How To Set Boundaries With A Narcissist

Where can I learn how to set boundaries with a narcissist? What boundaries do you set with a narcissist? What should you expect when setting boundaries with a narcissist? How can you maintain your boundaries when dealing with a narcissist? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions, this article is for you.

Hi there. My name is Sean Galla, a support group facilitator and thought leader for MensGroup with over a decade of experience. This is a supportive network of men where men, regardless of their age, can find resources, information, support and guidance for different issues affecting their day-to-day lives. Part of the conversations we have here at mensgroup revolve around dealing with people exhibiting narcissistic behavior as a man.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about setting healthy boundaries with a narc. Whether you are dealing with a narcissistic parent, a narcissistic partner, a narcissistic loved one, or even a narcissistic child, this article has all the information you need to help you effectively set healthy and clear boundaries.

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Written by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

Start By Understanding Narcissism

Having a narcissist in your life can be one of the most challenging things you ever have to deal with. To be able to survive life with a narcissist, you need to set healthy boundaries. You may be thinking, how hard can this be since you have in the past successfully set boundaries with their people and they worked, right?

Setting boundaries with a narcissist is, however, different and more challenging. This is because narcissists are hard-wired to reject and challenge boundaries. Therefore, to be able to set healthy boundaries that will work with a person with narcissistic traits, you need first to understand the condition.

Many mental health professionals and the DSM 5 manual describe narcissism as a mental health condition where the individual has a lack of empathy or the ability to resonate with the feelings of others and maintain a healthy relationship.

A narcissist is self-centered and only cares about feeding their ego and getting things their way, regardless of whoever’s toes they step on.

A narcissist has an internalized need for admiration and approval characterized by patterns of grandiosity. Their whole MO is about dominating and manipulating every relationship they have.

Because of this sense of self-importance and selfishness, they are capable of going to whatever lengths to get what they want, and this includes overstepping emotional boundaries every chance they get. This is why merely just setting boundaries will often not work with narcs.

Narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a common mental health condition in the United States. Statistics show that men are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than women.

Here is an informative guide on how to respond to a narcissist.


Why boundaries with narcissists are important

Setting good boundaries is generally encouraged in life as a form of self-care. It is much more encouraged when one is dealing with a narcissist. One thing you should expect when setting firm boundaries with a narcissist is resistance. As mentioned earlier, narcissists are wired to reject anything that stands in the way of getting things their way of taking advantage of others and boosting their self-esteem.

Narcissists use judgment, narcissistic rage, criticism, and victim blaming to maintain control of the people on the receiving end of their narcissism. They will play the victim while putting you at the center of their manipulative tactics. When you set boundaries with a narcissist, you can minimize the harm they cause in your life.

Learning how to set boundaries with a narcissist allows you to have a sense of control over your relationship. It helps you to protect your mental health and determine how your relationship works.

How to set boundaries with a narcissist

even though the narcissist will push back on boundaries and try to guilt-trip you and challenge them, it is still important to set healthy and clear boundaries with them to empower yourself in the relationship. Remember, reinforcing your boundaries is a form of self-love and is the only way to preserve your mental and physical health when dealing with a narc in your life.

Determine what you can and cannot tolerate

The first thing you need to determine when setting boundaries with a narc is what you will and will not tolerate in your personal space. You need to come up with a long list of behaviors you will absolutely not accept from the narcissist.

Once you know what you absolutely cannot tolerate, you need to communicate this effectively with the narcissist in your life and be willing to go no contact if they fail to honor your demands.

Here is a helpful guide on how to divorce a narcissist.

Know when to say No

You need to practice and learn how to say no often and firmly. Most requests from narcissists center around what they like and what favors their interests. You need to learn to say no to requests that make you uncomfortable or put you on the receiving end of their behavior.

Learn not to explain your choices or defend your decisions

As an adult, you are allowed to make choices and decisions for your own well-being and general day-to-day life. One manipulation tactic used by the narcissist to gain control over people is creating an environment where the individual feels the need to constantly check with the narc for validation for approval whenever they make decisions or choices.

You need to practice self-awareness and learn how to make choices and decisions about your life without needing their approval or input. As an adult your decisions are final and valid.

Avoid participating in their emotional drama

Narcs, especially covert narcissists thrive on being overly dramatic when it comes to emotions. By blowing up otherwise minimalistic situations, they feel in control of the situation and love to watch as their victims try to defend themselves.

The best way to avoid going down this rabbit hole with toxic people is by reacting to their emotional drama and manipulation with indifference. While it may be hard, it is important to try not to react to their dramatic outbursts. When you show disinterest, they will quickly abandon the quest and let the issue go. This response is what is referred to as the Grey Rock Method.

how-to-set-boundaries-with-a-narcissistic woman

Avoid personalizing their comments

To avoid self-blaming or taking responsibility, narcissists will often judge, blame, and criticize the other person. The best way to protect your mental health from believing everything the narc says about you is by having compassion for yourself and being grounded in your belief in yourself. This will prevent you from people pleasing and taking the narc’s feedback as true feedback about yourself.

Ensure there are consequences to challenging your boundaries

The best way to win with a narcissist when learning how to set boundaries with them is by setting consequences. Because of their sense of importance, narcs hate being on the receiving end of their behavior. Therefore, they may be prompted to respect your boundaries if they know there are consequences to be suffered if and whenever they challenge the set boundaries.

The consequences need to be dire, and you need to be willing to actualize them. Let the narcissist know what the consequences are.

For instance, if they often resort to name-calling and abusive language whenever you disagree, always be willing to leave the situation. Let them know that any form of abusive language or name-calling towards you will not be tolerated. That you will leave the room if it results in that.

Avoid oversharing with a narcissist

Narcissists will take advantage of every information they know about someone. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself from their criticism is simply not oversharing with them. Do not tell them more than they need to know. They cannot use what they do not know against you.

Always call them out

Every time a narcissist in your life misbehaves, you need to call out their behavior. Let them know that their behavior offends you and is unacceptable. Ensure you point out the issue at the moment because bringing it up later will be met with denial and gaslighting.

Seek professional help

When dealing with a narcissist, it helps to have the input of someone who is professionally trained to deal with them. A mental health therapist can offer guides, advice, and tips on how to manipulate a narcissist, including how to set boundaries with a narcissist. You will realize that you feel stronger and more confident when you have someone to back up your efforts. A therapist is also ideal when you want to heal from narcissistic abuse, as most of the damage usually occurs in the mind.

Join a support group

Men’s Group is a men-only support forum that offers resources and meetings to anyone dealing with a narcissistic person in their life. With the proper support, anyone can grow, heal, and change.

You will join a group of men who have dealt with narcissists and understand your situation. This gives you a free and safe space to share and learn from others who have walked your path before. With the support of fellow men, you can overcome your trauma and lead a healthy, successful, and happy life.


How to set boundaries with a narcissist – Conclusion

Having a narcissist in your life is one of the most challenging things you can do. While it is possible to walk away from some of these relationships, it is harder when you are dealing with a narcissistic family member or a narcissist you cannot just walk away from.

Learning how to set boundaries with a narcissist is the only sure way of ensuring you lead a healthy, normal life despite having a narc in your life. With the tips highlighted in this article, you will be able to set healthy boundaries with a narcissist and protect your mental health. Also, joining a support group like MensGroup can go a long way in ensuring you have a supportive network of fellow men who understand your situation.