So how does one deal with Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Well here are some tips I will share...
- You have to take care of yourself. After being in a narcissistic relationship, your self-esteem will plummet. To this day, I don't know how I got the strength to stop crying, get off the couch, get into therapy, take my daughter and leave - but I did it. Most friends were gone (none of them were good enough in his eyes), my career, hobbies and identity was stripped away...it takes a toll. But splash water on your face and realize this is not you! You deserve better...as they say, run!
- Don't worry about diagnosis. The odds are that they won't be officially diagnosed. Who really cares? I don't need a doctor to tell me I need stitches when my arm is bleeding - forget the diagnostics. Even if you're wrong, you know you are in a seriously damaging relationship.
- People will think you are crazy. Why? Because behind the scenes they tear you down, but in front of others they shine. Always the center of attention, always the joke teller. Always the one amazing everyone with their stories that are all made up. What attracted you to them in the first place, knowing no different, will now work against you because no one will believe this wonderful, entertaining person could have such a dark side. Don't worry about what others think...leave.
- If you have a child, keep every email, videotape what you can...document, document, document. Once again, there will be no better performance than in front of a judge, when dealing with custody issues. The narcissist won't even flinch when making up stories about your infidelity, alcohol addiction or physical abuse. Whatever it takes to win. Remember, they feel nothing, so lying comes easy.
- They will not be upset by your leaving the relationship, so don't worry about that, because you have been all used up and offer their ego nothing anymore. However, you will be "dead" to them and joint parenting will be a nightmare. They will still want the child's adoration, so will spend much of their time reinforcing that you are a bad parent, making up lies to your child, etc. If I had to do it all over again, I would have fought for full custody - but was too afraid that he would do something drastic, tell an awful lie in the courtroom and I'd lose her...yes, NPD traits can be that convincing. Speaking of lies, only a few nights ago as my daughter and I had a good talk, did she admit that he had told her I had an affair and that is why our marriage ended. I'm finding this out 15 years after the fact! Beware.....
- If you have a child, beware of PARENTAL ALIENATION. For most of my daughter's life we lived 2000 miles away and she saw her dad during summers and holidays. Even still, the little time they shared was laden with guilt (I miss you, live with me), ridicule and criticizing me so that she began to believe the stories, never being a parent but using her as a tool for his ego, letting her know speaking of her life with me, including pets and relatives, was bad...on and on it goes. Never once did it cross his mind the damage he was doing. We were alienated from freshman year through end of sophomore year of high school, but fortunately I never gave up and we are together again. (That's me and my daughter in the photo)
- If you have no child to battle over, you honestly need to leave the relationship before it sucks you dry...so in that case, GIVE UP. When you have kids, you are stuck having to deal with the person with NPD for a very, very long time. You will NOT change him or her...ever. Stop spending energy on trying to win a battle or put reason in his or her head. A narcissist cannot see that they are hurting your child. It is up to you to grieve and accept the things you can't change, then be the best parent you can be. I had divorced parents who remain friends to this day...that's what I wanted for my daughter, but I can't give it to her. It isn't my fault...grieve, move on. Your child needs you to be healthy.
As you can see, the key to learning how to deal with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has nothing to do with the narcissist. Don't engage in battle and escalate things, don't try reasoning, thinking you will talk sense into him or her. You need to protect your self-esteem and your children, if applicable.
This isn't your fault, so take care of yourself, protect yourself, and find the relationship you deserve...I did...and we're going on 15 years together. Once in a healthy relationship, you cannot believe what love is actually supposed to feel like.
One of the main reasons we jumped into our current unconventional, cheap rv lifestyle so quickly was because, out of the blue, I was going to be 2000 miles away from my daughter - and she would be living full time with him. Though alienated from me right in front of my eyes (and we'd had a loving, close relationship!), I couldn't give up on her, no matter how painful it was. It took a few years for her to find out for herself what he was truly like, and though she is still struggling to see the big picture, she has me around for support so that she can make it through to graduation without having to give up her school, friends, etc.
The best advice I can give is that if you recognize any of these symptoms when dating, break it off. My not knowing what was the matter back in college led me to stick it out, and 24 years later narcissistic personality disorder still impacts me.