Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a rarely diagnosed and complex mental health condition that affects how individuals perceive themselves and interact with others. It is estimated to affect about 1% of the general population, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  As marriage and family therapists, we often encounter clients grappling with the challenges of navigating relationships with someone who exhibits narcissistic traits. In this blog post, we’ll explore what NPD is, its impact on relationships, strategies for coping with narcissistic behavior, and insights for individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Individuals with NPD often have an inflated sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, and a constant craving for attention and validation. They may also engage in manipulative behavior to maintain their sense of superiority and control over others.

Impact on Relationships

Living or interacting with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be challenging and emotionally draining. Their excessive need for admiration and validation can lead to exploitation of others, including family members, friends, and romantic partners. They may struggle to empathize with others’ feelings and perspectives, leading to difficulties in maintaining healthy and meaningful relationships.

Coping Strategies

If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who exhibits narcissistic traits, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being and establish healthy boundaries. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Set Boundaries: Clearly define and communicate your boundaries with the individual. Be firm and consistent in enforcing these boundaries to protect yourself from manipulation and emotional abuse.
  • Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family members.
  • Seek Support: Consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in narcissistic abuse. Therapy can provide a safe space to process your emotions, gain clarity on your situation, and develop coping strategies.
  • Focus on Yourself: Shift your focus inward and prioritize your personal growth and development. Invest in activities that nurture your self-esteem and self-confidence, and focus on building a fulfilling and meaningful life independent of the narcissistic individual.
  • Manage Expectations: Accept that you may not be able to change the individual with NPD. Instead, focus on managing your expectations and accepting them as they are while prioritizing your own well-being.

Insights for Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

If you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it’s essential to recognize the impact your behavior may have on others and be open to seeking support and making positive changes. Consider the following:

  • Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and consider how they may be impacting your relationships with others.
  • Empathy Development: Practice empathy by actively listening to others, considering their perspectives, and validating their feelings and experiences.
  • Therapy: Consider seeking therapy or counseling to explore and address underlying issues contributing to your narcissistic traits. Therapy can provide a supportive environment to work on self-awareness, empathy development, and healthier ways of relating to others.
  • Open Communication: Be open to feedback from others about your behavior and its impact on them. Engage in open and honest communication, and be willing to make changes to improve your relationships.


Navigating relationships with individuals who exhibit narcissistic traits can be challenging, but it’s essential to prioritize your well-being and establish healthy boundaries. For individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, recognizing the impact of their behavior on others and being open to seeking support and making positive changes can lead to healthier and more fulfilling relationships.