Narcissists are always going to ignore boundaries because they have an insecure need for power and control, boundaries challenge their sense of specialness and uniqueness, and because boundaries limit the amount of narcissistic supply they can get. 

It is abusive for narcissists to ignore boundaries because they are preventing you from protecting yourself both physically and emotionally, they are minimizing your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, and they are preventing you from being the best version of yourself. 

This article is going to guide you through the different things that narcissists take from you by ignoring your boundaries so that you can understand why ignoring boundaries is so abusive. We’ve also created a short video below that outlines our article Why Do Narcissists Disrespect Boundaries so that you can get as much information as possible out of this article.

A Short Video About Why Narcissists Disrespect Boundaries

When Narcissists Ignore Boundaries They Prevent You From Developing Healthy Trauma Responses 

Having healthy trauma responses is one of the most important skills that both victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse need to develop if they are to manage all of the negative emotions that come from narcissistic abuse in a way that allows them to go on and live a happier and healthier life. 

When a narcissist ignores boundaries they are preventing their victim from reaching a happier and healthier life because they don’t allow them to develop the healthy trauma responses needed to do so. 

This is a manifestation of a narcissist’s need for power and control. If they are able to prevent the victim from developing healthy trauma responses, the victim will be blinded by the intensity of the narcissist’s manipulation and trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle because they’re unable to acknowledge all of the trauma they are experiencing. 

Fawn

When someone escapes a traumatizing situation or environment through people pleasing behaviors it is known as an unhealthy fawn response. It is one of the most common responses that victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse have when faced with narcissistic abuse. It often manifests in the form of the victim or survivor neglecting their own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs in an attempt to make the narcissist in their life happy. 

A simple exmaple of this would be a victim of narcissistic abuse canceling an important doctors appointment because the narcissist got angry with her for having an appointment that interfered with his schedule.

This is a very unhealthy trauma response because it teaches victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse to be comfortable with devaluing, invalidating, and degrading themselves. If they feel comfortable doing that to themselves, they are likely to allow others to treat them badly as well.

A healthy fawn response would be a victim or survivor of narcissistic abuse practicing being compassionate and empathetic with themselves when they are feeling triggered. It is going to teach them to prioritize their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs instead of suppressing them to please the narcissist.

A victim of narcissistic abuse having a healthy fawn response to trauma

Flight

When someone literally or figuratively runs away from the trauma in their life it is called an unhealthy flight response. For example, someone who gets up and runs out of a room that they felt triggered in is literally running away from their trauma, someone who spends all of their time at work to avoid going home to their abusive spouse is figuratively running away from their trauma.

It’s never good to have an unhealthy flight response because it normalizes the suppression of one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. A healthy flight response would be a victim or survivor of narcissistic abuse finding a psychologically effective way to deal with the trauma like practicing being discerning in stressful situations instead of minimizing or suppressing their trauma by running away from it.

Freeze

An unhealthy freeze response is when someone literally freezes when in a traumatizing situation or environment. For example, a victim or survivor of narcissistic abuse who is unable to think, move, or speak because they’re being yelled at by the narcissist in their life. This type of response is dangerous because they will learn that all they need to do is be aggressive to silence their victim. 

A healthy freeze response would be if the victim remained present in stressful situations but used techniques to slow everything down like breathing, going for a walk, meditation, and so on. This is going to give them a lot more confidence, control, and clarity when dealing with traumatizing situations or environments. For example, imagine that a survivor of narcissistic abuse was talking with a group of friends when all of a sudden on of her “friends” started talking about how great the narcissist is.

Instead of running away from the situation a healthy freeze response is if the survivor controlled her breathing and calmly asked the “friend” to stop bringing up the narcissist around her. The more a victim or survivor practices healthy trauma responses, the more confident, powerful, and in control they are going to become.

Fight

An unhealthy fight response is very narcissistic because it originates from one’s belief that having power and control over others is the best way to be loved, accepted, and safe. A simple example of this would be someone responding with rage to feedback or criticism. 

A healthy fight response would be a victim or survivor of narcissistic abuse setting firm, healthy, and consistent boundaries with the narcissist in their life. For example, someone who is experiencing narcissistic abuse sets a firm boundary by refusing to communicate with those who try to get them to reconcile with the narcissist that they’ve gone no contact with.

A victim of narcissistic abuse setting boundaries with narcissist enablers

When Narcissists Ignore Boundaries They Are Preventing You From Developing a Realistic Sense of Self

One of the main objectives of a narcissist is to destroy the victim’s sense of self so they can manipulate them into providing a consistent flow of narcissistic supply, which is validation, admiration, and reassurance, while simultaneously acting as a repository for all of their suppressed negative emotions.

The reason that this is so important is because narcissists come from an unhealthy/abusive upbringing with primary caregivers who are unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent. This means that they never had their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs mirrored by their primary caregivers so they weren’t able to get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they needed to develop a realistic sense of self. 

You can read a lot more about this in our article How Are Narcissists Made but the significance of all of this is that this type of upbringing left the narcissist with a ton of emotional inadequacies that makes them incapable of developing a healthy and realistic sense of self.

Since they couldn’t get the validation, admiration, and reassurance they needed from their primary caregivers, they focused on getting it from their external environment to build their sense of self. 

For example, a child of an unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent parent will build their sense of self from the validation, admiration, and reassurance they get for being a really good football player because they can’t get it from their neglectful parents.

A narcissistic kid

As this child moves from childhood to adulthood they are going to develop a deeply rooted hatred for themselves because they’ve been led to believe that they aren’t good enough by the neglect of their unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregiver.

A sense that you’re not good enough to be loved by others would be hard for anyone to handle but because narcissists are so emotionally inadequate and immature, it is impossible for them to handle. To avoid imploding on themselves, a narcissist creates a falsified identity out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they accumulate from their external environment to suppress all of their negative emotions about themselves deep within their psyche.

The problem with this is that the falsified identity that they built to suppress their negative emotions is so fragile because it is made out of very superficial and materialistic aspects of life that any form of authenticity, like someone setting a boundary with them, triggers all of their suppressed negative emotions and jeopardizes their emotional stability because they don’t have any healthy forms of emotional regulation that they can use to manage them.

It’s for this reason that they rely on projection, a defense mechanism where someone takes aspects of their identity that they find unacceptable and projects them onto someone else. We spoke about this in our article Why Do Narcissists Gaslight but the only way that a narcissist can successfully project their negative emotions onto their victim is by destroying the victim’s sense of self and rebuilding it with all of their own negative emotions. 

When a victim or survivor of narcissistic abuse sets healthy boundaries with the narcissist in their life and begins to develop a realistic sense of self, they prevent the narcissist from being able to project all of their negative emotions onto them, which forces the emotionally inadequate and immature narcissist to deal with all of the negative emotions by themselves.

It’s for these reasons that a narcissist ignoring your boundaries is so abusive. They rather see you crumble under their self-hate, fear, loneliness, insecurities, and trauma that they have buried deep within themselves and project onto you than work on techniques to manage their negative emotions in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the emotional stability and overall well-being of others. 

When a Narcissist Ignores Your Boundaries They Are Forcing You to Normalize Their Abusive Behavior

Cognitive dissonance is a theory that suggests that when we experience an inconsistency among belief, behavior, and information, it causes a tremendous amount of psychological tension. To ease this tension we will change one or more of the elements that are causing the inconsistency to make everything consistent. 

In narcissistic relationships this manifests in the form of the justification, rationalization, and normalization of abuse. Narcissists want to keep you in a state of cognitive dissonance because it means that you won’t be able to acknowledge that their behavior is abusive and therefore won’t be able to escape the narcissistic abuse cycle. 

They have an extraordinary amount of manipulative techniques that are designed to keep you justifying, rationalizing, and normalizing their abuse which is why summoning up the courage to set a boundary with them is such an important step one needs to take to escape their abusive grasp. 

When the narcissist ignores the boundary that you’ve set they are invalidating, devaluing, and degrading you and your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. The reason that this is so dangerous is because the intensity of the abuse that victims of narcissistic abuse experience is so profound that it plagues their mind with so much self-doubt, self-blame, confusion, and fear that they’re often unable to tell the difference between right and wrong.

A victim of narcissistic abuse in therapy

Meaning that when a narcissist begins to ignore the boundaries that they’ve set, there’s a very good chance that they’ll be able to manipulate the victim into believing that they were wrong for setting the boundary in the first place and continue to justify, rationalize, and normalize the abuse in the relationship. 

When a narcissist ignores a boundary they are forcing you to normalize their abusive behavior. This can lead to you being trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle for months, years, and even decades. Ignoring boundaries is one of the most dangerous abusive behaviors that narcissists display on a daily basis.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

All healthy relationships have healthy boundaries, there are no exceptions. When you have healthy boundaries in a relationship it helps lay a foundation of mutuality, respect, empathy, and compassion that the relationship can grow off of. When a narcissist ignores your boundaries it is abusive and should serve as a constant reminder that the relationship will never be healthy.


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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