Setting Boundaries With A Narcissist

Setting boundaries with a narcissist is critical to maintaining peace in your life, and healing from narcissistic abuse. Trying to reduce the absurd level of abuse, drama, and upheaval that a narcissist can cause in your home, can often feel like we are constantly fighting, but fantastically losing, an uphill battle. No matter how hard you try… no matter how loving you try to be… no matter how clever, calm, fair, rational, or logical, you try to be…NOTHING seems to make a dent in the severity, or quantity, of abuse that gets hurled at you. 

You may have heard of boundaries. Most people have. The problem is that, while most people have heard of boundaries, most don’t understand exactly what boundaries are, or how to effectively set boundaries with a narcissist. When I first started looking into the subject, I was in the same boat. I had no ideas how to use boundaries, or how they could help me bring peace to my home.

I thought that yelling at my husband, that he wasn’t allowed to treat me the way he does, was me setting a boundary. (LOL)  Of course, that isn’t setting a boundary, and so the result I got was not exactly what I had been hoping for. In fact, I usually made things worse by approaching boundaries in a completely ass-backward way.


Simply put, boundaries are personal guidelines that outline what you do, or do not, find to be acceptable in your life. You can set boundaries around your personal space (both your physical & energetic), your time, your resources, and even your within your relationship. Boundaries are how you specifically state- for yourself & others- what you will continue to allow, and what you will no longer tolerate.

So, then, why wasn’t my yelling at my husband, that his behavior was unacceptable, not an example of setting boundaries? Simple… after the yelling was done, that was it. There was no next step. No way for me to actually enforce my “boundaries”,  and no way to protect myself from my husband’s abuse. Since boundaries help you to accomplish all those things, it’s obvious that what I was doing was NOT setting boundaries, or even enforcing them. But, rather, something closer to what we call plain old arguing. (Really NOT quite as helpful-lol) 

Totally Tweet-able:
“Boundaries are NOT you shouting “You can’t treat me like this!”

Proper boundaries are being effectively utilized when the following three statements are true;

  1. They don’t have to be yelled at the other person, in order to be known.
  2. They carry CONSISTENT, appropriate & logical consequences for being violated.
  3. They bring about more peace in your life, not less.

And, now, here’s the million dollar question: How can I do this the right way, in order to bring peace to my life? I’m glad you asked. How to properly go about setting boundaries with a narcissist eluded me for a very long time. I would read articles about boundaries, and think I’ve got to get me some of those. Then, I’d get totally stuck on the part where I actually created the boundaries, and enforced them consistently. Oops!

I want to help you avoid all that shit. So, below is my super-genius (LOL) method of creating boundaries for yourself, and deciding upon appropriate consequences, in order to enforce them. If you want something a little more in-depth, click on the link at the bottom of this post (or, at the end of this sentence-lol) to download the Settings & Enforcing Boundaries for FREE!

How to Create & Enforce Boundaries: Quickie Overview

  1. List your partner’s most hurtful, abusive, traumatic, or disruptive behaviors, and how it makes you feel when he does them.
  2. Write a statement communicating that you will no longer accept that behavior & why.
  3. List the consequence you will enforce should your partner refuse to respect your boundary. Implement the consequence consistently…every, single time!
  4. Have a secondary, more severe, consequence ready to implement, if the first consequence does not alter your partner’s behavior.
  5. For extreme boundary violations, enlist the aid of outside people, such as law enforcement, family members, friends, church leaders, counselors, etc.
  6. Enjoy your new-found peace 🙂

Here you can download & print the Settings & Enforcing Boundaries. This worksheet goes a bit deeper into the topic, and guides you through the process. Enjoy!

I hope this has been helpful to you, and brings some measure of peace to your home, and your heart. Until next time sister.

Get a little gangster on his ass,
~The Narcissist’s Wife

Hi. I’m Story Lynne, (a.k.a. The Narcissist’s Wife). Nice to meet you. I’m the mother of 4 amazing kids, the (soon-to-be-ex) wife of a narcissist, and the author of this blog. I’m also a teacher, a healer, an intuitive empath, and Angel Card Reader.
I love fairies, angels, the color pink, anything sparkly, and Legos. (the Elves are my absolute favorites). I also love fixing cars, building shit, and shooting my bow (as in, bow and arrow).

16 thoughts on “Setting Boundaries With A Narcissist

  • Julia

    You have given me new hope, new outlook on this. I know this is a miserable way to live, but when you love someone, you’ll do anything. Almost! I couldn’t wrap my mind around him. He’d tell me often, no one gets me, I’m built differently. He’s a very aticulate smart man as well. Omg he is, but I just couldn’t understand why he’d treat me this way because he’s 44 yrs old. I was honestly not wanting to hear anything come out of his mouth. But now that I’m learning the tools to deal with this…. I feel so good. Not to say it’ll be easy, but anything is better than what we’ve been doing. You are by far an inspiration to many and definitely to me. I eill keep and charish these forever. Referring back to them when I’m needing support.
    Thank you over and over again!!! <3

    • The Narcissist's Wife

      I’m humbled, and deeply touched. I’m can’t tell you how happy I am that something is helping you to cope better. Ultimately, I hope it helps you to turn your situation around. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Lookingup

    You are an absolute inspiration to all of us!!!! Keep it up. I’ll pray for you and you pray for me. I pray for all women going thru this repetitive nightmare. Somehow we must all get thru it one way or another. Somehow we all find out what best works for us and listen to our Gutt. Thanks again for always trying to help all of us. You do a lot of work to bring this information to us and I truly truly appreciate it. From the bottom of my heart. (Ps. I’m so sorry you went thru two miscarriages let alone going thru it alone).

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

      I will definitely say prayers for you, and I’ll keep on trying to find a way to heal this mess. Even if I never figure it out, at least I can say it was a worthwhile endeavor. LOL

      Today’s post gives me hope…. For sure. But, we shall see.

      (And thank you, for your sympathy. It’s alright though. Everything is as it was meant to be, and I’m a stronger person for it. So… You know.)

  • Lookingup

    Wow. You are such a good person to feel what you feel for your husband even though he has treated you so badly. And as a person with faith I too from time to time think that I need to continue to try to help him. But he hasn’t changed in 25 years and I keep telling myself is God really telling me to continue this painful path. Of course I go to church and there is no divorce. There is no separation. But they too have no idea what it’s like to endure heart wrenching abuse. I go back and forth. I think I have a plan. Everything is good. He doesn’t bother me. Then I go back to walking on egg shells afraid he is going to do or say something. To other times like he really needs someone to hug him. But this weekend I was rushed to the hosital. I was unconscious for a couple of minutes. We were all at home. My daughter saw it all. But this one emotional crazy time for me. Even though I thought I would want him comforting me (which of course he didn’t…didn’t even ask how I’m doing). He took a vacation day only to make sure people on his job knew that he cared about me but all he did was workout and watch is 50 recorded religious shows while I was in the Hosital. I had my sister take my kids because I didn’t want him alone with them and my other sister stayed with me and took me home the next day. I walked in the house as I was a ghost. Didn’t say a word. So I tell myself where do I get the courage to want to keep wanting to help him. I need to help myself because no one else will. So I shifted that it’s going to be all about me.

    • I can totally understand. My husband left me alone, TWICE, while I was having a miscarriage. Once, because he was too busy getting high with friends and giving me the Silent Treatment, and the other time he just yelled at me, before he left for the plans he had made, that I was just trying to ruin (so he said).

      I don’t think that, by any means, any woman would be right- or wrong- to feel the same way that I do. We all have our own path and, some have lived through things that were just too painful. And that, is completely understandable.

      As for me, I’ve always been extraordinarily forgiving. Hell, I stood at the bedside of the man who molested me when I was 7-years-old, saying a prayer for God to take away his pain. And, that, didn’t seem at all strange to me. I figured anyone would do the same….

      Lots of people think I’m crazy (or, a glutton for punishment) but, at the same time… I don’t know. I guess, while the pain is definitely traumatic, it’s like it doesn’t stick to me, or something. I’m not sure how to describe it.

      I’ve never had lifelong issues from past traumas (abuse, molestation, rapes, etc.). The pain is there..and then, it’s like I can see how we are all doing the best we can…and if these people could do any better, they would. And then, I feel sad for them…seeing how they are the ones who are in unbelievable pain, that they can’t even acknowledge, and that they have no idea what do to about.

      It’s like, when my husband hurts me (and, AFTER the initial hurt & frustration die down- LOL), I see his behavior as him sharing with me (albeit in his own twisted way) what someone did to him. Like he’s telling me, “Look at how someone made me feel! Look at how much someone hurt me! I don’t know how to get rid of this pain. Help me!”

      Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic but, honestly, it just sparks compassion in me… and then, I feel like I just can’t give up trying to figure out a way out for him. Of course, like I said…I’ve removed myself and my children from his immediate vicinity. At least, until/unless things improve… and I don’t think that any woman ought to continue to subject herself to abuse- ever. (I’m of the belief that while the church may say you have to stay, God is pissed at what your husband is doing and loves you too much to ever want you to subject yourself to such vicious abuse & neglect- but, that’s just my opinion 🙂

      Who knows? Maybe God made me the way I am so that I could find a way to ease the suffering for all involved…. I’d like to think that he did. Then again, maybe I’m just unwilling to believe that I suffered 10 years of abuse for no particular reason…and that’s why I stubbornly continue to search. LOL

      It’s a mystery….ha ha ha

    • My husband refuses to make plans with me. Ever. He can’t stand the thought of having to “answer to me” in any way- even in regards to something as asinine as telling me about HIS plans, just so I can work around him! Planning is an activity reserved for equals, so obviously I don’t qualify.

      If for some reason he does make a plan with me, he will be at least an hour late, and no matter how many times I’ve asked him to just, PLEASE, let me know if he is going to be late, or if things change (so I can revise my own schedule) he refuses to do so! It’s just way too much like respecting me- and he won’t be “controlled like that”.

      Because this wasn’t any sort of punctuality problem, that he was struggling with, and simply a gross lack of respect for my time, or plans; and because I also got tired of, sometimes, wasting entire DAYS waiting on him, I set a boundary around the amount of time I will allow him to waste in my life.

      Now, if we make plans, and he is more than 30 minutes late, without calling/texting me, I just go on about my day. He gets mad about this, of course. He likes to accuse me of being vindictive, or “punishing him”, if I’m not up for waiting all day for him to, hopefully, show up. But, I simply told him calmly and clearly that, if he couldn’t stomach respecting my time enough to just notify me that he will be late, then I have no obligation to ruin my day over it.

      I just go ahead with my plans without him. As long as he isn’t verbally abusive, or snarky about it, he is free to catch up, and join me whenever he decides to show up. If he is in anyway nasty, accusatory, or verbally abusive, then I cancel the plans altogether and let him know that we can try to meet up again another day, because I don’t have time for petty power struggles, or someone who sees my request for reciprocal respect, as a control tactic or, an attempt to rob him of his personal freedom.

      He’s gotten better about it, but still misses out on a lot of stuff. Regardless, though, my days aren’t wasted- waiting on him to decide if he will grace me and the kids with his presence, and I don’t have to put up with any tantrums if he doesn’t like that I moved on with life, and he thinks to try to punish me for respecting myself, and my time, all on my own.

      That’s one example.

      • Lookup

        Great idea!! My husband is exactly the same way. I use to beg and beg him to go places with us. Only to find that he comes alone and has a big piss on his face. I have now gotten use to not focusing him any more. I rather not have him around. It’s easier and more relaxing for me. I will think of more. Not too difficult. Thanks so much!!!!!

        • Lookingup

          Sometimes when I hear someone else talk about it, I say to myself “wow that is bad. How does she put up with that”. Then of course it’s exactly the same for me. It’s just when it’s out up in a different format or someone else is talking about it. It gets real.

          • I know, right? Sometimes, I catch myself sling the same thing! Ha ha ha

            Did you happen to download the Boundaries worksheet from the post? It has a couple more examples and some further action-steps, too.

            This is probably the MOST important skill you can learn, and it will DRASTICALLY improve you situation. But, the caveat here is that you MUST be consistent. No matter how inconvenient it’s. No matter how tired you are. No matter what. He MUST NOT be allowed to get away with ANYTHING anymore.

            Or else, for the same reason a gambler will remain hours, upon hours, at a single slot machine, a narcissist (much like a small child) will continue the bad behavior, waiting for the one time he knows you will let him get away with it.

            A way more in-depth look at boundaries is a part of the program I’m creating about surviving in a relationship with a narcissist…along with lots of other info. I hope you check it out once it’s done…. (If I ever finish the damn thing! LOL)

        • It’s sad, isn’t it? I mean, when I think about it, my husband is the person with whom I’ve shared some of the best moments of my life with. Really. Sure, those moments were in the phase of our relationship that we call “love-bombing” but, nevertheless, that tells me that he is CAPABLE of being an awesome human being.

          Which is frustrating.

          I think that’s why, even after ten years of this shit, I haven’t given up trying to “crack the code”, so to speak… To find a way to get through to the real him, inside. To find a way to heal this horrible affliction. (Yes, I know it’s a crazy ambition. I’ve been told plenty of times what an idiot I am for still trying. LOL)

          Im not so much an idiot, though, that I remain in the path of destruction. I’m realistic, at times (LOL) so, I’ve removed myself and my children from the situation.

          But… In my heart, I still have hope- from here on the sidelines. Regardless of what anyone thinks of me for saying it, I love my husband, dearly.

          I don’t see him as a monster, or evil, or anything like that…even though that’s definitely how it feels, at times, and how it comes out in a lot of my journal writing, especially after a particularly harsh emotional beating from him…. Or a particularly cruel episode of neglect.

          I know a lot of people would tell me that I’m just experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, or trauma bonding…. And, I get it. But, if that were the case, instill be living with him (which I don’t) and, defending his actions (which I absolutely REFUSE to do. Thus, the journal posts where I let it all out).

          But, still… When I look at my husband, I see one who was once an innocent soul, who was beaten down and broken, by someone who, once, told him “I love you”.

          I see a man who hides the agonizing pain, loneliness, and frustration he feels inside. A man who, now, lives his whole life in terror of being “loved” again and, who lashes out at anyone who comes close enough to touch that unhealed, raw wound…

          I see a man who desperately wants to experience true love and acceptance but, feels ashamed and no longer worthy of it , after all the pain he knows he has caused from his own fear and lashing out.

          It’s a vicious cycle.

          Hmmm…. This sounds like a new post idea….LOL

          • Lookup

            I did print it out only to get side tracked with my daughters inquiry and surgery. But I’m getting back on this mission because I need to try setting boundaries and sticking to it! I like your determination in trying to figure a way to help these men and hope help us too!! Thank you again my friend!!!!!! 😘

          • I’ve got excellent news, sister… I’m hesitant to even mention it (because I don’t want to jinx it, somehow) but, I think I’m on to something…. I’ve been experimenting with some ideas and theories I’ve been having lately…. And well…..

            Already, I’m seeing definite, positive change. And not the kind you get with love-bombing or anything like that. For example, my husband is consistently responding to my calls and texts, in reasonable amounts of time (which is a HUGE deal). And, this morning, he called me to say good morning, just because he knows I like that.

            I didn’t ask him to call, or even hint… (although I have asked -repeatedly- in the past). He just did it, on his own. And, he’s been more affectionate. Not overly romantic, or intensely intimate- like narcissists usually do, when they want on your good side… They’re just small, subtle, yet consistent, little gestures.

            I’m totally excited about the results I’m seeing, and I’m dying to just blab all about it….but, I have to make sure this is the real deal before I go off all half-cocked, you know?
            Keep your fingers crossed, and pray hard… Don’t give up hope. We just might be on to something here. 😉

          • Lookingup

            I’m so excited!!! I’m hanging on and will keep checking back!!! That is amazing that he called you directly. SOOOO EXCITED to hear more. 😘🙏🏻

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