Living With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Ever crossed paths with someone who displays narcissistic tendencies? These people tend to leave a lasting impression, maybe even a deficient bank account or a wake of broken relationships, but almost always coming with both an extreme depletion of energy and a sense of unrelenting confusion. Once you recognize that you have invited a narcissist into your experience, your life will never quite be the same.

What are the Signs of Living with a Narcissist?

When you live with someone with untreated narcissistic personality disorder, you are living with someone who is unstable. They cannot regulate their own emotions. They go up and down and they insist that you go up and down with them.

Something small can trigger them—suddenly they are enraged, and usually at you. If you do not immediately apologize and act as if the whole thing is your fault, their fragile ego will cause them to escalate the fight. You become the enemy. They will then double down on the idea that it is all your fault and try to punish you for it.

If you are in a long-term relationship with a narcissist (even a platonic one) at best your life will be a series of waves that you will have to emotionally surf.

How Disappointment Ensues When You're in a Relationship with a Narcissist

No matter how much you try, no matter how good you are, you will periodically get devalued, mistreated, and threatened. Things will be going great one moment, then suddenly your narcissistic partner will get triggered and you are no longer surfing, you are underwater drowning.

The longer you live with a narcissist, the more you are likely to exhaust yourself trying to stay optimistic. After a while, your narcissistic partner’s pattern will become extremely and sickeningly obvious. No matter how well things appear to be going, it can all change in a second and become truly heart or gut wrenching—like walking into a room and being sucker-punched. This experience can be quite disheartening because, other than leaving, there is nothing you can do to make your home life stable and emotionally safe.

Who do Narcissists Choose as Their Partners?

Narcissists are often in a relationship with codependent and boundary-less people—those with incredibly emotional empathy and a background of abuse. The narcissist's need for control over their partners stems from their own abusive or neglectful childhood where they did not have any control themselves.

So if you ever try to communicate your needs in the relationship by speaking up or being assertive, a narcissist will start with the silent treatment as if they are the victim, until you back down. They want to make all the decisions in the relationship while you observe and watch, using defensiveness, excuses, stonewalling, or gaslighting as a form of emotional abuse. This is all used to manipulate you. And because you come from a background of abuse, you tolerate and even normalize their behaviors towards you, and everyone else.

Having a relationship with a narcissist will also create a constant state of inner confusion and exhaustion. You are simultaneously drained of your energy while also questioning your self-worth. No matter what you do, it will never be enough; they will always find a way to criticize you one way or the other, until you give up and truly believe that you are not good enough, loveable, or worthy.

Defeated, you will feel like everything is your fault and often apologize for nothing. Being with a narcissist will also make you feel like the narcissist—as they will accuse you of being irrational, difficult, crazy, or wrong, make you second guess or feel guilty for your choices. Narcissists lack emotional empathy; therefore, their constant taunting behavior takes a significant toll on your mental health.

The Delusional Trap To Avoid

It is very common for both narcissists and their partners to both find themselves disappointed and rather shocked that everything is not going as expected in the relationship. The psychological term used to describe this phenomenon is called cognitive dissonance.

First of all, narcissists are so delusional and dishonest that they play themselves along with their partner. Whenever they meet a new romantic interest they think this time around it will all be different. This person will finally make them happy and lift their fragile self-esteem and ego, making them feel good about themselves all the time.

So the narcissist puts their best foot forward and says all the right things. They act sweet, attentive, and considerate. This isn’t necessarily fake. They truly feel that you are perfect for them and that they have a real chance at a long lasting relationship with you.

The problem is that they lack the skills needed to handle a real relationship. So as soon as the relationship tests them through any disagreements and misunderstandings that naturally transpire, they aren’t able to navigate their negative emotions maturely. If you are paying close attention, this is the time they start to reveal their true colors.

This is when they start to play games. Instead of communicating their feelings directly and authentically, they resort to manipulations in order to control, influence, exploit, provoke, and punish the person of interest. If they can’t play the source the way they want and the source sees right through their perverted pretenses and calls them out, they typically pull the plug and disappear in true coward fashion.

Narcissists are bored, weak, and lazy. Yes, initially they believe they got lucky to have found someone good looking, kind, and intelligent. However, they lack the skills to keep up the facade for any extended periods of time.

What are Some Narcissistic Traits to Look for?

  • A sense of entitlement

  • Takes you for granted

  • A need to be in control

  • A lack of emotional empathy

  • Never apologizes

  • Justified in their rage and blame

  • Extreme self-centeredness

  • Gives only with a goal

  • Grandiosity

  • Poor impulse control

  • Requires constant affirmation and adoration

How Is Narcissism Created?

Narcissists are created in loveless homes, by loveless families, where the child is just an extension of the parent. Often competing with their children, the narcissistic parent likes to also play favorites—showing outrageous favor to one child while over-punishing the other. The idea is to constantly cause division amongst the children so they won’t gang up on the parent. The child also never experiences love from this parent without conditions, and lives in a home where children are to blame for everything that is wrong.

Disproportionate Punishment and Treatment

If we have a childhood where our parents love us despite our flaws, we are punished proportionally to our bad behavior, and it feels like our parents still respect, love us, and want us to be safe. We are able to comprehend and understand that our mother, who punishes us, and the one who is nice to us, are the same person. As we grow up and mature, we also learn to integrate the good and bad parts in ourselves into one stable, realistic person.

However, if our parents aren’t able to see us realistically, and instead treat us as all good or all bad, we will not have the ability to learn how to see good and bad within a whole person. It's called whole object relations. If you don't have it, you see other people as either all good, or all bad. And you will see yourself as all good or all bad.

All-Good = They see the person as perfect, special, flawless, high status, idealizable, and entitled to special treatment.

All-Bad = They see the person as defective, inadequate, worthless garbage, low status, fair game for devaluation and abuse, and entitled to nothing.

If you do not have whole object relations, you will not have object constancy either, because object constancy depends on being able to see both sides of a person at once. Object constancy is the ability to maintain the big-picture of your whole relationship, especially the good parts and good feelings towards someone, when you are angry, hurt, frustrated, or physically distant from the person.

For instance, during a fight, once someone with narcissistic personality disorder gets angry with you, they will immediately see you as all-bad and ‘forget’ their past positive feelings for you—or explain them away as mistakes in an attempt to resolve the discrepancy between their current feelings towards you and any past positive feelings. Their reasoning can look something like this: “You are a terrible person and so mean to me. If I ever said otherwise, it was because I was taken in by how ‘nice’ you were acting at the time.”

Narcissists can say something as nonsensical as the above because they do not realize that they have not yet developed the capacity to form an integrated view of people—something that most other people learn by the age of 6. Therefore, they have to rationalize away the inconsistency between their current view of you and their past view because they can only alternate between seeing you as either all-good or all-bad.

Fast Forward to Adulthood

At the start of a new relationship, narcissists may see their new person as flawless. Then, as they see the person act in ways that do not perfectly fit the picture of their ideal life, or start to notice the person’s normal human flaws, they may try and deal with their disillusionment in some of the following ways:

  • Accusations Instead of realizing that they were expecting too much and adjusting their expectations to fit the reality, they accuse the other person of deceiving them or having bad intentions. “I thought you were so nice, but now I see you fooled me and were acting the whole time.”

  • Controlling Behavior They try to force their partner to change to be more in line with their initial beliefs about what they were like. “You would look hotter if you wore this outfit instead.”

  • Threats When their partner does not go along with their requests or holds different ideas, they may try and bully them into compliance. “You will be very, very sorry if you keep up that behavior.”

  • Devaluation They try to motivate their partner to change by trying to convince them that whatever they are doing or thinking is wrong, stupid, ignorant, and worthless. “Nobody with any intelligence would ever say what you just said.”

  • Punishments They feel entitled to punish their partner for not complying with their wishes. “I am not taking you out for dinner as planned because you are making me so angry.”

What Is Really Going On?

In many ways, narcissists are emotionally and cognitively stuck at a childlike state of development. They still see themselves as the center of the world, cannot conceive that other people can have a valid point of view that differs from their own, and do not understand that it is unreasonable to expect other people to empathically intuit all their needs. They may have a high IQ and be brilliant at their job, but in many ways their view of people and relationships is not equal.

When narcissists are emotionally triggered, they only focus on how they feel in the moment. People with narcissistic personality disorder are usually focused on their current thoughts and feelings, not how they felt twenty minutes ago or how they might feel in the future. Once something triggers a strong negative or positive response, that reaction takes center stage. Narcissists then act as if their current emotional state and way of thinking is all there is and will last forever.

Thus, if you are dating someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, when your lover feels great about you, he or she may start making plans for the future with you—even though the two of you hardly know each other. “Let’s go to Rome together. I can’t wait to show you my favorite restaurant.” Then something you do triggers a negative reaction and suddenly those plans are history, leaving you in a state of confusion.

What did I do Wrong?

Most of us believe that when someone loves us they will do or feel some of the following:

  • They will try to avoid hurting you

  • They will care about your feelings

  • They will empathize with you

  • When you feel unhappy, they will try to soothe you or cheer you up

  • They will not lie to you

  • They will take your side in an argument with other people

  • They will not devalue you to other people behind your back

  • They will try and keep their promises to you

  • They will be sexually and emotionally faithful to you if the two of you agree to be in a monogamous relationship

After the courtship period is over, if you are in love with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and believe that they love you (whether you know their actual diagnosis or not), you are likely to find that the person’s actual behavior violates your belief system. This puts you in the position of having cognitive dissonance.

So, what do you do now?

At that point, most partners of narcissists use one or more of the following psychological defenses to try and diminish their cognitive dissonance without having to leave the relationship. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, just some of the more common ways people deal with this type of contradictory information:

  • Denial They refuse to believe the new information. “He would never cheat on me. He loves me.”

  • Rationalization They make excuses that minimize the importance of the behavior. “She was drunk when she called me those vile names. That is not likely to ever happen again.”

  • Blaming Oneself Preserving the other person’s basic goodness by taking the blame for their bad behavior. “It was really my fault. I provoked him.”

  • Normalization They comfort themselves with the idea that the behavior or attitude is normal. “Everyone loses their temper occasionally.”

How Can You Walk Away from A Narcissist for Good?

What many people don't realize is that the people we engage with will always mirror who we are on the inside. They reflect our insecurities, self-doubts, tendencies to over give, and feelings of unworthiness. However, once you learn the (sometimes very loud) lessons these types of relationships provide, you can heal to a depth you may not have known existed.

  • Identify if you are in a toxic relationship and seek support to show you how to navigate, or potentially end it.

  • Release ties and energetic cords to free yourself from toxic relationships, as well as any and all karmic ties, contracts or agreements.

  • Stop living for the expectations of others and recalibrate to your own needs.

  • Heal to the core and permanently release patterns that do not serve you.

  • Embrace empowerment and self-confidence.

  • Learn to trust yourself and your guidance system to be your own most reliable and consistent ally.

Now, show them that everything they thought they knew about you was a miscalculation. They thought you would never put your foot down and say no to them? Refuse something really important that they are asking for, and do not budge.

They thought you would always place more importance on their well-being than on your own? Show them that if they are headed in the direction of their own demise, you will help walk them to their next stop.

They thought you would never have the ability to leave them and make it on your own? Show them that life goes on without their help and create a life without them.

Being in a relationship with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, formally diagnosed or not, can be incredibly confusing and difficult to navigate. It can trigger feelings of low self-worth, doubt, confidence, and can make you question everything about yourself and your current circumstances. But once you can recognize the person for what they are and how they got there, you can begin to set clear and firm boundaries for yourself and move forward in any way that is in your best interests.


This piece was written and contributed by:

Andrea Firpo

Soul Liberation & Embodiment Guide

Andrea Firpo is a Psychic Cheerleader who is focused on soul liberation and embodiment. Combining her psychic and intuitive abilities with her educational background of trauma psychology, she connects women to their own inner wisdom and self-love. By bringing awareness in the body, mind, and spirit around the deep conditioning of emotional trauma, Andrea identifies underlying patterns that undermine her clients’ self-worth. Through simple yet powerful healing tools, Andrea empowers her clients to achieve energetic balance through healthy boundaries, promoting incredible paradigm shifts in their lives.

Andrea is also an author who has contributed to the anthologies, Dreamweavers, Ceremonies, and the recent #1 Amazon International Bestseller, The Art & Truth of Transformation for Women. As a show host and producer, she highlights the stories and lessons of remarkable women overcoming traumatic events in her podcast, "Brilliance through Resilience." She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon and works with clients internationally.

@psychiccheerleader |


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