Trying to help your daughter see the light when she is dating a narcissist may be difficult or nearly impossible. If you push too hard it may drive her away and make her resentful. When a narcissistic person sees you as the enemy, be careful what you say and do to intervene. They may try to isolate your daughter from you as well. Narcissists have a knack for chipping away at a person’s self-confidence until they feel worthless and are too weak to get away.
She may feel dependent on him. Deciding how to handle your daughter falling in love with someone that is exploiting her is not an easy task. Let’s talk about some ways you can help your daughter, keep your cool, and cope with the situation.
What to Expect When Your Daughter is Dating a Narcissist
You’re going to face a fight if you try to convince your daughter that her boyfriend is a bad choice. She sees him as wonderful and perfect, regardless of his negative traits. The bad things are usually pushed aside until a relationship becomes more serious. You can’t help being a vigilant parent but try to be supportive of her dating ventures. Try not to constantly point out negative things about her boyfriend.
She is smart enough to see that he isn’t as wonderful as he seemed and will eventually decide to end the relationship on her own. When it does end, don’t be smug or remind her that you had a bad vibe about him. Don’t stand at the sidelines ready to say, “I told you he wasn’t good for you.” Instead, give her hugs and comfort, then move forward, supporting her no matter what.
Early adulthood is when these narcissistic tendencies start to emerge and gradually worsen, so teenage boys are at that age where it could go either way. Interacting with your daughter’s boyfriend may be a little weird, to begin with. It could become difficult to enjoy his company if he turns out to be selfish and entitled. You want to see her with a kind, well-mannered young man, not someone with an arrogant, contemptuous attitude. Try not to get upset and overreact every time you’re left wondering what she sees in him. No one should have to put up with a condescending partner, but you will have to let her decide that for herself.
Trying to diagnose your daughter’s boyfriend with a narcissistic personality disorder isn’t the goal. Keeping your eyes open for red flags and strange behavior is key. If you notice your daughter avoiding family time or not hanging out with her friends anymore, say something. Let her know that you understand spending time with her boyfriend is important to her but she needs quality time with other people in her life too.
Limit time spent out with her boyfriend or have them come hang at your house more often. It might give you a little more peace of mind when you can see them interact more. This may be more difficult the older and more independent your daughter is.
Educate Your Daughter About Relationships and Abuse
Keep communication open with her about her relationship. Narcissists are mentally abusive to their victims. These types of abusers manipulate and isolate to try to make their partner feel dependent on them. Eventually, your daughter may feel frozen in her relationship and just keep going through the motions to get by. This trauma and depression cycle could cause anxiety, hopelessness, and lack of ability to see a way out.
If your daughter knows that you are there for her through anything and won’t judge, she always has a way out. Educate yourself about narcissists and try to understand what she’s dealing with. With a deeper understanding of what’s going on and a clearer picture of narcissistic behavior, you will be able to give your daughter the best information with the best delivery possible when she asks for it.
Narcissists have no empathy and are never remorseful for making their partner suffer. They bully and hurt people’s feelings to make themselves feel good. Your daughter is dealing with a person that will lie and manipulate to make themselves look like the victim when the tables are turned. This can become dangerous as your daughter’s boyfriend creates reasons to justify the way he treats her. He will also look for reasons to hate other people and will expect her to follow along, not caring whether it hurts her feelings or inconveniences her.
Your daughter needs to know that abuse is never ok. Encourage her to make her own personal boundaries and stick to them. Boundaries must be clearly defined regarding what she is willing to tolerate. There should be an enforceable consequence and an ending of the relationship if boundaries are continually violated.
There is no reason for your daughter to tolerate these behaviors, she deserves love and respect. Chances are this narcissistic behavior will only get worse. If this young romance doesn’t work out, there are plenty of other ‘fish in the sea.’ Your daughter might feel like losing her boyfriend is utterly devastating, but it wouldn’t be as devastating as her being injured or killed if things become physically violent between them.
Be Patient and Offer Sound Advice
Getting upset and just telling your daughter’s boyfriend that you think he is a narcissist probably won’t do you any good. He probably doesn’t care about what you think at all. As soon as he knows you aren’t following along with his game you become the enemy. If a narcissist realizes they can’t control you, they will eventually turn against you. He will use your opinion against you and smear you as much as possible. He will try to convince your daughter that you just don’t like him or are jealous. He will use your words against you to further control and isolate her.
Teach your daughter about healthy relationships. Set examples through your interactions, respecting those around you, and sticking to your own boundaries. Offer her some information about abuse warning signs and what should not be tolerated in any relationship. Be supportive and understanding, yet make it clear that there is never an excuse for abuse. Give your daughter tools and strategies to keep her safe. Let her know you want her to have a plan to follow if she feels unsafe. Most of the controlling behavior usually takes place when no one is around and the victim becomes too afraid to speak up. She needs to know that you are there to help no matter how bad it is.
You can’t force her to see that her relationship is unhealthy. Ultimately, the only person that can decide whether to have this narcissistic person in their life or not is her. She will have to be honest with herself and listen to her intuition when deciding who she wants to be with. It can be frustrating to understand why she stays with him but don’t let it get you down. Talk to her about any differences you notice in her and offer help like counseling for self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. She should start to see her path to being happy and healthy, make her own break from him, and start to heal.