A narcissist enabler is a person who, knowingly or unknowingly, enables and supports the behavior of a narcissist. They often serve as an apologist for the narcissist, defending their actions and turning a blind eye to the negative impact of the narcissist’s behavior.
Dealing with a narcissist enabler is a significant challenge, given the intricate and often emotionally charged dynamics involved. It requires navigating a complex interplay of emotions, behaviors, and relationships.
However, it is not an impossible task. With the correct strategies and tools, it is possible to manage these relationships effectively.
Understanding the Narcissist Enabler
A narcissist enabler plays a crucial role in the dynamics of narcissistic relationships. This individual is usually someone close to the narcissist, such as a family member, partner, or friend.
They validate and support the narcissist’s harmful actions and attitudes, often out of fear, love, loyalty, or a lack of understanding about the situation.
To fully grasp how to deal with a narcissist enabler, we must first understand their main characteristics.
One of the key characteristics of a narcissist enabler is emotional dependence on the narcissist.
This dependence could be rooted in fear, love, or loyalty.
The enabler feels an intense need to please the narcissist and may fear the consequences of standing up to them.
This dependency can lead the enabler to support and validate the narcissist’s actions, irrespective of how harmful they might be.
Lack of Self-Identity
A narcissist enabler often lacks a strong sense of self-identity.
Their identity is so entwined with the narcissist that they struggle to make decisions independently or express their own needs and desires.
This lack of self-identity makes it easier for the narcissist to manipulate and control them, further reinforcing the enabling behavior.
Denial and Minimization
Another common characteristic of narcissistic enablers is the tendency to deny or minimize the negative impact of the narcissist’s behavior.
They make excuses for the narcissist, downplay their harmful actions, or even blame themselves or others for provoking the narcissist.
This denial serves as a defense mechanism, helping the enabler cope with the cognitive dissonance created by the narcissist’s behavior.
Fear of Abandonment
Many narcissist enablers harbor a deep-seated fear of abandonment.
They worry that if they stop enabling the narcissist, they will be rejected or abandoned.
This fear often drives them to continue their enabling behavior, even when they recognize that it’s harmful.
Lack of Boundaries
Narcissist enablers often struggle with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
They allow the narcissist to invade their personal space, disrespect their time, or disregard their feelings. This lack of boundaries can further perpetuate the cycle of narcissistic abuse and enabling.
Practical Tips and Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissist Enabler
Understanding the dynamics of narcissism and enabling behavior is just the first step. Here are some practical strategies to navigate relationships with a narcissist enabler effectively.
1. Understand Co-dependency
At its core, co-dependency involves an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.
The narcissist enabler is very often co-dependent, placing the narcissist’s needs above their own, to their own detriment.
Co-dependent individuals are self-sacrificing, consistently putting others’ needs before their own. This is the result of a deep-seated compulsion, often rooted in low self-esteem and fear of abandonment.
The narcissist enabler often feels responsible for the narcissist’s happiness and wellbeing, ignoring their own needs and desires in the process. This can lead to them feeling trapped in the relationship, and powerless to break free from the narcissistic abuse cycle.
Understanding the dynamics of co-dependency can offer a new perspective on dealing with a narcissistic enabler.
Recognizing that the enabler’s actions are driven by their own fears and insecurities can help you take their behavior less personally.
It can also inspire a more compassionate approach, as you understand that their actions are often a result of their own pain and struggle.
2. Set Boundaries
Setting and maintaining boundaries is an effective strategy for managing relationships, especially with a narcissist enabler. These boundaries serve as guidelines for what you accept and do not accept from others, safeguarding your emotional and mental health.
In the context of a narcissistic relationship, boundaries can protect you from manipulation, gaslighting, and other harmful behaviors often exhibited by the narcissist or their enabler.
Establishing boundaries with a narcissist enabler can start with simple steps like limiting your interactions with them or refusing to participate in discussions about the narcissist.
It might also involve more assertive actions such as firmly stating that you will not tolerate any form of manipulation or gaslighting.
Remember, the key to setting boundaries is clarity.
Be clear about what you are willing to accept and what you are not. This might involve expressing your needs and wants directly, saying ‘no’ without feeling guilty, and standing firm even if the enabler tries to cross those boundaries.
Setting boundaries is one thing, but maintaining them can be an entirely different challenge, especially when dealing with a narcissist enabler.
It’s important to remember that maintaining boundaries isn’t about changing the other person’s behavior, but rather asserting your own needs and protecting your wellbeing.
It may take time and consistency to maintain these boundaries effectively. You may face resistance or backlash, but it’s crucial to stay firm and remind yourself of the importance of these boundaries for your own mental and emotional health.
3. Seek Support
In the face of the emotionally draining and often isolating experience of dealing with a narcissist enabler, seeking support becomes not only beneficial but necessary.
This process involves reaching out to trusted individuals and professionals who can offer understanding, validation, and practical advice.
Begin by identifying trusted friends and family members who you feel comfortable sharing your experiences with.
These should be individuals who can listen without judgment, offer empathy, and give constructive advice when needed. They can provide a different perspective, validate your feelings, and remind you that you’re not alone in your struggles.
It’s also beneficial to include mental health professionals in your support network.
They can provide expert advice and therapeutic strategies to help you manage the challenges you’re facing.
Therapists or counselors trained in dealing with personality disorders can also help you understand the dynamics of your relationship with the narcissistic enabler more clearly.
Consider joining peer support groups, both in-person and online.
These groups are made up of individuals who are going through similar experiences. Sharing your journey with those who truly understand can be incredibly comforting. It can reduce feelings of isolation and provide practical advice based on others’ experiences.
4. Practice Assertive Communication
Assertive communication is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal when dealing with a narcissist enabler. It involves expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open, honest, and direct manner.
This type of communication is characterized by clarity, respect, and self-confidence, allowing you to stand up for yourself, maintain your ground, and avoid getting entangled in the narcissist’s manipulative tactics.
Practicing assertive communication involves several key steps:
Understanding Your Rights: Recognize that you have the right to express your feelings, needs, and desires without feeling guilty or selfish.
Being Clear and Direct: Clearly express what you want or need without beating around the bush. Avoid using vague or ambiguous language.
Staying Calm and Composed: Even when the situation is challenging, maintain a calm and composed demeanor. This helps keep the conversation from escalating into an argument.
Using “I” Statements: Instead of blaming or accusing the other person, express how their actions make you feel using “I” statements. For example, instead of saying “You always ignore my feelings,” say “I feel ignored when my feelings are not considered.”
Listening Actively: Assertive communication is a two-way street. Listen actively to the other person’s perspective and respond respectfully.
Practicing Non-Verbal Assertiveness: Your body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice should align with your words. Maintain eye contact, use a steady voice, and adopt a confident posture.
Concluding Thoughts on Dealing with a Narcissist Enabler
Dealing with a narcissist enabler is undeniably challenging. Their manipulative tactics, coupled with the complex dynamics of their relationship with the narcissist, can make interactions stressful and emotionally draining.
However, it’s important to remember that managing such relationships, while difficult, is not an impossible task.
It may take time and patience, but with knowledge, support and assertive communication, you can navigate these complex dynamics effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Narcissist Enabler
What is a narcissist enabler?
A narcissist enabler is a person who, knowingly or unknowingly, allows or encourages the harmful behavior of a narcissist. They often do this by providing the narcissist with validation, support, or resources that allow them to continue their destructive patterns.
Why would someone become a narcissist enabler?
People can become narcissistic enablers for various reasons. Some may be manipulated into the role, while others might do so out of fear, love, or a desire to maintain peace. They might also believe that they can change or control the narcissist’s behavior.
How can I identify if I’m dealing with a narcissist enabler?
Narcissist enablers often make excuses for the narcissist’s behavior, minimize their harmful actions, or blame others for the narcissist’s misconduct. They may also consistently prioritize the narcissist’s needs over their own or others’.
How can I protect myself from a narcissist enabler?
Protecting yourself from a narcissist enabler involves setting clear boundaries, practicing assertive communication, seeking support from trusted individuals or professionals, and prioritizing self-care.
Is it possible to help a narcissist enabler change their behavior?
While it is challenging, it’s not impossible to help a narcissist enabler change their behavior. This process often involves professional intervention, such as therapy or counseling, and the enabler’s willingness to recognize and modify their enabling behaviors.
Can a narcissist enabler also be a victim of the narcissist?
Yes, a narcissist enabler can also be a victim of the narcissist. In many cases, the enabler is emotionally manipulated, coerced, or even abused by the narcissist, leading them to enable the narcissist’s behaviors.
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Carla Corelli, a writer, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse, draws from her own upbringing with a narcissistic father to shed light on psychological trauma. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her articles, Carla aims to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
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