Traits of a Narcissistic Mother in Law

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Ever felt you were walking on eggshells when dealing with your spouse’s mother? You might be dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law. Let’s dive deep into the traits, signs, and ways to cope when dealing with this challenging relationship.

General Characteristics of Narcissism

Narcissism is more than just a term we throw around. At its core, narcissism reflects a deep-seated sense of entitlement, an overwhelming need for attention, and a glaring lack of empathy. These individuals often disregard others’ boundaries and react intensely when faced with criticism. So, what happens when this is your mother-in-law?

Five key points to recognize a narcissistic mother-in-law

  • Constant Need for Attention: A narcissistic mother-in-law constantly seeks attention and validation, often at the expense of others, and becomes upset if she doesn’t receive it.
  • Lack of Empathy: She struggles to empathize with others, including her own child and their partner, and may disregard their feelings or needs.
  • Controlling Behavior: She may exert control over her child or their partner, and might even try to manipulate their decisions. This often manifests as unannounced visits, or trying to dictate the terms of their relationship.
  • Inability to Accept Criticism: She reacts intensely to any criticism, often playing the victim or trying to shift blame onto others.
  • Dismissal of Others’ Opinions: Any opinion that doesn’t align with hers is dismissed or invalidated, as she believes that she is always right and has difficulty accepting differing viewpoints.

Impact on Relationships With A Narcissistic Mother In-Law

The damage a narcissistic mother-in-law inflicts isn’t just limited to her immediate family. She often doesn’t see her own children or grandchildren as separate beings but as mere extensions of herself. This can lead to undue stress on the relationship, especially if the other partner doesn’t address the narcissistic tendencies.

Behaviors of a Narcissistic Mother-In-Law

Think your mother-in-law might be a narcissist? Here are some telltale signs:

  • She can be exceptionally cruel to her child’s partner.
  • There’s a constant need to be right, and she never apologizes.
  • Any opinion not mirroring hers is dismissed. It’s her way or no way.
  • She disregards boundaries, often making unannounced visits.
  • When control over the partner seems difficult, she tightens her grip on her own child.
  • Unfortunately, these toxic traits can even extend to grandchildren.

Consequences for Relationships

A relationship under the scrutiny of a narcissistic mother-in-law faces many challenges. From constant invalidation to strains in the marital bond, it’s essential to be aware of these consequences to mitigate damage.

How to Cope with a Narcissistic Mother-In-Law

It’s challenging, but not impossible. Setting healthy boundaries is crucial. It’s better to establish a united front with your partner, keeping open communication. Sometimes, just knowing what you’re up against, like recognizing the signs, can go a long way.

Signs You Might Be Dealing with a Narcissistic Mother-In-Law

From subtle comments meant to undermine to overt attempts to control your spouse’s life, the signs are often clear if you know where to look. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and seeking professional help can provide coping strategies.

Tips for Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are your best defense. From deciding on certain days she can visit to not letting her make decisions for your nuclear family, you’re setting a precedent of mutual respect.

Professional Help and Support

Sometimes, the strain can be too much. Seeking professional counseling, either individually or as a couple, can provide tools to deal with a narcissistic mother-in-law.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

It’s a mental condition characterized by an inflated sense of importance, deep need for excessive attention, lack of empathy for others, and often fragile self-esteem.

Can narcissists change their behavior?

While change is difficult, with proper therapy and willingness, improvement is possible.

How do you set boundaries with a narcissistic parent?

Clear communication, consistency, and sometimes seeking mediation can help set these necessary boundaries.

Why do narcissists try to control others?

Control offers them a sense of power and importance, feeding their fragile self-esteem.

What are common examples of narcissistic behavior in mothers-in-law?

Common examples include unwarranted interference in the couple’s life, playing the victim card, and constantly seeking attention.

Signs of a narcissistic mother-in-law

  • Exceptionally cruel to her child’s partner.
  • The constant need to be right and never apologizes.
  • Any opinion not mirroring hers is dismissed.
  • Disregards boundaries, often making unannounced visits.
  • Tightens her grip on her own child when she can’t control her partner.
  • Extends toxic traits even to grandchildren.
  • Subtle comments meant to undermine.
  • Overt attempts to control your spouse’s life.

Final Thoughts

It’s never easy dealing with a narcissistic mother-in-law. Understanding her traits and setting boundaries can make the journey smoother. Remember, you’re not alone and seeking support, either from loved ones or professionals, can make a world of difference.

Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor Body Language Expert