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How to Break Free from a Dysfunctional Family Relationship with a Narcissist

by eHow Contributor

It's often easier to end a dating relationship with a narcissist than it is to know what to do with a narcissistic family member. But there are ways to break free from these relationships as well. You can go back to being a family member and stop being the family therapist! I'll tell you where to begin...

First things first, stop feeling guilty! A narcissistic family member may frequently try to use guilt to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. If they can't make you feel guilty anymore, they have lost their method of control over you.

Cut the cord. How often do you talk to this family member? If the answer is every day, several times a day, or even every other day, then you need to decrease the amount of contact drastically. The only family members you should be talking to every day should be your immediate family members, such as husbands, wives, children, or any other family members who live with you such as grandparents or cousins.

Create boundaries and concrete rules. As soon as a narcissistic family member realizes that you are trying to become more independent, there will be drama. There might be tears or sudden emergencies that they will "need" you for. Make rules about what they can call upon you for, insist that they call before dropping by, and don't respond to them at all if they break these rules. It's actually a similar process to training a toddler! It will require steadfastness on your end, but it will be worth it when they begin to stop leaning on you so hard.

Talk with your other family members about what you are doing, for example siblings close to your age or parents, whoever is also vulnerable to this dysfunction. You should let them know that you are kindly trying to distance yourself from this narcissistic family member.

Why? Because, that narcissist will try to get to you through other family members. They will call and try to create drama and problems between family members in order to get attention and get you to give in and call them, even if it's to yell at them. When they stop getting what they want from you, they will be willing to do anything to get any kind of attention. So giving others a heads up can prevent drama.

Simply disconnect. If this family narcissist does try to start fights and they do begin showing up at your house unannounced, the less they see you upset, the better. This is a situation where drama and attention feed the beast, so if this narcissist sees that their behavior isn't affecting you, they will stop or at least slow down after a while.

Seek therapy for yourself! This might sound backwards, because you're not the one with the problem, right? But dragging this narcissist into group therapy will only involve you further in a big messy family fight. Narcissists are hard to change, and also, it's NOT your job to change them. All you can do is learn how to respond differently to their old tricks and find emotional relief through new approaches and further emotional separation.

When planning family holidays, make your plans conrete, and THEN tell the narcissist what you are going to be doing. Narcissists see family events and holidays as prime targets for attention and drama. You have to head that off at the pass by making plans in advance and sticking to them. If someone else doesn't like it, they'll get over it.

Throughout all of this, remember, this is a behavioral dysfunction. It's a personality disorder that THEY have. It's not something that has to be a part of your life. They are not as fragile as they would like you to believe. Stay strong, stay relaxed, and remember that they are far more okay than they may try to appear.

Don't let one family narcissist rule your life or your other family relationships. This is one circumstance where it's okay to hang back and check out.

Items you will need
  • As always, you may need to consult a professional for help. This article is merely intended to start you down the road to emotional freedom, but a doctor can help you follow through and heal.

Warning

  • Don't let a narcissist see how much they can enrage you or anger you, this will only feed the beast.