How to Set Boundaries with a Narcissist when Cutting Ties Isn’t an Option


We all know a narcissist or two. Cutting contact isn’t always an option. It looks like you should learn how to set boundaries with a narcissist instead.

There are many cases where you can’t run from a narcissist in your life, at least not yet. Maybe your boss is a narcissist, or you have a sibling show signs of narcissism. If that’s the case, they’re not that easy to simply ditch. But here’s the thing, they’re not going to change. So, it’s your turn. You’re going to have to make the big step and learn how to set boundaries with a narcissist.

I know, it sounds nerve wracking, but, listen, they’re not changing. So, if you’re tired of them, you’re going to have to put the work in and claim back your sanity.

How to set boundaries with a narcissist

I feel like we all have a narcissist in our lives. If you don’t know at least one… maybe you’re the narcissist *insert horror music here*. But in all seriousness, knowing one isn’t a fun experience.

Narcissistic people see themselves as above the rest, they think they’re highly gifted and ones who should be worshipped and placed on a pedestal. You’re probably rolling your eyes right now, and I don’t blame you. They’re possibly the most exhausting people to walk the earth.

If you can’t get them out of your life, at least know how to control them by learning how to set boundaries with a narcissist.

#1 Is this person important? If this is some friend that you have hanging around you, it’s safe to say you don’t need to keep their friendship. They could have been a friend since elementary school but that doesn’t mean you need to stick by them and their toxic behavior. Evaluate this person in your life and determine whether you’re able to cut them or if you need to try to make things work.

#2 Are they an actual narcissist? Sometimes, we have friends going through hard times and tend to only talk about that. This doesn’t make them a narcissist, this just makes them someone who’s currently absorbed in their drama. Establish whether or not they are an actual narcissist before you take any further steps.

#3 Be compassionate, but put yourself first. Narcissists are people that are full of self-esteem issues. They just didn’t wake up one day like this, rather this has been years and years of training.

You probably thought they are overly confident people, but that’s where you’re wrong. So, you should be compassionate in that sense. They’re highly flawed and insecure people. However, at the same time, don’t let this compassion override your emotions and needs.

#4 Don’t give them so much. I used to have a narcissistic friend that would constantly demand my attention. It would end up with me running around doing things for them. If you want to set boundaries, stop running around like a guinea pig for them. See, they don’t appreciate what you’re doing for them anyway, so you need to pull back and give them less and less.

#5 Put an emotional guard up. I know everyone’s telling you to put your wall down, but in this case, put it up, way up. Everything they do is designed to make themselves look better and higher than you.

It doesn’t matter what it is, they need to come out on top. This means, in some way or form, they’re going to try to crush you. Of course, it’s going to hurt, but this is why you need to protect yourself.

#6 React the right way. You can get mad, you can yell, you can say mean things, you can do whatever you want, but is that the right reaction to their behavior? I know it’s easy to yell, but if you really want to end this toxic cycle, change the way you react to their behavior. You could play along with it and joke around, listen and simply move on or just pull away. You don’t need to become upset.

#7 Keep your personal information to yourself. They could be your friend, but if they’re a narcissist, they can never truly be your friend. They’re too involved with trying to get to the top, trying to be the best.

This is why you should limit the amount of information that you give them, that way, they won’t use it against you. Before you tell them anything, think about how they can use it to push themselves forward.

#8 It’s going to be a constant battle. You set some boundaries with the narcissists around you and now you’re feeling great, but it doesn’t end there. This isn’t a one-time event, no way. You’re going to have to constantly put boundaries up because they’re going to constantly test them. Yes, it’s like being around a child, I know. But this is what you’re dealing with.

#9 You’re always number one. Wow, who’s the narcissist now, right? But let’s get real here, they’ve been number one long enough, and you’ve been the welcome mat they’re rubbing their feet on. It’s time to cut that out. Always check in with yourself and make sure your feelings and needs are being met. If not, you’re not number one in your life.

#10 Have consequences. If you want to set up boundaries, you’re going to need consequences as well. What would happen if they broke a boundary? What’s the punishment? If a narcissist offends or insults you, how will you handle that action? Will you let it slide or are you going to call them out on their behavior? This will need to happen. Every. Single. Time.

#11 Always have an exit plan. Since you can’t remove this person from your life, you’re going to have to learn how to interact with them. But if the interaction isn’t going well or you’re finding it toxic, leave the situation.

You don’t have to stick around. So, have an exit plan for when you need to remove yourself from a situation. You’re going to use it, trust me.

Sometimes, you’re stuck being around a narcissist but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to set boundaries with a narcissist. It’s time to take some control back.