How To Enforce Boundaries With A Narcissist

They don't need to agree with you, but you do have to make sure of this one thing.

Why It's So Hard To Enforce Boundaries With A Narcissist Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock

Do you have a narcissist in your life that has no respect for you? Trust me when I say you're not alone. And when we can't let go of them completely, we're often told the next best thing is to establish firm boundaries.

But, every time we set boundaries with our narcissists, it likely ends with it blowing up in our faces. So, what's the issue with our boundary setting, and what can we change to make sure our boundaries stick?


Relationship podcaster Jimmy Knowles discusses the one thing you need to understand about setting boundaries with a narcissist.

Why It Feels So Hard To Enforce Boundaries With A Narcissist

"You can't set boundaries with a narcissist, it doesn't work," says Knowles sarcastically. But it would have never worked because narcissists don't respect personal autonomy.


However, a narcissist doesn't have to agree with your boundaries for you to set them, Knowles points out.

Okay, but what happens if they don't listen? How do we reinforce our boundaries then? Well, the truth is, setting boundaries has nothing to do with a narcissist and everything to do with us.

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"I think we might be getting confused on a boundary versus a request versus a demand," says Knowles.

He continues, "A boundary isn't you can't speak to me like that or even please don't speak to me like that. A boundary is if you speak to me like that here's what I'm going to do."

A boundary is, "If you keep disrespecting me then I will leave the conversation for thirty minutes." A boundary is, "If you continue to not respect my personal space then I will leave the room."


Knowles says, "It's not about controlling them at all. We don't have control over what they say or do."

@letsgetyourshifttogether There’s nothing to reason with, it’s only a supply trap to get you all worked up so the narcissist can sit back and enjoy your reaction. That’s all it’s ever about.There is no conversation you can have with a narcissist that will lead to a resolution of any kind.Don’t waste your energy, it’s completely pointless at the end of the day and only feeds the narcissist with more supply, giving them a sense of power and control over you.If you missed my webinar yesterday on the 3 secrets to reclaiming your power after narcissistic abuse… then I’m sorry to say but you really missed out!But guess what? I’m hosting another LIVE session on Monday August 14 at 7pm EST. You can register at the link in my bio!#narctok ♬ original sound - Narcissistic abuse recovery

However, we do have control over our own responses and how we react.

Okay, but what happens if they flip the script? What happens if they say we are being unfair or are "punishing them?" After all, isn't it a little disrespectful to walk away or make these kinds of demands?


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But as Knowles points out, "Isn't it funny how we're so concerned about how our words are gonna affect them?"

We don't want to be disrespectful but they never once gave us that same grace. They never once apologized or tried to respect our boundaries.

He continues, "When we talk about boundaries and communication it's easy to think well that doesn't exactly work with a narcissist." But that's exactly the point. Boundaries were never meant to work for narcissists.

Remember, narcissists don't care about mutual respect, healthy communication, or connection. A narcissist only cares about putting you down to feel powerful and in charge. To feel as if they've won and are better than you.


So, the question shouldn't be, "Do boundaries work on narcissists?"

Knowles says, "The harder question to answer is how much of my time, energy, and attention am I gonna give to someone who has no desire for safety, or emotional closeness, or reciprocation in this relationship?"

Ultimately, it's your call whether you want to reinforce those boundaries. However, always remember that having no contact with your narcissist is a healthy boundary that you can set and in my opinion, should set for your own peace of mind.


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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.