The secret to managing a relationship with a narcissist – whether this is damage-limitation or outright escape – is to learn counter-intuitive thinking. In essence, park to one side everything you have learnt about human behaviour, every instinctive reaction you have towards people, and millions of years of man’s evolution. Narcissistis warrant a different set of rules of engagement.
Normal People make predicatble targets
Narcopaths rely on, and indeed exploit, the fact that most of us are normal with a standard complement of regulating emotions (love, empathy, guilt, remorse, respect, compassion etc). For them, we are predicable – 94% of the population exhibit the same emotions in differing degrees, most “normal” self-help books – whether it be getting our own shit together, or on the subjects of romantic relationships, careers etc are all based on (and therefore describe) the same.
It should be of no surprise, therefore, that normal people make predictable targets for Narcopaths searching for victims. All the narcopath has to do is act the part of charming pillar of society – a role they have been practicing all their lives.
The Golden Rule
The golden rule of Narcopaths is, and should always be, to avoid them wherever possible. Go No Contact. Don’t go into business with them, don’t fall in love with them, don’t include them in your circle of friends. For me, writing in a sleepy life café in a sunny rural café somewhere in Europe, it is the easiest thing to write. For you, already romantically enmeshed, or born into a family that includes a Narc, or thrown together as part of work, this is invariably more difficult to achieve. Where you not able to avoid them, it is important to protect yourself from them and manage the relationship as best you possible can. And in order to do that, you need to learn counter-intuitive thinking.
The Silver Rule
The Silver Rule – if you can’t apply the Golden – is to think counter-intuitively. This applies to the victim, but also anyone and everyone offering them advice and support.
Please don’t underestimate the Silver Rule, or indeed the importance of it. Many, many victims report getting through screwed up by counsellors – yes, professional psychologists – who try and offer them the right advice but for the wrong situation. It is very dangerous indeed and leads to far too many suicides because of the sense of hopelessness.
Think the Inverse
In basic terms, and the easiest to consider, is to train your way of thinking to be completely the opposite of our basic instincts, what we have learnt as we grow up, and what we consider to be reasonable behaviour now.
Believe nothing they say – instead look carefully at their actions, a pattern of which never lies.
Unlove as quickly as possibly – in fact your best state is where you neither nor hate the narcissist (replace it with pity – it generally helps)
Plan – to limit any damage and abuse that a narcopath could inflict – psychological, emotional, financial, legal, career etc
Think black and white. Negotiations and compromise are the killing fields of the narc – it is where they exploit fairplay and profit from your generosity, where they learn your strengths and weaknesses, and where they ensare you in their web of web of chaos and drama, keeping you trapped you for as long as they can to carry out a campaign of abuse. Instead, setup clear binary decisions (yes or no) in which there is no room for manoeuvre.
Remember and Learn. Forgiving a narcopath demonstrates a weakness and invites subsequent abuse. Never do it, and make damn sure that the fault is never allowed to impact you the same way again. Note how I didn’t say never let it happen again – no-one can control a narcissist. But you do have a degree of control of how their abuse affects you. Work on this instead.
Please visit the page Managing the Narcopath – also very pertinent.