6 Tips For How To Have A Relationship With A Narcissist (Without Losing Yourself In The Process)

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How To Deal With A Narcissist And Make A Narcissistic Relationship Work
Love, Heartbreak

How can you love a narcissist without losing yourself?

Is it really possible to have a successful narcissistic relationship? You may wonder if there's any hope in a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

RELATED: 11 Lessons I Learned From Falling In Love With A Narcissist

As an empath, you might be scared that you're losing yourself in your relationship with a narcissist. You may be feeling used or taken for granted by a narcissistic partner who doesn't consider you at all.

Somehow, you've come to believe that everything was your fault, and you've questioned your sense of self. It's easy to lose yourself when you're beaten down in a narcissistic relationship — especially if you defend yourself.

Sadly, this can make you feel worse and damage you further, if you do not know how to deal with a narcissist.

In order to understand if you can keep yourself together in a relationship with a narcissist, you need to realize what a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) really looks like.

After being lured into a relationship with a narcissist, you may have realized the person they are is not who they portrayed themselves to be. Once you've encountered narcissistic rage, devaluation, gaslighting, infidelity, and being discarded, you realize that things are quite different.

So, why is it difficult to have a loving relationship a narcissist?

It's important to understand how the narcissist relates in order to determine if you can have a loving relationship with a narcissist.

Once a narcissist has captivated their partner into a relationship, the real problems start to emerge when the partner exposes what's really behind the false facade.

Once the partner stops mirroring their grandiosity or how perfect they are, the narcissist feels deflated, since they rely upon their partner for approval in order to keep their fragile self-esteem intact.

The narcissist wrongly believes their partner causes them to feel inadequate or empty. So they project their feelings onto their partner and find things wrong with them.

Gaslighting is one way to make the partner feel wrong about their perception of reality. The narcissist protects their false grandiose self by projecting their inadequacies onto their partner.

The partner is seen as an "extension" of the narcissist; a reflection of their self-esteem. This means they think you must be perfect.

Narcissists expect a lot in a relationship, and this may make you feel that you don't measure up to their standards. The narcissist may pressure their spouse to be "perfect" or do things their way. The relationship with the narcissist becomes about meeting their expectations in order to satisfy them.

They will expect their partner to mirror how perfect they are by admiring them or do the things they want of them. So their partner often feels pressure to live up to their expectations to make them feel special. Otherwise, the narcissist feels empty or inadequate when others do not prioritize them.

It may feel like walking on eggshells since you're fearful to say anything that ruptures the narcissist's fragile ego. This leaves you feeling like you must be attuned to their needs and feelings all the time.

It seems the only way to have love with a narcissist is to meet their expectations, be on the same page as them, perfect oneself, and not disagree or have a separate opinion.

Those in a toxic relationship with a narcissist tend to accommodate their every need. Many end up losing themselves in the relationship with a narcissist or giving a lot in order to meet their needs.

Having a relationship with a narcissist means you risk getting hurt. They pick themselves up by having affairs or engaging in addictions. They cut themselves off from feelings or attack you, so they cannot take responsibility for their issues.

They cannot handle criticism or exposure of not being perfect, so they devalue those who expose them. When others confront their mistakes, they often prove that others are wrong, in order to "win."

Having a relationship with a narcissist can be destructive. The partner questions themselves or doubts themselves, often backing down or giving up on their own thoughts and opinions. Narcissists cover up the things they do wrong to avoid judgment, shame, or humiliation.

So, understanding the destructive qualities of someone with NPD, is it possible to have a relationship with them and still keep yourself safe?

The answer is yes — but it requires a lot of work.

RELATED: 20 Extremely Brutal Signs You're In Love With A Narcissist

Here are 6 tips you can practice to preserve your sense of "self" in a relationship with a narcissist:

1. Accept who they really are — but do not compromise yourself.

The only way to relate to the narcissist is accepting who they really are, a vulnerable real self that feels flawed for not being perfect, not admiring their false grandiose self that covers how they really feel. This means not propping them up by meeting all their needs or demands. They can relate more authentically when they feel accepted for who they really are.

Do not compromise your goals, or plans when feeling pressured to give in to what they want. Acknowledge their feelings and say, "no," if necessary. Acknowledge their point of view, but also maintain your own. You can consider how they feel and hold your own stance.

2. Don't take in what they say; it doesn't reflect you.

Narcissists project their fantasy onto others by thinking wrongly of others intentions or being suspicious of them. They also believe that others are critical of them, even if they're not.

So, you have to be mindful that they will most likely see you the wrong way, but it's not who you really are — so don't take this personally.

Don't try to defend yourself because they will feel attacked and attack you back.

3. Understand the feeling behind their reaction and communicate with their feelings.

Instead of reacting, ask yourself what they're feeling behind their reaction and acknowledge their feelings.

You can say, "I understand that you felt hurt when I forgot to call, and you feel unimportant. I'm sorry you feel this way."

By doing so, you're indirectly letting them know you are not what they think you are, by being attuned to how they are feeling and acknowledging their hurt.

4. Accept how they feel — but don't change your feelings.

Directly pointing out how they are wrong will cause them to devalue you for exposing who they really are. Unless you show you understand them and offer the space to be heard and accepted for how they really feel — the real self.

The only way to get close to a narcissist is to show that you get them and understand their pain by acknowledging how they feel while understanding their vulnerable feelings. So they can feel accepted for who they really are — an imperfect human being.

5. Set limits and boundaries on unrealistic expectations.

Don't give in to their unrealistic expectations; you must stay true to yourself.

Having a relationship with a narcissistic person does not mean you collude with their expectations or give into them. You need to set limits on their grandiosity, otherwise, they'll expect the world.

But gently let them fall off the pedestal, so they can live in the real world, and re-align their expectations in accordance with reality.

The world is not their "oyster," and they shouldn't get away with everything they want. Otherwise, they continue to live within the delusional grandiose fantasy world, of seeking endless supplies.

6. Do not confront their behavior or react — otherwise they will beat you down.

If the narcissist feels criticized, they will attack back, rather the take on board feedback about themselves. So, you have to gently deflate their grandiosity so they do not fall so hard and break.

There is an art form for talking with narcissists, to open them up and let down their emotional guard. Behind the false self, the facade is usually a very vulnerable individual.

No one should put up with narcissistic abuse, or let them get away with their behavior, otherwise, it enables them to continue to get away with it and damage the partner.

When narcissists feel criticized, they feel inadequate and project these feelings onto others, rather than to listen to their partner. So couples therapy can assist the narcissist to take-in how their spouse feels and take on board constructive feedback about themselves.

The entry point for feeling love for a narcissist is connecting with their real vulnerable self, not complying with their false grandiose desires by giving them what they want.

Once they feel understood for how they feel, they are more open to expressing vulnerability and hurt, instead of stonewalling or cutting off. Once they feel heard, they can begin to listen to how you feel, rather than being defensive.

In loving a narcissist, you always need to protect yourself. Don't lose yourself and don't take on their negative projections.

When you can manage this, you can deal with a relationship with a narcissistic person, as long as abuse is not an issue. It can be a fine line, but it's up to you if you want to take the risk to love someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

You may wish to consult a therapist or ask them to have therapy so you can protect yourself.

RELATED: How Dating A Narcissistic Man Made Me Wake Up And Change My Life (For The Better)

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Nancy Carbone specializes in dealing with relationships with narcissists, trained from the Psychoanalytic International Masterson Institute for treatment of personality disorders. If you are struggling in a relationship with a narcissist you can visit her website for an appointment or sign up on her newsletter for free advice and tips about handling a relationship with a narcissist

This article was originally published at Counselling Services Melbourne. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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