Setting Boundaries: 12 Ways To Protect Yourself From The Narcissist

It is not a coincidence that Narcissists are attracted to people with a big heart. People who tend to put other’s interests above theirs are easy prey for the Narcissist.

Without setting proper boundaries, the narcissist will take more, more, and even more. But how do you set strong boundaries?

Here are 12 steps to protect yourself from the narcissist by setting strong boundaries.

#1 Recognize Narcissistic Behavior: 

Understanding how a narcissist behaves is the first step. Knowledge is power; equip yourself.

How well do you understand the behavior of a narcissist?

It’s essential to recognize that narcissists often feel entitled to the best of everything, and they’ll belittle others to maintain their inflated self-image. They’re self-obsessed, lacking empathy for anyone else’s feelings or experiences. You might feel constantly ignored or devalued if you’re in their orbit.

Narcissists are also masters of manipulation, using guilt trips and emotional blackmail to control those around them. They’re rarely accountable for their actions, always shifting the blame onto others.

Understanding these traits is your first step in dealing with a narcissist. Equipping yourself with this knowledge helps you to see their behavior for what it truly is, arming you to protect yourself better.

#2 Define Your Boundaries

Identify the areas in your life that you are unwilling to compromise on. Knowing this can help you to articulate your boundaries effectively.

Now that you’re familiar with the behavior of narcissists, it’s equally vital to identify your non-negotiables in life. These are areas you’re unwilling to compromise, forming the basis of your boundaries.

It could be your personal space, your free time, or the respect you require in conversations. Everyone’s boundaries are unique and shaped by individual experiences, values, and needs.

Next, frame these boundaries in your mind. Understand why they’re important and how they protect your well-being. They’re not walls to shut others out but safeguards for your peace of mind.

Recognizing these boundaries is an important step. The key is to be aware of what you can tolerate and what’s a definite no. This self-awareness will aid in articulating your limits effectively when dealing with narcissists.

#3 Communicate Assertively

Speak up. Communicating your needs and boundaries sends a clear message of where you stand.

Once you’ve defined your boundaries, it’s essential to communicate them assertively, making sure others, especially narcissists, know exactly where you stand. Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. It’s about expressing your needs and rights respectfully without undermining others.

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Start by stating your feelings clearly, using ‘I’ statements. This isn’t a blame game but a way to express your emotions effectively. For instance, instead of saying, ‘You always ignore me,’ say, ‘I feel ignored when you don’t listen to me.’

Also, remember to stay calm. Narcissists may try to provoke you, but don’t let them. Maintain your cool and restate your boundaries.

Lastly, practice makes perfect. It might initially feel uncomfortable, but assertive communication will become second nature with time.

#4 Know What You Will & Will Not Tolerate

Be clear about behaviors you will not accept and make these non-negotiables.

Understanding your limits is just as crucial as communicating them, particularly when dealing with a narcissist. This isn’t about being inflexible but about safeguarding your mental and emotional health. You’ve got to establish what you’ll and won’t tolerate.

It could be constant criticism, belittling comments, or blatant disregard for your feelings. Whatever it is, be clear about it. Make these behaviors your non-negotiables.

This isn’t a one-time conversation, though. You’ll need to reinforce these boundaries consistently, especially since narcissists often test limits. Remember, you’re not being unreasonable. You’re simply asserting your right to be treated with respect and dignity.

Don’t back down. You’re worth more than their manipulative tactics and disregard.

#5 Don’t Personalize Their Comments

Narcissists will often make comments intended to trigger you. Remember, their words are a reflection of them, not you.

When dealing with a narcissist, it’s crucial not to take their comments personally, as their words are often intended to provoke and manipulate rather than reflect reality.

They may aim to unsettle you to maintain control and feed their ego. But remember, their comments aren’t a reflection of you but of their insecurities and inability to empathize.

Don’t let the narcissist’s negative comments affect your self-esteem or self-worth. Instead, remind yourself that you’re not defined by what they say.

Their words are just tactics to maintain dominance. By not personalizing their comments, you protect your mental and emotional well-being, and effectively neutralize their power to upset or control you.

This is a crucial strategy in setting and maintaining boundaries with a narcissist.

#6 Stay Consistent

Your consistency in maintaining the boundaries you’ve set is key. Backing down or selectively enforcing boundaries might encourage more boundary-pushing.

Maintaining your boundaries consistently is crucial when dealing with a narcissist.

It’s not enough to set them, you must also uphold them, regardless of the narcissist’s attempts to push past them.

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When you waver or selectively enforce your boundaries, it can send mixed signals and may lead to further boundary violations.

#7 Don’t Overshare Personal Information

Keep personal matters close to your chest. A narcissist might use this information to manipulate or exploit you.

While consistently upholding your boundaries is crucial, you also need to be mindful about not oversharing personal matters with a narcissist. Guard your private information.

It’s not about being secretive. It’s about protecting yourself. Narcissists are known for exploiting personal information to manipulate situations to their advantage.

Remember, it’s not necessary to share every detail of your life. Keep conversations light and impersonal. Being vague or changing the subject is okay if pressed for information. You’re not obligated to provide answers.

Also, be cautious online. Narcissists can use social media to gather information about you. Adjust your privacy settings and limit what you post and who can see it. Your personal life isn’t fodder for a narcissist’s manipulation. Protect yourself by being selective with what you share.

#8 Manage Your Emotions

It’s easy to get swept up in the intense emotions a narcissist provokes. Stay grounded and don’t allow them to manipulate your emotional responses.

Navigating the emotional whirlwind that a narcissist can provoke is no easy task, but staying grounded and in control of your responses is crucial. It’s normal to feel a roller coaster of emotions – anger, confusion, hurt, disbelief – when dealing with a narcissist.

The key isn’t to let these emotions cloud your judgement or decision-making. You can’t control a narcissist’s actions, but you can control your reactions. Practice mindfulness, deep breathing, or other calming techniques to control your emotions.

#9 Set Consequences and Stick to Them

If boundaries are crossed, consequences need to follow. This could range from ending a conversation to severing ties.

When a narcissist crosses a set boundary, you must enforce the decided consequences, which could range from ending a conversation to even severing ties.

This step is vital in teaching them that your boundaries aren’t negotiable. If you don’t stick to the consequences, you tell them it’s okay to disrespect your limits.

#10 Don’t Engage in Emotional Drama

Narcissists often thrive on drama. Stay calm and avoid getting dragged into unnecessary conflicts.

Narcissists can create a whirlwind of drama, but it’s crucial to stay calm and not be swept up in their emotional storms. This is a common tactic they use to control and manipulate. They thrive on conflict, hoping to draw you in so they can feed off your emotional reactions.

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Don’t take the bait. Instead, maintain your composure. When they try to spark a conflict, respond with calm and measured words. You’re denying them the chaos they crave by refusing to engage in their emotional drama.

#11 Know When to Walk Away

If your boundaries continue to be disrespected despite your best efforts, recognize when to distance yourself from the relationship.

Despite your best attempts at setting and maintaining boundaries, there might come a point where you’ll need to make the tough decision to step away from the relationship. You’ve done your part, communicated your needs, set clear boundaries, and remained consistent.

But if the narcissist in your life continues to disregard your boundaries, it’s a glaring sign of disrespect. It shows a lack of empathy and understanding, key components of any healthy relationship.

Walking away doesn’t mean you’ve failed or given up. It’s an act of self-preservation and courage. You’re choosing to prioritize your well-being over a toxic relationship.

#12 Create an Exit Strategy

If the relationship is harmful and there’s no respect for your boundaries, plan how to leave safely.

If you find yourself in a toxic relationship where your boundaries are consistently disrespected, it’s crucial to devise a safe exit strategy. Initially, try to keep your plans confidential. Don’t confront the narcissist about your intentions, as this may incite aggressive behavior.

Secondly, gather essential items and important documents. You don’t want to leave anything behind that could force you to return.

Next, inform trusted friends or family about your situation. Their support will be invaluable during this time. You might also need a safe place to stay, so consider your options.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals or domestic abuse hotlines if you feel threatened. Leaving a narcissist can be difficult, but remember, you deserve respect, and your boundaries matter.

Final Words

Navigating a relationship with a narcissist is tough, but remember, you’re not powerless. Recognize their behavior, confidently assert your boundaries, and don’t take their comments to heart.

Consistently enforce consequences if they overstep, and don’t get sucked into their drama. Know when to walk away and ensure you have a safe exit plan.

It isn’t easy, but you can regain control and protect your well-being with resilience and determination.

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