12 Ways to Stop Enabling a Narcissist

April 28, 2022
by Chelsy

12 Ways to Stop Enabling a Narcissist

By Chelsy
April 28, 2022

Are you tired of the way your narcissistic ex is treating you? Are you wondering how to not enable a narcissist?

It’s true that we, as victims of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, behave in ways that enable our exes to behave in certain ways.

We often see the term “enabling” when it comes to addicts and describing how family, friends, and loved ones allow them to continue their destructive behaviors because they love and care about them.

Well, the same goes for narcissists!

Except, in this case, enabling a narcissist has little to do with love and care and more to do with encouraging a narcissist to behave horribly against you.

No, you don’t deserve this treatment, but narcissists are special folk who have distorted perceptions about themselves and the world. Enabling them means feeding into their behaviors to either give them a reason to attack you or a reason to feel superior to you.

Yeah, I know, the onus shouldn’t be on you to diminish their unsavory behaviors but that’s, unfortunately, what you need to do when it comes to how to deal with a narcissist.

That being said, let’s look at how to not enable a narcissist so you can go on to lead a more peaceful life:

How to Not Enable a Narcissist

1. Go No to Low-Contact

The best way to stop enabling a narcissist is to cease ALL contact with them.

However, it’s impossible to go no-contact when you are trying to parent with a narcissist. In this case, you would simply go low-contact.

Low-contact means only communicating with the narcissist when necessary. This could be to discuss visitation changes, medical issues with the child, etc.

Otherwise, do not strike up conversations with the narcissist and don’t respond unless you absolutely have to. You don’t have to answer their questions or reply if it’s not relevant to your child.

Oh, and make sure all of your communication is in writing! I can’t stress that enough. It will give you evidence of what the narcissist said, and it may help reduce conflict since they cannot verbally attack you face-to-face or over the phone.

2. Set Boundaries

What happens when you set boundaries with a narcissist? Will they respect them?

Probably not, but you don’t need the narcissist to respect your boundaries to make them effective!

Begin by deciding what behaviors of the narcissist you absolutely will not tolerate. Is it name-calling? Threats? Blame-shifting? Belittling comments?

You can teach the narcissist how to treat you by setting boundaries on these deal-breaker behaviors. If the narcissist exhibits any of these behaviors, tell them you will no longer accept being treated that way and end the conversation if they continue to do so.

While doing this will probably not cause the narcissist to be nicer to you, it will decrease their foul treatment of you because they won’t be getting the reaction they are seeking.

3. Hold the Narcissist Accountable

Narcissists will do whatever it takes to avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes or shortcomings. While I’m not saying you should bombard the narcissist with “I told you so,” it’s important to hold them accountable for what they say and do.

This is especially true when it comes to gaslighting. When called out on something, narcissists will lie and convince you that something they did or said never happened.

For instance, say your narcissistic ex cancels their weekend visitation with your child and then, lo and behold, accuses you of denying access because you never showed up.

You remind them that they canceled the visit, but they respond with, “I never said that.”

This is why having everything in writing is so important! Just show them the text message and go about your day.

Only hold the narcissist accountable if:

A. You have proof, and

B. Not doing so may cause an issue with the court order (if you have one).

This will help when it comes to how to not enable a narcissist because you are decreasing their ability to bully you and push you around. Disabling the narcissist is all about taking away power from their behaviors.

4. Don’t Take Responsibility for Their Behaviors

Sometimes you may ask yourself, “Am I making the narcissist’s behavior worse?”

Yeah, probably, but that doesn’t make you responsible for them. It just means that by standing your ground and taking back control of your life, you are inflaming the toxic behaviors related to their mental health issue.

If you ever feel that you are the cause of your treatment, just tell yourself:

“That’s a them problem, not a me problem.”

Because, really, it isn’t your problem that they act like garbage. They are grown-ass adults who know the difference between treating someone respectfully and treating them horribly.

Sure, they may have a diagnosable mental health condition – or they are just terrible people. It doesn’t matter because you already went through enough of their shenanigans, and you can stop enabling them by not taking responsibility for their actions.

5. Stop Helping Them

If you’re anything like me, you ended up tangled in a relationship with a narcissist because you felt bad for them and wanted to help them. Narcissists are good at preying on the goodwill of others in order to entrap them into a relationship.

Now that it’s over, or if you are still in a relationship with a narcissist, you don’t need to help them. They are grown adults who need to start figuring out life for themselves.

Plus, everything you lend support, they see this as a continuation of the relationship, and they will continue their controlling behaviors.

That being said, it’s tricky when you are parenting separately with a narcissist. When your child is with them, you want to make sure they have everything they need, so you may find yourself helping out by providing necessities like diapers, clothing, etc.

Which is fine. Just don’t lend them financial or emotional support. You don’t need to waste your money or mental energy on them anymore.

6. Stop Showing Up to Their Pity Parties

As I mentioned, narcissists will prey on your good heart, and they do this by throwing pity parties.

No matter how poorly they treat other people, they will always portray themselves as the victim. Pity parties are their way of deflecting responsibility for all the bad stuff that has happened in their lives.

They also use pity parties to guilt others into apologizing and “making up” for their situation.

A narcissist will twist their story and play the “poor me” card. For example, they may blame others for their financial woes because they were “used” for their money when, in fact, they just suck at finances and live beyond their means.

If you’re wondering how to deal with a narcissist who constantly throws pity parties, step back and stop giving them sympathy.

Over time, you’ll be able to look at their situation objectively and avoid getting tangled up in their web of lies.

7. Don’t Defend Yourself

Oh, this is a biggie and perhaps the hardest thing to do when it comes to how to deal with a narcissist!

Narcissists will verbally attack you to pull you into an argument or conflict. They want you to defend yourself and continue their nonsense.

At first, not defending yourself can be really hard. No one likes to hear untrue and negative things about themselves, and your first instinct is to try and prove the narcissist wrong.

Except you can’t. They have it in their head that you are the bad guy, and there is no changing that! A narcissist will see your defense as a challenge which will further fuel their behavior toward you.

Just remember that you don’t have to defend yourself! Who cares what the narcissist thinks? You know who you are, and you don’t need to prove that to them.

The more you stop defending yourself, the easier it will be and the less what they say will bother you. You know what they are saying about you is fueled by lies and it won’t change who you are.


8. Don’t Criticize or Argue With Them

Speaking of challenging a narcissist, it’s best that you don’t unless you absolutely have to. Narcissists see criticisms and arguments against them as attacks and they will get vehemently defensive.

However, you don’t want to always comply with a narcissist just to avoid conflict. This just means that if you want to stop enabling the narcissist, you shouldn’t provoke them.

Of course, if it involves your child, you need to speak up – but be careful how you do so. The best way to approach a narcissist with an issue is to be straightforward and business-like, leaving emotion out of it.

For instance, say your ex won’t rear-face your child (true story). Instead of telling them that it’s the law and that they are a bad parent for refusing to do so, simply send them a copy of the law and request that they rear-face your child.

Yeah, they’re probably going to argue with you, but you have said what you needed to say. Unfortunately, from my experience, the courts don’t really care about car seat laws, but I was able to address the issue without enticing a huge blowout.

Otherwise, don’t tell them how to live their life or start arguments with them. They aren’t going to change, so it’s not worth the fight.

9. Respond Instead of Reacting

So I’ve talked about not defending yourself or getting pulled into arguments, and this point really ties into that.

Again, narcissists want to upset you. They will say and do things to make your blood boil because they want you to explode at them. They can then take your explosion, perceive it as an attack, and come at you with verbal abuse.

Reacting is one way you may be enabling a narcissist. Reacting involves addressing a situation with emotion, which is usually anger and frustration.

On the other hand, responding means processing the situation and acting in a logical and calculated way. Doing this takes time and practice.

I’ll give you an example: Say your narc ex texts you and says you’re a bad parent because your child wore the same outfit two days in a row.

What’s your first instinct? That’s right, you’re going to be angry. Then you’re going to bite back at them and explain all of the ways that you are a good parent in order to prove them wrong.

What happens then? The narcissist will likely take this as an opportunity to further criticize you, bring up every tiny mistake you made in the past, and threaten you (take you to court, take your kid away, etc.).

Fun times, right?

What if you responded instead? You read the text, give yourself a moment to think (and calm down) and realize that it doesn’t matter what they say because you know you are a good parent.

You ignore their text or send something back like, “Oops, didn’t notice that.”

And that’s that.

They may try to pull you into a further argument, but the more you respond (which includes ignoring), the more they will realize they are not getting what they want, and the behaviors will minimize or stop altogether.

10. Don’t Take it Personally

This point is more of a tactic for applying the other tips I’ve mentioned, but it’s important to mention.

When it comes to how not to enable a narcissist, you need to learn how to stop letting what they say and do to you bother you on a personal level.

They are not the keepers of your personality, and they are in no position to speak any truth about who you are.

So don’t take what they say personally!

They are jerks and they are going to say and do things with the sole purpose of making you feel like trash. It’s how they gain control over people and maintain their sense of superiority.

Narcissists want to see you upset and weak. So, the less you let them affect you personally, the less satisfaction they will get from their behaviors.

One thing that worked for me was talking it out with other people. I hate to be pitied or patronized but hearing my friends and family tell me that my narc ex was wrong helped me begin to rebuild my sense of self.

I stopped taking his insults to heart and questioning my skills and personality. Now, I just see his attacks as a sad attempt to get a reaction out of me that will never happen.

11. Remove Yourself From Their Life

Yes, the ol’ Gray Rock! Gray Rock is a tactic you can use to minimize the narcissist’s effect on your life.

Basically, you make yourself as interesting to them as a gray rock. That means you block them on social media and stop sharing personal life details with them.

Narcissists will use anything they can against you, so they have nothing to fight with when you stop providing ammo.

Even as a parent, you don’t have to share personal details with your narc ex. They don’t need to know how you make money, what you do for fun, who you hang out with, etc. No court order will force you to provide those details unless they feel your child may be in danger.

Of course, there may be stipulations that state you must share details about your child’s life (their extracurricular activities, medical issues, etc.) or information if you take a trip out of the city. You still have to follow these.

But your ex doesn’t need to know anything about your life and you don’t need to know anything about theirs. Do your best to keep your lives separate to avoid enabling the narcissist.

12. Take Care of Yourself

Do you want to know the best way to say “EFF YOU!” to a narcissist?

Go live your best life.

Think about it: This individual did everything in their power to push you down and take control of you. They treated you in horrible ways so that you would be too scared to leave because you couldn’t function without them.

And look at you now!

By showing the narcissist that all their hard work went to waste, you are giving them a huge middle finger, and all you have to do is take care of yourself.

Done are the days when the narcissist gets to be at the center of your world. They can’t invalidate, manipulate, or make demands of you anymore.

While you were never responsible for the narcissist, you are responsible for yourself. So now is the time to nurture yourself and your personal growth!

Enabling a Narcissist: No More!

There you go! With some time, patience, and practice, you can easily stop enabling the narcissist in your life.

Will their behaviors disappear completely? Probably not, but you will notice a difference in how they treat you. They may try to jab at you for a reaction from time to time, but they will likely stop coming full force at you.

They’ll either get fed up with trying, bored, or move on to someone else who will react to them.

Have you tried any of these things to stop enabling a narcissist? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments!


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