I have two close relatives with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and it is anything, but easy, trying to have a healthy relationship with them. In fact, it is impossible to have a give and take relationship with someone with NPD. It is important to accept the prior statement, or you will find yourself hurt, on edge, and wondering what you could have possibly done to deserve such cruel treatment. Here are some helpful tips to deal with someone who is a narcissist.
1) Realize that it is not about you. The comments, judgments, and accusations they make are about them and their perception of the world. They were born having to fend for themselves and have a skewed idea of how they need to be in the world. The sad part is that this personality served them well as children and helped them to physically and emotionally survive. They were unable to trust the ones who were supposed to care for them and this notion followed them into adulthood.
2) You cannot change or expect change from a person with NPD. Asking someone with NPD to change is like asking a river to begin flowing in the opposite direction. Your words and opinions mean nothing to them, seriously. You can try and try, but at the end of the day, week, or 30 years, you finally realize that you have zero influence over their thoughts and behaviors.
3) You can change yourself to have a cordial, but depthless, relationship with someone who has NPD. This is only if you want to keep a relationship with the person. If you don't love the person or care about them, you probably will not want to take this road of pretend selflessness.
Don't confront. It doesn't matter what you think, so just nod or keep your mouth closed. They will try to provoke you with issues they know will cut to the bone, but just stay strong. While being verbally attacked, I often envision my loved one is talking into a mirror. It helps me to empathize with the feelings they have about the world and self.
Give them praise for the attributes that you do like about them. Any praise is good praise for them, even if it seems insignificant to you. They cannot hear words of affirmation enough, so indulge. This one might be difficult, because people with NPD ignite the fight instinct in you and you may have very strong negative feelings about them.
4) Don't feel overjoyed by their compliments or hurt by their criticism. Remember, it has nothing to do with you. You are a tool for them to get what they want, so don't buy into their perception of you. You can go from favorite person to despised person in less than 24 hours, so aim for middle ground.
5) Admit to yourself that you can never be close to this person. This is the hardest one to accept, especially if you love the person. Find support from people without NPD to help fill your needs for acceptance and love.
6) Try to practice empathy. Underneath the heavy layers of emotional steel, there is an innocent and scarred person. Attempt to find that hidden person and seek to better understand how it must be for them to get by in the world. See them through an empathetic lens, and it might take the sharp edge off.