With an estimated 0.5-1% of the general population meeting the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), it’s likely you’ll come across a few narcissists in your lifetime.
Entering into a relationship with a narcissist comes at a high price.
A typical narcissist will lure you in with seemingly romantic and charming behavior, only to become increasingly critical and abusive over time.
The best strategy is to learn how to protect yourself against these toxic individuals.
Here are six ways to do just that:
1. Know your own vulnerabilities.
Narcissists and sociopaths have a talent for honing in on other people’s weaknesses and exploiting them.
For example, if you feel insecure and unattractive, a narcissist will soon figure out that you’ll respond positively to them if they throw you a few compliments.
Once you have grown to like them, they can then start manipulating you to the point at which you think their approval is the most precious thing in the world.
Work on developing your self-awareness.
You don’t have to fix all your problems overnight.
Merely understanding your own psychological and points of vulnerability will help you spot a manipulative person who is trying to play on your fears.
Think carefully before sharing any personal information with someone you don’t know well.
2. Learn how to trust your own judgment.
Narcissists assume that they are automatically right and that everyone else is wrong.
They are so confident that you might come to doubt whether you really know what you’re talking about, even if you know yourself to be an intelligent person with well-formed opinions.
Don’t be fooled by someone’s demeanor.
Look behind the bluff and examine their arguments through a critical lens.
Don’t be bullied into thinking that your opinions are wrong simply because they go against what the narcissist believes to be true.
3. Educate yourself.
Narcissists often go undetected because most people can’t quite believe that some members of the population are capable of being so calculating, manipulative, and cruel.
This, coupled with the fact that we often like to think the best of people we don’t know very well, explains why they are frequently given the benefit of the doubt.
Fortunately, reading up on NPD and its symptoms will help you identify the red flags that scream, “Narcissist.”
Here are just a few:
A need for admiration and attention, a conviction that they are always right, a sense of entitlement, superficial charm, a tendency to do or say things that make you feel inferior or “small,” an inconsistent backstory, and a tendency to value money and material possessions above people.
4. Don’t let them bait you.
A common narcissist tactic consists of saying something controversial or provocative with the intention of riling you up.
The narcissist will then often take on the role of injured victim, accusing you of hurting their feelings or being a “bad” person.
This trick is designed to make you try to get back in their good graces by doing whatever they want.
Don’t fall for it.
If they say something that is patently untrue or melodramatic, just ignore it.
If they persist, give them a polite smile and say, “Interesting.”
Then change the topic.
5. Set firm boundaries.
If you make it clear from the outset that you know your own mind, a narcissist will be less inclined to waste their energy trying to manipulate you.
Come up with a set of boundaries that work for you, and defend them.
Don’t tolerate any form of violation or abuse.
This may mean that you literally have to walk away from some people or even cut them out of your life, but it’s vital that you put your own wellbeing first.
6. Stay grounded.
If someone seems too good to be true, they probably are.
Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by a narcissist’s charm, looks, or outgoing personality.
Trust your intuition.
If your inner voice tells you that something isn’t right, it’s time to get out of there.
The next time you meet someone who makes you feel uneasy, draw on your inner reserves of self-esteem and remind yourself that you are too smart and self-aware to fall victim to a narcissist.
The golden rule is to take your time in getting to know someone and to keep a healthy distance.
Never get drawn into their drama, and don’t feel obliged to explain your personal choices or values to a narcissist.
Remember that they don’t actually care about you or your feelings – their primary objective is to draw you in and use you as a source of narcissistic supply.