Interacting with a narcissist can be a really stressful ordeal because of how good they are at manipulating people.

This leaves many people asking themselves, “If I want to stay safe, what are some things that I shouldn’t do with the narcissist in my life?”

If you’ve asked yourself a similar question, you are in the right place because this article is going to guide you through 18 different things that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life.

​​1. Argue With Them

The first thing that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life is argue with them.

This is because narcissists are unlikely to change their mind or admit they are wrong.

If you engage in an argument with them, you will most likely end up being manipulated, invalidated, devalued, and eventually, discarded.

Recommended Article:

Our article 4 Reasons You Should Never Argue With a Narcissist has a ton of really helpful information about this.

2. Try to Change Them

The second thing that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life is try to change them.

Change, genuine change, requires one to recognize the negative aspects of themselves. 

Unfortunately, narcissist’s are incapable of doing this. 

They don’t have the emotional intelligence required to look deep within themselves and acknowledge their own flaws.

This is why they rely on projection so much. 

Attempting to change the narcissist in your life is only going to lead to frustration.

Recommended Article:

Our article Why Do Narcissists Use Projection? has a lot of helpful information that will help you grasp a better understanding of the reason that narcissists over rely on projection.

3. Expect Empathy

The third thing that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life is expect empathy. 

A lack of empathy is one of the key characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). 

Because of this, you should not expect the narcissist in your life to have any empathy.

Narcissists often lack the ability to empathize with others, so don’t expect them to understand or care about your feelings.

A narcissist telling a crying woman that she is ruining his mood.

4. Try to “One-Up” Them

The fourth thing that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life is one-upping them.

After months, years, or even decades of being abused by a narcissist, it is really tempting to try to do this, but you shouldn’t.

Why?

Well, if you do succeed in one-upping them, it will cause them to experience a narcissistic injury and will throw them into a rage.

If you don’t succeed in one-upping them, your “failure” will only feed their ego and lead to further conflict.

A narcissist being grandiose.

5. Take Their Behavior Personally 

The fifth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is take their behavior personally. 

This is really hard to do. 

I mean, the abuse that narcissists put the people that they abuse through feels like the most personal thing on the planet. 

But the fact of the matter is that narcissists’ actions are often driven by their own insecurities and need for validation.

Now, this doesn’t mean that their abuse is justifiable. It just means that you shouldn’t hold onto the pain that it causes because it has nothing to do with who you are as a person. 

A person reminding herself that the narcissist's behavior has nothing to do with who she it as a person.

6. Give Them Excessive Attention

The sixth thing that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life is give them excessive attention.

This is because narcissists thrive on attention. 

You should avoid feeding their need for validation as much as possible. 

This is why techniques such as the Gray Rock Method, Yellow Rock Method, and No Contact Method, work so well against narcissists.

Recommended Article:

Reading our article How to Protect Yourself From a Narcissist (6 Strategies)will help you figure out which strategy you should use to protect yourself from the narcissist in your life.

7. Overshare Personal Information

The seventh thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is overshare personal information.

The reason that you don’t want to do this is because narcissists are known for using personal information against the people that they abuse to maintain control and/or manipulate them.

For example, imagine a woman named Jane confides in her narcissistic coworker, Lisa, about her struggles with anxiety. 

Instead of offering support, Lisa uses this information to undermine Jane’s credibility with their colleagues, spreading rumors that Jane was emotionally unstable and unfit for her position.

A narcissist spreading rumors about someone.

8. Let Them Isolate You from Others

The eighth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is let them isolate you from others. 

Abusers like to isolate the people that they abuse from others because they know that they are more likely to be called out as an abuser if there is an audience. 

Because of this, narcissists often try to control the people that they abuse by isolating them from friends and family.

A narcissist trying to isolate a person from their friends and family.

9. Believe Their False Promises

The ninth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is believe their false promises.

You see, narcissists often make grandiose promises that they don’t follow through on.

If you confront them about this, they will play it off as a mistake, but it is very intentional. 

In fact, there is a name for it, future faking. 

A future fake is when someone makes a false promise in the future to get exactly what they want in the present. 

Narcissists use future faking as a way to maintain power and control over you. 

For example, imagine that you wanted to get a summer job to pay for college. 

Your narcissistic parent stops you from doing this by promising to pay for you college tuition. 

They encourage you to spend the entire summer studying and hanging out with your friends. 

However, when it comes time to pay for the tuition, they pretend that they never committed to paying.

Why would they do this?

They don’t want you to leave because they want to remain in power and control of you.

A narcissist plotting.

10. Ignore Red Flags

The tenth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is ignoring the red flags.

Unfortunately, narcissists are really good at disguising all of their red flags. 

But if you pay close attention, you can see them.

If you notice patterns of unhealthy behavior, trust your instincts and don’t allow them to tell you otherwise.

This is really important because ignoring red flags is to blame for the continuation of many narcissistic relationships.

Someone ignoring red flags.

11. Let Them Gaslight You

The eleventh thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is allowing them to gaslight you.

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that occurs when someone doubts or denies reality.

Narcissists use gaslighting to manipulate your perception of reality and make you question your own thoughts and memories.

You can’t let them do this. 

Gaslighting destroys people’s lives and keeps them physically and/or mentally trapped within the abuse cycle for years.

Here’s a Free Guide to Dealing With Gaslighting:

If you want to keep yourself safe from gaslighting, click here to download our free guide. It will teach you how to recognize gaslighting and protect yourself from it. It is very helpful for anyone dealing with a narcissist who uses gaslighting.

12. Enable Their Behavior

The twelfth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is enable their behavior by making excuses for their actions or accepting blame for their mistakes.

Why?

Well, imagine there is a woman named Laura who always makes excuses for her narcissistic son’s rude behavior, blaming his outbursts on stress or a difficult day. 

By doing so, she unintentionally reinforced his lack of accountability and encouraged him to continue treating others poorly.

In addition to this, Laura’s enabling makes it ten times harder for the people that her son is abusing to stand up for themselves because from their perspective, everyone is supporting their abuser.

A narcissist enabler enabling the narcissist.

13. Wait for a Genuine Apology

The thirteenth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is wait for a genuine apology.

Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions.

Waiting for them to give you a genuine apology is a complete waste of your time. 

In fact, what is more likely to happen is they will give you a very convincing fake apology to maintain power and control over you for as long as possible.

You should not wait for the narcissist in your life to give you a genuine apology because it just keeps you trapped within the abuse cycle.

Someone waiting for a narcissist to apologize.

14. Assume They Will Change With Time

The fourteenth thing that you shouldn’t do with the narcissist in your life is assume that they will change with time.

This is one of the most dangerous beliefs that you can hold onto because narcissists are incapable of changing without intense therapeutic guidance.

And even then, the likelihood of them changing is extremely low. 

In fact, narcissists are more likely to worsen with time because as they get older, they begin to lose their ability to get narcissistic supply, and this causes them to lash out even more.

So, assuming that the narcissist in your life is going to change for the better with time is a terrible idea and will leave you incredibly hurt, lost, and disappointed. 

Recommended Article:

Our article 3 Reasons That Narcissists Get Worse As They Get Olderhas a lot of helpful information about what happens to narcissists as they age.

15. Allow Them to Control Your Emotions

The third thing that you don’t want to do with a narcissist is allow them to control your emotions. 

Listen, narcissists do not care about your thoughts, feelings, or emotions. 

In fact, they will often manipulate your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to get more narcissistic supply.

Have you heard of a manipulation tactic called baiting? 

It is when someone says or does something manipulative to trick you into engaging in a negative interaction with them.

Narcissists love when they can get you to engage in a negative interaction with them because it shows that they have power and control over you.

Because of this, it is important that you maintain your emotional boundaries and avoid getting sucked into their drama.

A person trying to set a boundary with a narcissist.

16. Seek Their Approval

The sixteenth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is seek their approval. 

After months, years, or even decades of being abused by the narcissist in your life, it is very common to develop a need for their approval.

They are very good at manipulating you into believing that they are the only ones who truly care about you.

But seeking a narcissist’s approval is a losing battle, as their opinions are often self-serving and inconsistent.

A common tactic that narcissists use to play on your need for their approval is intermittent reinforcement.

This is the delivery of a reward at irregular intervals. 

For example, imagine that the narcissist in your life has been abusing you for months, then all of a sudden they treat you really nicely for a week.

This is intermittent reinforcement and causes you to develop an addiction for their “approval.”

Recommended Article:

Our article Why Do Trauma Bonds Feel Like an Addiction? gives a much more detailed explanation to intermittent reinforcement and the addictions that they cause.

17. Let Them Exploit You

The seventeenth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is let them exploit you. 

A common mistake many people make when dealing with narcissistic abuse is believing that all they need to do to stop being treated so poorly by the narcissist is allowing them to do whatever they want.

You should never do this because narcissists will gladly take from you until you have nothing left.

Why?

Because they feel entitled to having whatever they want, whenever they want. 

Once you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will discard you and move onto the next person.

It is important to recognize when a narcissist is using you for their own gain and stand up for yourself.

A person thinking about setting boundaries.

18. Neglect Your Own Needs

The eighteenth thing that you shouldn’t do with a narcissist is neglect your own needs. 

This is much easier said than done. 

You see, narcissists expect and demand that you prioritize their well-being over your own.

After months, years, or even decades of being abused by them, it is common for you to consciously or unconsciously neglect your own needs. 

Because of this, it is really important that you work on prioritizing self-care and ensuring that your emotional and physical needs are being met.

A woman reading a book.

What Should You Take Away from This Article? 

You have to be careful when interacting with the narcissist in your life.

The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that every decision that you make protects your well-being.

This isn’t selfish, it is self-love. There’s a big difference. Remember, you have a right to protect your thoughts, feelings, and emotions from abuse.

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.


About This Article

We used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create parts of this article to enhance its accuracy and readability. It underwent a strict human editorial process before being published. See additional information.

References:

Kohut, Heinz. “Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage.” The psychoanalytic study of the child 27.1 (1972): 360-400.

Maccoby, Michael. “Narcissistic leaders.” Harvard business review 78.1 (2000): 69-69.

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