What do you do if you have a narcissistic sibling?

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The same rules apply wherever you find a narcissist in your life. You need to educate yourself about this personality type.

Create emotional distance. You need to strengthen your ability to detach yourself from them in all ways. You need to learn not to waste your time trying to correct them or change the way they act. You can only change yourself and grow stronger. Don't let them define you.

Create boundaries. You need to learn to not be drawn in to arguments so that you can be blamed as being part of the problem. Don't let them "push your buttons". Turn your buttons off and they may eventually leave you alone. Define your limits. Do not allow them to disrespect you, "tell you off", criticize you, or goad you into an argument. Learn to walk away.

Do not share information with them. Do not share your plans, dreams, goals, secrets, worries, or any other private information. They will use that knowledge against you. Do not let them into your personal life. Have your own friends so they won't have the opportunity to undermine your other relationships. Minimize your time with your narcissist.

Do not expect them to change.

Do not expect support from other family members. You must learn that you may not be able to depend on support from other family members for many reasons. They may not be the focus of the narcissists behavior to the same degree as you. They may find it easier to give in rather than deal with the behavior. They may fail to recognize the problem on purpose in order to avoid the responsibility of dealing with it. They may not have the strength of character to deal with the narcissist effectively and that's what you need to find in yourself in order to move on with your own life.

See the following helpful advice by contributors, related links, and the discussion page for anecdotal information from contributors.

  • Gain independence- this is one way to win after coping with negative feelings. it starts with you; you choose your company! Go to a local church or several churches and speak to your pastor and ministry to help you or talk to someone you trust.
  • My experience with narcissistic personality disorder in my family is that boundaries seem to be a fluid thing for them. Going no contact on your part does not necessarily stop them from contacting you. Sometimes it just fuels a narcissistic rage. They have no capacity for introspection so will never recognize, understand or change their behavior. Fortunately, they are predictable. So once you define their methods: gaslighting, passive-aggression, bullying, etc., you are more capable of defending yourself against the onslaught. One of my most helpful responses is, "how unfortunate for you". Confrontation is never effective. It's like asking a blind man to see. But there really is no response to the "unfortunate" statement.
  • I think getting into therapy would help all of us. It helped me. A therapist helped me to see how I was acting in response to my narcissistic sister in unhealthy patterns. You can't change the narcissist but you can change yourself. My sister finally realized I was not going to participate with her games. I now love her from afar and am so much happier. I also never discuss her with my mom who is one of her enablers. I once asked my therapist if she treated many narcissists. Her reply was; "Sadly no, they don't think they need help, I just treat their victims".
  • I think you keep your expectations low. You can have fun with a narcissistic sibling, but you can't do much disagreeing with him or her, so you can't expect to achieve real closeness. Someone who cuts you off or jumps down your throat when you so much as raise an eyebrow is someone you have a one-dimensional relationship with, and since it's you who are in his/her world, you had better hope it's at least entertaining. Draw your boundaries fiercely and demand reasonable treatment as soon as you are able. The sibling may understand this and respect you for it eventually, though he/she will be shocked at first. After that, the going is easier.
  • Narcissists are narcissists, whatever their role in your life -- mother, father, spouse, son, sibling, neighbor, colleague, or boss. They are so homogeneous and predictable. You have to decide if you want to stay in touch, however minimal, or if you are ready to disconnect.
  • If you want to have any kind of relationship (not in the true sense of the word) with a sibling who is a narcissist, you'll need to be the one to do the compromising. With my younger sister, I need to space out my visits, realize that I will leave tired and with a headache, prepare myself to listen to a non-stop stream of complaints and criticism, and generally feel as if the life has been sucked out of me. I do this because I want to have a true relationship with my niece and nephew who have suffered a lot of verbal abuse from my sister over the years to show the children that not all adults are lacking in empathy, are self-centered, critical, say such mean things, and have temper tantrums to rival any 5 year old.
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