10 Tips for Dealing with Someone's Narcissistic Personality Traits

10 Tips for Dealing with Someone's Narcissistic Personality Traits

Maintaining a relationship with someone with narcissistic personality traits can affect your well-being and mental health. Setting clear boundaries and relying on a support system of people you trust can help you find a way forward.

The term narcissist is tossed around frequently. It’s used to describe people who seem self-focused, concerned only for themselves, or manipulative of people in their lives.

However, it’s important to remember that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a legitimate mental health condition that can create significant challenges for the person living with it.

Only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose this condition based on the criteria outlinedTrusted Source in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR).

Still, some people can exhibit narcissistic characteristics without being diagnosed with NPD.

Here’s a look at some practical ways to deal with someone who has NPD or narcissistic tendencies — plus some tips for recognizing when it’s time to move on.

  1. Educate yourself about NPD

People often describeTrusted Source someone with a narcissistic personality as charming and likable, which may make it easy to overlook some of their other more harmful behaviors.

However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of NPD so that they are easier to recognize.

This can also help you better understand the person’s strengths and weaknesses so you are prepared to navigate any challenges.

Plus, it can be the first step in learning to accept them for who they are and setting more realistic expectations about your relationship.

Building healthy self-esteem can make it much easier to handle and cope with some of the potentially harmful behaviors you may encounter with someone who has NPD or narcissistic tendencies.

Engaging in positive self-talk, practicing self-care, and finding a healthy support system can help you develop resilience and foster your self-esteem.

Having higher self-esteem can also make it easier to set clear boundaries, be assertive, and advocate for yourself, all of which are key to maintaining a relationship with someone with NPD.

  1. Advocate for yourself

Sometimes, ignoring something or simply walking away is an appropriate response — pick your battles, right?

But a lot depends on the relationship. For example, dealing with a boss, parent, or spouse may call for a different strategy than dealing with a co-worker, sibling, or child.

If you feel your boundaries have been crossed, try not to react, get visibly flustered, or show annoyance.

If it’s someone you’d like to keep close to in your life, then you owe it to yourself to speak up. Try to do this in a calm, gentle manner.

Tell them how their words and conduct impact your life. Be specific about what’s unacceptable and how you expect to be treated, but prepare yourself for the fact that it may be challenging for them to understand or empathize with your feelings.

  1. Enforce clear and consistent boundaries

Instead of trying to change someone with NPD or narcissistic tendencies, it’s best to set boundaries about any behaviors that are unacceptable to you and communicate them clearly to the other person.

You should also enforce these boundaries rather than making idle threats or ultimatums to ensure you are being taken seriously.


Say you have a co-worker who loves to park their vehicle in a way that makes it hard for you to back out of your parking spot. Start by firmly asking them to make sure they leave you enough space.

Then, state the consequences for not respecting your wishes. For example, if you can’t safely back out, you’ll have their car towed.

The key is to follow through and call the towing company the next time it happens.

  1. Practice skills to keep calm

Practicing skills like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation may make it easier to remain calm and avoid reacting when interacting with someone who has NPD or narcissistic tendencies.

Becoming clear on your intentions or practicing what you plan to say before asserting your boundaries may also be beneficial.

It can also help you anticipate how they may react to challenging conversations so that you can respond appropriately.

  1. Find a support system

If you can’t avoid the person, try to build up your healthy relationships and overall support network. Rekindle old friendships and try to nurture new ones. Get together with family more often.

If your social circle is smaller than you’d prefer, try taking a class to explore a new hobby. Get active in your community or volunteer for a local charity.

Do something that allows you to meet more people you feel comfortable with.

  1. Insist on immediate action, not promises

Many people with narcissistic personalities are good at making promises. They may promise to do what you want, not to do that thing you hate, or promise to do better.

Oftentimes, they’re also sincere about these promises. However, in some cases, these promises may also be a means to their own ends.

Though direct confrontation isn’t recommended, it’s important to be clear about what you want, need, or expect and express yourself calmly and gently.

Tell them you’ll fulfill their requests only after they’ve fulfilled yours. You should also stay consistent and follow through to show that you take your expectations seriously.

  1. Understand that a narcissistic person may need professional help

It’s possible for some people to display certain traits, such as delusions of grandeur or a sense of entitlement, without it being the result of a more significant mental health condition.

The only way to distinguish between random traits and a true disorder is through an evaluation with a mental health professional.

Of course, even people with narcissistic traits might benefit from the help of a mental health professional. Regardless of a larger diagnosis, some traits can harm relationships, personal development, and well-being.

Remember, while NPD is a mental health condition, it doesn’t excuse harmful or abusive behavior.

  1. Recognize when you need help

Spending too much time in a dysfunctional relationship with someone who has someone who has NPD or narcissistic tendencies can leave you emotionally drained.

If you have symptoms of anxietydepression, or unexplained physical ailments, it’s important to consult a primary care doctor or other healthcare professional.

Once you have a checkup, you can ask for referrals to other services, such as a mental health professional or support group.

Reach out to family and friends and call your support system into service. There’s no need to go it alone.

  1. Understand when it’s time to move on

It’s generally best to leave a relationship if:

  • your mental or physical health is affected
  • you’re being manipulated, controlled, or isolated
  • you’re being verbally or emotionally abused
  • you’re being physically abused or feel threatened

Verbal and emotional abuse might look like:

  • blaming you for everything that goes wrong
  • calling you names or insulting you
  • denying things that are obvious to you or attempting to gaslight you
  • monitoring your movements or attempting to isolate you
  • routinely projecting their shortcomings onto you
  • telling you how you really feel or should feel
  • trivializing your opinions and needs

Physical abuse might look like:

  • breaking or throwing things
  • controlling what you eat, when you eat, or how much you eat
  • hiding your medications
  • hitting, shoving, and other bodily injury
  • locking you out of the house when they’re upset
  • sexual assault


The freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline0808 2000 247



Domestic Violence hotline on 0808 2000 247
Speak to you GP


If you think you’re in immediate danger, call 911 or local emergency services and remove yourself from the situation, if that’s possible.

Frequently asked questions

What shouldn’t you say to a narcissist?

While it’s important to set boundaries and communicate clearly, confronting people with NPD or narcissistic tendencies about their behaviour is unlikely to help.

People with NPD or narcissistic tendencies can be hypersensitive to criticism and may react Trusted Source with hostility, rage, or aggression when confronted.

Can someone with a narcissistic personality change?

Some people can improveTrusted Source narcissistic tendencies and develop less one-sided relationships with treatment. However, this often requires time, effort, and patience.

If you decide to maintain a relationship with someone who has NPD during treatment, it’s important to set realistic expectations and healthy boundaries.

What are the four types of narcissism?

There are two main NPD types Trusted Source: Grandiose (overt) narcissism and vulnerable (covert) narcissism.

While grandiose narcissism is often characterised by exaggerated self-worth and a need for admiration, people with vulnerable narcissism instead experience feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity.

There are also several other subtypes, including antagonistic narcissism, which is characterized by aggressiveness and feelings of entitlement, and communal narcissism, a type in which people tend to seek Trusted Source admiration for being altruistic or benevolent.

The bottom line

Navigating a relationship with someone who has NPD or narcissistic tendencies can be difficult. Instead of attempting to “fix” them, focusing on your behaviours and well-being is best.

This includes setting clear boundaries, building a strong support system, and practicing staying calm and responding appropriately.

It’s also important to recognise when you need help and when to step away from the relationship.


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