Unfortunately, not everyone can leave the narcissist in their life and never look back.

There are many people experiencing narcissistic abuse who must live with the narcissist because leaving isn’t an option. 

Fortunately, there are a few things that these people can do to keep themselves safe and this article is going to guide you through all of them.

Educate Yourself About Narcissistic Abuse

If you’re living with a narcissist because leaving isn’t an option, the most important thing that you must start doing today is educating yourself about narcissistic abuse.

There are several reasons why this is so important. 

The first reason is that grasping a comprehensive understanding of narcissistic abuse will help you identify the behaviors of the narcissist in your life. 

A narcissist trying to gaslight a woman that he is living with.

This is important because having this level of awareness will help you understand why the narcissist behaves the way they do and help you develop strategies to deal with the abuse.

The second reason that educating yourself is important is because it will help you avoid blaming yourself for the abuse.

You may already know this but narcissists are very good at manipulating others into taking the blame for their abusive behavior.

Educating yourself about narcissistic abuse can help you recognize that the abuse is not your fault and prevent you from blaming yourself.

A man reminding himself that he doesn't need to blame himself for the narcissist's behavior.

The third reason is the fact that understanding narcissistic abuse will help you establish boundaries with the narcissist and protect yourself from their abuse.

So, to sum up everything that has been said already, the most important thing that you must do if you are living with a narcissist because leaving isn’t an option is learn about narcissistic abuse.

Learn How to Set Boundaries With the Narcissist

The term “boundaries” refers to limits that you can set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions. 

The APA Dictionary of Psychology describes boundaries as “a psychological demarcation that protects the integrity of an individual or group or that helps the person or group set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or activity.”

In their simplest forms, boundaries are supposed to be easy to set and maintain because they are a verbal set of rules that you can set with someone else.

In their most complex form, boundaries can be more difficult to set and maintain because they are a nonverbal set of rules that are often tailored to who you are as a person.

In a healthy relationship with a romantic partner, family member, friend, colleague, etc., you are given the time, respect, support, validation, and reassurance that you need to feel comfortable setting boundaries in the relationship. 

In narcissistic relationships, boundaries, both simple and complex, are extremely difficult to set and maintain. 


Well, narcissists manipulate the people that they abuse into feeling obligated to not make such a “big deal” about their boundaries.

They also manipulate them into associating setting boundaries with uncomfortable emotions and feelings such as guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, and selfishness.

In addition to this, narcissists often deflect the boundaries that you set by setting their own “boundaries” that are difficult for you to follow, which throws you off and makes it difficult to even set your own boundaries in the first place. 

For example, you may say “please make sure to check in with me before you bring a friend over to our house,” the narcissist may respond “remember all the times you have brought our next door neighbor into our house without even telling me?”.

A narcissist trying to gaslighting his wife.

The narcissist’s defensive, “fake boundary setting” is designed to make you defensive. 

For example, “I told you about friends, not our neighbor, we already had an agreement about our neighbor!”

This will activate your emotions and in turn, make you look like the one who is “out of control.”

Secondly, the narcissist’s “fake boundary setting,” can also gaslight you by making you question your own boundary setting.

For example, “Am I a hypocrite for asking my spouse to check in before bringing friends over when I bring our neighbor over all the time without checking in with my partner first?”.

Over time this will manipulate you into developing a belief that you don’t have a right to set boundaries with other people. 

This forces you to normalize the abuse that you are experiencing, equate it with love and healthy relationships, and gravitate towards abusive relationships in other areas of your life. 

A common example of this is someone who grew up in an abusive household finding themselves in an abusive marriage in adulthood.

  • Take control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. 
  • Destroy your self-perception and turn you into a repository for their own painful emotions and self-loathing behaviors. 
  • Turn you into a source of validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control. 

The absence of healthy boundaries puts narcissists in a position from which they can dehumanize you. 

They want to see you as an object that they can use to ensure that their own selfish needs are met. 

If you don’t set and maintain healthy boundaries with them, you help them do just that. 

Here’s the catch though…

Narcissists are never going to respect, let alone acknowledge, your boundaries because they don’t see you as a person with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs that deserves to be respected. 

Sadly, they see you as an object that they are entitled to using.

In fact, sometimes when you set a boundary with an abuser, they will end up violating your boundary even more harshly just to punish you.

Experiencing this will leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and powerless. 

A woman feeling sad.

Eventually, you’ll just give up on setting boundaries altogether and become trapped in the narcissistic abuse cycle for months, years, and even decades to come.

It is for this reason that the most effective boundaries that you can set and maintain with a narcissist that you are living with are ones that you set with yourself

The remainder of this article is going to focus on the Gray Rock Method and improving your physical and mental health. 

This is because two of the most important boundaries that you can set and maintain with yourself are restraining yourself from engaging in meaningful interactions with the narcissist in your life and making an effort to improve your physical and mental health. 

Use the Gray Rock Method to Prevent the Narcissist From Manipulating You

The Gray Rock Method is a technique used to deal with people who are emotionally manipulative or abusive, particularly narcissists or other individuals who thrive on attention and emotional reactions. 

The method involves becoming emotionally unresponsive and neutral in interactions with the abusive/manipulative person, in order to avoid giving them the reactions they crave.

The goal of the method is to become uninteresting and unimportant to the narcissist in your life so that they lose interest in continuing the interaction with you.

1. Limit Your Contact With the Person: If possible, limit your interactions with the narcissist to only what is necessary, and avoid spending unnecessary time with them.

2. Keep Your Interactions Neutral: When you do interact with the narcissist, keep your responses neutral and avoid giving any emotional reactions. 

3. Avoid Providing Attention or Validation: Avoid giving the narcissist the attention or validation they seek. This means avoiding arguments, emotional reactions, or giving in to their demands.

It is important to note that the Gray Rock Method is not a replacement for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. It is a tool that can be used in conjunction with boundary setting to manage interactions with manipulative or abusive individuals.

The Advantages of Using the Gray Rock Method

1. Reduced Emotional Manipulation: By becoming emotionally unresponsive and neutral in interactions with the narcissist, you can reduce the emotional manipulation and abuse they inflict upon you.

2. Reduced Conflict: The Gray Rock Method can reduce the likelihood of conflict, as you are not engaging in arguments or reacting emotionally to the narcissist’s behavior.

3. Greater Emotional Control: Using the Gray Rock Method can give you greater emotional control and prevent the narcissist from triggering emotional reactions in you.

4. Increased Sense of Empowerment: By using the Gray Rock Method, you may feel more empowered and in control of the situation, as you are taking steps to manage the interaction and protect yourself.

The Disadvantages of Using the Gray Rock Method

1. Difficulty In Maintaining the Method: It can be difficult to maintain a neutral and unemotional response to the narcissist, especially if they are skilled at eliciting emotional reactions from others.

2. Limited Effectiveness: The Gray Rock Method is a fantastic technique but it doesn’t work for everyone right away.

3. Potential For Increased Aggression: The narcissist may become more aggressive or escalate their behavior in response to the lack of emotional reaction they are receiving from you.

4. Potential For Increased Isolation: Using the method will require limiting interactions with the narcissist, which could result in increased isolation or reduced social connections.

Improve Your Physical and Mental Well-Being

Improving your physical and mental well-being means taking actions and making choices that promote better health and wellness for your body and mind. 

Ways to improve your physical well-being.
Ways to improve your mental well-being.

Why is all of this important?

Well, it is important to focus on improving your physical and mental well-being because living with a narcissist can, and often does, take a toll on your physical and mental health. 

Narcissists are demanding, controlling, and emotionally draining, which can leave you feeling exhausted, anxious, and depressed.

By improving your physical and mental well-being, you can better manage your stress levels, maintain your emotional balance, and feel more resilient in the face of difficult situations, such as narcissistic abuse.

In addition to this, physical exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep can boost energy levels and promote feelings of well-being, while stress-management techniques and self-care practices can help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

A woman exercising.

Moreover, improving physical and mental well-being can also help you feel more confident and empowered in your interactions with the narcissist. 

You see, when you take care of yourself, you send a message to the narcissist that you value yourself, which can make it easier to set boundaries and assert your own needs.

To sum up everything that we’ve stated so far, improving physical and mental well-being can help you maintain your sense of self, protect your emotional health, and develop the strength and resilience needed to cope with living with a narcissist.

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      This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care. Please consult a health care provider for guidance specific to your case.


      Ariel Leve, Author and Journalist

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