Self-confidence or becoming self-absorbed is not the same as a narcissistic personality disorder. We might label someone a narcissist if they post too many selfies or flex photos on their dating profile or continuously talk about themselves on a first date. According to licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC, what it comes down to is gross selfishness at the detriment of others, as well as an inability to consider other people’s feelings at all.
NPD, like the majority of mental health and personality disorders, isn’t a black-and-white problem. “Narcissism is a spectrum,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist. Knowing the “official” diagnosis criteria, on the other hand, doesn’t always make it easier to spot a narcissist, especially if you’re romantically involved with one. Without a competent expert’s diagnosis, it’s normally impossible to tell whether anyone has NPD.
Plus, when someone is unsure whether or not they are dating a narcissist, they aren’t usually asking, “Does he or she have NPD?” ” They’re asking if the way they’re being handled is long-term safe and sustainable. Please refrain from diagnosing your talking partner. Instead, keep reading to figure out more about the state of your relationship. You’ve come because you’re worried, which is understandable if your health is at risk. If you believe these symptoms apply to you, we’ll provide advice about how to manage the situation.
1. At first, they were very charming.
It all began with a fairy tale. Perhaps they contacted you often or told you they loved you during the first month, a practice known as “heart bombing” by experts. Even if you’ve only recently started dating, they could compliment you on your intelligence or emphasize how compatible you are.
“Narcissists believe that only special individuals can truly understand them,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, founder of Kaleidoscope Counseling in Charlotte, North Carolina.
However, if you do anything that disappoints them, they will turn against you. And, according to Tawwab, you’ll normally have no idea what you did. “How narcissists handle you or when they turn on you has nothing to do with you and all to do with their own beliefs,” says the author.
2. They dominate the conversation by bragging about how amazing they are.
“Narcissists enjoy boasting about their own successes and achievements in grandiose terms,” says Mind Rejuvenation Therapy psychotherapist Jacklyn Krol, LCSW. “They do it because they believe they are stronger and smarter than anyone else, and it also helps them project a confident image.”
Dr. Angela Grace, PhD, MEd, BFA, BEd, a clinical psychologist, adds that narcissists will also embellish their successes and abilities in these tales in order to attract adoration from others.
3. They thrive on your praise.
Narcissists can appear to be extremely self-assured. However, according to Tawwab, the majority of people with NPD have low self-esteem. She says, “They need a lot of praise, and if you don’t offer it to them, they’ll go fishing for it.” That’s why they keep staring at you, expecting you to compliment them.
“Narcissists depend on other people — usually empathic people — to give them a sense of self-worth and make them feel strong. However, because of their low self-esteem, their egos are easily slighted, which enhances their need for compliments,” Shirin Peykar, LMFT, adds.
4. They are devoid of empathy.
One of the obvious traits of a narcissist, according to Walfish, is a lack of empathy and the inability to feel what another person is doing. Since they don’t understand the meaning of emotions, narcissists lack the ability to make you feel heard, validated, understood, or acknowledged, she claims.
Does your wife notice if you’ve had a rough day at work, if you’ve had a fight with your best friend, or if you’ve had a fight with your parents? Or do they get bored when you show your anger and sadness? According to Walfish, a narcissist’s inability to empathize, or even sympathize, is a major reason why many, if not all, narcissists’ relationships, romantic or otherwise, ultimately fail.
5. They don’t have (or haven’t had) any long-term friends.
The majority of narcissists would not have any true long-term mates. If you look further at their relationships, you’ll find that they only have casual friends, trash-talking mates, and nemeses. As a result, they will lash out if you try to spend time with your friends. They can accuse you of not spending enough time with them, make you feel bad for socializing with your friends or criticize the types of friends you have.
6. They are always picking on you.
It may have seemed to be joking at first…. But then it became monotonous or constant. All you do becomes an issue for them, from what you wear and eat to who you hang out with to what you watch on TV.
“They’ll bring you down, call you names, say hurtful one-liners to you, and tell you jokes that aren’t funny,” Peykar says. “Their aim is to lower other people’s self-esteem in order to boost their own because it makes them feel powerful.”
Furthermore, listening to what they say only serves to reinforce their behavior. “A narcissist enjoys eliciting a response,” Peykar says. This is because it shows them that they have the ability to influence another person’s emotional state.
7. They try to deceive you.
Gaslighting is an emotional abuse that is common among narcissists. Narcissists can tell outright lies, falsely accuse others, twist the facts, and ultimately deceive you.
The following are signs of gaslighting:
- You are no longer the person you once were.
- You’re more nervous and insecure than you used to be.
- You always question whether you’re being too sensitive.
- You have the impression that anything you do is incorrect.
- When things go wrong, you still blame yourself.
- You make a habit of apologizing.
- You always wonder if your reaction to your partner is acceptable.
- You rationalize your partner’s behavior.
8. They sway back and forth, describing the relationship.
There are a slew of reasons why anyone would refuse to mark your relationship. Perhaps they’re polyamorous, or you’ve decided to be friends-with-benefits, or you’re just keeping it casual. However, if your partner displays any of the other signs on this list and refuses to commit, it’s most definitely a red flag.
Some narcissists would expect you to treat them like a partner so they can benefit from the intimate, mental, and sexual benefits while keeping an eye out for superior prospects.
9. They believe they are always right and never apologize.
Fighting a narcissist seems to be futile. “With a narcissist, there is no arguing or compromising because they are always right,” Tawwab says. “A dispute would not actually be seen as a disagreement by them. They’ll just see it as them imparting some wisdom to you. You could be dating a narcissist, according to Peykar, if you feel like your partner:
- does not pay attention to you
- will be unable to comprehend you
- refuses to accept responsibility for their role in the problem
- never tries to make a deal
10. If you want to break up with them, they panic.
When you step back, a narcissist can work even harder to keep you in their lives. “They could love-bomb you at first. They’ll say what you want to hear to make you believe they’ve changed,” Peykar says. But, eventually, they’ll show you that they’ve never really changed. As a result, a lot of narcissists end up in on-again, off-again romantic relationships before they find someone new to date.
11. They lash out when you convince them you’re really finished.
They’ll make it their mission to hurt you for leaving them if you plan on ending the relationship, Peykar says. “Their pride has been so badly wounded that they are filled with anger and contempt towards someone who has ‘wronged’ them. That’s because it is the fault of others. “That includes the breakup,” she adds.
What’s the end result? To save face, they could make a smear campaign against you. Alternatively, they can begin dating someone else right away in order to make you jealous and help them heal their ego. Alternatively, they might attempt to kidnap your friends. The explanation, according to Tawwab, is that a good reputation is extremely important to them, and they will not allow someone or anything to harm it.
How to End a Relationship with a Narcissist
- Remind yourself that you are deserving of more.
- Strengthen your bonds with your sympathetic companions.
- Create a support system of friends and family who can help you remember what is true.
- Convince your partner to attend counseling.
- Make an appointment with a therapist on your own.