Are you in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)? While most couples experience challenges at times, being in a relationship with someone with NPD may present some truly unique hurdles given the common symptoms of NPD. However, it is still possible for you and your partner to create a healthy, loving relationship.
If your partner has NPD, it may be helpful to learn more about the condition and consider the tips below for being with a partner who has NPD.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by an extremely high sense of one’s own importance. Somebody who has NPD may come across as overly confident and arrogant, but often, they may have low self-worth. The exact cause of NPD is not known, but some experts believe that it may result from a combination of factors including childhood trauma, early relationships, and genetics.
Common symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder can include:
An inflated ego
Feelings of entitlement
A tendency to take over conversations
An inflated sense of self-importance
A tendency to exaggerate accomplishments
The habit of taking advantage of others for their own personal gain
Constant troubled relationships
A tendency to belittle others
Inability to see the needs or feelings of others
Feeling envious of others
Difficulty with their own emotions
Anger, mood swings, and impatience
These symptoms may make it difficult to be in a relationship with someone who has NPD. It is also important to note that having narcissistic tendencies does not necessarily mean that a person has NPD.
Tips For Being With A Partner Who Has NPD
1. Monitor And Nurture Your Own Self-Esteem
Individuals with NPD may find it difficult to be empathetic to other people, and they may put other people down, as they see themselves as superior.
If their behavior has become abusive, help is available.
If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, please know help is available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799–SAFE (7233).
2. Learn More About Your Partner And Their Insecurities
When in a relationship with someone with NPD, it may be helpful to try to learn more about their insecurities and what might bring those out for them. If they are seeking help for their NPD and learning their own coping strategies, you may consider asking them for guidance on how you can be sensitive to their insecurities. Because individuals with NPD may have low self-worth, trying to understand if there are certain topics or actions that they feel especially sensitive to may allow you both to communicate in healthy, positive ways, while being prepared for challenges that may arise.
3. Establish Clear Boundaries
Setting boundaries in any intimate relationship can lead to a healthier connection, and in a relationship with someone with NPD, it may be especially important.
Some examples of boundaries that you may want to set include:
No name-calling. You could let your partner know that if they begin to call you names, the conversation will be over, and you will walk away.
Having time alone with friends. A partner with NPD may not like it when you spend time with friends or have your own life outside the relationship. However, isolation can be a form of emotional abuse, and you deserve to have a strong support system in your life.
Not making excuses for them. Individuals with NPD may behave arrogantly or take advantage of others to get what they want, and at times, other people in your circle such as friends or family may be offended by their behavior. Your partner with NPD may feel they deserve special treatment and expect you to cover for them; you can establish that this is not something you will do for them.
4. Maintain A Support System
Strong connections can be important for all of us, and when you are with a partner with NPD, you might find it helpful to establish and maintain a strong support system around you. With support in place, you can have other people to turn to when experiencing challenges in your relationship. Trusted friends and loved ones may also help you see things clearly, maintain healthy self-esteem, maintain clear boundaries with your partner, and feel more stable during challenging times.
5. Seek Counseling
If you are in a relationship with someone with NPD, you may also consider seeking support from a licensed therapist. A therapist may help you work through concerns you may have about your relationship, help you work on building your self-esteem, and teach you strategies to help strengthen your relationship.
It’s possible that a partner with NPD may feel resistant to the idea of seeking help, so taking the steps to see a therapist in person can feel like a big undertaking. This can make online therapy a good option, as it can remove the need for transportation and may feel more convenient for some people. With online therapy for individuals through BetterHelp or couples therapy through ReGain, you can talk with a therapist from anywhere that is comfortable and works for you, instead of having to go into a therapist’s office.
Research has shown that online therapy may be an effective way of helping couples and individuals who are experiencing challenges in their relationships. For example, one study examined the effectiveness of an online therapy program for couples experiencing relationship distress. It concluded that the online intervention was “effective in significantly improving both relationship and individual functioning.”
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