How To Make A Narcissist Miserable

No one sets out to date a narcissist, but sometimes you don’t know until it’s too late.

When that happens, you can find your whole world turned upside down in ways you never expected. According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which the sufferer has “an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” However, these bombastic qualities are simply a front, as the narcissist is often plagued with low self-esteem and self-doubt. As a result, they take their toxicity out on partners, friends, and even family members.

Narcissists can change, but don’t count on it.

While most narcissists will either never admit to having a problem or will simply never feel the need to address their behavior, it is possible to change. Per Healthline, people with narcissistic personality disorder need intense and ongoing help from a trained therapist. The site also advises that those in a relationship with someone with NPD should also be in therapy in order to help establish boundaries and deal with the effects of their partner’s behavior. However, you don’t have to play by their rules. Here’s the lowdown on what makes a narcissist tick and how to make them downright miserable.

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Completely and utterly ignore them.

Nothing will make a narcissist more miserable than being ignored. Grey rocking is the practice of being completely and utterly impassive and unresponsive to their demands and outbursts and simply acting as if they don’t exist. Not having the validation of someone responding to their extreme behaviors will make them feel confused and upset. But hey, that’s their problem, not yours.

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Make yourself the star of the show.

Since narcissists always focus on themselves, seeing you turn the spotlight on yourself and finally being #1 in your own life is a surefire way to make the narcissist in your life completely miserable. While the people who care about you should always encourage you and celebrate your wins, those with NPD can’t bring themselves to do so. That’s why seeing you shine feels like such a kick in the teeth to them.

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Set and stick to boundaries.

Part of the reason their bad behavior goes on unchecked for so long is that enforcing boundaries with a narcissist can be difficult. However, it’s absolutely vital that you do this. Decide where to draw the line with them. What will you no longer accept? What things are you unwilling to budge on? Make those boundaries clear and do not tolerate them being crossed. Finally being held to standards will give them a jolt of reality and they probably won’t know how to handle it. That’s on them.

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Be happy as hell and let them see it.

Again, you’re not just the star of the show, you’re loving life and living it to the fullest. It should make them happy to see you in such a good place, but a narcissist would prefer that you’re miserable. Why? They want to be the one to shine. Stop making yourself smaller and hiding yourself away for their sake. If their ego is bruised because you’re a strong, powerful, independent person who won’t be destroyed by them, oh well. It’s better that way!

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Tell them “no” and refuse to bow to their demands.

Narcissists are used to getting their own way, but why should they? Part of being a mature adult is realizing that you win some, you lose some. The world doesn’t revolve around any one person and sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want them to. This is clearly a lesson they need to learn. When they ask you to do something (or rather demand it), tell them no. Don’t back down on it, either. You’re not trying to upset them, you’re trying to please yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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Call them out on their crap.

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There’s nothing a narcissist hates more than being pulled up on their bad behavior. While you’re unlikely to get an apology or even an admission of guilt, they’ll still find it unsettling to be called out. Because they think they’re perfect, they’ll expect you to believe that as well. When you don’t, it’ll throw them into a spiral of uncertainty. It’s time to face some home truths.

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Hold them accountable for their actions.

Part of setting boundaries is also setting consequences for them being crossed. If they refuse to show you respect and courtesy, there should be repercussions for that. For instance, if they always make plans last minute when you’ve asked them to do so in advance, don’t see them. They can spend the weekend alone, for all you care. Show them that every action provokes a reaction. If it’s not the one they like, that’s too bad.

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Speak from a logical place rather than an emotional one.

A narcissist gets off on extreme emotions; they want to make you miserable, upset, stressed, etc. That’s why you should refuse to give in, as hard as it seems. If they’re shouting or pleading with you, don’t react. Keep a cool head and speak from an objective place. This will infuriate them because they love nothing more than getting a reaction.

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Give them a taste of their own medicine.

While being petty is somewhat immature, it’s tempting to want the narcissist to experience what it’s like to be around them. Start talking about yourself all the time, ignoring their needs and desires and making everything about you. Refuse to apologize or even acknowledge when you mess up. Guilt-trip them into doing the things you want. Throw them for a serious loop.

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Cut them off completely.

This is the best way to make a narcissist miserable — and the best way to make yourself happy. It’s not your job to make them see the error of their ways or to fix them. That’s for a licensed therapist to take care of. Your job is to look after yourself first and foremost. Say goodbye and put this toxic relationship behind you.

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Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.
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