Browse Quick Guides by Subject

Coping with a Narcissistic Partner or Spouse

Coping with a Narcissistic Partner or Spouse

Share this with your friends

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Nearly everyone has someone in their personal life who could be described as “stuck on themselves”—and for some of us, that may be our partner or spouse. Learning how to cope with this type of personality is key in developing a strong, lasting relationship. In this guide we’ll look at the types of narcissistic partners and how to handle them.

The Me-Me Lover

The consummately self-centered are quite capable of becoming temporarily infatuated by another person. And the more they deem that other person desirable—portraying qualities they themselves would like to have—the more intense their campaign to win their affections will be. They will often spare no effort or expense to make a good impression. Their modus operandi is to overwhelm.

An infatuated narcissist is amazing to behold. Their romantic overtures happen so quickly and appear to contain so much sincere emotional conviction that the object of their desire is often swept off their feet. And why not? They are the recipients of compliments, gifts, thoughtful gestures, and—above all—statements that imply the sense of an almost mystical bond as well as an intention to preserve that bond in a future together.

Be on guard against heartbreak if the person romantically pursuing you:

The Self-Involved Spouse

If you’re married to a narcissist, you probably have the nagging feeling that although you are technically married, you are not actually a couple. Couples—in the true spirit of the word—are equal partners who share responsibilities, support one another, and understand when the other person is not functioning at their best. Everyone’s needy sometimes, but in true partnerships, people take turns being the one who requires more tender loving care.

In relationships where one partner is primarily self-absorbed, the scales are always tipped in the same direction. The narcissistic spouse assumes they are the focal point of the marriage and the family. They hate it when their husband or wife is unavailable to them, even if they are drawn away by the needs of other family members or the demands of work.

People wed to a narcissist can choose one of several paths. The first is to simply give in and assume that you will spend your life being the gardener, while your spouse gets to be the prized, much-tended flower. The second is to end the marriage, either by leaving or by refusing to feed your spouse’s ego so that, in the end, they will be driven to find another partner.

But many people would prefer to keep the marriage intact but still attempt to address some of its imbalances. If that sounds like your situation, try giving your partner what they want to get at least some of what you want.

Above all, however, be sure not to lose yourself. Remember, you are doing these things to create a better balance in your relationship. Don’t lose sight of that goal. In addition, under no circumstances should you drop your relationships with friends and other family members. They will help remind you that you are more than a mere extension of your spouse. For more information on this type of personality, check out our Quick Guide Coping with a Narcissistic Parent or Sibling. Good luck!

From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coping with Difficult People by Arlene Matthews Uhl