decorative image states how to respond to a narcissist text from an aggressive co-parent
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How do you continue to live in peace while texting with a narcissist? You set strong boundaries. You learn how to reply to their messages in a way that keeps them from taking the discussion off-topic. You stop reacting and start responding to cut out the drama and maintain your sense of peace.

Let’s dig into the details of how to respond to a narcissist text from a co-parent.

A Narcissist’s Text Messages Can Make You Feel Crazy

You are free of your toxic relationship and learning to live well as a single parent until you receive a text message that triggers you. You suddenly find yourself raging, crying, or frozen in fear. The narcissist’s text messages have pulled you back into their web of toxicity. 

Why is this happening to you and how do you make it stop? Will your life always be chaotic when you have to communicate with the other parent of your children?

Phone calls and narcissistic texts from a narcissist can send your mental health plummeting. ​This is narcissistic abuse. Your reactions are being used for narcissistic supply. The most important thing to remember is that you can refuse to give the narcissist the emotional response they are looking for. 

To The Trusted Friend

If you are reading this article out of curiosity or to help support someone who is going through this type of communication please know that this is abuse and it is not easy to navigate. Anyone who has to put up with this style of communication is at risk of having their peace and joy stolen from them.

I hope to live in a world where this type of abuse is no longer made light of. It is a very real problem for those who have to live with it. I am writing this article to help make someone’s life easier.

If you are here in support of a friend or loved one thank you for being willing to learn and help them through it.

There is Always Hope for Emotional Wellbeing

People with narcissistic personality disorder will be difficult to communicate with. You have to change the situation without expecting them to do anything to make it better.

Don’t lose heart. You will become a stronger person throughout the process of learning how to set boundaries and respond instead of react to the messages you receive.

One day you may be able to help others become free of the drama you are escaping.

Examples of Narcissistic Text Messages

​Narcissist text messages are a well-designed tool to hurt you. They are based on lies and half-truths. The narcissist you have been in a relationship with knows exactly how to push your buttons and does so with great satisfaction.

Caution; before you read this list know that just because a narcissist says something doesn’t make it the truth. I have toned down my examples to make them easier to read. Add at least 10x toxicity to these messages to get a better idea of what they would sound like in real life.

You may be receiving lots of toxic texts from the other co-parent, such as:

You are such a …

You never agree.

You always have to get your way.

Anything with cuss words used to describe you or your actions.

You are selfish.

Anything about court costs and money.

Anything about how you have destroyed their life.

Image of man looking at cell phone. Quote, "The most important thing to remember is that you can refuse to give the narcissist the emotional response they are looking for."

This is Narcissistic Abuse

Most of these messages are projections of their behavior onto you. This is how they keep from taking accountability for anything they do wrong. By projecting they place their guilt onto you so that in their mind they can remain free of wrongdoing.

Their ugly words and the horrible way they treat you are confirmation that you are doing the right thing by limiting contact for your physical, emotional, and psychological safety.

Manipulative Tactics

Someone high on the narcissism scale is out to create drama and get a reaction from others. When you respond emotionally they are winning at their mind games. That can be a hard truth to learn. Learning how to shut down their games will set you free.

They will use anything to try to get you to respond with anger, emotion, or insults in return for their nasty words. No topic is off-limits to them.

You will be blamed for things that are not your fault. Facts will be misconstrued, and half-truths and lies will be used to make you look like you are causing all of the communication problems. These are all common tactics that people with narcissistic personalities often use to keep the upper hand over their intended victim.

One thing to remember is that someone who has narcissistic personality disorder truly believes you are the problem and they are perfect. When you begin to see and understand this fact it is easier to stay above the situation and see it more clearly.

The Biggest Mistake You Are Probably Making

Your biggest mistake in communicating with someone who is trying to get a reaction from you is reacting to everything they accuse you of and allowing them to take the message off-topic.

If you are not sticking to the facts and only the facts during communication they will be able to twist your words and make it seem like you agree with their accusations. They do this to keep you from sticking to the main point and coming to a resolution to the problem.

You cannot win against the crazy-making, gaslighting, circular reasoning a narcissist has perfected as a defense against anyone trying to hold them accountable.

Tip: Not every message needs a response. If they are just getting a final word in let them. You lose nothing by responding with silence instead of reaction. You show the strength and maturity they are lacking when you refuse to react to their toxicity.

Image of children holding cell phones. "I honor my boundaries."

How to Starve Them of Narcissistic Supply

The only way to win an argument with them is not to argue. You don’t have to participate in their game. They will keep extending invitations to their world but you never have to accept.

When they send that dramatic text the best option is to ignore them because even negative attention is something they thrive on.

The best way to starve a narcissist of supply is to go no-contact. If you have to co-parent with them the next best option is to go as low-contact as reasonably possible.

Learning to be detached emotionally when you are communicating with a narcissist keeps them from stealing your energy. It takes practice and it can be done.

The Importance of Protecting Your Mental Health

Once you leave a relationship with a narcissist you will begin to heal and start living in peace. The longer you experience life without the constant pain and drama the more you will want to protect your newfound peace.

When you are no longer used to walking on eggshells around a toxic person it will become more damaging any time you are hurt by them. The longer you are free the clearer the red flags and toxic behavior will stick out to you.

You need to protect your emotional well-being to continue your healing. As you heal you lead your children by example and they learn what it is like to be in a relationship with a healthy person.

You are not only changing your life but the lives of your children as you learn to communicate in a way that protects all of you.

Establishing Firm Boundaries

Did you know you can choose how to communicate with a co-parent? You can communicate in person, over the phone, through text, or email. There are also co-parenting apps that can be required for communication through your parenting plan or other court orders.

When you set firm boundaries for communication you can get out of reaction mode and choose how to respond instead. The better you are at following your boundaries, the sooner the other person knows they will have to find someone else to engage in their drama and they will begin to spend less time bothering.

Examples of Healthy Boundaries

  1. Email or a parenting app for major topics
  2. Text only for last-minute updates to child exchanges
  3. Wait 24 hours before responding to anything that is not an emergency
  4. Only check email once or twice a week
  5. Stick to the subject
  6. No emotions allowed
  7. Practice self-care after difficult communications
Image of woman holding cell phone. quote reads, "Often the best response is no response."

No Need for a Text Conversation

If your co-parent is constantly insulting you or sending lengthy texts at inappropriate times you can send an email letting them know your new boundaries for communication.

For example, your email could state that you will no longer reply to text messages about anything other than last-minute changes to drop off. You can write that you will discuss all other subjects over email only. End your email message with a thank you.

Be prepared to stick to the changes as a manipulative person will try to push your boundaries. Once they learn you mean what you say they will be less likely to try to take you off course.

Remember, often the best response is no response. 

Email Only?

It is best to communicate in a way that can be documented so there is no confusion about what was said later. Having a form of communication that is easy to print and acceptable in court is best. Email works well for both.

If you choose to email only you can also set boundaries to help you maintain your peaceful life. You can set up an email account just for communicating with the other parent and only check it once or twice a week. As long as your parenting agreement doesn’t have set rules for communication with a co-parent you can make your own as long as they are reasonable.

Text and Email

Some people choose to use text messages in case one party is running late because of traffic or a similar situation and email for everything else.

If the other parent tries to take things off-topic through text messages you can send a simple reminder to email instead. Or you can ignore the message and send an email follow-up later.

The stronger you stick to your new boundaries the more likely the narcissist is to cooperate.

How to Respond to a Narcissist Text and Email Message

“When speaking with a hostile ex, you will likely be drawn into an argument and nothing will get resolved. Limit communication to texting and email. This way you can choose what to respond to and you will be able to delete knee-jerk retorts that you would make if you were on the phone.” – Virginia Gilbert

Remember that narcissists often have a strategic approach to everything they do. You can expect them to bring up things you texted years ago to use against you. Your main goals in responding are to shut down their accusations and end the exchange. 

Stick to the subject. If they bring up 10 different topics in response to the one problem you are trying to solve remind them that you are only discussing that specific topic. Let them know they can start a separate email for each topic they would like to discuss. This is an effective way of shutting them down and they will usually not bring up the other topics unless they truly are important.

If they are accusing you of doing something in response to a discussion that is not going the way they want you can respond that you do not agree with their assessment of you or the situation.

In any response you put in writing be aware that it could be read in court as evidence and represent yourself with dignity and respect. Let the other parent spin out into wild accusations, name-calling, character assassination, and whatever else they want to use to make you look like the problem.

For court purposes, you can usually say you do not agree with what the other person is trying to document. This leaves you open to speaking your truth in court if the email is used as evidence.

Remember to come across as a reasonable and decent person in your written communications. You can do this by including words and phrases such as; thank you, good morning, have a wonderful day, etc. You maintain this attitude no matter how nasty the other person is so you come across as reasonable and mentally stable.

Image of man's hands holding cell phone. Quote reads, "Learning to honor your values during the most difficult communications is a skill that will serve you well in all areas of your life."

Example Responses

I do not agree with your assessment of my character.

I do not agree with your interpretation of the situation.

Your description of our meeting and what we discussed is not what I experienced. *Depending on the situation you can include the facts from your perspective.

I will only respond to our original topic. If you would like to discuss other topics please start a separate email for each item.

I choose to stay on topic so we can resolve this problem.

My perception of events is …

I will stick to discussing a resolution of this specific issue in the best interest of our children instead of getting side-tracked with three other topics.

Here is an article from Verywell Mind that you may find helpful. Use These 10 Phrases to Disarm a Narcissist

Problem-Solving

If you are struggling to respond without emotion you can ask a friend to help you until you learn this new skill of communicating. You can have your friend read the draft of your response and let you know of any changes you should make before hitting send.

Write your response and wait 24 hours before sending it. Sometimes you will have to rewrite your response and wait another 24 hours before clicking send. It’s better to wait and send a clear message than to send something that will make the situation worse.

If you feel angry it is best to get that energy out in a healthy way before writing a text or email.

Professional Help is Available

Co-Parenting Counseling

Co-parenting counseling is helpful for some co-parents. Sometimes letting the narcissist get their complaints out with a neutral audience can change the dynamics of communication, at least for a while.

This can be a difficult and costly situation to navigate. I would only suggest this if you know you will be safe during the session. If the person you are communicating with is prone to violence this will not be safe for anyone.

You can ask the court to help you by requiring a co-parenting app for communications. This is the most expensive option and hopefully, you won’t need to go there.

Depending on your local laws there may be other ways the legal system can help you set boundaries for more respectful and productive communication.

Acknowledge Your Positive Progress

Always remember you can change the way you communicate with others. Learning how to honor your values during the most difficult communications is a skill that will serve you well in all areas of your life.

Remember you deserve to live in freedom and peace.

decorative image states how to respond to a narcissist text from an aggressive co-parent

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