How to not be a narcissist in a relationship

Narcissists are manipulative, selfish, and self-centered people who often exploit others. Because of this, it’s easy to assume that anyone who is narcissistic must be a bad person.

But many people who have narcissistic traits may not be aware of it, or they may not be aware that their behavior is hurting other people.

Here are some tips on how to not be a narcissist in a relationship – or at least how to minimize the negative effects of being one.

1) Don’t blame others for your behavior

The truth is a narcissist’s behavior is often damaging and hurtful to others. Therefore, it’s no wonder that narcissists are at the top of the list of bullies in school or workplaces.

When you take responsibility for your actions, however, you have a chance at learning from them and improving your behavior in the future. This is important because narcissistic people often have trouble taking responsibility for their actions.

Pro tip:

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Instead of saying, “You make me mad!” try saying, “I feel angry when…”

2) Don’t manipulate people just because you can

jumpstory download20220813 082625 How to not be a narcissist in a relationship

I bet you know someone who is almost never straightforward with you. Instead, they have an uncanny habit of telling you what they think you want to hear, like the time they promised to be home by midnight when they knew they wouldn’t be back until 2 in the morning.

Narcissists are known for this kind of behavior. It’s not just because they don’t care about others, but also because it helps them feel more powerful and important.

In other words, narcissists tend to use other people as pawns in their game of manipulating others.

So in case you’re a narcissist, try not to use others as a chess piece in your game of making other people the villain.


When someone gives you an honest opinion about something you do, listen to them. You’re not helpless! If you don’t agree with their opinion, that’s ok. But at least consider it.

3) Don’t only care about your own needs and wants

Of course, narcissists often let their own needs and want to take center stage in their minds. The problem is that this can lead them to do things that hurt themselves and those around them.

For example, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) isn’t just about being overly confident or always acting like a king. It’s also about having a hard time taking care of your basic needs like eating, sleeping, and breathing.

Narcissists have to have their needs met above everyone else’s.

The key here is to not only take care of your needs but also to understand that everyone around you has their needs and wants as well.

Valuing other people’s thoughts and feelings will help you get along with them more. Don’t treat people like the enemy; try to understand others and respect them.

4) Want advice specific to your situation?

jumpstory download20220813 083341 How to not be a narcissist in a relationship

Imagine you’re a narcissist and you’re in a relationship with a person who has their own needs and wants. Now imagine that you don’t take their needs into consideration, and they get angry with you.

Well, now you’re probably in a fight.

Narcissists really hate admitting that they’re wrong. Therefore, if someone calls them out on something they did, they’re more likely to make the person feel like the villain than to consider what they did might have been wrong.

It gets worse if you’re truly in love with this person and you can’t stand the thought of hurting them. Worst case scenario, you keep getting into fights with this person and you end up drifting away from each other until the relationship falls apart.

But the good news is that it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.

That’s what I recently did.

When I was at the worst point in my relationship I reached out to a relationship coach to see if they could give me any answers or insights.

I expected some vague advice about cheering up or being strong.

But surprisingly I got very in-depth, specific, and practical advice about addressing the problems in my relationship. This included real solutions to improving many things that my partner and I had been struggling with for years.

Relationship Hero is where I found this special coach who helped turn things around for me. They are perfectly placed to help you not be a narcissist in a relationship too.

Relationship Hero is a hugely popular relationship coaching site because they provide solutions, not just talk.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice specific to your situation.

Click here to check them out.

5) Try to be empathetic to how other people feel

As I’ve mentioned above, a big part of NPD is the narcissist’s lack of empathy.

Empathy is that special quality that helps you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It means understanding how they feel and why they feel that way, as well as trying to do what you can to help them feel better.

Narcissists don’t really understand how other people feel because they are so obsessed with themselves.

If you’re a narcissist you might be thinking to yourself, “Empathy is overrated!” After all, you don’t really care that much about other people.

But it’s true that empathy works like a muscle. Use it or lose it – or worse, get hurt by others because of it.

The first step to becoming empathetic is actually to try to understand how other people feel.

Think about it: You wouldn’t be able to connect with other people if you didn’t try to understand how they feel. That’s why empathetic people are considered very warm and kind.

So to become empathetic you need to spend time thinking about how other people feel, trying to understand them, and figuring out ways you can help them.

6) Focus on building healthy relationships, not destroying them

Another way to not be a narcissist in a relationship is by focusing more on improving your relationships instead of destroying them.

It can be easy to start blaming other people for your problems, which in turn makes it even harder to have a healthy relationship. But if you focus on improving how you relate to others instead of trying to blame or destroy them, your life will be much better for it.

For example, let’s say that your partner forgot something important at home and didn’t get home from work until 2 in the morning (again!).

What do you do next? Do you immediately think of saying something mean to them? Or do you try to understand how they feel so you can try to help them feel better?

Just being empathetic is a good place to start. It’s one of the most powerful tools you have for improving relationships.

7) Don’t constantly talk about yourself and demand attention

Fun fact:

Talking about yourself all the time makes other people not like you as much.

That’s why narcissists frequently talk about themselves and expect other people to pay attention when they speak.

But what’s even worse is when narcissists try to make their relationships revolve around them and how they feel.

Narcissistic people feel that the only way for their relationships to work out is if their partner does everything for them, including things that the narcissist doesn’t want or need.

If you’re a narcissist in a relationship this is called codependency. And it’s just as bad for your partner as it is for you.

But all relationships have ups and downs, and the key to making them work out is learning how to be more flexible, which means being considerate of others.

These are all strategies for a healthy relationship. They involve being considerate and focused on how you relate to others instead of just yourself.

If you’re a narcissist in a relationship, use them to improve your relations with other people.

8) Don’t devalue others to prop up your own ego

jumpstory download20220813 083356 How to not be a narcissist in a relationship

Have you ever devalued others to prop up your ego? If you’re a narcissist in a relationship that could be something that you do.

For example, let’s say that your partner has been working really hard on something that you’re not super interested in.

You might start devaluing them by saying things like, “What’s the point of working so hard if you don’t care about what you’re doing?” or “I’m not that interested in [whatever it is] anyway. Not like you anyway.”

Is that really how you want to treat someone who cares about you?

Think about how you would feel if your partner were treating you like that. You probably wouldn’t like it.

So why do it to someone else? It’s a waste of everybody’s time!

Final thoughts

We’ve covered 8 ways to not be a narcissist in a relationship. The most important one is that your relationships should make you feel better, not worse.

Relationships are about getting along with other people. That means trying to understand how they feel and doing what you can to help them, even if it doesn’t involve you directly.

So don’t be a narcissist in a relationship. Don’t devalue other people and focus on helping them instead of just yourself.

Your relationships will be better off for it! And so will you.

Picture of Thảo Anh Nguyễn

Thảo Anh Nguyễn

It is the little daily things that make life worth living and I know how to put you in the right perspective. I write about the intersection of life and love: how spirituality has changed my relationships, what I do to cultivate love in my life, and why I believe that all relationships are spiritual. Meet all your needs for your relationship and pieces of life advice with my articles.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.