Five Tips On How To Live With A Husband Who Has Narcissistic Traits

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Are you married to someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)? While most couples experience challenges at times, being in a relationship with narcissistic partners may present some truly unique hurdles due to narcissistic traits and manipulative behavior. However, by understanding the narcissist's behavior and setting healthy boundaries, it is still possible for you and your partner to create a healthy, loving relationship.

If you're married to a narcissist, 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?

Being with a partner with NPD can be challenging

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
  • Fragile self-esteem with a need for excessive admiration
  • 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 a narcissistic spouse or partner. It is also important to note that having narcissistic tendencies does not necessarily mean that a person has NPD, as these behaviors may stem from other mental disorders or life experiences.  

Tips for being with a husband 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 exhibit narcissistic behaviors such as putting others down, as they see themselves as superior. 

If you're dealing with a narcissistic husband or partner, it's important to pay attention to how your own needs might be affected by their selfish behavior and to take steps to build your self-esteem. Seeking support from mental health professionals or family can also be valuable in maintaining a healthy relationship.

If their behavior has become abusive, help is available.

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2. Learn more about your partner and their insecurities

When dealing with a narcissistic husband or partner, it may be helpful to learn more about their insecurities and what might trigger negative behavior in them. If they are seeking help for their NPD and learning their own coping strategies, you may consider asking them for guidance on how to deal with a narcissistic husband sensitively. Since individuals with NPD may have low self-worth, understanding if there are certain topics or actions they feel especially sensitive to may allow you both to foster healthy relationships and communicate positively 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 a narcissistic person, it may be especially important. Addressing narcissistic abuse and understanding how their behaviors affect you can help you create a balanced relationship. Seeking guidance from clinical health psychology practice professionals may also provide valuable support in navigating the challenges of how to deal with a narcissistic husband or partner.

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

Being with a partner with NPD can be challenging

Strong connections can be important for all of us, and when you are with a partner with NPD, such as a narcissistic husband, 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 comorbid psychological distress or 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, as outlined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you may also consider seeking support from a licensed therapist. A therapist may help you work through concerns you may have about your relationship, assist you in building your self-esteem, and teach you strategies to help strengthen your relationship. It's essential not to take your partner's behavior personally and to recognize that professional help can make a significant difference in your relationship.

Get support with online therapy

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.” 

Sarah Paul, LCPC
Sarah is the least judgmental person I've ever talked to. She really listens and gives great advice without cramming it down your throat. Extremely knowledgeable about family dynamics, narcissistic abuse, and anxiety. I always take notes when we talk and refer back to them. She's been a huge help to me.”


Being with a partner with NPD may present significant challenges, but there are resources available to support both you and your partner. To start, you may consider learning more about NPD and trying some of the suggestions above. For additional support, you can speak with a professional counselor with the experience and training necessary to help you navigate your relationship. NPD does not need to be a life-limiting illness, help is available.
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