(Prefer to watch/listen rather than read? See video here) I have to be honest. In all the years I’ve been researching, writing about, and producing videos on narcissistic abuse recovery and narcissism in toxic relationships, I’ve seen the amount of “experts” go from single digits to probably thousands. In fact, the topic has become an official “niche,” which means that people who teach others how to make money online are recommending it as an option for people who don’t know what topic they want to focus on.
And while this should be a good thing because it could raise awareness of narcissistic abuse, you would be shocked at how often I see my own content repeated and rewritten on sites that appear quite professional. Though I am certain that many of these new experts are actual survivors of narcissistic abuse who are doing what they do for good reasons, there’s one particular bunch I need to complain about for just a minute: all of these so-called coaches who think there’s only one way to go when it comes to dealing with narcissists in your life. They don’t consider any individual person’s situation, and they refuse to imagine any possibility in which it’s not possible to completely cut someone out of your life. And that’s because they just don’t get it – but they also don’t realize (or don’t care) how painfully invalidating this can be for victims and survivors of toxic relationships.
Because I’m here to tell you, it is not always possible, at least not immediately. And quite honestly, I have repeatedly found that people who have not experienced truly toxic relationships don’t really understand the depth of trauma bonding, not to mention the isolation factor and the financial abuse and control that comes along with them. And anyone who hasn’t been there really cannot understand the complicated nature of a narcissist’s manipulation and control tactics, which, in my opinion and experience, means they should not be coaching anyone on this topic and they shouldn’t be creating content that is meant for people who are dealing with it.
So, let’s talk about it. Here is what happened.
Today, after hearing from yet another survivor that a particular coach (with whom she paid for a session) berated and belittled her for not being able to just go no contact with her narcissistic partner, I felt like I was going to lose it. That coach and anyone else who are die-hard no contact pushers are doing survivors a disservice, and to be perfectly honest, I think these people just need to stop it, to put it politely.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The fact is that going no contact works remarkably well for healing after a toxic relationship. And of COURSE, I recommend it – we all know that no contact is the ideal solution to dealing with and healing from a toxic relationship with a narcissist. But the truth is that it isn’t always an option for everyone who has to deal with narcissists for a bunch of different reasons.
For example, maybe you have to live with a narcissistic parent for financial reasons, or you’re unwilling to go no contact with your entire extended family, and you know they won’t or can’t choose you over the toxic family member you’re dealing with. Or you’re working on leaving your narcissistic partner, but haven’t figured out all the logistics yet. There’s also a possibility that you’re dealing with a narcissist at work, and you are not in a position where you can change jobs so easily which means you will have to keep dealing with the narcissistic co-worker or worse, manager. Maybe the narcissist lives next door and you aren’t able to just sell your home and move right away – if at all. Or, and this is probably what I hear more than anything else, you might have to co-parent with a narcissistic ex.
Those are really tough situations as it is, and it frustrates me how often coaches and therapists will tell people in these situations they’re wrong for not going no contact because I get it from a personal perspective. The truth is that it took me a while to figure out how to leave my own ex for with a baby for both financial and logistical reasons. It makes me so angry because quite honestly, anyone who has to deal with a toxic narcissist is already dealing with enough self-doubt and invalidation on a daily basis. They just don’t need any added stress and they don’t need anyone else telling them they’re wrong for something they really can’t control.
So, please hear me on this one, my friend. The truth is, whether we like to admit it or not, there are some situations where it just plain is not an option – at least not immediately.
And while I’ll admit that it is very difficult, if not completely impossible, to fully heal while you’re still dealing with a narcissist on a daily basis, there are certain things you can do to make life a little less difficult while you’re there, and there are things you can do to begin to work toward healing in the process. Let me fill you in.
How to Deal with a Narcissist When No Contact is Not an Option
When you find yourself enmeshed in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, even though you realize your best option would be to leave or go no-contact, it isn’t always a real possibility in every situation. Sometimes, you just want things to go smoothly – you’re not in the mood for a narcissist’s usual games, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation. And there are plenty of times when you’re certainly not feeling like fending off any narcissistic rage, or narcissistic injury.
Let’s talk about five ways to manage the narcissist even if you are unable to go no contact. And if you stick with me through the end, I’ll share one more – a little bonus for you. It’s my own personal secret technique that will help you manage any narcissist you can’t go no contact with. In fact, this technique will work on literally almost any difficult person you come across.
Respond To The Narcissist Without Reacting
You already know how much the narcissist enjoys controlling and manipulating you by triggering your emotions. And, I’m sure you’re well aware that they deliberately say hurtful or dishonest things to evoke emotional outbursts from you. And you might even know that they do this intentionally to make you feel crazy – and to make you look crazy to others – because they want to keep you isolated and under their control. But as frustrating and overwhelming as this can be, if you want to manage a narcissist’s abusive behavior, what you need to do is to be as cool as a cucumber – no matter how hurtful the narcissist is to you. This will be challenging because they will always do what they can to provoke you into blowing up. But if you give them logical, calm, and relatively cordial answers that lack emotion, they will get bored and eventually move on to a different tactic. You can also use the grey rock method, which is both proven and highly recommended. This is where you give really boring one-word answers without reacting and without emotion to push them away.
Keep Your Boundaries Firm
If you are unsure of how to create firm boundaries, then you must learn to do that first. To do that, take a few minutes and decide what is and what is not acceptable to you. Then, you’ll want to make it clear which behaviors you will tolerate and which ones you will not. For instance, if you are co-parenting and you don’t want the narcissistic ex to keep calling you every time your kid farts during their visit, then you make it firm that you will only want to communicate through email or a court-approved app, unless it’s an absolute emergency. And, take steps toward being independent of the narcissist’s help as much as possible – or at least do what you can to limit your dependency on any narcissist. The more independent you are, the less you will have to deal with them.
Make Sure You Have A Solid Support System
When you are unable to go no contact with a narcissist, you will be stressed enough as it is. Make sure you build yourself a solid support system of friends who will understand what you are going through. Now, I’m well-aware that many of us have very few people in real life who really get it, and that’s why I recommend that you get involved with a narcissistic abuse recovery support group. In addition to various local groups you can find at meetup.com, there are also many online support groups, including our top-rated and absolutely free QueenBeeing SPANily groups. In any case, you need access to people who really get it – and you want to make sure you are not all alone in this so that when something upsetting happens caused by the narcissist, you have someone to vent to who will listen and support you.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
This is difficult, but you’ve got to remember who you are dealing with here. You must remind yourself as difficult as it is having to deal with a narcissist that you cannot kick out of your life that they will not change. They are ridiculously limited, so recognize those limitations. See them for who they are, and use this awareness to help you see that you really aren’t the problem. The fact is that narcissists have so many shocking similarities among them, regardless of age, financial status, culture, religion, sex, or location, that it almost feels like there’s a narcissist playbook. Just remember, you don’t have to like it, but you do need to remember that they will not change and despite what they might pretend, they will always keep doing what they do. In other words, and I’m sorry to have to tell you this, never have hope that the narcissist will all of a sudden treat you with love and respect, because sadly they won’t.
You must take good care of yourself such as getting the sleep you need, get some exercise, eat healthily, and engage in your hobbies, your spiritual beliefs, and anything else that makes you happy. Never allow the narcissist to take that away from you. Never allow them to have that kind of power over you. Self-care is critical when you are dealing with a narcissist.
Are you still with me? Okay, this is where I’m going to share my own secret narcissist management technique with you. It is only two steps, and it is both ethical and repeatable.
Use This Technique to Manage Any Narcissist in Any Situation
You want to know how to make a narcissist be nice to you, right? Isn’t that what we all want? Well, I’m going to tell you how to do that right now, because sometimes, you just want first aid – a quick and simple way to make life easier for a while – to make the narcissist just BE NICE TO YOU.
PLEASE NOTE: This ONLY works if you ARE NOT IN ANY DANGER OF A PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE REACTION!
Step One: Do not reward “bad” behavior with the narcissist’s desired reaction. So: Your only response to negative behavior is “GRAY ROCK.” Now, you’re going to want to be super careful here and stay calm, even when the inevitable happens – because this can and may induce narcissistic rage, narcissistic injury, and extreme gaslighting. You may feel angry or upset -but DO NOT show it, no matter what. Stay positive and polite.
Step Two: Reward “good” behavior with what the narcissist needs from you: love, admiration, and his or her proper place on the pedestal. When the narc behaves him or herself, even if you recognize it as love bombing or idealization, bestow all the love and admiration you can on him/her — tell him/her how amazing and wonderful and perfect they are – and do it as sincerely if you can. AND: This can even work if you’re dealing with an ex in a co-parenting situation or a boss or co-worker – just adjust to make it appropriate for the situation.
Using this technique will cause the narcissist to indirectly realize that you’re not going to give them your emotional energy unless they are kind to you. Your emotional energy and focus on the narcissist is pure narcissistic supply – and they need that. So what will happen is that most of the time, if you stick it out, they’ll try to be at least polite if not go into the love-bombing mode. That means that you’ll essentially be training them to be nice to you by only giving them narcissistic supply when they treat you nicely.
Bottom line? Don’t expect miracles – narcissists don’t change, even if it is theoretically possible. So make sure you understand that this will be your new way of life if you do stick around forever.
Worth noting: You’ll have to be consistent if you want this to work. You can NEVER stop these practices if you hope to keep this thing going. The narc will absolutely and repeatedly try the various “bad” behaviors – aka manipulation and abuse tactics – and you will need to be very in control of your emotions to make this happen. BUT you CAN do it, if you choose to.
With all of that being said, I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing that as difficult as things are right now, it won’t last forever. One day you will be able to go no contact, one way or another, should you choose that. Eventually, you will have a well-enough paying job that will allow you to leave home if you are dealing with a narcissistic parent or partner. Eventually, you will be able to find another opportunity for the right job if you are dealing with a narcissistic coworker or boss. And eventually, your kids will reach 18 which means you will no longer have to deal with the narcissistic ex.
Question of the Day: Can you relate? Are we on the same page or do you think I’m wrong? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s discuss it.
You might also like these videos:
- When You Can’t Go No Contact With A Narcissist Grey Rock: What It Is, How to Use It with a Narcissist and Grey Rock Examples (Psychology)
- Narcissists Are Predictable! (The Truth on Why They’re All the Same)
- 4 Ways to Get a Narcissist to Leave You Alone
- When You See the Narcissist After No Contact
- The Codependent’s Guide to Setting Healthy Boundaries After a Toxic Relationship
- New! Identifying Narcissistic Abuse in Toxic Relationships
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.