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Are You In a Relationship with a Narcissist?

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Does this scenario sound familiar:

“My dad is so self-centered. He only talks about himself; he’s never interested in what’s going on in my life or in my kids’ lives. He gets angry over the littlest misunderstandings.”

Or perhaps this scenario sounds like someone you know:

“Lately, when I’m with my girlfriend, I feel so alone. All she does is take selfies, posts them on social media, and then stares at her phone for hours to see how many likes or comments she gets.”

If either of those scenarios sound familiar, chances are you’re in a relationship with a narcissist. Being in a relationship with someone who has narcissist traits or been diagnosed by a mental health professional with narcissist personality disorder (NPD) can be difficult.

At the core of NPD is an inability to receive or give love. To be officially diagnosed with NPD, a person must demonstrate certain behaviors and attitudes, like a grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerations of achievements and talents, and expectations of recognition and admiration.

Those with NPD often react with rage, hostility and aggression to criticism, whether real or imagined. They also struggle with empathy and are unable to recognize or identify others’ emotional needs.

Studies show that most people with NPD or those that have narcissistic characteristics rarely seek treatment. So how can you handle someone with these characteristics? Here are four tips to help navigate these relationships.

  1. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not uncommon for those in a relationship with someone who has NPD to blame themselves for their loved one’s hurtful actions. Remember that he or she is internally struggling with feelings of shame and a fear of rejection.
  2. Learn the signs, causes and symptoms of NPD. Knowing and understanding the signs, symptoms and causes of NPD can help prepare you for when your loved one is more challenging. It can also help you avoid unnecessary conflicts.
  3. Have someone to talk to. Loving someone with NPD or features of the disorder is challenging. Having someone to talk is a form of self care. Consider joining a support group, talking with a mental health professional, or making time to talk to a close friend or family member.
  4. Have a sense of humor. When appropriate, use humor when dealing with egocentric behaviors. Making a harmless joke, breaking into benign laughter or cracking a genuine smile can diffuse anger and hostility.