Hello Dr. Maymunah, I think am in a relationship with a narcissist. I know you are going to ask me how I know that. Well, he is so self-absorbed, believes the world revolves around him.
He loves being loved and worshipped but will never reciprocate. Make mistake and criticize him, you are looking for big trouble. He feels he’s very special because he’s good looking, very efficient at getting things done and really intelligent.
I really think I’m in love with him but sometimes, I feel frustrated by his behaviour. How can I cope with him or should I just walk away from the relationship? Can I change him or do you think he can change?
From Lizzy, Lagos.
Lizzy, it’s easy for you to want to walk away from people with certain kind of behavioural pattern but think about it, what if he’s your boss or your dad or even your brother?
You can’t walk away from these people. So let’s discuss how you can deal with someone with Narcissistic personality disorder generally.
Is this person a narcissist?
Are they really a narcissist? If you have a hunch that they may be, well, you should ask yourself some questions first.
Do they think the world revolved around them? Do they constantly need attention and compliments? Does the conversation always have to go back to them? Do they downplay your feelings? Do they handle criticism poorly?
If it’s a yes for all of these, well, then it’s a good chance that they are a narcissist.
Figure out what kind of narcissist they are
I know what you are thinking, there are two kinds? Yes, there are. There are vulnerable narcissists and grandiose narcissists. Vulnerable narcissists show self-centeredness and appear to be self-absorbed because they’re weak and full of insecurity. Grandiose narcissists actually believe that they are the next best thing to God. They think they are just the most amazing human being to walk the earth.
Notice your emotions when around them
If you have to be around a narcissist, they probably annoy you to the core. However, you have to figure out why they are making you feel this way. If you can recognize where your feelings are coming from, then you can change your outlook to calm these negative feelings down.
Don’t try to change them
Okay, this is very important. Don’t become a narcissist by thinking you have the power to change a narcissist. They are not going to change. So, stop Googling, “how to help a narcissist” because whatever advice pops up won’t work. How can you change someone who thinks they are God?
What is your relationship with them like?
Now, this may suck and not be what you want to hear, but too bad. If they are your boss, you don’t have much choice but to go along with what they say.
Narcissists don’t like being criticized, and they will eat you up if you challenge them. So, you need to see where you stand in their relationship, you may just have to kiss ass for a while.
Get everything up front
The minute a narcissist gets what they want, they will ditch you. So, with that being said, you need to think ahead of the game and make sure you get what you want first.
In addition, make sure they pay up front as well. It may sound harsh in the beginning, but really, they will oddly respect you for it.
Use your emotions intelligently
You need to make sure that you use your emotions intelligently. Because narcissists don’t feel guilt or shame, they don’t know boundaries. So, the best way to deal with this is to point out what people would think of their behavior. If you suggest that people will think poorly of them, they will be less likely do something inappropriate.
Make sure you don’t get sucked in
To some extent, we all have narcissism in us. It’s just natural. However, if you are hanging around a narcissist, make sure you don’t become one.
You have to practice empathy for others. This will keep you level-headed and grounded. Also, maybe writing, “I’m not God” on your bathroom mirror would be useful.
Keep your expectations low
Don’t be mistaken, narcissists won’t go out of their way to help you in any case, unless your death affected them negatively.
Don’t rely on them
Unless they are working with you, do not place any dependence on them. This is the best way to keep your distance from them and keep your emotions safe from their grasp or else you will spend your time trying to please them.
Show them the benefits
If you need them to do something for you, the only way they will do it is if you show them the benefit of it. You need to convince them that by them helping you, they will look exceptionally good in the public eye. You are going to have to stroke their ego. I know, it’s lame, but it has to be done.
It’s very easy to be exhausted and emotionally drained by narcissists. However, you need to stay positive. If you are annoyed, take some deep breaths. You will need to find something in your mind to help you stay bright and light-minded. If not, they will strip you of everything.
You don’t have to stay serious and stern around a narcissist. By all means, cracking jokes and laughing may be a great strategy for how to deal with a narcissist. Now, if they are a grandiose narcissist, then this will work perfectly since they will find you entertaining.
Most importantly, encourage them to get help from a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. They ordinarily won’t look for help as they see nothing wrong with them.