Having a narcissist in your life can be challenging. While many people have narcissistic traits like self-importance and entitlement, people who meet the official diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder are emotionally draining, manipulative and need constant admiration.
Ways to Tell Someone Around You Is a Narcissist
Narcissistic people have high self-esteem and crave the spotlight. The characteristics they share are typically easy to spot and include:
- Feeling unique, special or superior to others
- Taking advantage of others to get what they want
- Exaggerating achievements and talents
- A lack of empathy
- Anger or shame when they don’t get the affirmation they desire
- Unrealistic fantasies of brilliance, power or success
- Beliefs that the world owes them something
Narcissists and Relationships
If you have a narcissist in your life, your encounters with them may leave you feeling anxious, judged or exhausted from trying to keep up with their demands. Narcissists insist on being the main character of every story. They often believe they are perfect and don’t apologize, instead finding ways to pin fault on others.
Narcissists may initially seem friendly and outgoing, but under that façade, they can’t form genuine connections, even with people who are closest to them. They seek admiration regardless of the cost and have no interest in self-reflection or personal growth.
If your romantic partner is a narcissist, they may be highly judgmental or disrespectful of your needs. Adult children of narcissistic parents may be survivors of abuse or neglect.
How to Handle a Narcissist
While people with narcissistic personality disorder usually don’t change, you can learn to manage your relationship better. However, remember that it will probably still be lopsided and unhealthy.
- Set boundaries: Be clear about what isn’t acceptable and the consequences of disrespecting you. It may upset or disappoint the narcissist, but that’s OK. You aren’t responsible for anyone else’s emotional well-being.
- Don’t be confrontational: Narcissists do not respond well to constructive criticism. Stay calm and don’t engage if they try to argue or gaslight you.
- Keep your expectations realistic: Narcissists rarely admit when they’re wrong or take accountability for their behavior, so trying to make them see things your way could backfire.
For your mental health, it may be best to keep a narcissist in your life at arm’s length or cut ties with them altogether. Since narcissists cannot see their behavior as a problem and never admit when they’re wrong, trying to maintain a relationship will only lead to more frustration.
Narcissism and Addiction
There is a close connection between narcissistic personality traits and substance use disorders. For instance, a lack of compassion and feelings of invincibility allow people to keep drinking or taking drugs, despite the obvious negative consequences. People with narcissism may also use drugs to further boost their inflated sense of superiority.
Additionally, victims of narcissistic abuse could start drinking or using to cope with their complicated feelings and go on to develop a full-fledged substance use disorder. Addiction isn’t a weakness or moral failing – it is a chronic brain disease that requires compassionate treatment.
At Pillars Recovery, we understand the complexities of addiction and how challenging it can be to overcome. All therapies we use have earned approval from the Joint Commission and other accrediting bodies. They are evidence-based – rooted in decades of peer-reviewed psychological research and proven outcomes. We are here to help you with every facet of your recovery. Change your life by contacting us today.