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!!!

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

  1. Marie S

    As I was searching for what I could do to help a friend deal with me, I came upon your website. You see I am someone who lived 30 years with a man I surmise was/is a narcissist.Without a doubt I feel quite broken as a human being after so long and harsh treatment at his every whim, over anything or nothing. Part of that, as you have described, I think, is that I have ended up so unsure of myself. Nearly every day he would berate me for most of what I tried to speak of and or about. As a consequence of this I am fearful of saying the wrong thing to anyone. Even now in this, I am unsure.

    In the last 2 years my best friend has been with me through so much of my personal bewilderment and feelings of uncertainty that I fear exhausting her!

    Isolation is a huge problem for me, and she is usually my only outlet. The man I spent tortourous years with isolated me from friends and family for so long that I feel ill prepared in the friendship department. Other than to give to her from my heart. She lives a distance away from me and we are unable to see each other. The difficulty that I worry about from my point in the friendship stems from, I think, that I have so little to share as a human being with her, as far as stories, life stories, GOOD STORIES, the usual things that would make a friendship more enjoyable. And so, my question is what can I do for my friend to make sure that I am a good friend to her.

    Thank you for your blog.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Marie S. I totally understand what you are saying about not having anything to “give” in the friendship department. So many victims isolated, not just because the N isolates them but because they end up totally unable to relate to normal people with normal lives. I used to be a very social, outgoing, life of the party type person and after 10 years with the N I found myself stuttering when in the company of other people and unable to put two intelligible thoughts together. I had no normal life experiences to talk about like normal people, funny little antidotes etc. It is VERY normal to feel the way you are feeling and it will pass with time. The longer you are away from the N the more your life will become and the more diverse your life will become, for so long he has been your whole life, it is going to take time to develop a life that doesn’t revolve around him and his whims. I know for the first couple of years after leaving my ex I could talk about nothing other than him, I suppose because he took up so much time in my head and I obsessed about him so much. Now almost 5 years out, aside from the blog I don’t discuss him any more than I do any of my other exs and he doesn’t take up any more of my brain power than any of my other exs. He might come up in conversation but it is a passing thought to do something we did once or whatever and not a diatribe about the whole horrible relationship.
      As for your friend, I think just a heartfelt thank you and acknowledgement of what she has done for you and tolerated is all that is needed. If you were closer I would suggest doing something just for her but try the next time you talk to her to focus more on her life or try to come up with something other than your ex to be excited about, get your hair done or get a new outfit and tell her about it. The best thing you can do for your friend to show her that her time was well spent, is to stay away from your ex. If she sees you getting on with your life, doing things to improve yourself and him totally out of your life; she will know her efforts were worthwhile.

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  2. Misty Rain

    I survived a relationship with a very sadistic narcissist which almost drove me to suicide. It was extremely difficult to walk away, and I forgave him repeatedly as he treated me with almost pathological calculated cruelty (worse he seemed to find pleasure in my suffering), as I was convinced I was deeply in love with him and would never find anyone as special as him in my lifetime.

    I have been out of the relationship for over 2 years now, but I am still not entirely recovered from the brainwashing. Even after I walked away, I found myself still wanting to keep in contact with him on social media just (I told myself) to try and get closure on the relationship. But it’s true what survivors of narcissism say– you can’t get closure from a narcissist, and trying only put me through even more pain. Finally I cut the last remaining link I had with him and blocked him on Facebook and I am finally now on the way to getting on with my life.

    I am writing this today though because I have a male friend who is in love with a woman whom I strongly suspect is a narcissist. She is a very successful academic, and he seems to idolize her. He recently confessed to me that he was feeling depressed because she had stood him up and I felt sick in the stomach, as I recognized that she was using the same controlling push/pull techniques on him that I had endured.

    I am still recovering from PTSD, and I feel very concerned and anxious and getting pulled into his relationship with her, even by proxy (especially as I have co-dependent tendencies). It’s irrational, but I feel almost fearful of her, and of being subject to triangulation, as I care about him a lot. I am scared he will not be able to break away from her, as it seems like she has a very strong emotional hold on him, and I feel I’m too weak to help.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Misty Rain, you are wise to realize you are still vulnerable and to it is a very valid concern. If I were you I would tell him what you are seeing and direct him to this website and then let him deal with it. As you know, when you are in the relationship no one can tell you anything; your love for the person blinds the victim. You don’t want to say too much because you don’t want to drive him into her arms by making him feel he has to defend her and she will most definitely try to drive a wedge between you and him. You are best to say as little as possible unless he asks and then if and when he goes back to her (as most victims do, time after time) it is ok for you to say to him that it hurts you to see him allowing her to treat him that way but you are still suffering from when it happened to you and it triggers your own pain, That you will be there for him to support him if he want to end it but if he is going to allow it to go on you can’t jeopardize your own mental healthy. I think the best thing to do is give him the info and then step back as far as giving advice.
      I understand how you feel exactly. Long story short, my son had a child with a narcissist and he tried to make it work, and passed up a high paying job and moved to be close to her and his daughter. I couldn’t believe my reaction!! I lost it for like over a week, I had a full blown panic attack and I can barely talk to the woman because I see her for what she is and as much as I love my grand daughter, I love my son more and I can see that she will destroy his life if given 1/2 a chance and he keeps trying to appease her so he can see his daughter. He has read my blog and he agrees she is a narcissist and he is no longer interested in trying to make a love relationship with her but he still jumps through her hoops. But he started to get angry with me for expressing my fears and giving advice and I value the relationship I have with him more than being right. When she pulls some more of her shit and he calls, I listen and nod my head because I know exactly what he is talking about and I will say; it will never change, you will never be able to jump high enough or dance fast enough to please her. But then I shut up. I don’t say I told you so. He is a big boy and he has to learn this lesson on his own. I gave him the material he needs, he has to choose to use it.
      I see your relationship with your friend the same way.
      I recently had the opportunity to move to where my grand daughter lives and care for her while the mom works, my son asked me to do it because he had to go away to work and the woman was giving him such grief about going. I said yes at first because I would do anything to help my son. But the more I thought about it the more anxious I got, to the point I thought I would have another heart attack. I finally had to call and say I was not coming. My son was really mad at first but that because it meant he would have to deal with her anger and demands on his own. I told him, it took me years to get away from James and 4 and 1/2 years to recover; I just can not willingly go into a situation where another narcissist is trying to control my life, I can not deal with her day in and day out. I can’t do it. He did understand and we are fine once again and he did go off to work and yes she did throw a fit and is trying to turn his daughter against him but there is no dealing with a narcissist. No matter what I did, she is always going to be who she is and she will always find something to use against my son.
      Just pray your friend doesn’t end up getting this woman pregnant. That is a typical ploy of a narcissist, the men get the woman pregnant and the women “forget” to take their pill and get pregnant.
      Good luck with this, and congrats on being two years out and for being as aware as you are.
      Hugs

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    2. Carrie Reimer Post author

      One other thing Misty Rain, it WAS pathological calculated cruelty and he DID enjoy it. They thrive on the pain of others. If they can make you suffer it proves to them how powerful they are. They are evil and sick cruel people, have no doubt.

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  3. Reailyoflife

    My N husband, finally discarded me at Christmas. I filed for divorce a few months later since i was so sick of repeatedly hearing his threats about it.. so i did something. We have young children and i’m having difficulty trying to explain how manipulative, calculated and unpredictable this man is. Obviously i am still going through the healing phase of my decade long abuse, emotion and physical. But some members of my “team” seem to think that he is just a spoilt brat that is throwing a temper tantrum which is incredibly frustrating.. i know its so much more than that as do those that are trained in personality disorders! Is there any way i can help someone understand that hasn’t ever experienced the wrath of a N?

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    1. Barbara

      I find that situation frustrating too. It is like they don’t believe that others can be pure evil. I have a few similar friends who make me feel like I am being hardfaced. They drift through life wrapped in cotton wool and nothing bad ever seems to happen to them. Perhaps directing them to this site; printing off some facts for them and outlining some specifics might help.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Karen, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I recommend people do that all the time. That way she can check it out and come to her own conclusions. Even if she doesn’t check it out right away, her curiosity will eventually draw her to look and when she reads the posts and comments and realizes she is not alone she might wake up.

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    2. Barbara

      Yes, do it Karen. Carrie is right about it making you not feel alone by realizing so many others are in the same situation. It is comforting and gives you a bit more emotional strength. Also, the more knowledge people gather, the better decisions they will make. This site is a Godsend.

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  4. jocelyn

    Thank you for this site, so much. I’ve known all of this for quite some time, though started by not understanding how my soon to be ex’s ex wife (my 1st marriage) was willing to abuse her own children, until by looking at her behaviors reading tons, I realized he is this way also. So I kept asking why, and asking if he wanted to be this way and to continue a 5th or who knows HOW many generations of family abuse in his family. Of course they say the right things, and he paid an atty after telling me he’d not talk with an atty until he and I agreed to terms, so I filed instead. And I can tell he will make the divorce process as ugly as he did the marriage where he also strangled me 3 times, I had him arrested time 2, threatened me with death and “I’ll wipe your nose off your face” but while I was in a foreign country so I didn’t know who to call. Duh, I shoulda called the embassy, though also am dependent upon him, which… at the time I said yes to his request I stay home, I knew NOTHING about control and abuse. Now I unfortunately know too much for comfort, though am LEARNING how to take steps away, say a strong NO to little relationship peeks I get where so many, so often reveal their ugly selves to me. I always make sure to give them an out, and when they ignore that, then I know their true character. I have to say, I think if you’ve been there, there is some sort of magnetism for other Ns to you. *I would love to see steps you’ve taken to find and build healthy relationships with healthy people. Thank you very much for your site. More affirmation, I need it, thank you. :)

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Jocelyn, Welcome and thank you for your kind words, I am glad you found something helpful here. The steps I have taken to build healthy relationships in my life is I did a lot of work on myself. As much as it is not the victim’s fault that they got involved with a narcissist (most of us never even knew they existed until we were in too deep to get out). Actually, first I learned everything I could about narcissists, like they do not have the ability to feel guilt, empathy nor do they have a conscience. Their brains are different than a normal person’s brain (proven by brain scans of narcissists/psychopaths) The are only three personality disorders that have that trait, narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths which have now been all put together under one heading in the DSM as Antisocial Personality Disorder. It is the most dangerous disorder in the world, worse than schizophrenia because there is no cure and no medication that can help. As you can well imagine, without a conscience they are free to do what they want when they want without any guilt or remorse, the only thing that keeps them on the straight and narrow is the fear of going to jail but they are usually highly intelligent which is a scary combination and they usually feel they are smart enough to not get caught.

      After I figured out what I was dealing with I needed to figure out how to get my self confidence back and how to ever trust again. I did that by doing a huge self assessment, not even by choice as much as necessity. I was so broken I didn’t have a clue how to put my life back together or myself. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. So I started one piece of me at a time, I took everything I had ever been told about myself and assessed if it was true or not. I took personality tests to see what personality type I was and it was no great surprise to find out I am a very intuitive and sensitive person. I had been told my whole life I was too sensitive, etc but now I know that about myself and I accept it and value it instead of trying to not be sensitive, I trust my gut instincts instead of questioning myself or giving someone he benefit of doubt. The narcissist hones in on your weak areas, the areas where you feel inadequate, he started from the first date to gather info on the victim to use against them later.

      If a person knows themselves well and likes themselves they are not easily manipulated because they have no problem setting and sticking to boundaries. The biggest thing victims need to learn to do is set boundaries and then not be intimidated or manipulated into not protecting them. I am sure you can think of many times you felt your boundaries were not respected but you didn’t stand up for what you believe in. Through self assessment I realized that no man can give or take away my self worth unless I allow it to happen. I learned that I don;t need a man to complete me or give me value.

      I spend a lot of time finding things to be thankful for and finding beauty in the world, my life is not easy, in fact it is the toughest it has ever been financially but I have never been more at peace in my heart than I am right now. There is no one in the world, not even my son; that I could not walk away from if they don’t value me. I do not feel the need to prove my worth to anyone. I am not perfect by any stretch and I want to be liked by people and have friends etc. I am not saying I am a hermit or anything. I just accept that I don’t have to be perfect or impress anyone. I am human, I make mistakes but I am a good person who deserves respect.

      That is how I have healthy relationships.

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      1. Carrie Reimer Post author

        Jocelyn, if you do a search on my blog for “self improvement” or “self discovery” all the posts relating to those topics will come up, many of them deal with how to have healthy relationships.

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  5. Pingback: How To Know If She Will Be A Good Girlfriend | HOW TO BE

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