To victims of abuse, my advice is unequivocal:
But, if you insist on staying (always against the best interests of yourself and your nearest and dearest) – here is a survival manual, which highlights the tremendous costs of staying with an abusive narcissist:
FIVE DON’T DO’S
How to Avoid the Wrath of the Narcissist
1. Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him;
2. Never offer him any intimacy;
3. Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on);
4. Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity;
5. Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence. Bad sentences start with: “I think you overlooked … made a mistake here … you don’t know … do you know … you were not here yesterday so … you cannot … you should … (perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their freedom) … I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalization processes were screwed up and they did not differentiate properly) …” You get the gist of it.
The EIGHT DO’S
How to Make your Narcissist Dependent on You If you INSIST on Staying with Him.
1. Listen attentively to everything the narcissist says and agree with it all. Don’t believe a word of it but let it slide as if everything is just fine, business as usual.
2. Personally offer something absolutely unique to the narcissist which they cannot obtain anywhere else. Also be prepared to line up future sources of primary narcissistic supply for your narcissist because you will not be IT for very long, if at all. If you take over the procuring function for the narcissist, they become that much more dependent on you, which makes it a bit tougher for them to pull their haughty stuff – an inevitability, in any case.
3. Be endlessly patient and go way out of your way to be accommodating, thus keeping the narcissistic supply flowing liberally, and keeping the peace (relatively speaking.)
4. Be endlessly giving. This one may not be attractive to you, but it is a take it or leave it proposition.
5. Be absolutely emotionally and financially independent of the narcissist. Take what you need: the excitement and engulfment and refuse to get upset or hurt when the narcissist does or says something dumb, rude, or insensitive. Yelling back works really well but should be reserved for special occasions when you fear your narcissist may be on the verge of leaving you; the silent treatment is better as an ordinary response, but it must be carried out without any emotional content, more with the air of boredom and “I’ll talk to you later, when I am good and ready, and when you are behaving in a more reasonable fashion.”
6. If you are a “fixer”, then focus on fixing situations, preferably before they become “situations”. Don’t for one moment delude yourself that you can FIX the narcissist – it simply will not happen. Not because they are being stubborn – they just simply can’t be fixed.
7. If there is any fixing that can be done, it is to help your narcissist become aware of their condition, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, with no negative implications or accusations in the process at all. It is like living with a physically handicapped person and being able to discuss, calmly, unemotionally, what the limitations and benefits of the handicap are and how the two of you can work with these factors, rather than trying to change them.
8. FINALLY, and most important of all: KNOW YOURSELF. What are you getting from the relationship? Are you actually a masochist? A codependent perhaps? Why is this relationship attractive and interesting? Define for yourself what good and beneficial things you believe you are receiving in this relationship. Define the things that you find harmful TO YOU. Develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself.
Don’t expect that you will cognitively be able to reason with the narcissist to change who they are. You may have some limited success in getting your narcissist to tone down on the really harmful behaviours THAT AFFECT YOU, which emanate from the unchangeable WHAT the narcissist is. This can only be accomplished in a very trusting, frank and open relationship.
by Sam Vaknin, PhD, the author of the excellent and comprehensive book on abusive narcissistic personality disorder, “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited” and other books about personality disorders.