Example: “I know we both love each other and want things to go well. I think that we can both agree that in the future we both need to be extra kind to each other and a bit more mindful about how we phrase things.”
(3) Decide Where Your Boundaries Are And Defend Them
a) Narcissists do not respect (or even notice) other people’s boundaries
This means that you need to be clear about what sort of narcissistic bad behavior is tolerable and which is intolerable. Left to their own devices, narcissists will cross most lines that other people automatically respect.
For example, many narcissists think nothing about criticizing your taste in clothes, your relatives, or your most dearly held beliefs. Many will hit below the belt (what belt?) in a fight and say ugly and disgusting things to you and afterward act as if nothing happened.
Example—Betty and David and cheating
Betty’s boyfriend David found evidence that while he was away on a trip, she had reconnected with an old boyfriend. When he confronted her, she said, “You are a fat, ugly pig. I am doing you a favor by having sex with you. You should be grateful and shut up!”
Betty was surprised when David said that she had crossed a boundary and that he never wanted to see her again. When she realized that he meant it, she begged him to stay and give her another chance.
Betty really liked David and was only reflexively repeating with him the way her mother had talked to her father. It had not occurred to her that she was crossing a boundary and that David would take her words seriously and leave her. In her mind the words meant nothing and she was just punishing David for confronting her with the evidence of her cheating on him.
b) Some narcissists do not mind creating humiliating public scenes
This can range from them angrily insisting that the two of you get up and leave a restaurant because they feel the service is insultingly slow, even though you are perfectly happy staying, to them yelling at you on the street and walking away from you.
You need to decide if this is something you can live with at all and, if so, where the line is for you. Any narcissist who does this once is likely to do this repeatedly. It is part of how they cope with what they perceive to be insulting to their self-esteem.
Example — Patty and Chad on a date
Patty was beautiful and knew it. She also was highly narcissistic and felt entitled to do and say whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. She had learned that most men were grateful for her company and the opportunity to perhaps have sex with her at the end of the evening.
Chad was out on a first date with Patty. When she got insulted at something he said, Patty got up and walked away from him and left him sitting in the restaurant by himself. She expected him to race after her apologizing and begging her to come back. Instead, Chad stayed seated and ordered a drink. Then he texted Patty and said: “I didn’t mean to insult you. Let’s start over. Why not come back and enjoy the meal with me and see where this takes us.”
Patty chose to accept his apology and came back to the table (in reality she had not gone far) and they proceeded to have a lovely evening. Both pretended nothing had happened and just moved on.
Chad had earned Patty’s respect by not chasing after her and also by the calm and clever way he had handled her bad behavior.
For Chad, the boundary was clear. He had done as much as he was willing to do. If Patty had not come back or had continued to berate him, he would have ended the relationship then and there.