Tips: Can't Live without My Narcissist

Uploaded 6/1/2011, approx. 5 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

If you are married to a narcissist, or are in an intimate relationship with one, my unequivocal advice is, count your losses, count your blessings, get away, maintain a no-contact policy.

But if you can't live without him, if you insist on staying with him, then I have a few bits of advice for you.

First of all, never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him. Never offer him any real intimacy.

Narcissists are scared of intimacy. They will withdraw. Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him. Admire him for his professional achievements, for his good looks, or even for his success with women.

Never remind him of life out there, and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity and uniqueness.

Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.

Listen attentively to everything the narcissist says, and agree with it all. Don't believe a word of it, but let it slide as if everything is just fine, business as usual.

Personally, offer something absolutely unique to the narcissist, which he cannot obtain anywhere else. Be prepared to line up future sources of narcissistic supply for your narcissist, because you will not be it for very long.

If you take over the procuring function for the narcissist, if you're in charge of obtaining narcissistic supply, the narcissist becomes that much more dependent on you, which makes it a bit easier for you and a bit tougher for him to pull his haughty stuff or to abandon you.

Be endlessly patient, and go way out of your way to be accommodating, thus keeping the narcissistic supply flowing liberally and keeping the piss, relatively speaking. Be endlessly giving.

This one may not be attractive to you, but it's a take it or leave it proposition. Narcissists take, they don't give, that's who and what they are.

Be absolutely, emotionally, and financially independent of your narcissist. Take what you need, the excitement, the engulfment, and refuse to get upset or hurt when the narcissist does or says something dumb, rude, or insensitive. Yelling back works relatively well, but should be reserved for special occasions when you fear that your narcissist may be on the verge of leaving you.

The silent treatment is a better option as an ordinary response, but it must be carried out without any emotional content. More with the air of boredom, offhandedly, like I'll talk to you later when I'm good and ready and when you are behaving in a more reasonable fashion.

Remember, your narcissist is a spoiled brat. Treat him as such. If your narcissist is cerebral and not interested in having sex, then give yourself permission to have sex with other people.

But remember, your cerebral narcissist will not be indifferent to your infidelity, so maintain discretion and secrecy.

But still, you cannot be expected to live an asexual life without sex. If your narcissist, on the other hand, is somatic and you don't comply with his wishes for you to join in threesomes or in group sex, there may be repercussions.

The narcissist demands that you accept his lovers and his varied and kinky sex life. Either you do or you don't. It's up to you.

But in any case, make sure that the narcissist chooses properly. Narcissists are heedless and very undiscriminating in respect to sexual partners, and that can be very problematic.

Sexually transmitted disorders and blackmail come to mind. If you are a fixer, then focus on fixing situations before they become situations. Don't, for one moment, delude yourself that you can fix the narcissist.

This simply will not happen. It's not because narcissists are stubborn and won't listen to you, but simply they cannot be fixed.

If there is any fixing that can be done, it is to help your narcissist become aware of his condition.

And this is very important.

Don't do it with negative implications or accusations.

Living with a narcissist is like living with a physically handicapped person and being able to discuss calmly and unemotionally and constructively what the limitations and the benefits of the handicap are and how the two of you can work with these factors rather than trying to change them or working against them.

Most importantly, I think, is know yourself.

What are you getting from the relationship? Are you a masochist? Are you a codependent? Why is this relationship attractive and interesting to you?

Define for yourself what good and beneficial things you believe you are receiving in this relationship. Define the things that you find powerful to you.

Develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself. Don't expect that you will cognitively be able to reason with the narcissist to change who they are.

You may have some limited success in getting your narcissist to tone down or to modify his behavior, the more harmful one.

Anything that affects you, you can try to ask your narcissist to change, but it's a pretty fruitless and futile effort.

Even the minimum changes that can be introduced into the behavioral narcissist can be accomplished only in a very trusting, frank, open and holding relationship.

But as I said, don't be an optimist in this sense.

Look after yourself. Be your best friend, no face.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Victim of Narcissist: Move On!

The narcissist lives in a world of ideal beauty, achievements, wealth, and success, denying his reality. The partner is perceived as a source of narcissistic supply, and the narcissist pathologizes and devalues them to rid themselves of guilt and shame. Moving on from a narcissistic relationship involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, educating oneself, and gaining emotional sustenance, knowledge, support, and confidence. Forgiving is important, but it should not be a universal behavior, and no one should stay with a narcissist.

Narcissist's Insignificant Other: Typical Spouse or Intimate Partner

Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, but it is always onerous and often harrowing. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist, maintaining a relationship, preserving it, insisting on remaining with a narcissist, indicates therefore the parameters of the personality of the victim, of the partner, of the spouse. The partner, the spouse, and the mate of a narcissist who insists on remaining in the relationship and preserving it is molded by it into the typical narcissistic mate, spouse, or partner. The two, the narcissist and his spouse, collaborate in this dance macabre.

Your Role in Narcissist’s Shared Fantasy is Why He Hates You (hint: you make him feel himself – and human)

In summary, the narcissist's intimate partner plays a crucial role in the shared fantasy by fulfilling the roles of admirer, playmate, and mother. This allows the narcissist to experience maximal grandiosity and feel safe enough to separate and individuate. However, the intimate partner's presence also leads to the narcissist's self-hatred and inability to maintain meaningful communication with both the outside world and himself. The intimate partner ultimately becomes a threat to the narcissist, as they make the narcissist feel human, which is something the narcissist does not want to be.

Narcissistic Abuse: From Victim to Survivor in 6 Steps

To move on from being a victim of narcissistic abuse, one must abandon the narcissist and move on. Moving on is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, learning from the experience, and deciding to act. It is important to grieve and mourn the loss of trust and love, but perpetual grieving is counterproductive. Forgiveness is important, but it should not be a universal behavior. Human relationships are dynamic and require constant assessment. It is not advisable to remain friends with narcissists, as they are only nice and friendly when they want something. Inverted narcissists who remain in relationships with narcissists are victims who deny their own torment and fail to make the transition to survivors.

Mourning the Narcissist

Victims of narcissistic abuse often struggle to let go of the idealized figure they fell in love with at the beginning of the relationship. When the relationship ends, they experience a cycle of bereavement and grief, including denial, rage, sadness, and acceptance. Denial can take many forms, including pretending the narcissist is still part of their lives or developing persecutory delusions. Rage can be directed at the narcissist, other facilitators of the loss, oneself, or be pervasive. Sadness is a paralyzing sensation that slows one down and enshrouds everything in the grave veil of randomness and chance. Gradual acceptance leads to renewed energy and the narcissist being transformed into a narrative, another life experience, or even a tedious cliché.

womanmotherNarcissist's Partner: Admire Me, Play with Me, Mother Me

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the three stages of a narcissist's interaction with women: admirer, playmate, and mother. Narcissists are incapable of adult intimacy with women and instead seek a mother figure, as their only experience of intimacy with a woman was with their own mother. When women refuse to adopt the role of a mother, narcissists resent them and may push them away. Narcissists are more focused on possession and control than romantic jealousy, reacting like a child when their partner shows interest in other men.

If You Love a Narcissist, This is For You

The text describes a relationship with a person who is emotionally unavailable and causes pain and rejection. The person craves love and intimacy but pushes the other person away and hurts them first. The relationship is described as a form of self-harm, but the other person cannot let go. The relationship is a mix of good times and bad times, and the person is described as fleeting and penumbral.

When Narcissists Become Codependents

Living with a narcissist can be harrowing, and the partner of the narcissist is often molded into the typical narcissist mate, partner, or spouse. The partner must have a deficient or distorted grasp of herself and of reality, and the cognitive distortion of the partner of the narcissist is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself while aggrandizing and adoring the narcissist. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her. The breakup of the relationship with the narcissist is emotionally charged and is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and subjugation.

Adapting to the Narcissist

Professor Sam Vaknin explains that it is impossible to change a narcissist, but you can adapt to them by modifying their more abrasive behaviors. He suggests determining your limits and boundaries, accepting what you can and rejecting the rest, and concluding an unwritten or written contract of coexistence. Vaknin warns that sacrificing yourself for someone else is not love, and that it is crucial to understand the complex dynamic of a relationship with a narcissist for your own survival as a psychologically functioning person.

How To Love the Narcissist AND Keep Him?

In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses two contradictory solutions to the question of how to love and keep a narcissist. The first solution is to emulate the narcissist's dead mother, which creates a reverse trauma bonding that keeps the narcissist coming back. The second solution is to conform to the snapshot of the narcissist's ideal partner and never deviate from it. However, Vaknin warns that being in a relationship with a narcissist is a form of self-harm and that the narcissist is an absence, chaos, and unadulterated anguish.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
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