Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD
“Should I Stay Or Should I Leave?”
The Tremendous Costs of Staying with an Abusive Person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

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Live the LIfe you Desire

To victims of abuse, my advice is unequivocal:


Leave before the effects of abuse – including PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) – become entrenched. Leave before your children begin to pay the price as well.

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:


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.


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.

Read “Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD: ‘It’s All My Fault; I Provoked Him.’”

Read “Minimizing: ‘He didn’t mean to hurt me. He just pushed me a little too hard.’”

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5 thoughts on “Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD
“Should I Stay Or Should I Leave?”
The Tremendous Costs of Staying with an Abusive Person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

  1. Iris

    I bought the book last week. I have read no less than 20 books on this subject, and wish this was the first one I had read rather than the last. I have always read with the approach that I could do something different, if I could only learn what made my Narc the way he was, then I could “fix myself” to accomodate his needs and the relationship would become less volatile (yes, I have become a narc-by-proxy). Sam Vankin’s book has made me realize it is not me who is broken and in need of fixing, it is him. And that he is unfixable. I just need to decide how many more years of pain I’m willing to put up with before I become as bad as he is.

  2. Kim Coffey

    I am just discovering that my husband is a truest nacissist. I don’t know my first step I what to do I’m frozen

    1. Alison Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that, although knowledge and understanding can help you to see that his behavior is not a reflection of you. I would recommend reading Sam Vaknin’s book, “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited”, looking at his website, and/or reading my article on narcissism: More knowledge and understanding is key to taking action when you are involved with a narcissist. Good luck to you. If you have more specific questions for me or Sam Vaknin, please email them.

  3. Pingback: “I’m his biggest fan and he treats me like a slave.” | Healthy Relationships and Solutions to Happiness and Love © 2012

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