Published On: September 27, 2023
Reviewed On: September 27, 2023
Updated On: September 27, 2023
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) affects an estimated 6% of the population. NPD involvesgrandiose thought patterns, an intense need for admiration, and an inability to empathize with others. While creating a healthy relationship can be challenging, in some instances, it is possible. Some people with NPD are incapable of respect due to their narcissistic behavior, but with the right tools and information, you can learn how to live with a narcissist and reach a healthier place in the relationship.
Knowing how to set healthy boundaries is essential, and understanding how to communicate with this personality type is critical to maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship. Keep reading to learn more about navigating relationships with someone who has NPD — we’ll share how to make a narcissist respect you and what to do if the relationship feels too toxic.
It’s important to understand that people with NPD display an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement. These traits make it difficult for them to respect others around them. Interactions with a narcissistic person can become more manageable when you understand this limitation, as you’ll have a healthy and realistic expectation about how you might be treated.
It’s easier to understand how challenging respect is for people with narcissism if you know the following:
Expert Insight“Develop a mantra that says, ‘this person has never acquired the skill of respect rather than this person is actively choosing not to respect me.”
To avoid being manipulated by somebody living with NPD, you must be confident and assertive. Knowing how to make a narcissist respect you means learning to stand up for yourself. You also must be able to remain composed during disagreements and confrontations. Behaviors like this will make you less likely to be targeted as someone who can be easily controlled or taken advantage of.
You can present yourself as confident and assertive by:
Expert Insight““Say reinforcing statements that don’t have personal feelings wrapped in them. For example, ‘that’s interesting you feel that way. I need to take some time to process that and I’ll loop back around later.”
Knowing how to set boundaries with a narcissist is crucial. People like this will disregard the feelings and needs of others around them. You can reduce confrontations when you clearly communicate your limits and stand firm in enforcing your boundaries. Part of understanding how to make a narcissist respect you involves being willing to cut ties if behavior toward you becomes harmful or toxic.
Setting boundaries can be challenging for most of us, especially when dealing with somebody who has NPD.
You can practice setting boundaries by:
Prioritizing your own mental, emotional, and physical well-being is crucial in a narcissistic relationship. To create a healthy relationship, you can still treat someone with NPD with empathy and respect. Just remember that you deserve the same care and consideration. Never hesitate to make decisions you feel are necessary to protect your emotional health.
Putting yourself first can be easy if you do the following:
Though it can be incredibly challenging, treating somebody with NPD with empathy and respect is essential. To achieve this, you must learn how to respond to a narcissist. By not feeding into toxic behaviors like narcissistic rage, you can actually preserve your self-respect, which models the behavior you expect to receive in return.
Part of this can involve showing that you understand their struggles and insecurities. For example, when you acknowledge how they feel, you can disarm them and make it more likely for them to listen and respect your feelings and needs.
The following actions can help you display empathy and respect for somebody with NPD:
If you hope to gain respect from somebody with NPD, you must respect yourself first. Be sure to maintain your sense of self-worth, which can help you set boundaries and protect yourself. By focusing on your self-respect, you become better equipped to navigate behaviors typical in narcissistic relationships.
Respecting yourself can be difficult, but it’s critical if you’re trying to learn how to get a narcissist to respect you.
Expert Insight““Pay attention to bodily cues that tell us whether we are in the right headspace to deal with someone with narcissism. If we are already struggling, we need to put more distance in between us and the individual with narcissism.”
A clear and effective communicator can be a game-changer in a narcissistic relationship. When you communicate and engage with somebody with narcissistic traits and tendencies, you can avoid misinterpretations and manipulation.
Communicating clearly also reduces the chance that somebody with NPD will twist and use your words against them.
To communicate in an NPD relationship, be sure to:
While engaging in toxic behavior can be tempting, maintaining an even approach to the relationship is vital. Recognize manipulative strategies so you can disengage and protect your self-worth. Learning to spot damaging or unhealthy habits and refusing to engage in them will be key to keeping an upper hand in the relationship.
Avoid feeding into toxic behaviors by:
Standing your ground is essential when dealing with somebody with narcissistic tendencies. Establish and maintain boundaries, and don’t allow them to manipulate or control your thoughts or behaviors. The more you stand firm in your beliefs and values, the more you’ll prove to them that their tactics won’t work for you.
You can stand your ground by:
Expert Insight““Determine early on what you are willing to tolerate and not tolerate from other people. We teach people how to treat us, so if someone violates those boundaries we need to take further action to protect ourselves.”
Learning how to make a narcissist respect you and navigating the narcissistic relationship can be incredibly daunting. However, you can set healthy expectations for the relationship by following the rules we’ve given you here — in doing so, you might be able to gain respect, or at least develop a healthy relationship that offers value.
If you’re struggling with how to manage a narcissistic relationship, Talkspace can help with online therapy. Reach out today to learn how to get somebody with NPD to respect you and your relationship — or learn when it might be time to walk away. Either way, Talkspace can be a resource that helps you manage the challenges of gaining respect from someone with NPD.
Stinson FS, Dawson DA, Golstein RB, et al. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2008;69(7):1033-1045. doi:10.4088/jcp.v69n0701. Accessed April 18, 2023.
Meaghan Rice is a mental health consultant specializing in professionals who are looking to close the gap between where they are and where they envision themselves being. With a decade of experience in the mental health field, working in a variety of different capacities, Dr. Rice has found her niche amidst the therapist, consultant, and trainer roles.