One surefire way to know if you are dealing with a narcissistic personality is to set a boundary. If the person has an angry outburst or gives you the silent treatment, that is your answer. People who are mentally healthy keep the lines of communication open, respect and honor other’s limits.
What is a narcissistic personality?
In a nut shell, a person with a narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, relationships problems, and a lack of empathy for others. Their behavior occurs the majority of the time, not as an isolated incident. These people have big EGO’s and take offense at the slightest criticism. This can be what you say or you setting a boundary. Either of these may not be a criticism but they perceive it that way.
Below are five specific reasons narcissists hate boundaries and why they avoid them.
1. They have a sense of entitlement and feel superior to others. Narcissistic people think limits or boundaries are beneath them. These rules may apply to other people but not to them because they are special people, who deserve special treatment. They expect favors and unquestioning loyalty. Your boundary, no matter how healthy it is, can cause them to feel offended. How dare you set a boundary with me! Don’t you know who I am?
2. They use chaos as a way to control others. Narcissistic people have to be in control. One way they do this is to either delegate or create chaos. Interestingly, when this type of person delegates work or planning to others, they often change the timing or plan at the last moment to suit them, without any regard for your schedule.
A part of their chaotic presentation is their narcissistic rage. This type of personality has difficulty controlling and regulating their anger. You will experience their outrage, a pouty silence or both. Sometimes they intentionally start drama to see what you will do. They don’t like limits because you can’t have chaotic behavior, if you have healthy boundaries.
3. They refuse to take responsibility for anything. If you assertively point out a narcissist’s poor behavior and set a limit around it, he or she will refuse to acknowledge the behavior as harmful. In fact, they may project their poor behavior onto you. Somehow it is your fault or responsibility, they have acted this way. Don’t take the bait. Either they will rage, cut you off through the silent treatment or disappear completely (ghosting you).
4. They want to be enmeshed with you. They do not know how to be a separate person. Together you are one and they like it this way. This sounds romantic but it is a recipe for disaster. A narcissist feeds off of your energy, in order to feel powerful. Their self-centeredness leads them to believe their feelings are your feelings and vice versa.
When you are enmeshed, they can control your identify, thoughts, feelings, and even opinions. The narcissist wants to mold you to give them an endless supply of whatever they need. They want you to anticipate their needs before they even speak them. This type of personality does not want you to have your own sense of self.
5. They don’t like the word, “no”– Much like a toddler, the narcissistic personality disordered person has a temper tantrum, when a limit is set on his or her behavior. They feel rejected as a person and insulted. No to them says I don’t care about you, when in fact you are saying, I don’t care for this behavior.
Exit stage left
A true narcissist is an opportunist and will use anyone to get what he or she wants. Once they see no usefulness for you to stay in their life, you will be discarded. This is when they avoid or drop you. If this person has a need for you to be in their life, he or she will attempt to manipulate your boundary in order for you to change your mind. The bottom line is, a person with narcissistic personality disorder will not respect you or your boundaries.
To learn more about boundaries here are two blogs to read: 3 Ways to Maintain Good Boundaries and How to Stop Being Controlled and Get Empowered Learn more about Narcissistic Personalities with this blog: Why Narcissists Overreact When They Don’t Get Their Way and watch this video: When Narcissists Claim to be Empaths
Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net