So, you’ve fallen in love with a narcissist. The term sounds wildly demeaning but learning all you can about the narcissist partner can help you work with and ultimately love them while keeping your emotions on a level scale. We all have a bit of narcissism, and we sometimes need to feel special. Those that exhibit the traits of a narcissist to the degree that it affects their daily lives, however, are the ones with the diagnoses of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the extreme variation of a narcissist and can only be clinically diagnosed. With that in mind, if you do feel your partner exhibits narcissistic traits and want a compassionate way to address it, then this blog is for you.
From helping them step forward in a healthy communicative relationship to discussing your concerns, here are five ways to deal with a narcissist partner.
A narcissist may have come into their traits by way of abusive means. For the vulnerable narcissist, their outward appearance is self-centered, indicative of a weaker inner core. Understanding how the person feels in their essence can give you a better understanding as to why they feel the need to be self-absorbed. Letting them know you are there for them and are happy to listen at any time of need, can open their ability to connect with you and communicate more openly.
You may think the narcissist doesn’t need any more compliments, but this is a different type of praise. Instead of boasting about their performance or achievements, tell them how much it means to you when they are kind or express various positive emotions. This version of positive reinforcement can help them learn to empathize with your feelings and ultimately set in motion constructive feedback.
3. Constructive Feedback
If complimenting them for their better attributes is showing signs of helping them progress, then it could be safe to move forward into constructive feedback. Avoid demeaning, as that would lead to a backpedaling. Instead, focus on positive ways to tell them behaviors that can be addressed. As an example, mention “Normally we can’t talk about “x” without you raising your voice. It’s wonderful that we were able to talk about it today in a normal tone.” If constructive feedback leads to the sound of silence or irritability, then you may want to take that behavior into account, take a step back, and reassess.
Affect, Behavior, and Correction. Affect, meaning feelings during an event, behavior, or experience that caused that effect, and correction, or the change you would like to see moving forward. These ABC’s are another form of constructive feedback but can open the line of communication for how specific behaviors make you feel. With effect, you mention that you are feeling a certain way such as sad or afraid. Behavior, as you might have already guessed, is the behavior that caused that feeling, such as when they raise their voice. Finally, correction notes what you would like to see as far as change is concerned, such as “Can you, please lower your voice.” Grouping this you would say “I feel afraid when you raise your voice. Can you please lower it so that we may talk in a normal tone?”
5. Using “we” for understanding
Setting the understanding that you’re both in the conversation together can avoid feelings of isolation. For example, “Can we talk things out in a normal tone of voice?” Another aspect of pointing out “we” versus “you” is that you make it known that you’re emphasizing the relationship that you’re in. Pointing out the “we” can also help address one-sided conversation.
Often you will read about instances where you cannot love someone with a narcissistic outlook and, to be fair, sometimes that is the case. If you try to work with someone on the way they treat you and they will not budge, it may be time to seek greener pastures, especially if they begin to isolate you from your friends and family. However, sometimes all you need is to add some compassion and understanding to the mix, as there are instances where people don’t know how to act differently from what they have always known.
As in any relationship, communication is vital. Keep your own emotions in the forefront of your mind and try to learn the reasoning behind someone’s behavior. You never know, you might find out something you would not have known otherwise. One final thing to note is that if someone’s narcissistic behavior is so overbearing that you feel they may have a personality disorder, sympathetically advising them that they may need to seek professional help is the best course of action.