Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Rules of Engagement with a Narcissist
1. You don't matter
There is only one person that counts in a narcissist’s life, that is, the narcissist. This is a hard concept to grasp.
Narcissists by nature are takers and the truth is that you probably only ever mattered at the point in time when you could supply 'that thing' the narcissist needed. You may have been taught by parents and friends the concept that giving is better than receiving.
However with a narcissist you will give until you are emotionally and spiritually bankrupt and receive little or nothing in return. If you don't believe this, take a hard look at yourself today and then compare that with your state when you first met your narcissistic partner. I believe you will be psychologically and emotionally worse off. Like all thieves once narcissists have taken all you have to give, you are history.
2. Don’t try to fight a psychological war that you can’t win
Because a narcissist is amoral you cannot engage them in any moral or conscience issues and expect to win. As a general rule narcissists have no sense of guilt or remorse for their actions. There is NO WAY you can shame them into accepting responsibility for their mindless and thoughtless approach to other people especially yourself. If you are looking for revenge then you will never achieve any satisfaction in this arena.
The rules of engagement are simple: keep your distance. Rule 5 has more on this subject.
3. Ignore the insults and deceit
There is an old adage that sums up this commandment, “don’t explain to your friends it’s unnecessary, and don’t explain to your enemies they will not believe you”. It may come as a shock to many people to discover that the narcissist must appear superior and blameless in all situations and to this end will resort to distorted lies to make themselves appear a victim of your supposed vices.
When you discover the full extent of the deceit this will tear at the core of your being. However, no matter how strong your outrage or anger there is only one way to counteract any harm that may occur and that is to act in a manner that disproves the defamation to the people in your life who count.
Although this course of action appears to be a weak response it is true that people cannot ignore the reality of your actions and words especially if these do not fit the picture painted by the narcissist. Believe me, actions still speak louder than words equally their own actions will start to work against them eventually. Be prepared to lose many friends and acquaintances during the early period of separation.
Don’t be overly concerned, as by your actions they will eventually see who is telling the truth. Like all liars narcissists cannot remember their patterns of deceit and eventually are caught out.
Once a narcissist sees that you have finished with them they will have one focus and that is to destroy you. They will stop at nothing to prove to the world (their world) that you are a loser, the cause of any misfortune in their lives and the person who deserves all the blame.
4. Take off your rose tinted glasses
The ‘person’ you cared about, looked after and more than likely loved never existed! Their life is an act. They present themselves in a different guise depending on the situation. The most difficult part is to let go of the image you fell in love with all those years back.
Unfortunately the image you feel in love with had been carefully cultivated to trap you! Taking off those "rose tinted glasses" is a long, slow and painful process; remember you've worn them for a very long time. Do not be tempted to put them back on at all cost.
5. Remember they are sick - not you
Mental diseases are always hard for normal people to relate to. Because narcissists are not physically impaired it is hard to feel pity or sorrow for their condition. Narcissists, as my learned psychologist friend told me, are "walking sponges" or the closest thing to the primeval parasite left on earth: they survive with you as their host. Narcissists choose their victims with care and they prey on the susceptible and/or dysfunctional people who they can manipulate and control. I believe this is in large part due to the deep insecurity and lack of self-esteem they suffer from. Narcissists do not wish to know or visit their real self hence anything that heads them in this direction is of total fear. They can’t look back at themselves and their actions, as this would open a “Pandora’s Box” of realities they can’t face.
6. Stay out of their Pain Zone
If you don’t wish to ride on an emotional roller coaster from hell then tattoo this rule on your forehead! Once you leave the relationship the narcissist doesn’t need you anymore and its more than likely (almost guaranteed) you were emotionally and physically replaced long before the event of actual separation. You are now cannon fodder and as stated in rule 1 they are out to destroy you.
For your own peace of mind & safety stay as physically far as possible away from them, their abode, place of work and recreation. Don’t get into conversations or phone calls or texts or for one moment think they are softening in their approach to you, they are only gaining information for possible use against you.
Remember that you cannot fight and expect to win on their turf; you must carefully pick the place for engagement on your own terms - only when you feel ready; if you engage at ALL!
Lies and deceit are a natural part of the narcissist’s world. The old adage “the best liars lie to themselves first” applies in this case and the lie oft repeated is far more convincing. A narcissist has the amazing ability to believe their own lies even when they fly in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Take the position that everything they say to you is a lie and or based on a lie. Warning: DOUBLE CHECK ANY INFORMATION THAT MAY AFFECT YOUR CHILDREN AND SEEK VERIFICATION.
Mental diseases are always hard for normal people to relate to. Because narcissists are not physically impaired it is hard to feel pity or sorrow for their condition. Narcissists, as my learned psychologist friend told me, are "walking sponges" or the closest thing to the primeval parasite left on earth: they survive with you as their host.
Narcissists choose their victims with care and they prey on the susceptible and/or dysfunctional people who they can manipulate and control. I believe this is in large part due to the deep insecurity and lack of self-esteem they suffer from. Narcissists do not wish to know or visit their real self hence anything that heads them in this direction is of total fear. They can’t look back at themselves and their actions, as this would open a “Pandora’s Box” of realities they can’t face.
7. Trust Nothing - Believe Less
8. Your realities are not theirs
The perceptions of the narcissist are truly their reality. If you look back you have never been able to change or influence their perceptions. If you couldn’t effect change living in a close relationship then don’t waste your time and effort trying now. They live in their own world and no matter how false or unreal it appears to you, for them it reality.
This is a constant source of irritation as you become more aware of the fact that much of their entire life is an act.
9. Communicate ONLY in written form
As far as communications go I received an important piece of advice early on. It was to communicate in a way that when read by a judge read the material in question he would agree that you acted in a responsible and prudent manner.
Do NOT under any circumstance use verbal or psychological abuse in your communications. I can guarantee you that this will drive the narcissist up the wall as they are expecting an angry and petulant response from you to their goading.
Keep good record of all correspondence and work on the theory that you will more than likely need them at a later date.
Use the fax, email or snail mail. If you are confronted on the telephone NEVER give an immediate reply. Tell the narcissist that you are busy, engaged or not able to talk at the time. Request that they put what it is they want to say in writing to you and don't respond unless and until they do! This puts the ball back in their court and they learn over time that they cannot use the telephone to abuse you.
10. Always call their bluff
Where you are in possession of evidence that is clearly untrue then use 3rd parties wherever possible to exploit the deceit. More often than not a narcissist will casually manufacture evidence to manipulate people and circumstances.
In these situations ALWAYS confront the people who are quoted or cited with the evidence for corroboration.
Trust me there is one thing that ethical people do not like and that is being misquoted or quoted out of context. This applies especially to government employees, bankers, teachers, accountants and lawyers.
When you use a 3rd party to rebut the narcissists version of reality just watch and wait for their reaction, it actually becomes quite hilarious. You will start to see the real person emerge as they react like a spoiled child and will try anything to squirm out of the situation.
A word of caution, once your narcissist partner realises you are continually throwing reality at them they will be forced to change their game plan. The best outcome of this approach is that they soon learn not to play their silly games with you.
11. Get back in touch with yourself
If you were unlucky to have found yourself with a narcissistic partner it is more than likely you’ve paid the ultimate price for this bad luck. At some stage you start asking yourself the question “was I the cause of the problem”?
But if you’ve read articles on NPD carefully you would soon realise that this is very doubtful. If you were like me you probably didn’t help the situation by pandering to their whims and not standing up for yourself.
To suffer a long-term relationship with a narcissist you need to contribute by having reasonably low self-esteem or insecurities of your own. Strong personalities would not tolerate a narcissistic partner very long. If you contributed then accept that you did and now set out to rectify the situation.
Unfortunately you have to learn and accept that the psychological and emotional investment you made in a narcissist is valueless. Your relationship is beyond 'Chapter 11' so you have to write the investment off as a bad debt so to speak.
Now you have to concentrate your energies on rebuilding your own life. Take stock of who and what you are and most importantly what you want to be. Without goals of what it is you want to be there can be no roadmap for recovery.