How to Deal with a Narcissist
How to Deal with a Narcissist

In my recent article How to Recognise a Narcissist I promised some strategies on how to deal with them. Today I am pleased to deliver on that promise.  It’s time to reclaim yourself and take charge of your life.  Narcissistic abuse can happen to both men and women –  nobody is immune.


Phases of Narcissistic Abuse

First of all, it might be useful to recognise what makes us vulnerable to narcissistic abuse.  Typically narcissists are drawn to people who make them look good and/or in whom they see a vulnerability they can exploit.

They will start with a full-on charm offensive known as love-bombing.  This is very seductive if you have been through a difficult time and suddenly you feel seen, loved and cared for.  They will make grand gestures and say wonderful things like “you are the only one for me” or “you are my soulmate” very early in the relationship and things will move quickly.  This first phase of narcissistic abuse is a set-up which creates both a trust and dependency on them.

Once they have you hooked, they move into making you feel insecure by devaluing you.  They may criticise your clothes, your make-up, your personality, your choices and more.  This change of behaviour can cause you to adjust yourself to meet their new and stringent requirements.  You will begin to chase your tail thinking about what they want and doing things to please them.  They may go through a phase of showing love and withdrawing it to destabilise you.  They may gaslight you, saying that you are going crazy and you may well wonder whether you really are.


Impact of Narcissistic Abuse

The process causes you to lose yourself, your confidence and your emotional stability putting you on an emotional roller coaster creating a huge amount of anxiety.  They are likely to isolate you from your friends and your family increasing your level of dependence on them.  You might begin to blame yourself for all the problems and make excuses for their behavior. Despite how poorly they treat you, you may still love them, leaving you feeling trapped.  Here are some tips to  help you free yourself.  The important thing is that you can outgrow the person you were who made it easy for them to act this way. By doing so, you can reclaim control of yourself and your life.


Steps to Deal with a Narcissist

Use the following tips as long as it does not put you in any physical danger (see below):

  1. Recognise the unhealthy relationship

    You deserve better, no matter how you may be feeling right now.  One of mutual kindness, love, trust and respect.

  2. Understand it is not your fault

    Intelligent people the world over succumb to this manipulative behaviour – it is not your fault.  Their behaviour and mood are not your fault either, whatever they may say.

  3. Comit to change

    Make a commitment that you will begin this journey of reclaiming yourself today

  4. Resist undermining tactics

    Remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s words “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.  You have subconsciously given over your power to them and allowed them to define your value.  Understand that such efforts on their part is a reflection of them and not of you.  Write a list of all your positive qualities and read it as often as possible as a reminder of who you really are.

  5. Adopt confident body language

    Stand tall, shoulders back and relaxed, head level, face relaxed and look them in the eye.  Practice this as much as you can.  When our confidence is low we tend to take up less space, shrinking into ourselves, crossing our arms around our middle.  Avoid this.  Soon, your positive body language will not only signal to them that things have changed but you will feel that change in yourself too.

  6. Use a strong voice

    Make sure your voice is strong rather than submissive – another signal to them (and yourself) that things have changed.

  7. Set boundaries

    Use phrases such as:  “This is not how you behaved when we first met and in future when you behave this way towards me, I will leave the room/house”; “I’m tired, of this and I’m not going to  play this game with you any more.  When you are ready to talk about this calmly and reasonably, let me know”; “That is not OK”; “I agree that is your opinion.  It is not mine”; “I agree that you are angry”; “I am not responsible for your reactions/feelings”  State the consequences of their behaviour and stick to it.

  8. Deploy “The Wither”

    A look that says “really?” when they misbehave. This can take the wind out of their sails.

  9. Treat yourself with respect

    This will either rub off on your partner, or give you the strength to do what needs to be done.  Your mindset is absolutely key to change.

  10. Affirm your strength

    Use the following affirmation as often as possible, including in front of the mirror “I am strong.  I am worthy.”


Final Thoughts

Being in a narcissistically abusive relationship is a trauma.  You’ve internalised their false narrative about you, but it doesn’t make it true but is their manipulation of you.  Recovering yourself is an act of post-traumatic growth, where you become stronger from the experience.  Leverage it.  Learn to become the best version of yourself as you define it – not anyone else.

This path is not easy.  Find someone you trust who will support you.  Expect things to be difficult before they are easy – professional help will boost your strength and resolve.  And if you want to explore working 1:1 to make this easier on yourself, do get in touch.  You’ll be glad you did.

Strength to you.


Tricia Woolfrey



Disclaimer  If you feel that you are in danger in this relationship, seek professional help.

© Tricia Woolfrey