Have you ever found yourself trying to set boundaries with a narcissist and wondering why it’s so important to set them in the first place?

If so, you’re not the only one. Our community recently asked us the following, “Why should I even bother setting boundaries with a narcissist?”

I pulled together the best information I could find. Here it is.

Setting boundaries with narcissists is essential because they help you:

  • Create space for growth and development.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Protect your mental health.
  • Maintain your independence.
  • Avoid unnecessary conflict.
  • Improve your self-esteem.
  • Protect yourself from manipulation.

In this post, I will walk you through those seven reasons why boundaries are important. 

And when I’m done, I will give you a link to a free course by psychotherapist Andre O’Donnell that walks you step-by-step through setting boundaries with a narcissist.

If you have or currently are experiencing narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse for help.

They Help You Create Space for Growth and Development

Establishing boundaries with a narcissist is essential for your personal growth and development.1 

In relationships dominated by narcissistic behavior, individuals are often unable to pursue their interests, goals, or personal development because the narcissist’s needs and desires are made to be the priority.

For instance, you might want to go back to school or pick up a new hobby, but the narcissist prevents this from happening by gaslighting you into believing that you’d be neglecting the relationship.

A narcissist calling someone selfish.

By setting firm boundaries, such as dedicating specific times for your personal development activities, you assert your right to grow and pursue your own interests. 

This safeguards your time for personal pursuits and affirms your independence and self-worth. 

It’s a crucial step towards realizing your potential and ensuring that the narcissist’s controlling behavior does not hinder your journey of personal growth.

Suggested Reading: 10 Ways to Grow as a Person After Narcissistic Abuse

They Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Interacting with a narcissist often leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety. 

Their unpredictable mood swings, constant need for admiration, and tendency to lash out when they don’t get what they want can keep you on edge. 

Living in such a state of constant vigilance and tension can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. 

By setting clear boundaries, you can create a safer emotional environment for yourself.2 

For example, suppose a narcissist’s outbursts are a source of stress for you. 

In that case, you might establish a boundary by saying, “If you raise your voice or become aggressive, I will remove myself from the situation until we can discuss things calmly.” 

This boundary not only protects your peace of mind but also signals to the narcissist that their behavior has direct consequences. 

Reducing your exposure to such stressors is vital for your well-being and allows you to maintain a sense of calm and stability in your life.

They Help You Protect Your Mental Health

When you’re dealing with a narcissist, it’s essential to set boundaries to protect your mental health.3 

Narcissists often demand a lot of attention and validation, which can be exhausting and stressful for those around them. 

For example, imagine you’re trying to enjoy a peaceful evening at home, but the narcissist keeps demanding your attention for every little thing. 

A narcissist guilt-tripping someone.

This constant need for validation can wear you down, making you feel drained and unhappy. 

By setting clear boundaries, like specifying times when you’re available to talk, and times when you need to be alone, you create a buffer that helps preserve your energy and mental well-being. 

This way, you’re taking steps to ensure that your needs and peace of mind are prioritized and reducing the emotional toll that comes with the narcissist’s constant demands for attention.

They Help You Maintain Your Independence

Establishing boundaries with a narcissist is crucial for maintaining your independence. 

Narcissists often try to control the people around them, making decisions for them and dictating how they should live their lives.4 

For instance, a narcissist might try to tell you who you can be friends with or how you should spend your free time. 

This behavior isn’t just overbearing; it’s a way for them to assert dominance and control over your life. 

By setting boundaries, you’re asserting your right to make your own choices and live your life the way you want to. 

You might say, “I appreciate your input, but I’ll make my own decisions about my friendships and hobbies.” 

This sends a clear message that you are in charge of your life, not them. 

It’s a crucial step in preserving your sense of self and ensuring your independence is respected.

If you need help with anything related to narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

They Help You Avoid Unnecessary Conflict

Setting boundaries with a narcissist can help you avoid unnecessary conflicts.5 

Narcissists often thrive on drama and may create conflicts to get attention or assert their dominance. 

For example, they might pick a fight over something small, like the way you arranged the furniture in your living room, just to see how you react. 

If you react strongly, it gives them the attention and emotional response they crave. 

However, by setting clear boundaries, such as not engaging in arguments over trivial matters, you signal that you won’t play into their need for drama. 

A person setting a boundary with a narcissist.

You might say, “I’m not going to argue about this. We can discuss it calmly, or we can drop the topic.” 

This approach helps to de-escalate potential conflicts and keeps interactions more peaceful. 

It’s about choosing your battles wisely and not giving the narcissist the reaction they’re seeking, which can lead to a more harmonious living situation.

They Help You Improve Your Self-Esteem

Interacting with a narcissist often leads to feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem because they put others down to feel better about themselves.6 

Over time, these put-downs can chip away at your self-esteem, making you doubt your worth and abilities. 

By setting boundaries, you take a stand against this behavior. 

You might say, “It’s not okay for you to comment negatively about my job. I’m proud of what I do.” 

Asserting yourself in this way helps you defend your worth and reinforces your self-esteem. 

It sends a message to the narcissist that their critical behavior is unacceptable and that you value yourself too much to tolerate it. 

This act of self-preservation not only boosts your confidence but also teaches the narcissist that their tactics won’t work on you, fostering a healthier self-image in the process.

Suggested Reading: 8 Ways Narcissists React When They Can’t Control You

They Help You Protect Yourself from Manipulation

Narcissists often use manipulation tactics to get what they want, playing on your emotions or twisting situations to their advantage.7 

For example, they might guilt-trip you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with or gaslight you into questioning your own perceptions and memories. 

By establishing firm boundaries, such as clearly stating what behaviors you will not tolerate, you shield yourself from these harmful tactics. 

For example, you might say, “I will not engage in conversations where you try to manipulate my feelings. If this happens, I will step away from the discussion.” 

A person setting a boundary with the narcissist in their life.

This boundary not only helps prevent emotional abuse but also strengthens your resolve to maintain your dignity and self-respect in the face of manipulation.

If you are ready to be more than a victim of narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


Thank you so much for reading; I hope you found this article helpful.

Here’s a link to Andre O’Donnell’s free course, How to Set Boundaries with a Narcissist.”

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Have you ever had to set boundaries with a narcissist, and what impact did it have on your life and personal growth?

What challenges did you face in maintaining these boundaries, and how did you overcome them?

Or perhaps you’re currently trying to figure out the best way to establish boundaries with someone displaying narcissistic behavior in your life.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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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.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Dianne Grande. (2023. June, 7). 15 Tips for Setting Boundaries With a Narcissist. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/setting-boundaries-with-a-narcissist/ ↩︎
  2. Rachael Pace. (2023. April, 19). How to Set Boundaries With a Narcissist? 15 Ways. Marriage.com. https://www.marriage.com/advice/relationship/how-to-set-boundaries-with-a-narcissist/ ↩︎
  3. Bisma Anwar. (2022. February, 4). Ask a Therapist: “How to Set Boundaries With a Narcissist”. Talkspace. https://www.talkspace.com/mental-health/conditions/articles/how-to-set-boundaries-with-a-narcissist/ ↩︎
  4. Dan Neuharth. (2020. June, 30). 7 Ways to Set Boundaries With Narcissists. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/narcissism-demystified/202006/7-ways-set-boundaries-narcissists ↩︎
  5. Dan Neuharth. (2017. June, 21). 11 Ways to Set Boundaries with Narcissists. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/narcissism-decoded/2017/06/11-ways-to-set-boundaries-with-narcissists#1 ↩︎
  6. Dr. Sharie Stines. (2019. August, 18). Setting Boundaries with a Narcissist. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/pro/recovery-expert/2019/08/setting-boundaries-with-a-narcissist#1 ↩︎
  7. Dan Neuharth. (2021. September, 27). 8 Ways Narcissists Seek to Manipulate and Dehumanize You. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/narcissism-demystified/202109/8-ways-narcissists-seek-manipulate-and-dehumanize-you ↩︎

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