner has a separate experience and keep up with them. Ask them how their day went, how they feel, and what they think about things. Then let that guide your conversation and the day you share.
- "What do you want to do today?"
- "How did work go for you?"
- "What are you thinking about?
- "Did you have any trouble while I was gone?"
- "What's going on with you?"
3. Keep Your Promises
Narcissists are also notorious for flexible behavior, which can lead to breaking promises without noticing. Forgetting birthdays would matter to you, but it's all too easy to forget the birthdays of others. Start keeping track of the promises you make and the things you should remember, and remember them. Use life organizing apps, online calendars, writing on your hand: whatever it takes to keep promises to the people you care about. And be understanding when others are forgetful.
Showing your devotion with intentional actions is a good way to counteract your natural lack of empathy. If a partner sees that you put effort into caring, it reassures them that they matter to you.
4. Ask About Feelings
Being a narcissist is a lot like missing any other sense. People have emotions, you just don't' detect them passively. Never forget that your partner has a full range of their own emotions that also respond to every statement or event. The best way to compensate for narcissism is simply to ask how your partner is feeling on a regular basis. Make it a habit to check in with them emotionally all the time, and with each conversation topic.
The key here is to insist that you want to know. People aren't used to openly expressing their emotions, but this is an important communication for any couple with or without narcissism. Show your honest interest in your partner's emotions and encourage them to open up so that you can know how they feel and consider their feelings when you act.
- "How do you feel this morning?"
- "How do you feel about that?"
- "What do you feel like doing today?"
- "Is this too much for you?"
- "Are you bored with this?"
5. Offer to Do Things for Your Partner
Partners of narcissists often find themselves giving way to your relentless self-focus, but that's not actually how you want the relationship to go. If you are energetic, offer to do things for your partner like bring them food and drink, clean up, take them on a date, or just give them a sexy backrub at home. The biggest complaint of narcissts' partners is that they don't get enough out of the relationship. Doing things for your partner can be very enjoyable for both of you and even the emotional balance.
When your partner is working on something nearby, offer to join them and help what they're doing. Chop something with them in the kitchen, fold half the load of laundry, or start handing them tools. This is a great way to be supportive.
- "What can I do for you?"
- "Can I get you anything while I'm up?"
- "You look tired, can I give you a backrub?"
- "What do you want to see when you get home?"
6. Credit Where Credit's Due
Finally, narcissists often seem like they're taking credit for any good thing that happens. In reality, this is a side-effect of feeling like the whole world is a part of you. Your partner is actually afraid that you won't value the things they do for you, like arrange fun outings or cook a nice meal. Reassure them by always giving credit where credit's due.
Find ways to thank your partner all the time for good ideas or a good time together. When you repeat something they've said, give them credit in the conversation. If they do something for you, show your gratitude and find a way to compliment them.
As a bonus, complimentary behavior is likely to get you more credit in conversations as well.
- "I remember, you told me that...."
- "Coming here was a wonderful idea, darling"
- "Thank you so much for cooking. This is delicious"
- "You're so kind to clean up. Is there anything I can do to help?"
- "We should have done this sooner, thank you for suggesting it"
- "Being here with you has been amazing"
You're Already On the Right Path
Being a narcissist doesn't mean you can't be a loving and supportive partner. Every couple has hurtles to overcome together and the key is always being willing to try. Simply by reading this guide and trying to overcome your narcissism as a partner is a step in the right direction. The best thing any couple can start with is a mutual agreement to try.
Partners of narcissists often feel left out and uncared for. Hopefully, this guide has given you the tools you'll need and a good starting point to show your real love for them through actions, words, and considering your partners needs right next to your own.
Getting Help When You Need It
Finally, never forget that you don't have to face your relationship challenges alone. If you are trying to express love but your partner still seems dissatisfied, it's okay to call on the help of a professional. Couple's counseling can help you overcome your own limitations and help your partner come out of their shell. Ideally, your partner will get better at expressing their feelings while you practice consideration and detecting visible emotions. With professional guidance and an outside perspective, you can work around your narcissism and grow closer as a couple.
If you'd like more tips on how to handle personality disorders in loving relationship or consultation on your unique relationship concerns, contact me today. I'm here to help.