10 Ways To Stand Your Ground With A Narcissist

You can't let them control you.

Woman disengaging narcissist Riska, SHOTPRIME | Canva

You might have a few narcissists in your life who you feel stuck with (myself included).

We have no choice but to tolerate them because of family, work, or social obligations.

Yet, there are ways to help you both build a wall against being hurt and to help you keep your rationality during these interactions.

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Here are 10 ways to stand your ground with a narcissist:

Warning: This list is pragmatic and often brutal. It's a guide to making your relationship work as best as possible while honoring your needs.

1. Accept the fact they are unlikely to change.

It is rare for narcissists to change since they cannot understand the profound ways they affect others. They believe their actions are justified, and everyone complaining about their behavior is "out to get them."

They can't change patterns they blatantly refuse to acknowledge in the first place. This lack of personal responsibility can make you emotionally spiral. This is why you must accept you will never convince them to change.


Realize they are incapable of suddenly realizing they are wrong and making changes, and you must be the one who changes and manages your interactions.

2. Plan, plan, then plan some more.

When you consider spending any of your time with them, you need to weigh all the options of how it could go. Know the expectations and know it's usually better to meet somewhere in public.

Activities can be suitable distractions when they are short (like grabbing lunch). It is hard when you spend a lot of uninterrupted time together (like 18 holes of golf).

It might be a good idea to plan an escape route.

3. Bring your audience.

A narcissist can say and do hurtful things to an audience, but they will have a much harder time claiming nothing happened. Depending on which witness(es) you choose, they might go into “impress" mode and act completely differently than when you are with them alone.


If they are particularly harmful, sometimes they will twist your words and try to smear your reputation to others. If you always have a rational witness there, the nasty situation becomes easier to protect yourself against.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Help A Narcissist Who Is Ready To Change

4. Be cordial, but non-engaging.

it is much easier to avoid conflict when you keep the information you share about yourself to an absolute minimum while staying polite. If you don’t give them anything to latch on to, they are forced to keep their criticism and judgment to surface details, which — unfortunately — is usually more than enough for them.

Avoid providing fuel for their fire in any way possible. Your details can and WILL be used against you, so confide nothing more than the mundane.


5. Refuse to be drawn into an argument.

If you’ve already acknowledged they won’t change, it’s easier to avoid getting sucked into their drama. Refuse to let them pick a fight with you and cycle your emotions. You can only win by refusing to get into an argument in the first place.

Provide bland responses, and don’t take the bait if they criticize you. If they demand you change in some way, provide no solid answer either way. Evade. Change the subject. Don’t agree or disagree.

6. Take nothing personally.

This is easier said than done, but this quote is my mantra:

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” ― Don Miguel Ruiz


If you refuse to take the narcissist personally, you create your protective emotional space to help insulate yourself from the harmful parts of your interactions with them. Do not give in to guilt trips or attempts to make you feel ashamed.

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7. Expect nothing.

Oddly, one of the worst parts about dealing with a narcissist is the good times. The good times can be so good that you wish with your whole heart that maybe the bad times are over.

When an interaction with them goes well, continue to practice the other self-protective actions on the list. Maintain your emotional detachment. Appreciate the good, but remain prepared for the bad.


8. Withdraw when you’ve had enough.

Remove yourself from the situation when you’ve had enough. Cut the meeting short if things are turning harmful or you’ve been as polite as you can tolerate.

Have a signal to your witness (like a safe word) so they know you’ve had enough, and they can prepare to get moving.

9. Appreciate the good relationships in your life.

Enlist your partner’s help and try to work as a team. Interacting with a non-spouse narcissist can be hard on your primary relationship, so you must express your appreciation for their help in dealing with it. Remember, they are affected by the harmful stuff, too.


After you get through it together, demonstrate your appreciation — and above all, try not to take it out on them.

10. Above all, self nurture.

A narcissist cannot be trusted to say or do what is best for YOU, so you must have boundaries and protect yourself. This means withdrawing when it’s time to and rewarding yourself for simply getting through it — no matter what happens during the interaction.

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Elizabeth Stone is a love coach and founder of Attract The One and Luxe Self. Her work has been featured in Zoosk, PopSugar, The Good Men Project, Bustle, Ravishly, SheKnows, Mind’s Journal, and more