How To Help Someone Involved With A Narcissist

What to do if you suspect someone you know is involved with a narcissist

First of all let’s cover the don’t:

* Do not underestimate how dangerous, manipulative and conniving a narcissist can be.

Too many times people confuse narcissism with ordinary abusive behaviour or someone with an inflated ego. A true narcissist is cruel beyond comprehension and can cause immeasurable emotional and physical damage. They will stop at nothing to control their victim and that could include death.

* Never make the victim feel they are responsible for their own abuse.

By saying things like: I would never have stayed, I would have seen he was an asshole a mile off, he was attracted to your co-dependency, etc
No one knows what it is like to be manipulated by a narcissist unless they have been there.

-Narcissists are attracted to strong, competent, self sufficient women with a strong sense of responsibility and moral fiber. What woman wouldn’t want to be described in those terms? The last thing a narcissist wants is someone needy or someone any one could have, she has to be a “trophy” and confident enough to keep his narcissistic supply coming. Plus the more self sufficient and confident she is the more determined the narcissist will be to “break” her, if he can make her totally dependent on him it is the ultimate in NS.

* Do not withdraw your support in an effort to make them choose between you and the narcissist, or in anger because they won’t leave or went back.

Withdrawing your support is giving the narcissist exactly what they want – total control over their victim and makes the victim dependent on the narcissist and reinforces what the narcissist is telling them; that they (the narcissist) is the only one they can rely on, the only one who truly loves them and that they are flawed in some way, why else would someone they cared about turn their back on them?

* Do not expect the victim to return to their “old self” immediately after leaving the narcissist.

The longer a person is involved with a narcissist the more damage is done to the person’s self confidence, their esteem and even their perception of reality. That does not heal quickly, sometimes never. The victim has been abused at a soul level, comparable to a prisoner of war, a rape victim, a hostage; they can probably not even adequately describe what they have been through. In many cases they have blocked much of the abuse or minimized it; which is typical of a person in highly dangerous situation and was part of their attempts at survival.

– Many people leaving a relationship with a narcissist suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and should get help from a professional for that, someone who is familiar with Narcissism and the effect on the victims.

*Do not believe anything the narcissist tells you, he will try anything to discredit the victim and make them appear to be the crazy one and it is the narcissist who is the victim.

You can almost guarantee that whatever the narcissist is saying is the exact opposite of the truth. If he is saying she was unfaithful; it was him cheating. If he says she spent all the money; it was he who spent money.

Remember the narcissist is an award winning actor, he’s been doing it his whole life, if he does admit to any wrong doing it will be part of his plans to manipulate the situation in his favor.

*Do not show the narcissist any sympathy!

One of the tactics often used by a narcissist (especially when he feels he is losing ground) is to use other people as pawns in his efforts to control his victim.
The victim needs no reasons to feel sorry for the narcissist, if they see you are sympathetic to his cause they will doubt they are doing the right thing by leaving.

*Do not be overly critical of the narcissist to the point of the victim feeling they must defend him; remember the narcissist uses guilt as a means of manipulation. You don’t want the victim to feel she has done anything wrong by confiding in you.

The To-Do List:

*Research Narcissism

There are hundreds of support groups, forums, advice sites and sites giving professional opinions.

No one can understand the power a narcissist has over his victim or how
he gained that control or why a victim finds it so hard to leave. Unless you have been there it is impossible, but by reading other people’s accounts of their experiences you will come to realize it is very common and perhaps develop some compassion for the loved one you are trying to help.

*Reinforce that the victim is NOT responsible for the abuse, it is the narcissist that is sick and they can not save him.

-You will have to do this often, once out of your company and back home with the narcissist the narcissist will work over time to extinguish any confidence the victim might have acquired while with you. It is a constant roller coaster ride in emotional hell and you might be the only person who can counter the insanity of living with a narcissist.

*Document!!

When the victim tells you of abuse, infidelity or any other mistreatment by the narcissist make note of it; if there is any physical abuse try to take pictures even if she refuses to press charges. It is actually best if she doesn’t keep records herself because the narcissist IS going through her stuff whether she realizes it or not and if he finds it he will destroy it and “punish” her in some way. But this information will come in handy in the future as:
Proof there was abuse should she have to go to court or get a restraining order.
A reminder for the victim of what she had to live with when her resolve weakens.
Proof of the truth in defense of the lies the narcissist will inevitably tell anyone who will listen.

*Be There!!!

I know it is frustrating to hear the victim cry about the abuse and then they don’t leave or they leave and go back, but you need to be her voice of reason and sanity. You must understand that narcissists are experts at making someone feel crazy.

A woman in an abusive relationship leaves an average of 7 times before leaving for good. As long as he can make her feel that she has some power to change things she will go back, she needs to be reinforced that she has indeed done all she or any woman could do and no one deserves to be abused.

* Believe them!

Once they opening up and start sharing some of the things the narcissist did, believe them, no matter how bizarre it may sound and reiterate it is the narcissist that is sick, not them!

*Listen!!

If they are still with the narcissist all you can do is be there to listen and reinforce that: They are NOT crazy
They are strong
They are not alone
They CAN leave and when they do you will be there to help

* If they have left they will need to rehash the relationship trying to make sense of it, trying to find answers to why something so wonderful turned so ugly.

Quite often while in “survival mode” the victim will block or minimize a lot of the abuse because they are overwhelmed or simply can not accept how horrible the situation is. Once they are away from the narcissist and the danger emotions and memories will come flooding back and the brain needs to acknowledge and accept what happened in order to start the healing process. It might be necessary for the victim to relive some events over and over again.

*Allow the victim time to grieve the loss.

Too many times the people close to the victim get frustrated that they are so sad and “taking too long” grieving and should “just get over it”. That they should be happy they are away from the abuse.

Remember this is probably what they thought was the love of their life and not only is the relationship over but they have to accept it was all one sided; the narcissist is incapable of love; they were in love with a sham. The narcissist will never admit to any fault, and over time more and more of the lies he told will surface reopening the wounds.

Nine times out of ten the narcissist will be involved in another relationship very quickly and will be on his best behaviour and doing everything he can to rub his ex victim’s nose in it.

Either that or he will stock his victim, call incessantly, write letters, anything he can think of to get to her and weaken her resolve.

You can’t stop the victim from going back, but it is less likely to happen if they don’t feel alone. The narcissist can be very convincing especially if the victim is alone, depressed and filled with self doubt.

Good Luck!!!

297 thoughts on “How To Help Someone Involved With A Narcissist

  1. cat

    i was involved with a ver mean and dangerous narcassist for 15 years. It is a true miracle im not dead because of it. He was in and out of jail the entire time and on a 3 year incarceration during 2012 i by slim chance met a guy i kind of known of because knowing a lot of his family and we became really great friends. i moved in rather quick as a room mate in my own room paying but found myself falling for him pretty fast due to his kindness and wanting to save me,help me, and protect me. Hs actually 52 years old & im 42.. I thought hed be more mature than the last. im going on 3 years and hes very narcassistic. what do i do?

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      cat, you are another example of what happens when someone get involved too quickly after leaving a narcissist. A victim of a narcissist is a prime target for the next one that comes along because they need the love bombing that all narcissist do in the beginning.
      What should you do? Leave of course and stay on your own until you are completely healed, from both relationships. By getting involved too soon you postponed healing from the first relationship unfortunately.
      We are here as support.
      hugs

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  2. barefootandarrogant

    “Narcissists are attracted to strong, competent, self sufficient women with a strong sense of responsibility and moral fiber.” YES! Finally, a site that doesn’t describe the target of a narcissist as having low self-esteem or poor self-worth, of being swept up in the romance of it all, or thinking how great it was that this man had picked her. (Sorry for the pronoun generalization!)

    I have had this happen twice, fifteen years apart. Both times were very high points for me– I was doing well in my career, I was vivacious, lively, determined to see the best in everything and everyone, and I felt great about myself physically. I’ve never needed a partner to feel complete, but I’ve never been opposed to the idea.

    I reconnected with an old friend and we went and hung out. So much in common! Such a lovely time! So we agreed to meet for drinks. We started dating and immediately, something about this fella hit the pit of my stomach like a lump of lead. Somehow, he reminded me of my ex-fiance from 15 years earlier even though they weren’t alike at all!

    I was determined to have a long term romance, like a normal adult. I never seemed to make it past four months, and this man was clearly devoted and had demonstrated that we had plenty in common. Every time my gut churned and I got the hot/cold wave of dread, I told myself to stop hyperventilating and looking for reasons to leave.

    So you know that part in a horror movie where the sensible member of the group sing-songs, “I don’t like this…” and the skeptic snaps, “It’s just an old house!” and then blood sprays the camera? Bingo. To me, THIS IS THE REAL DANGER OF THE NARCISSIST: Somehow they convince you to listen to your head, listen to your heart, but do not listen your gut. It takes extraordinary magic for someone like me to tune out my gut since I make my living by acting on it, but there you have it. Some kind of frickin’ Jedi mind trick.

    After three years, I’m finally pulling the shreds of myself out of the bear trap of that relationship. Yeah, I did have to saw off my own arm, or it felt like that. Nine years– that’s how long this man has waited to consume my warmth, to show me off as a trophy, to make me his wife. Yeah, nine. I’d met him online, we talked for a few years, we dated for a few months and he left.

    Anyway, high drama. I always felt like I was in a telenovela and that the problems were my own fault, but ALSO that I had it wrong somehow– telenovela, si, but there was something wrong that I couldn’t put my finger on. I think those are hallmarks of a relationship with a narcissist, so ask yourself:

    1. Have I been ignoring the sinking feeling in my gut and rationalizing it away?
    2. Do I feel like I’m living in a telenovela?
    3. Does it “logically” make sense that I’m to blame for the relationship’s problems but it still feel like there’s something hinky going on? (Logically is in quotes because it’s faulty logic that omits some things while highlighting others)

    If you answer yes to these questions, or if you feel like that confident no-bullshit person you were is trickling through your fingers, well… read the above. Reread the part about minimizing abuse. Twice.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, you did it differently that time. Fool me 52 times and honey, I’m gonna catch on eventually, despite how much work I’ve put into loving you.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      barefootandarogant, great comment!! You are going to make it!!
      “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, you did it differently that time. Fool me 52 times and honey, I’m gonna catch on eventually, despite how much work I’ve put into loving you.”
      There is one thing they are too stupid to comprehend. We are not weak women just because we forgive and love with all we have. They don’t see it for what it really is, incredible strength, who else but a strong woman could love them?? They think they can destroy us because they don’t see our strength, which just proves how handicapped they are.
      My ex thought I would just be there waiting for him to grace me with his presence forever more. He was so cocky and sure of himself, everyone else who knew me was surprised i took what I did for so long, he had never seen how strong I can be.
      That is their biggest mistake, they under estimate us.
      Thanks for your comment and welcome!

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      1. barefootandarrogant

        Thank you for the welcome and hello!

        “We are not weak women just because we forgive and love with all we have. They don’t see it for what it really is, incredible strength.”

        Preach! This was one of the earliest sit-downs I had with my ex, who denigrated emotion and vulnerability. I whirled on him and told him it took rock-solid strength to make yourself vulnerable after hardship, betrayal, or tragedy, knowing you’d be hurt over and over again, and that a heart had to know the consequences of love and suffer them willingly when the time came or it hadn’t had love at all. Now, I don’t mean that any of us should make ourselves martyrs! Hell no! I mean we go into relationships with our eyes open. Even when we’re hurting, we keep our hearts open, we don’t Grinch up and get all wizened and shrunken and hard inside. It goes along with keeping your ears open and actually listening. (Since I’m perfect, I have noooo problem with that!) Keep your arms open– affection begets love. If that crosses a boundary, damn girl, get that mouth open and say so! In my experience, the general population is not psychic. Most of us use our words.

        FORGIVENESS HURTS. If it hurts less and less every time you forgive someone, it’s because you don’t trust them anymore and you already had your guard up. That’s deadly to a relationship. However, if you read the phrase “every time you forgive someone” without a pause, you’re probably dating a narcissist. I’m not gonna tell you to leave because you will when you’re ready, but I will tell you this: You’re not a narcissist. Nope. Uh-uh. No, there’s not a pie piece of you that’s one either. Two of them cannot date: there would be no source of supply. Also, you are not weak, worthless, or “not who you used to be.” We both know you walled off a little bit of your best self to hang onto. Shhh! It’s yours when you’re ready to reach out and take it.

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