How to Deal with a Narcissistic Son in Law?

Pretty much every parent believes that no one is good enough for their daughter. That’s not to say you can’t have a cordial relationship with your son-in-law, but no one is good enough for your baby girl.

But what if he’s not just “not good enough” but is actually terrible for your daughter?

What if he’s a narcissist that is emotionally abusing your daughter and possibly grandkids?

What if he’s slowly destroying your relationship with your daughter? You’d want to do something, right? How to deal with a Narcissistic Son in Law?

Dealing with a narcissist is never easy, but when the narcissist is your son-in-law, the life-long partner of your daughter, things get a whole lot more complicated.

You can’t take any direct action; you can’t make a clean break from him without breaking off contact with your daughter.

There’s always the risk that anything you say or do will backfire, and push your daughter further away.

You’ll have to try a subtler approach that carefully examines the harm he’s doing to your daughter and your relationship with her.

You’ll need to know these things to form a plan for getting you, your daughter, and any grandkids away from your narcissistic son-in-law.

Do you have a Narcissist in the family?

Signs of a Narcissistic son-in-law

We all know what a narcissist looks like, right? Not necessarily. Some narcissists are the attention-seeking life of the party, but others glob on to just one person – your daughter in this case, extracting all of the attention and emotional support that he requires. 

What’s important for these subtle narcissists is their control over someone.

They need to manipulate this person’s perception, providing the narcissist with the feelings of power needed to fill their emotional black hole.

There are several techniques that your son-in-law will use to control your daughter and grandkids that are surefire signs of narcissism. Still, the most common ones are triangulation, manipulation, and gaslighting.

Triangulation

Do you feel like your narcissistic son-in-law is pitting you against your daughter?

Maybe he tells you something hurtful that she’s said about you, hoping to get a recreation (that he can then use to hurt her).

This is triangulation in action, where a narcissist sows discord between two people so as to get attention from both of them.

An easy-to-understand example is when a narcissistic parent has two children and the parent treats one of them as if they can do no wrong and the other as if they can never do anything right.

Naturally, this causes the poorly treated child to resent the other, rather than the parent who is causing all of this tension.

Even the well-treated child comes to resent the other as they become uncomfortable with their own positive situation.

In the case of a son-in-law, you might not believe this strategy would work.

You obviously have much greater affection towards your own child than towards the son-in-law, but if he can control how close you and your daughter are, it gives him the same feelings of power through manipulative tactics. 

Manipulation

Your narcissistic son-in-law is most likely a master manipulator. He knows just what to say and do to put your daughter off balance.

At least at the beginning of a relationship, many narcissists bombard their victim with love and affection, making the victim believe that the narcissist would never hurt them.

Later on, he might give backhanded compliments or say hurtful things, then when your daughter gets upset, say he was only joking. 

The narcissist does these things because he wants to remain in control. When a narcissist is no longer able to manipulate their victim they lose control and panic.

Some fly into a narcissistic rage, saying anything they can to crush their victim.

Others turn to mutual friends and family, starting a smear campaign to turn others against their victim. Some just walk away, hoping it will force their victim to chase after them, groveling for forgiveness. 

A narcissistic son-in-law might also try to manipulate you using similar tactics.

Though a more overt narcissist might even take you aside and tell you that they can force your daughter and grandkids to cut off contact with you.

It’s such blatantly cruel behavior that your daughter might not even believe you if you told her about the conversation – remember, he’s been crafting an idealized image of himself with her for a long time.

Gaslighting

One of your worst feelings is questioning your perception of reality.

When you’re being gaslit, you don’t trust your senses and recollection and end up relying on others to recall everyday events. This provides a narcissist with immense power.

Narcissists frequently gaslight their victims by distorting the truth, telling people that situations unfolded in ways that make them look like the victim rather than the aggressor.

The narcissist makes these claims with such confidence that the people around them question whether they’re misremembering events.

Your narcissistic son-in-law may even use your age against you, causing you to think that your memory is slipping as time goes on.

Why do Narcissistic Son-in-Laws Keep our Daughter and Child Away from Us?

One of the most important things to understand about narcissists is that their behavior comes from a position of weakness.

They have very little ability to regulate their sense of self worth, needing constant affirmation of their superiority.

Isolated your daughter from other family members lets him control her perceptions. If she never speaks to her friends or family, they can’t tell her what a monster her husband is.

How to Deal with a Narcissistic Son in Law?

Most likely you can’t stand a single minute around your narcissistic son-in-law, but your adult child has chosen him.

If you want to spend any time with your daughter, you’ll need to learn how to spend time around him in a way that isn’t psychologically damaging for you and doesn’t give him ammunition to harm your relationship with your daughter.

Let Him Believe He’s Got the Upper Hand

This next piece of advice is hard to swallow – you need to let the narcissistic son-in-law feel like he’s winning at all times. You must let him feel in control of the situation.

This is incredibly counter-intuitive, you feel like you should do everything in your power to stop him from manipulating your daughter. 

Unfortunately, you aren’t in a position to do that. Your daughter needs to see him for who he truly is and be ready to walk away from the relationship.

Until then, any efforts you make to reveal his narcissistic nature will be turned against you. Let him dig his own grave with her – she’ll eventually see his negative behavior for what it is.

Feed His Ego Occasionally

This one feels even worse than the last, but narcissists just want attention and admiration. If you can give that to them every once and a while by stroking their ego, your relationship with him will be better.

That’s not to say you need to fall into the same pattern with him that your daughter has, just give him a compliment every once and a while.

How Can You Support Your Daughter Who is Married to a Narcissist?

The sad fact is that you cannot intervene and separate your daughter from her narcissistic husband.

Unless she has already decided to walk away from this relationship, your intervention will undoubtedly backfire and she’ll probably cut off contact with you.

Instead, you need to take a support role, helping her make the right decisions, but only when she initiates them. These are just a few of the ways you can help your daughter through her journey of walking away from the narcissist. 

Let Your Daughter and the Grandkids Initiate Contact

If you’re always calling your daughter or the grandkids, it makes your narcissistic son-in-law feel like he’s not in control. He feels like you’re intruding on his life and turning everyone against them.

He’ll use manipulation and triangulation to turn your daughter and the grandkids against you to regain his power.

A better option is to let your daughter and the grandkids know that they can call you anytime and that you’re always available to talk.

Your narcissistic son-in-law will have a more difficult time turning your daughter and grandkids against you when you’re not the one initiating contact.

Don’t “Enlighten” Her About Her Situation

Telling your daughter that she is with a narcissist and needs to get away is a surefire way to ruin your relationship with her.

If she’s not ready to see who he is and the damage he’s done with his narcissistic abuse, you telling her won’t do any good.

Narcissists do an excellent job at grooming their victims, intermittently showering them with love and making them feel that any negative behavior is the victim’s fault.

Telling her how terrible her partner is will most likely result in defensiveness. She might say things like “you don’t know him like she does” or blame herself for the son-in-law’s bad behavior.

Give Her Space to Share

Instead of telling her that she’s in a bad relationship and needs to get out, wait for her to share. She may be feeling unsure of her feelings, wondering how she got into a relationship with such an abusive person.

Validate her feelings and tell her that you will always be there for her when she wants to talk. Opening up about the abuse should help her come to her own conclusions about her narcissistic partner.

Help Her to Make a Plan

This is a plan for daughters that are thinking about exiting the relationship and are worried about staying safe.

If your narcissistic son-in-law senses that your daughter is leaving him, there’s a good chance he could enter a narcissistic rage. His ego is deeply bruised, and he’ll try to regain his reputation by hurting others.

Let your daughter know that she always has a safe place to stay with you. Explain how you can help her through any legal proceedings and what steps you’ll take to protect your grandkids, if you have any.

Be There for Her After a Discard

Your daughter is married to the narcissist, so there’s a certain level of commitment involved, but most narcissists will make some attempt to discard their partner when they’re no longer receiving the required level of narcissistic supply. Often this takes the form of cheating and emotional distancing, but he could also initiate a divorce. 

If that happens, your daughter will either feel relieved or completely crushed. If it’s the former, help her to understand that narcissists frequently return to their discarded partners when they need a boost of supply.

In order to stay strong when he returns, she might need your support.

On the other hand, if she’s shattered by the discard, you’ll have to walk a tightrope in telling her it’s for the best without incurring the problems mentioned earlier of disparaging her narcissistic partner.

Getting the Narcissist Out of Your Life

Extricating your narcissistic son-in-law from your daughter’s life and yours will not be easy. There’s very little that you can do besides recognize his narcissistic tendencies and learn not to aggravate them. 

That sounds like giving in to him, but ultimately, this relationship was your daughter’s choice and it’s very unlikely that you can sway her from that choice without incurring her anger and the narcissist’s.

She needs to come to her own conclusions about her husband and you can be supportive of her on that journey without interfering. 

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

14 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Narcissistic Son in Law?”

  1. I need advice on how to make my narsistic son in law leave ny daughter and grand kids I need him out of their life . He is rilly emotionally messing up my grand kids

    Reply
    • Hi, I’m in the same boat here. He’s not even a son-in-law he’s convinced her that she doesn’t need to get married. I sent her cards he doesn’t have control over that I am with the one I called for him from time to time.

      He hasn’t stopped us from taking mother-daughter trips from time to time I would recommend that to anybody that helps us keep our relationship intact. During that time I try not to speak of him. Believe me she does but I try not to. He has a daughter by previous relation ship and she’s turning out to be the same way they both look for a way to the little rivers around them.

      Best of luck to you and everyone that reads these articles some comments for they have a loved one that they are losing to a narcissistic person and is looking for some kind of help to help their loved one.

      Reply
    • Martha,

      I said the same thing many times, believing it would never happen and that my daughter would never wake up. She didn’t. He finally did one of his passive-aggressive stunts that made her irate. She did not feed his narcissism after that, so he soon walked out. I thought it was the best thing that could have happened. Maybe it was.
      Once she filed for divorce shortly after that and worked out what she thought was a good plan for him to have the 3 boys on weekends, she was not in his line of fire. Sadly, his boys were left to experience his full emotional neglect, with him not even speaking to any of them most weekends. Nothing negative, just nothing at all! Meanwhile, our daughter went into major depression and even threatened to kill her sons, though we didn’t not know this for years when we heard if from the sons.
      Shortly after the youngest entered high school, their father dropped dead, leaving them to deal with their mother’s abuse and their father’s neglect. There are no easy answers and no way to predict the outcomes, however things go. As parents, we can only do the best we can and wait for the children, who may begin coming to use eventually, having seen the light. That’s what our two older ones are doing now, at 25 and 22.

      Reply
  2. I need help my daughter is not seeing what he is she foes say she hates him he keep her away from all family the calls police on sister in law. When she brought a gift for her nieces she has Nat met from march 2020 what and how can I got my daughter to be family again

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  3. Its a horrible situation!!!! This goof has my daughter totally fooled…Latched on to her when she was vulnerable from another relationship break up…He love bombed hard and was so pushy…My daughter and i are/were very close….i live 3 hours away…visit every 3 months ,and each time I could see him pushing me away from my daughter…I tried to show her this, but no use 🙁 I tried to ask her friends to stay in touch with her and explained(she only has 2 where she lives) it was useless….He has her isolated…she moved in within 3 months(I told her to keep her rental/just in case) i dont know if she kept it, because hard to rent in area, then she be stuck with this A hole….I have been cut off from all communication…everything! Last thing she said was, “I love you Mom & always will”…Im heart broken…But I will not let that A hole take my power too….Im gonna keep positive…moving forward…Shes a beautiful person..my hope he doesnt destroy her…He comes from a loveless family…enough said ..

    Reply
    • This sounds like my son in law accept he is a very attentive father and that is what my dtr loves about him. He has convinced my dtr that I am nasty and back stabbing and limits my visiting to when he is traveling for work.

      Reply
  4. My son in law verbally attacked me at his sons 4th birthday party. I couldn’t believe what he was doing. I reacted out of a love for my daughter and grand babies based on what she was telling us that he was doing to her and their kids.
    And I turned out to be the bad person. She told her dad she needed some time to think. She removed herself from all social media and blocked us from calls and emails. She’s even blocked her own friend to include her best friend from college. And all relatives to include her cousins, aunts and uncles and her own grand parents. My daughter is the kindest and Empathetic soul I’ve ever known. She is a first grade school teacher. I very fearful for her and my grand babies. She has stated in the past that she is afraid of him. God help them he is an unstable Deputy Sheriff. She had a gun for protection but he took it from her and locked in his safe that she can’t get into. I’m very scared for her and my grand.
    Help !

    Reply
  5. Thanks to all who shared before me, somehow it is comforting to know we are all in the same boat, as horrible as it is. The SIL has always hated how close my daughter and I are (I raised her by myself). He took a job which had him traveling for work, she is at home with three kids, the 3 year old is autistic and other two have other special ed needs. She has relied on me a lot over the last 7 years, even asked me to sell my house to move closer, which I did. He has been making nasty comments to me for years about her when she is not around and when I tell her she says I make it into something because he is kidding. He does nothing to help with the kids unless it is the every 6 month fight that they have and are getting divorced, he threatens suicide or something ridiculous, she feels sorry for him and they get back together and he helps to get the attention. About 1 year ago he started making a big deal about going to have drinks with his friends after work. They always had an understanding that the would not go to bars without each other. Needless to say two months ago she found the other email address he had and he had been on dating websites, meeting men in hotels, etc. Of course once caught, he said it was only once and would commit suicide and he was just seeing if he was bisexual and would never do it again. So of course since then he is controlling the narrative, pushing me out because he knows i am not stupid and probably knows that she told me. I hadn’t seen the grand babies in 2 months, when I used to take one a weekend just to give her a break. This is breaking my heart and not how I want my grandbabies to think this is normal. His 6 year old son now cant decide to come to my house because he doesn’t want to leave his dad. The 4 year old came over this weekend and told me her dad told her to be mean to me. I am in counseling and thank goodness my daughter is too now but my heart is breaking to watch my only child and grandbabies go through this. This article just verifies what I thought I needed to do. Any advise would be helpful.

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  6. Thank you for writing all of you before me. I can’t believe so many are going thru what I am. My daughter and I were always close. It started as soon as they were married. First he stirred the pot so that my daughter’s have not talked in 5 years. I watched as one by one my family was hurt and rejected. I swore to myself I wouldn’t let him push my buttons. I could see what he was doing even if my daughter couldn’t. But 3 months ago I let him snap at me and get under my skin. I have been deleted from my daughter’s and granddaughters lives. I had the sheriff do a well check…the sheriff called me, .. ma’am there is no way to put this nicely, your daughter said she is fine and does not want to see you or your husband. My heart is so broken. I have never been so hurt or sad in my life. I have been blocked, unfriended and dismissed. I wish I had read this article before I let this happen.

    Reply
    • Omg I’m going thru the exact same thing. It’s like a knife to the heart!!! I just went thru 3 years of bc treatment and being cut off from
      My daughter is sick just sick. Tips on how to deal with it???? Sorry you’re going thru the same thing. I hope it gets better

      Reply
    • Im so sorry robin.. I am a 58 year old grandfather of 3 adorable girls. 2 are twins, less than a year ago my daugher married this guy who has now turned her against the whole family. The entire family. He has isolated her and the kids and I am devastated. No one else sees it and Im the bad person. Im praying for you Robin, I understand how painful this is. God bless you and Let the Angels camp around your daughter and grandkids. Sincerely Eddie.

      Reply
    • This is EXACTLY what happened to our
      family.He called the cops on me for going over just to get a hug and tell my daughter how much I love her! He would not allow that and called the cops on me! And
      literally all I wanted was a hug from her (no fighting, yelling!) I did not raise my voice and remained calm! They have stopped all communication with the immediate family (both parents, siblings and their spouses!) The heartbreaking issue is they just had a newborn (which my daughter wanted me in the delivery room with them & I was, but he had several meltdowns during labor and several days later he screamed at me to leave the hospital after my daughter had asked me to bring her clothes). And
      since then it has just gone from bad to worse. Our family is a threat to him. We are all very close & even very close with extended family. I know he believes we will influence her!
      What is even more heartbreaking is that when our daughter was 11 we almost lost her to a horrific car accident. She was not expected to make it, & I never left her side & we are/were very close! We have not
      seen our granddaughter since the day after they came home from hospital! That is killing me ! And I don’t know what to do next !

      Reply
  7. Your daughters will see the light, trust me. There is actually a very good chance that they already do see the light but it’s easier to block you out of their life at the present time for several reasons. They aren’t ready to leave him/get a divorce yet and it’s easier to go along with him than fight him on this. The old “I have to live with him, you don’t.”. The most important thing you can do right now as a parent is to simply tell your daughter that if she ever needs you, you are there for her, and that you will always love her. And do just that. Love her unconditionally. On the rare occasions that you see her, try to build her up somehow because her self esteem and self worth are nonexistent because of how she is being treated. The day will come when you get the phone call that she wants a divorce. But don’t think the problems will end there. My daughter, who lives 1200 miles away from me, has finally filed and this time I know she will never go back. However, he refuses to leave the house, even though he could easily stay at least temporarily with his mother in her huge luxurious home. And my daughter has no family there and no place to go. Her lawyer tells her not to leave the house and she wouldn’t leave her preteen daughter and 14 year old son anyway. So after 15 years of mental and emotional abuse, the abuse continues, only it’s worse due to his parental alienation jobs he is doing on the children. You have to be a very brave person to divorce a malignant narcissist. She is. But this whole process is killing her. Good luck to all of you.

    Reply

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