Narcissism is a personality disorder that bears a range of complex traits.
According to Australian clinical psychologist, Jaimie Bloch, a ‘high opinion of self is a hallmark’, as well as ‘arrogant thinking and behaviour, grandiosity, a lack of empathy and a constant need for admiration’.
A narcissist can also be charismatic and combined with a sexual power that makes them irresistible, dating can become a minefield.
Here Ms Bloch outlines some strategies for dealing with someone who has NPD in a relationship and the important points to know if you’re thinking of leaving.
Narcissism or NPD is a personality disorder, and one that bears a range of complex traits including an unhealthy obsession with self (stock image)
Australian clinical psychologist Jaimie Bloch (pictured) offers her advice to those who may be dating someone with NPD
Narcissists can never accept blame
If you are dating or considering a relationship with a person displaying narcissistic tendencies, it’s important to know what to expect
A person with NPD is more likely to zoom in on those who have low self-esteem or are natural caretakers – in essence, those who project vulnerability.
‘Therefore it is important to decide and know where your boundaries are and are willing to defend them,’ Ms Bloch explains.
‘You will need to be clear about what type of behaviour is acceptable or tolerable and what is not acceptable and tolerable within the relationship.’
The psychologist also cautioned that if you are not clear, and do not consistently communicate your boundaries, your narcissistic loved one will cross them – even those most typically respected by most.
How to manage conflict with a person with NPD:
It’s better to use “we” language when discussing issues within a relationship with a narcissist.
It will work better if you use language that conveys the idea of “we” and discuss the challenges you are facing within the context of wanting things to go forward in the future.
Pick your battles
Given one of the key personality traits of those with NPD is self-centredness, often to the point of excluding the feelings of others, engaging in a rational way can be near impossible.
Ms Block advises those in a relationship with a narcissistic may need to be prepared, in the first instance, to let minor and unintentional insults go.
‘This means that you need to be artful in the battles you do pick to take on,’ she said.
‘If you are finding that you are consistently getting into arguments, you will continually be in a state of tension within your relationship and nothing will be gained.
In this situation, Ms Bloch recommends important boundary setting conversations be kept for those areas of your life that are non-negotiable and you are prepared to defend.
Ms Block advises those in a relationship with a narcissistic may well need to be prepared, in the first instance, to let minor and unintentional insults go (stock image)
What to do when ending a relationship with a narcissist:
1. Make a concrete and definitive decision you are leaving
2. Enlist the help and support of friends and family. Leaving a controlling and emotionally manipulative partner is hard.
3. Know you won’t be able to be friends and enforce a “no contact” rule. You will need time to heal and process the relationship. Having contact will hinder your own personal process and will also allow the door for this person to convince you to rekindle the relationship.
4. Regain financial and independence in your life prior to the end. Most controlling partners will try and isolate you financially and emotionally. If you leave prior to gaining some sort of independence it will hinder your ability to leave and open the door for them to continue to control you and manipulate you back into the relationship.
5. Seek professional help. Often people who leave abusive relationships will find it hard to regain their confidence and restart their life. Finding a professional support group or person to talk is imperative to rebuilding your life. Most local districts have support services set up for people who are leaving abusive relationships.
Source: Jaime Bloch Mind Movers Psychology
Ensure you have a support system in place
Those in a relationship with a narcissist can quickly become swept up the needs of their significant other, and it is for this reason that it is important to have a support system in place.
‘It’s vital to have a life outside of the home that fulfils you, such as hobbies, family connections and work connections,’ Ms Bloch said.
‘It’s important to be able to vent to someone who can support you gain perspective and work through personal challenges you may be experiencing due to the lack of validation you feel in this relationship.
‘It may be helpful to seek external support outside of family and friends with a psychologist or counsellor.’
Where can you get help?
Talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:
SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 18 7263
beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help
Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online
Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467
Source: Health Direct