What Boundaries Should I Have with Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
The first step in setting boundaries with someone with narcissistic personality disorder is understanding more about the disorder itself.
Narcissistic personality disorder is defined as someone who doesn’t have empathy about how their behavior and actions affect the people in their life. They have an intense need for admiration and exhibit patterns of grandiosity. They often can’t accept responsibility and tend to dominate relationships in their life.
NPD is a relatively common mental health condition in the United States, and it’s more prevalent in men than women. People with this disorder feel entitled to use people freely and openly in their life. You can feel empowered by learning how to respond to their demanding, intrusive, and controlling behavior by setting firm, standing boundaries.
Narcissistic personality disorder and boundaries may seem impossible, but you can do it. Here are some boundaries you may want to put in place to protect yourself from a “narcissistic mother,” “narcissistic father,” or partner.
It’s important to note, if you’re in a relationship (whether romantic or familial) with someone with narcissistic personality disorder and it’s become abusive or toxic, boundaries may not be enough. If you’re unsafe, you need to remove yourself from the relationship as soon as possible.
Don’t let them talk to you any way they want
Someone with narcissistic personality disorder might try to use their words to hurt you. If you’re uncomfortable with how you’re being spoken to, you’re within your rights to say I need you to not talk to me this way.
“When dealing with a narcissist, you should be assertive with your boundaries and make it clear to them what those are. For example, if you are not okay with something they want you to do, tell them up front and hold your ground. Don’t let them pressure you into doing it anyway.”
Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LMHC
Don’t let them treat you in a disrespectful or hurtful manner
Yes, words can be hurtful, but so can how someone treats you. Make sure you’re OK with how you’re being treated in a relationship, especially if it’s with somebody who has narcissistic personality disorder. If you feel disrespected, hurt, or have been experiencing narcissistic gaslighting, let them know that you’re not OK with that.
Ask them not to share your personal information with others
Your personal information is yours. Somebody with NPD may try to use your personal experience and information against you. Be very clear about what you are and are not OK with them sharing.
Demand they respect your opinions and thoughts
Everybody deserves to have their opinions and thoughts heard. If you don’t feel respected, setting boundaries with someone with narcissistic personality disorder can help you feel heard so you can feel more valued in the relationship.
Insist that they listen when you say “no”
Setting boundaries will mean nothing if you don’t insist that they’re respected. If you firmly say no to something, be sure you’re heard. If you’re not being listened to, you should feel comfortable putting distance in the relationship. Your feelings are valid, important, and should be respected, especially when you’re openly and blatantly expressing what you’re against or don’t want.
Ask for your personal space when you need it
We all need space in life. It’s an important part of self-care. If you’re feeling suffocated or crowded, it’s OK for you to ask for some personal space. Take the time to do something for yourself that makes you feel good.
Make sure you’re OK with the physical and sexual aspects of the relationship
You should feel safe in every relationship in your life. This is true even (or perhaps especially) in relationships with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder. Feeling safe can be in terms of the physical relationship you have with someone, or it can be the sexual parts of your relationship. Either way, you deserve to be comfortable in every way and aspect. You should feel confident in expressing your needs and boundaries in these areas.
Ensure that your financial relationship is equitable and acceptable
Financial abuse is a difficult and not-often talked about component of many relationships. If you find yourself in a situation where somebody with NPD has financial control over you, whether they are a narcissistic family member or narcissistic spouse, they may be using it as a power play. All financial relationships in your life should be based on equality and something that you’re comfortable with.