How To Deal With Narcissists

Living with a narcissist is challenging. Despite the difficulties, living a peaceful life is obtainable. Hence, it is important to understand the psychology of a narcissist. 

Early analysis of narcissistic personalities often conflates the ego and the libido. According to Freud, the libido is invested in the ego and is only interested in self-preservation. While true, in some sense, some with a narcissistic personality type are a bit more complex than what Freud’s analysis proposes. 

Darlene Lancer of Psychology Today points out that narcissists have low self-esteem. Despite the bravado they exude, many of them lack a true center. They have fragile self-esteem; hence their actions, thinking, and self-image help validate them. The story of Narcissus helps us understand better the inside of a narcissist. The gods sentenced Narcissus to a life without human love. Instead, he fell in love with his reflection and died waiting for its reply. It’s a misconception to think that narcissists love themselves. For many, it is just the opposite. Like Narcissus, many narcissists long to see their value reflected in the eyes of others. But, even when they do receive love, they are reluctant to appreciate it.

The narcissist personality is complex. Early studies suggest that narcissism develops as a result of indulgent early parenting. However, there may also be a genetic component. Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut’s observation proposed that narcissists suffer profound feelings of alienation, emptiness, and powerlessness because they lack an internal structure that provides stability, cohesiveness, and a positive self-image. A narcissist vacillates between feelings of superiority and worthlessness. Their grandiose self-image meets up with their inner critic, and they project their insecurities onto others. 

However, none of this excuses the tactics or behaviors of a narcissist. So, if you live with a narcissistic partner, roommate, or family member, here are a few tips to deal with them. 

  • Stop trying to change them. 

We all make excuses for those we love. We forgive them even if we say we are angry. Sometimes, we pity them and believe that they can change. I am sure it has happened to you. 

 However, you cannot make yourself responsible for changing the person you love. Change is a road that a person must choose on their own. A person may be influenced to change. But, they must want that for themselves. 

  • Boost your self-esteem

Living with a narcissist is particularly challenging because they often project their insecurities onto others. When living with others, narcissists can be verbally abusive and use techniques such as gaslighting. These techniques, when directed at you, make you question your self-worth. 

You end up feeling worse and low. At worse, living with a narcissist can cause you to develop mental health issues and worsen preexisting ones. 

To keep your self-esteem high, engage in positive self-talk, forgive yourself and advocate for yourself. 

  • Set boundaries.

Another way to protect yourself while living with a narcissist is to set firm boundaries. These boundaries are non-negotiable. For example, you let them know that you will no longer tolerate name-calling, and they persist. End the conversation to demonstrate your resolve. 

The boundaries are not so that the other person can change. They are to protect you. In the example above, try to disengage when they respond to you. If they continue name-calling or being abusive, do not engage or waver because if you do, it will seem as though you do not take your boundaries seriously. 

  • Do not take their behavior personally. 

Narcissistic behavior is rarely about the other person. A narcissist is often borne out of failed parenting or unlucky genes. So, do not take anything they say personally. In most cases, the harsh words they spew out are self-opinions and projections of their insecurities. 

Never blame yourself for their actions. A narcissist needs guidance and sometimes more than many of us. You could recommend they see a therapist, though they will likely refuse. So, instead of trying to change your situation, try to become immune to it or change yourself out of that situation. 

If living with a narcissist becomes too much, reach out to a therapist. 

Take care! 


Cherry, K. (2021, December 10). How to handle living with a narcissist. Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from 

Lancer, D. (2018, April 10). Understanding the mind of a narcissist | psychology Today. Psychology Today. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from 

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, November 18). Narcissistic personality disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from 

Pietrangelo, A. (2019, March 6). How to deal with a narcissist: 10 tips plus when to move on. Healthline. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from 

Robinson, K. M. (2021). How to handle a narcissist: What works and what doesn’t. WebMD. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from 

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