How to Deal With a Narcissistic Personality

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Two men having a conversation on the couch. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

If there is someone in your life with a narcissistic personality, knowing how to deal with her will make your relationship a whole lot easier. Forget about the normal rules of love or friendship when dealing with a narcissist. Whether it's a spouse, friend, relative or colleague, the narcissist has the ability to drain your energy, make you doubt your own integrity and zap your self-confidence if you don't know how to deal with her.

Recognize a Narcissistic Personality

A narcissist has a heightened sense of his own importance, always puts himself before others, loves being the center of attention and needs constant admiration and praise. Not all narcissists are created equal, however: some are obnoxious, rude and difficult, while others are inoffensive, likeable and even charming -- on the surface at least. The main quality a narcissist lacks is empathy, says Judith Horloff M.D. in "“Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life." A narcissist will struggle to love unconditionally, have limited insight into his actions and feel no regret.

Focus on the Positive

If you're in a close relationship with a narcissist, focus on her positive qualities. Horloff warns that getting intimately involved with a narcissist is likely to result in hurt and loneliness, because she is simply not capable of genuine intimacy. But if you are already in love with or married to such a person, remind yourself of the reasons you fell for her in the first place. Accept that her narcissistic personality is part of the package and concentrate on her more endearing attributes.

Have Realistic Expectations

It's necessary to accept that the narcissist in your life has emotional limits. Don't ask him to be someone he's not or expect him to be a trusted confidante, because he won't put your feelings and sensitivities before his own. Turn to others for compassion and support; you're highly unlikely to receive this from the narcissist, says author and relationships expert Melanie Tonia Evans.

Communicate Successfully

Forget bending over backward to make a narcissist happy -- you're wasting your time. Having said that, successful communication with this personality type does require some amount of ego massaging. Making demands or displaying anger seldom works. For example, instead of telling your narcissistic partner he needs to go with you to a friend's party because you don't want to go alone, say something like "My friend really misses you and would love to see you." If you're already in a close relationship with a narcissist, this technique is the best way to get what you want from him.

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