Stay Sane! 10 Tips for Living with the Narcissist in Your Life

Couples Counseling,Health,Marriage Counseling by POC Administrator on September 18, 2012

A recent story by Marci B. Stiles, licensed professional counselor and founder of Dallas-based Positive Outlook Counseling dealt with how to identify the narcissist in your life and gave specific criteria for determining if that person driving you crazy was a narcissist.

“In many cases, the best strategy for dealing with a narcissist is to stay away and limit exposure,” notes Stiles. “But what if you are already married to a narcissist or the narcissist is a child, sibling or parent? In these cases, therapy and coping strategies can help.”

  1. Know your limits. Trust your judgment and separate yourself from the narcissist when you need to. Your feelings and sanity are important, too.
  2. Create financial limits. If your spouse is a reckless spender, make every purchase over a certain amount a joint decision. Have a discretionary fund for each of you and a mandatory joint savings plan that is off-limits. This helps insure that each spouse has a say and the narcissist doesn’t spend you into the poor house.
  3. Hold firm on reckless behavioral boundaries. If your loved one engages in behavior like drinking, promiscuous sex, drugs, gambling, etc., you need to set hard limits that are not negotiable. These are deal breakers and you need to walk away from the relationship if they are broken. Examples include: drinking and driving, no sex with others…or whatever your particular challenges and limits are.
  4. Insist on compromise and decision sharing. Most narcissists tend to dominate the relationship and like to have things their way – more like a dictatorship. This can be mitigated by compromise. You may be in charge of household purchases, he is in charge of auto problems and yard care – or all decisions are made 50-50. Whatever works best for the two of you.
  5. Negotiate. This is a critical skill with a narcissist and will make your life easier. “You want this, I want that, here’s what I propose…”
  6. Bolster your self-esteem. Don’t expect much from the narcissist unless she or he wants something from you. Most of the time they tear down the people around them. I work with my clients on how not to buy into the “tear-down,” and to rediscover what is worthy about themselves.
  7. Don’t believe a liar. Sounds simple, right? Narcissists are good at changing their stories and making you think you’re the crazy one. In therapy I work with clients to help chronicle these “gas lighting” events and to keep track of reality and trust their memories.
  8. Create your own support system. Narcissists like to isolate and control the people around them. It is important for you to have friends, family and a support system outside of the narcissist. A positive support system keeps you balanced and makes it easier to see the “crazy” through the trees.
  9. Command respect. Do not put up with disrespect or denigration…EVER. It will make you appear weak to the narcissist and make the behavior even worse the next time. Disrespect is unacceptable and you must immediately leave the narcissist to either change their behavior or have them misbehave by themselves. Protect yourself from abuse.
  10. Leave. If things get too bad, then you must get out. Most narcissists won’t admit they are a narcissist and will insist you are the problem. They’ve been allowed to run with their bad behavior for a long time. Sometimes setting boundaries and re-programming behavior with a “zero tolerance” program makes a huge difference and empowers the loved one. Other times, nothing will work and it is time to go…even though you may have children together, financial dependencies…in the end it doesn’t matter if you are being crushed in the relationship.

“These strategies are helpful for almost any relationship, but critical for a narcissistic one,” added Stiles. “The non-narcissist has to be strong and firm in every situation, all the time. It is a lot like dealing with a demanding toddler with the added anxiety of danger. It can be exhausting and not always rewarding. That’s why a positive support system is so important.”

If you have an important narcissist in your life and would like to schedule an appointment about protection and coping skills, contact Marci Stiles LPC at 972-733-3988 or book your appointment online at

Positive Outlook Counseling
Marci B. Stiles, MA, LPC-S, NBCC
Bent Tree Plaza
16610 North Dallas Parkway
Suite 2100
Dallas TX 75248


Positive Outlook Counseling services range from individual counseling to family therapy to marriage counseling services. Marci Stiles specializes in individual, family, marriage and troubled teen therapy.

Click Here To Book An Appointment Online



  1. Lynne — July 16, 2014 @ 7:16 am

    The specifics here are quite useful. I/we had just discovered that when my spouse filed the 2012 joint income taxes nearly $14,000 is now due – as a result of his “forgetting” to declare bonds he sold. He tried to blame my business & expenses…then told me he had spoken to the IRS & that we owed nothing. The due date for the $14k was today & so since my name is on this joint debt I called the IRS & was told he had called, but that some $9,500 is still due now by mid August. I left him a note to that effect last night – this hse. Has never seen such fury! I was called a bad wife & told he can not trust ME!! I am now forbidden to ever call the IRS again & he is back to blaming my business! The IRS said the $ due has nothing to do with my business! It is due to his unreported income + numerous bonds he has cashed in. I share this to illustrate how insane the narcissist’s thinking is & how they will attempt to turn things around to blame you vs. take personal responsibility. Thank you, again.

  2. Survivor — December 15, 2016 @ 7:22 pm

    I have spent 35 years, 16 in the completed but still pending settlement, with a pre-eminent world class narcissist. This was his third marriage.
    Charisma overcame my better judgement.
    I can tell you that the narc has no real care in his heart for anyone unless they are constantly every second admiring their greatness. It’s a never ending thankless dictatorship and you are the surf. Your children will become narcs. You will be alone. Do not think that loyalty or love will ever change the narc. They are addicted to themselves. They cannot face facts and their reality is like that of a baby, if the world stops revolving around them they will throw a tantrum. Usually it involves punishing the surfs with isolation or demands for compliance. They will even try to accuse the surf of insanity because to not submit to their godlike presence means the surf must be crazy. If you are seduced by a narc you will become the victim of their ego. Run baby run!

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