How to Deal with a Narcissistic Son in Law?

Last Updated on June 28, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester

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 the relationship that you have 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, one that carefully examines the harm that he’s doing to your daughter and your relationship with her. These are some things you’ll need to know to form a plan for getting you, your daughter, and any grandkids away from your narcissistic son-in-law.

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 that they have 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 a number of techniques that your son-in-law will use to control your daughter and grandkids that are surefire signs of narcissism, but the most common ones are triangulation, manipulation, and gaslighting.


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


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.


One of the worst feelings you can have is questioning your perception of reality. When you’re being gaslit, you don’t trust your own senses and recollection and end up relying on others to recall everyday events for you. 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 a hard one 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 made the decision 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.

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

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 like any negative behavior is the victim’s own 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 she might 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 let her know 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 is not going to be an easy task. 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. 

Photo of author

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?

6 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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

  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 hope he doesnt destroy her…He comes from a loveless family…enough said ..

  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 !


Leave a Comment