Coping with a Narcissist at Work, at Home, or in Relationships


All relationships take work, whether they’re with colleagues, supervisors, classmates, friends, family members, or intimate partners. But relationships require even more effort when one person is a narcissist. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which is estimated to affect approximately 1%-6% of the population, can be excessively self-centered, feel like they deserve special treatment, and have a need for constant adulation. In addition, they lack empathy, which can make them manipulative and demanding. It can be exhausting for the people who work with, live with, or love a narcissist.


People with narcissistic personality disorder can be self-centered, feel like they deserve special treatment, and need for constant adulation. It can be exhausting for the people who work with, live with, or love a narcissist. Click To Tweet

If you’re involved with a narcissist or someone who has narcissistic tendencies, you may find it challenging. How can you cope and what can you do to protect yourself in dealing with a narcissist? Here are psychiatrist-recommended strategies you can use in the workplace, with a family member, or with a significant other.

3 Ways to Handle a Narcissist at Work

Narcissism creates a toxic work environment, harms performance, and drives away good talent, according to a wealth of research, including a 2020 study in the Future Business Journal.

Additional findings in a 2021 study in the Academy of Management show that when work leaders display narcissistic traits, it has a negative impact on collaboration and integrity. If someone on your team at work has trouble taking feedback, requires excessive levels of praise, takes credit for others’ ideas and efforts, or dodges deadlines by blaming others, you may be working with a narcissist.

When your boss or co-worker falls into this category, you need to develop a plan.

  1. Be clear about responsibilities and expectations and put it all in writing.
  2. Share these documents with your team so everyone can work together to keep the narcissist accountable.
  3. Set clear boundaries about behavior that is unacceptable in the workplace and report any infractions to HR.

4 Tips to Deal With a Narcissistic Family Member

Is your household centered around one family member who has to be the center of attention at all times? Does someone in your family routinely brag about their accomplishments, make arrogant “know-it-all” statements, or criticize other relatives? Sounds like you could be related to a narcissist. Growing up with someone who has NPD—whether it’s a sibling, parent, or child—can erode your self-esteem, turn you into an anxious people pleaser, and leave you feeling worn out.

  1. Don’t rehash the same arguments with them. Most likely, the narcissist will not benefit from constructive feedback and will view it as an attack.
  2. Try not to react to the narcissist’s criticisms and bullying tactics. Instead, react to neutral or positive behaviors.
  3. Make your own plans and stick to them. If the narcissist tries to take control of a family gathering or to dictate plans, be firm in following through with the activities that bring you happiness.
  4. If possible, limit your time with the narcissistic relative or invite someone to join you on family visits. This can help prevent you from becoming prey to criticism or manipulation.

5 Coping Strategies When You Have a Narcissistic Romantic Partner

With their excessive self-importance, narcissists tend to be completely wrapped up in their own needs with little or no regard for yours. In intimate relationships, the narcissist’s ego-centric behavior can rob you of your sense of self.

  1. Don’t take it personally. Detachment is a psychological strategy that helps you distance yourself from hurtful words and behavior. When your partner lashes out with insults or overlooks your needs, remember that it is merely a symptom of NPD and that the condition has been associated with changes in the brain related to their behavior.
  2. To avoid losing yourself in their world, carve out time for self-care and the activities and people you enjoy.
  3. Create a support network. Cultivate friends or family members you can trust or join a support group where you can discuss issues and feel validated.
  4. If you need additional help coping with the stress of being in a relationship with a narcissist, consider seeking psychotherapy to better manage your own feelings.
  5. Recognize when it’s time to move on. If your relationship is toxic and causing you anxiety or depression, it may be time to find a way out. Be sure to have a plan in place before telling your significant other that you’re leaving and be prepared for the narcissist to blame you for the failure of the relationship.

Narcissistic personality disorder and the anxiety, stress, and depression it can cause others can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. What if I tried all when it comes to a narcissistic partner but failed miserably to improve my mental health also now I feel like it’s my fault that everything is so out of control and I can’t feel happiness because I can’t register any difference in my life whatsoever. Constant headaches or body aches, agitations, feeling angry and a miserable failure, getting disturbed by any small noises, not being able to talk to people for a longer time and totally hating to go outside .. I know I’m not in the correct shape of mind but I feel miserable that I couldn’t fix anything though I tried a lot, and many times.
    Only when I paint I feel ok.. it’s ok., I’m breathing and I get a reason to live may be

    Comment by Sikha — November 15, 2021 @ 3:14 AM

  2. I have children and my youngest son , and my 4th child, my daughter, are both this way, I’m going to be 63 next month, my son is 41, my daughter is 35, they hate me, they both would like to see me dead, they call me names, talk crap about me, I was always there for them, I was a good mother, I’m a good person, what did I do wrong? I’m so so worn out, they have my grandchildren, but now that they hate me, I can’t see nor talk to them, I’m so upset, I can’t handle being treated like this.

    Comment by Tammy Leh — November 15, 2021 @ 3:17 AM

  3. The frequency of this condition seems to be increasing

    Comment by Rand Teed — November 15, 2021 @ 3:19 AM

  4. Growing up with a narcissistic father, marrying a narcessistic man (diagnosed 85%)( I am devorced ), I understand how destructive people can be for everyone involved. How come noone has ever mentioned this word around past president Donald Trump. Here is a perfect example.

    Comment by Petra Drauschak — November 15, 2021 @ 3:19 AM

  5. It will drain the the life out of you very toxic I am in the process getting out of a marriage of 38 years

    Comment by Shelly — November 15, 2021 @ 3:47 AM

  6. What if you are the narcissistic person? How can you get help to change that once you realize you are the ptoblem?

    Comment by john — November 15, 2021 @ 4:00 AM

  7. I think I am dating and in love with a narcissist

    Comment by Candice lacy — November 15, 2021 @ 4:55 AM

  8. Wow!

    “Recognize when it’s time to move on. If your relationship is toxic and causing you anxiety or depression, it may be time to find a way out. ”

    aka, must be very similar to dealing with a Crystal_Meth Abuser ….

    sometimes, so hard to deal with, there may not be a solution to cope with that individual.

    MUST find a better way, especially if that NPD individual remains a (close) family member. This article iteration/rendition/version almost suggests, so far, NPD may be UNSOLVABLE. Might we re-approach this “rough outline” to re-consider, prior to this expression within the dissertation?

    There may be some small percentage of people we’re talking about with NPD, not even swagging, maybe 2 – 3%. Still, that’s alot of people. Rather than “throw our hands up to walk away from such the individual,” can we maybe consult with Poin-Dexter. Maybe he can “pencil” this “unsolvable equation.”

    Alabama.Brian, way too early in the morning for this.

    Comment by Alabama.Brian — November 15, 2021 @ 4:57 AM

  9. Any articles about NPD will be enlightening and helpful

    Comment by Priscilla Mann — November 15, 2021 @ 5:16 AM

  10. Thank you.

    Comment by Dawn Asmar — November 15, 2021 @ 5:17 AM

  11. So can a narcisist change? Can they get better?
    What part of their brain is involved that causes this?
    This article was encouraging but not really educational about how this personality type develops, or how it can change or be better.
    I have a child that I believe has this tendency and she had it from birth on. She let me know she was the boss in the first week of her life. She is 40 now. She blames others by saying they are a narcisist when ever they don’t want to do what she wants them to do…I want to understand her better.
    I would like to say “it takes one to know one” but I know that would not be helpful.
    She is a good person, very successful with her job, and a good mom (though keeps them way too scheduled and busy, I think).
    I have been a patient of the Dr Amen clinic after a car accident. So I am familar with your work.

    Comment by Vicki Latham — November 15, 2021 @ 5:48 AM

  12. My husband and I have been married 2-1/2 years and it has been tumultuous. There have been health issues. He had a very bad bout of sepsis. I have had 5 eye surgeries. I am so frustrated because he says I say things or do things I haven’t said or done we are both 79 and have been in other relationships. He constantly finds fault with me and yells at me. He is always telling people about his career as an engineer and managing engineers. Could he have NPD?

    Comment by Betty Schultz — November 15, 2021 @ 6:31 AM

  13. Is there a version of NPD with low self esteem? Puts other’s down constantly, individuals and groups. But puts self down as well. Can be very angry at times but also charming when he chooses. Nothing is ever his fault. Others are always to blame. Alcohol addiction too. Unfortunately this is my 41 year old son. Any comments or suggestions?

    Comment by Eva Varga — November 15, 2021 @ 6:46 AM

  14. This article dramatically UNDER-emphasizes the soul-killing, mental and emotional anguish of association with a narcissist! They are human wrecking balls that DESTROY lives and leave heaps of debris in their wake! There is NO CURE for their TOXIC sub-human expression. It’s NOT a ‘brain’ issue with narcissists; it is a sick soul issue that 99.9% of these entities will take to their graves! Perhaps a serious study should ensue linking suicide victims with their association with narcissists. Best advice is: RUN from these people no matter the cost and never look back!

    Comment by Sterling — November 15, 2021 @ 6:47 AM

  15. Married to someone with NPD, when tried to divorce ( as he has been in many extra marital affairs) he threatened to Annihilate me. Having a NPD has worked in his favor financially as it’s what dives him to be a pillar in our community. With many years of therapy I learned how to thrive and have my own life . Just praise them.

    Comment by Joy — November 15, 2021 @ 7:00 AM

  16. This was a wonderful article on this type of behavior. Thank you.

    Comment by Paola DiNatale — November 15, 2021 @ 7:35 AM

  17. Where can I get into support groups as I’m married to an NPD

    Comment by Susan Phillips — November 15, 2021 @ 7:53 AM

  18. I have been living with my partner who has some of the traits said here. He does not care about my needs personally. My dreams or needs are not important to him. We never sleep together or have physical attraction needs. His dreams are a priority. I have gotten to the point of telling myself that it is just the way he is and do not depend on him for compassion. He has none. Yet he helps me with money matters but later brings that up against me. I have and still am taking meds for depression. I have thought of leaving but I am 65 and living on disability checks. So not being in a place where leaving him would cause me more harm.

    Comment by Robin Mikels — November 15, 2021 @ 9:30 AM

  19. I found call blocking & moving out of town . I blame myself for trying to stay and be miserable. I am caring for myself now. So so much better.

    Comment by Becky Glover — November 15, 2021 @ 10:08 AM

  20. That is the most succinct and descriptive photograph I have ever seen of a Narcissistic personality.

    Comment by Diane Conroy — November 15, 2021 @ 4:19 PM

  21. I am a survivor of narcissistic abuse who subsequently studied behavioural change in an attempt to understand what I saw as strange and confusing behaviour exhibited by my now ex-wife. Now I am trying to raise awareness about NPD so people can leave before they get trapped.

    Comment by Darius Goba — November 15, 2021 @ 5:24 PM

  22. I was married to a narcistic man for 27 years.
    I lost my self esteem . Thank God he left me for someone who knew how to flatter his ego.It took me a long time to realize I had a new chance on life and developed my personality in a much better way. I’m so glad .

    Comment by Mic — November 15, 2021 @ 7:05 PM

  23. My son in law is Narcissistic and has alienated my daughter from me. He won’t allow me to see her or my grandsons. He won’t answer calls,texts or cards. The pains is beyond bearable. My grandsons are only 5 and I’m afraid for them. I want to work it through , he won’t cooperate one bit. All anyone say‘s is- take care of you” but I think he’s programming my daughter and the boys. Help!

    Comment by Deb Harrison — November 15, 2021 @ 11:10 PM

  24. I was married to one!!! I am divorced! He almost drove me crazy. I was at Royal oak Beaumont trying to survive. I made it through!!!!

    Comment by Rachel Delida — November 16, 2021 @ 1:38 AM

  25. My mother is a Narcissist. Talking to her gives me great anxiety. How can I honor her and do not let her words and actions affect me?? It is very difficult because I owe her, she gave me life and sacrificed a lot for me, I can’t just abandon her.

    Comment by Silvia — January 3, 2022 @ 4:14 AM

  26. My husband of 25years matches totally to NPD. I think it’s because his mother idolised him . Every person we meet he goes into the say pattern of bragging “my father ….” My comment is always “They don’t need to know your life story” He even boasts about my career as though I am his possession but gets the facts wrong. He hates being contradicted and throws tantrums like a 2 year old . I learnt to dominate after he had an affair while I was working hard as the bread winner. He retired following a breakdown. He blamed me for it happening because I wasn’t around to talk to. I told all his family and our closest friends which certainly took him down a peg or two! He complained to one I was angry and aloof but got told “don’t you think she has a right to be?” He didn’t know they knew.
    I became manipulative and gear our life to be as I want it to be which gives me the ability to do my own thing. He’s 78 and I am much younger. I’m not divorcing him because I have more money and I am not sharing it. One day I will have my freedom.

    Comment by Pam — January 3, 2022 @ 5:33 AM

  27. I was with a narcissist for 19 years and am upset because I had to leave my granddaughter, that I raised from an infant. He is a classic narcissist, blamed me for everything, accused me of everything, very physical and emotionally abusive. His daughters always sId just let him say what he wants and agree with him. I believe that is a major part of the problem. He has grandiose delusions . He has no compassion nor empathy. My worry is my granddaughter has to live with him and she is enduring this pain now. He still tries to control me by saying if I see anyone else I will never be able to see her again.

    Comment by Debra Pardoe — January 3, 2022 @ 6:52 AM

  28. While I believe people are in your life for a reason, these can be soul sucking. They find your hurts and feed off of them by triggering you. The only way to rid yourself of them living rent free in your head is to heal yourself from your own trauma. Look at Melanie Tonia Evans on you tube, and start living YOUR best life. Don’t let them destroy you!

    Comment by Mary — January 3, 2022 @ 6:54 AM

  29. I am married to a narcissist too. I love all the comments. So true and great advice. You can find support on the various facebook groups on narcissists. They are something else. I am glad I found this article. It is good. Thank you. I have been married 18 yrs.

    Comment by Cathie Sutphin Vanzetti — January 3, 2022 @ 11:15 AM

  30. My daughter in-law is a narcissist she has been very hard to deal with. She has been married to my son for 10 years and during that whole time she has caused issues between me and my son and has kept my grandchildren from me and my husband in the past. She has made threats to my now deceased husband.I have tried everything to get close to her but to no avail! I’m finished with her! Just can’t deal with her anymore as she has also caused a divide between all of our family members and has even caused my son that she is married to to call me out on things and scream at the top of his lungs at me over the phone I’m very hurt and frustrated tired and done! Do I have a right to feel this way.?

    Comment by Claire Clark — January 5, 2022 @ 4:50 PM

  31. Hi there. My cousin’s boyfriend is infamous for his narcissistic behavior and, to be frank, she just had enough of those kind of nonsense already. Based on my perspective, it would be better if she seeks professional aid to recover from such circumstances instantly. The point you made about how crucial it is to prioritize our own personal well-being when dealing with such people to protect us from further mental distress was so insightful.

    Comment by Amy Saunders — May 25, 2022 @ 10:34 PM

  32. I have been married for 10 and a half years now and my husband and J have 2 children under the age of 10. He was very controlling in the beginning. He had an opinion on everything and if you didn’t share that opinion there was something wrong with you. Eventually as I stood up to him the controlling aspect improved but a new trend developed a trend of gaslighting, silent treatments, everything being blamed on me even neighbor kids behavior and things that he would misplace. Compromise was not something he was or is good at. Anyway for 10 and a half years I tried to deal with walking on eggshells and finally after one very blatant episode of gaslighting and blameshifting followed by him pouting and stonewalling me when I confronted him on it I left for the day. I told him “I love you, but I am not dealing with this right now,” and I went away with the kids for the whole day and didn’t come back until 9:

    Comment by Anonymous — October 3, 2023 @ 2:25 PM

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