Coparenting with a Narcissist: Navigating the Manipulative and Competitive

Discover the challenges and strategies for successful coparenting with a narcissistic partner, including dealing with manipulation, competition, and the search for narcissistic supply. Photo by RODNAE Productions


Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a strong need for admiration. When coparenting with a narcissistic partner, the unique challenges of this dynamic can have a significant impact on the relationship and the well-being of all involved. Narcissists may use manipulation, competition, and the pursuit of narcissistic supply to gain control and advantage in the relationship. Understanding these tactics and setting boundaries is crucial for successful coparenting with a narcissistic partner.

Manipulation and control

One common tactic that narcissists use in coparenting situations is manipulation. They may try to control their partner's behavior by using emotional appeals or playing on their vulnerabilities. For example, they may try to make their partner feel guilty for not agreeing to their demands or try to manipulate them into doing things their way. It is important to recognize these manipulation tactics and set boundaries to maintain your independence and autonomy. This may involve setting clear expectations and standing firm in your decisions, even if the narcissist does not agree. It may also be helpful to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate these challenging dynamics and protect yourself from being manipulated.

Competition and advantage-seeking

Narcissists often have a strong need to be the best and to have an advantage in any situation. This competitive dynamic can be especially challenging when coparenting, as it may lead to conflict and tension over decisions and roles in the parenting relationship. To manage these competitive dynamics, it may be helpful to focus on the well-being of your children and to find ways to collaborate and cooperate with your narcissistic coparent. This may involve setting aside your own ego and prioritizing the needs of your children. It may also be helpful to establish clear communication channels and to have a plan in place for resolving conflicts. Seeking support from a therapist or mediator can also be helpful in managing these dynamics and finding healthy ways to co-parent with a narcissistic partner.

Narcissistic supply

Narcissistic supply refers to the attention, admiration, and validation that a narcissist craves in order to feed their ego. In coparenting situations, this can manifest as the narcissist seeking attention and validation from their coparent, or even from the children. It is important to be aware of this dynamic and to maintain your own sense of self-worth and value, rather than becoming a source of narcissistic supply for your partner. This may involve setting boundaries and not allowing yourself to be drawn into their need for attention and validation. It is also important to remember that a narcissist may seek out new sources of narcissistic supply if the current source is no longer fulfilling their needs. Therefore, it is important to prioritize your own well-being and to not become overly invested in the narcissist's validation or approval.


Coparenting with a narcissistic partner can be a challenging and complex dynamic. Understanding the tactics that narcissists use, such as manipulation, competition, and the pursuit of narcissistic supply, can help you to navigate these challenges and protect yourself from being used or controlled. Setting boundaries and maintaining your own sense of independence and self-worth is also crucial for successful coparenting. While it may not be easy, it is possible to maintain a healthy and successful co-parenting relationship with a narcissistic partner by being aware of these dynamics and taking steps to protect yourself and prioritize the well-being of your children.