Coping with a narcissist is NOT an easy task. In fact, it can be nearly impossible. That is most likely why so many websites say no contact is the only solution. In many cases, no contact is the best solution. That does not mean that it is a possible solution for everyone, however.
There are many people who do not wish to sever ties with the narcissist in their life. There are others who wish to, yet do not feel able to do so at present. Both types of people are the people I hope to help the most, because you are also the ones under the most scrutiny and judgment, and who receive the least amount of support.
If this describes you, you probably feel a great deal of shame. If so, please know there is no good reason to feel that shame! Every person has their own unique path to walk, and there is nothing wrong with it.
I too have been in the position of feeling as if I wanted to go no contact with my narcissistic parents, but was unable to do so. I just knew it was not the right timing. People told me “just go no contact” or “Why don’t you just stop speaking to them?!” Yet, I could not. Something in me knew it was not right at the time, in spite of them hurting me constantly. Thankfully, God showed me how to handle the situation until the timing was right for no contact. He can do the same for you. And, I want to share with you some things that helped me get through that extremely difficult time.
The best thing I learned about how to cope with a narcissist is to deprive them of their precious narcissistic supply. Depriving narcissists of their coveted narcissistic supply is often referred to as The Gray Rock Method. I think of it as becoming boring to a narcissist. However you think of it, it is a very helpful tool in dealing with any narcissist.
Here are some other suggestions to help you to cope with the narcissist in your life:
- Never forget that this person is a narcissist, and not a normal person. The things you can expect from a normal person do not apply with narcissists. You cannot expect a narcissist to react normally or feel things normally. They see the world through the very skewed view of their narcissistic lens.
- Keep expectations low/non existent. If you keep thinking this time will be better or surely this person will see the error of his/her ways, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst as the saying goes. Pray for this person to improve, but be prepared for the likely scenario that he or she will not change unless it is to get worse as the person ages.
- When good moments happen, do not expect them to last. Narcissists are rarely horrible 100% of the time. They throw their victims crumbs of kindness periodically. This keeps victims off kilter wondering if the narcissist is really so bad, makes the victim easier to control and keeps the victim more willing to maintain the relationship. This is known as trauma bonding or Stockholm Syndrome. When those good times happen, remember their purpose. It does not mean the narcissist has changed or genuinely loves you.
- Limit your exposure to the narcissist. Too much time spent with a narcissist never ends well for the victim. You end up tired, emotionally drained and irritable, even possibly mistreating those closest to you out of sheer frustration or exhaustion. Take frequent breaks from this person, only dealing with them as you feel able to do so.
- You may find it best to end the relationship with the narcissist. Sadly, often this is the only solution. If you are considering it, please read this link for more information: Should I Go No Contact?