One of the most difficult aspects of being tangled in a narcissist’s web is learning to set firm boundaries with them. Narcissists typically have poor boundaries themselves; they like to win and maintain power, and they don’t like others setting boundaries on them. They even feel above the boundaries of the law — they don’t follow court orders and they find personal boundaries easy to violate.” ~Karyl McBride, MD How to stop a boundary-busting narcissist
If you’re in a relationship with a toxic narcissist or have ever been in one, you might have a few boundary issues, am I right?
Have you ever thought about the boundaries you had for yourself and your life before you met the narcissist versus the ones you have now, or that you had during the relationship?
Wait. Before you answer that, let me clarify something.
I’m not talking about the fun or silly “I’ll never wear bell bottoms” kind of boundary here (had it, crossed it, can’t wait to do it again, y’all).
I’m talking about the serious, intrinsic, deep down in your gut, “gotta stick to it or your tummy will hurt” kind of boundary.
So, let me ask you – have your basic personal standards changed (or been altered) as a result of a relationship with a toxic narcissist?
And, while we’re asking questions – if you’re unfortunate enough to have a narcissistic parental figure or to have been in the relationship longer than you should, do you even really know what your personal boundaries are, nor have they been defined for you?
Narcissists have a way of always pushing your boundaries, sometimes even as a way to amuse themselves when they get bored.
No, I’m not kidding and that is NOT an exaggeration. I’ve been told by more than one narcissist that they just “like to mess with people,” or that they “intentionally start drama to see what people will do.”
They think it’s funny. But sometimes, their agenda is more calculated than “just to amuse myself,” and that’s when you’ve got to be especially cautious.
And that’s because, when it comes to dealing with a narcissist on the regular, you’ve got to recognize that a certain amount of conditioning happens to all of us – even and maybe especially those of us who are very intelligent.
You might find yourself in a panic if you have to stand up for yourself or to say “no” to someone – and you might even have physical symptoms that include dry mouth, dissociation(where you get kind of confused and foggy) and you might even feel dizzy, nauseous or plain old anxious.
And, of course, this is exactly what the narcissist wants, because it allows him to remain in control. He knows that if he nags, discredits you and/or the boundary he’s repeatedly (or for the first time) crossed, you will eventually get tired of fighting and you’ll just “let it go,” as in, accept it, or at least not require him to justify or discuss it.
This allows the toxic cycle to continue and repeat.
An Example of The Narcissistic Boundary Busting Cycle (IRL)
So, what does this cycle look like in real life?
Let’s use this fictitious situation as an example. So, we’ve got this couple, Ned and Jane. Ned is a narcissist, and Jane, his semi-willing victim.
They made a deal at the beginning of their relationship that neither would have close friends of the opposite sex. This deal was made at the request of Ned, and Jane happily complied, letting go of several close male friends to secure her place in Ned’s fickle heart.
Years later, Ned suddenly begins several new friendships with ladies at his office, and then within the couple’s shared social circles. This doesn’t sit well with Jane, who has consistently avoided friendships with the opposite sex since the boundary was set by Ned in the beginning.
Jane raises concerns, and Ned tells her she’s being paranoid, that she’s got nothing to worry about, but that maybe he (Ned) does – because, clearly, Jane doesn’t blindly trust him.