Narcissists & Co.: 10 Tips to Set Boundaries for Toxic People

How to protect yourself from toxic people

Setting boundaries for toxic people


What to do when toxic people cross boundaries? Here are suggestions you can use to set clear boundaries for such contemporaries.

Setting boundaries for toxic people


It is usually not easy to set boundaries with toxic people, but it is all the more necessary. Boundaries are part of taking care of ourselves. When we set clear boundaries early on, we are less likely to be angry and resentful because our needs are taken care of. Boundaries make our expectations clear, so others know what to expect from us and how we want to be treated. Boundaries are one of the foundations of functioning relationships – professional and personal.




Why set boundaries?



Ideally, people respect our boundaries if we communicate them enough. However, some people resist our efforts to set boundaries; they argue, blame, ignore, manipulate, threaten, or hurt us emotionally or physically. And while we can’t stop people from acting this way, we can learn to set clear boundaries and take care of ourselves.




Learning to set boundaries


Setting boundaries consists of three steps.



1st step 1


Identify your boundaries. Be clear about what you require before you go about communicating or enforcing the boundary.




2nd step


Communicate your boundaries or expectations, calmly, and consistently. Stick to the facts without over-explaining, blaming, or getting defensive.




3rd step


If your boundaries are not respected, review your options and take consistent action.






This post focuses on the third step; what we can do when our boundaries are not respected.




Who are toxic people?


Toxic people are people who are destructive and make us feel worse when we are around them. Gut feelings usually indicate pretty quickly if someone is toxic and it is better to keep your distance.




Common characteristics of toxic people


Common among toxic people is that they …

  • regularly lie and manipulate to get what they want. Intriguing, starting rumors, gossiping; toxic people will use any means to
  • achieve their own goals, push through opinions, and gain an advantage.
  • exploit their kindness
  • not respecting your boundaries
  • belittle you and other people
  • do not encourage you to pursue your goals
  • poison the environment
  • have no regard for other people’s feelings or needs
  • are often angry or aggressive
  • rarely apologize
  • blame others and do not take responsibility for their actions
  • use up their energy
  • have a lot of problems but do not want to change
  • think that rules do not apply to them
  • talk a lot but do not listen
  • are not interested in solutions in the sense of win-win.




10 tips: What to do when someone doesn’t respect your boundaries?


Setting boundaries is an ongoing process and there is no quick fix for dealing with people who cross boundaries. We can hardly force someone to respect our boundaries, but we can decide how to respond.

The following ideas can help you choose the best approach for dealing with chronic boundary violators.




1. Clarify


Address the behavior to provide an opportunity for clarification. Make it clear what you are concerned about. This has a limited effect on toxic people, but sometimes we are wrong about people ourselves.




2. Consequences


Make clear announcements. Say which behavior has which consequences. Only state what you are prepared to do and stick consistently to your announcements.




3. Condition management


As hard as it may be, don’t take the behavior too personally. Toxic people live out their deficits. They are unable and unwilling to align themselves with proven interpersonal standards.

If you pay attention to your state management, it will not only be more pleasant but also more helpful. Then you will make better decisions more confidently. Those who are out of sorts are easier to manipulate and weaker.




4. Negotiate


Decide if a boundary is negotiable. Some boundaries are more important than others. Figuring out what you are willing to accept and what you consider unacceptable or non-negotiable will help you decide if you are willing to compromise. Compromise can be a good thing if both people adjust. True compromise does not mean giving up your needs to please someone else or accepting treatment that you consider non-negotiable.

8. Delimitation


Practice benevolent demarcation. Delimitation is an alternative to trying to control people and situations. When you are in a state of anxiety, it is understandable that you want to control things to protect yourself. But trying to control other people does not work. When we break free of it, we stop trying to change others and force the outcome we want. You can detach from a narcissistic or toxic person by…

  • leaving physically dangerous or unpleasant situations.
  • responding differently than before. For example, instead of taking something personally or yelling, we can meet a rude comment with humor. This changes the dynamic of the interaction.
  • decline invitations to spend time with such contemporaries.
  • let them make their own decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions.
  • maintain restraint and do not give unsolicited advice.
  • consciously avoid participating in the same old arguments or staying out of an unproductive conversation or argument.
  • take care of yourself. Setting yourself apart doesn’t mean you don’t care about the person, but rather that you take care of yourself and realistically assess what you can do in a given situation.
  • limit or stop contact. Consider limiting contact or having no contact at all. Sometimes the only way to protect yourself is to stop interacting with toxic people who don’t respect you.
  • limiting or completely cutting off contact is not meant to punish or manipulate others, it is a form of self-care. If someone hurts you physically or emotionally, you owe it to yourself to put enough distance between you and that person. Despite what others may say, you don’t have to have a relationship with people who make you feel bad. Family and friends should lift you and support you, not leave you depressed, anxious, angry, or confused.




9. You have a choice


One of the great things about being an adult is that you can make your own decisions. You don’t have to continue to be friends with someone who takes advantage of your kindness or work for someone who criticizes and belittles you nonstop or stay in a relationship with someone who is not good for you.

We have choices. Sometimes we don’t particularly like an option, but it’s important to know that we have them. We are not trapped or powerless.

The decision to end relationships is often painful. Even in abusive relationships, it is not always easy. For practical reasons, it is very often delayed too long. Whether it’s a personal or business relationship, workplace, or any other context; don’t let it go. Life is too short and precious for some time.





10. Act


Although deep inside it has already arrived that it is unhealthy to continue a contact as before, the necessary step is not taken. If this is the case, you can …

Identify your options, such as distancing yourself physically and emotionally, limiting contact, avoiding meeting a toxic person directly, and practicing self-care.
Choose the best option, even if none of them is ideal. Be careful to respect yourself and your values. Trust your instincts.




Simple answers?


Unfortunately, there is usually no easy answer. At times, other people will be unhappy and even angry or offended by your choices. Still, it’s better to set the framework. This may mean not tolerating toxic people in your life any longer. Boundaries are a way to protect yourself from harm and preserve your autonomy and individuality. You deserve to allow yourself to do that.

Help dealing with narcissists (no legal advice!)


It's urgent? Thanks to an immediate bank transfer, it is also possible to organize sessions at short notice, often even on the same day. In any case, you can orient yourself by reading the list with fees. Typically, a telephone call of 60 minutes is enough. Either you come to me in Berlin or we organize a telephone meeting or use the Internet with a video conferencing system. If you wish professional support for your decision-making, communication, or because you suffer emotionally from narcissists, then we can arrange an appointment.

As much as I would like to - with the large number of requests I receive, I keep the amount of volunteer help at a feasible level.

If you want professional support (in the areas I offer and this does not include any legal advice), then we can make an appointment. Either you come to me in Berlin or we make a telephone session or use the Internet with video support. This has proven to be very successful. Thanks to real-time bank transfer, it is also possible to book appointments at short notice. We can make an appointment first or even easier and faster; you book your session and as soon as the fee is received, we find the next available appointment.

If it is about the psychological effects, I offer therapeutic help for people suffering from narcissists and coaching for other issues. You can find the fees here. Please note the reduced fees for therapeutic assistance for people suffering from narcissistic abuse.

Not all sufferers have the financial means to do this, I know. You can then at least use the comment function to exchange information with other sufferers. Sometimes I also answer questions there, occasionally even beyond that. I am aware of the suffering that can result from contact with narcissists. However, the day has only 24h, and therefore I ask for understanding for my procedures. I am aware of the suffering that often results from contact with narcissists. That is why I offer a free telephone consultation every first Monday of the month from 9:00 to 12:00 for initial impulses. Please use exclusively the telephone number +49 (0)30 864 213 65 for this purpose. Calls outside these hours and on other telephone numbers exclusively in the context of the professional support mentioned.

So: Questions that may also interest other people, please ask in the comments. Some topics are of a more private nature and I offer professional support for them. Let's have a direct conversation about this. If you are interested in support, for organizational questions and appointments you can reach me personally best by e-mail (, conditionally also by phone +49 (0)30 864 213 65., mobile +49 (0)30 864 213 65.

Just ask me personally


Please post any questions that may be of interest to other readers in the comments. Looking for professional help?

If you are interested in coaching, training or consulting, if you have organizational questions, or if you want to make an appointment, you can reach me best via this contact form (you can choose whether you want to enter your personal data) or via e-mail ( The privacy policy can be found here.

Transparency is important. That is why you will find answers to frequently asked questions already here, for example about me (profile), the services, the fees and getting to know me. If you like what you see, I look forward to working with you.


I have read and accept the privacy policy.


In the address bar of your browser, the URL should begin with "". This indicates a secure connection (SSL). Whether you enter your real name is up to you.



Have you had to deal with toxic people and how did you take care of yourself?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

When you submit this form, it will save the used name, email address, and content. Find out more in the privacy policy.


17 signs that someone is a manipulator

Not every attempt to manipulate us is obvious. Especially the professional manipulators learn how to hide their intentions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those manipulators in business and private life. Learn how to recognize manipulators.

Expecting apologies from narcissists

Expecting apologies from narcissists

Again and again, non-narcissists are under the illusion of receiving an honest apology from narcissistic personalities. You should know; narcissists don’t really apologize and respond to such demands as if they were under attack.

read more
Narcissistic parents

Narcissistic parents

The extent to which parents with narcissistic tendencies are perceived as a problem varies significantly. Offspring are often unaware that narcissism is involved in the idiosyncratic relationship. This article is about this special relationship and what results from it.

read more
Compassion for narcissists?

Compassion for narcissists?

On some occasions, I stand up for people who suffer from narcissistic personalities. Thus, I am frequently asked if I have no sympathy for narcissists. Here is my answer.

read more
Narcissists and feedback

Narcissists and feedback

People make mistakes and can learn from them. With narcissists this is unlikely. Even to harmless and cautious feedback, narcissists respond as if it were harsh inappropriate criticism.

read more

This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: May 20, 2020
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: September 23, 2020
Translation: ./.
German version:

error: Copyright