What is it like living with a narcissist?

Social media seems to be buzzing with content about narcissists. Maybe you’ve joined in on the buzz, because you have a narcissist in your life.

Perhaps your partner is a narcissist, and you hope you might be able to have a successful relationship if you move in together.

Or, maybe you’re already living with a narcissist, and you can’t believe the things you’re experiencing.

Regardless of your exact situation, it’s natural to want to know what it’s like to live with a narcissist. Knowing the common experiences of people living with narcissists can provide you with a sense of validation.

Ten key experiences associated with living with a narcissist

Living with a narcissist can be an incredibly challenging and emotionally draining experience. If you’re living with a narcissist and experiencing difficulties, you’re not alone. 

Narcissists tend to exhibit behaviors and patterns that profoundly impact the people around them. Below, we’ll discuss ten key experiences that characterize life with a narcissist. 

1. Constant criticism and belittling

Living with a narcissist is likely to erode your self-esteem. Narcissists are known for frequently criticizing and belittling those around them. 

This occurs for several reasons. First, narcissists expect automatic compliance with all of their demands, which aren’t always easy to meet. Given this fact, narcissists are likely to belittle you when you fail to meet their impossible requests.

In addition, narcissists need to make other people feel small, so they can feel superior to feed their egos. Their constant negative feedback can destroy your self-esteem and make you doubt your own worth.

2. Regular emotional manipulation and gaslighting

When you live with a narcissist, you will question your own version of reality. This is because narcissists use manipulative tactics and gaslighting to make you question your perceptions. 

Narcissists will deny things they’ve done, twist facts, and insist that you’re remembering things incorrectly. All of this leaves you confused and wondering if you’re losing your sanity. 

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3. Experiencing a total lack of empathy

A lack of empathy is one of the key features of narcissism. Narcissists care only about their own feelings, and they have little time for the needs or feelings of others. 

Since narcissists cannot understand or care about your emotions and needs, you will feel neglected when living with a narcissist. Your emotional needs will go entirely unmet, and you’ll likely feel isolated. 

4. Feeling controlled 

Narcissists need to have control over others, so when you’re living with one, they will seek to control and dominate every aspect of your life.

You will lose your entire sense of identity and independence, as the narcissist will dictate your choices, criticize your decisions, and undermine your autonomy.

The more time you spend living with a narcissist, the more powerless and dependent you will feel. 

5. Walking on eggshells

Narcissists can have unpredictable mood swings, oscillating from happiness to rage with little to no warning. One moment they’re charming and affectionate, but with the smallest provocation, they can become angry and hostile.

These mood swings mean you’re constantly walking on eggshells in your own home. Worried that you’ll set the narcissist off, you will always be mindful of your every move, so you do not incite the narcissist’s rage. 

6. Providing unending validation 

Narcissists need constant admiration and validation to fuel their fragile egos. When you’re living with a narcissist, they will completely drain your energy as they demand a never-ending supply of praise.

You will feel as if you must cater to their needs around-the-clock to keep them happy. Even when you devote all of your time and energy to them, they still won’t be satisfied.

7. Total isolation from others

A narcissist will have no problem cutting you off from your support networks. They will isolate you from friends and family members, so they have you all to themselves. 

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When living with a narcissist, you can expect them to create rifts between you and your loved ones. They want you to be entirely dependent upon them, so you have no sources of emotional support or human connection outside the relationship.

Isolating you makes you entirely dependent on the narcissist, and more willing to be a pawn in their game of chess. 

8. Taking the blame for everything

Narcissists cannot take responsibility for their wrongdoings or shortcomings. Doing so would be devastating to their weak egos.

Rather than taking accountability, narcissists are quite skilled at shifting blame onto others and denying their negative actions. Living with a narcissist means that you’ll probably take the blame for all of their bad behavior, even when you’re not at fault.

If you dare to confront them, expect them to deflect criticism onto you. 

9. Constant conflict 

Expect constant conflict when living with a narcissist. They enjoy conflict, because drama and chaos can be a way for them to get the attention they so desire.

Conflict also allows them to assert dominance and superiority over you. They know they have power over your emotions when they see you upset.

The narcissist may even use triangulation to escalate conflicts in the relationship. This occurs when they pull a third party into your relationship dynamic to make you jealous or to alter your behavior. 

10. Unreasonable demands 

Narcissists believe they are incredibly important and superior to others. They also feel that they are entitled to special treatment. 

Because they are so grandiose, narcissists are likely to make unreasonable demands of the people around them. If you’re living with a narcissist, this means they will make excessive demands for your time, attention, and effort.

You will be left feeling undervalued and exploited, because the narcissist expects you to give and give, while they offer you little in return. 

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Tying it all together: What it’s like to live with a narcissist?

If you’re having a hard time while living with a narcissist, you’re not imagining things. Even if the narcissist tries to convince you that you’re too sensitive, the challenges you’re experiencing are valid.

Living with a narcissist usually means:

  • Dealing with constant criticism
  • Having your emotional needs ignored
  • Constantly doting on the narcissist with your time and attention
  • Being isolated from loved ones
  • Walking on eggshells to avoid the narcissist’s intense mood swings
  • Dealing with manipulation and gaslighting
  • Losing control over your independence
  • Coping with constant conflict
  • Taking the blame for everything that goes wrong
  • Fulfilling a never-ending list of demands

Living with someone who subjects you to this sort of treatment is emotionally draining, and it certainly takes a negative toll on your mental health. 

Final thoughts 

If you live with a narcissist, you’ll have to navigate a complex web of emotional manipulation, control, and exploitation. Your mental and emotional wellbeing are likely to suffer, and you’ll be completely exhausted trying to keep up with the narcissist’s demands.

You must develop strategies for coping with the narcissist’s behaviors. If you must live with them, it’s important to remember that their behavior is a reflection of their own internal struggles, and it has nothing to do with you or any flaws you might possess. 

Seek support from trusted friends or family whenever you can, and be sure to make time for self-care. The narcissist may give you a hard time about caring for your own needs, but you need to set boundaries and prioritize your own well-being. 

If you choose to stay living with a narcissist, you can develop strategies for maintaining resilience in the face of narcissistic behavior. 

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