Being in a relationship is all about give and take, but if you feel you’re giving more than your partner, there may be something wrong. In most cases, you’ll be able to talk it out and find a way forward. In some cases though, you may actually be dating a narcissist.
How can you know you’re in a relationship with a narcissist? There are some key signs to look out for. Look for the following clues, so you can determine what you want to do next.
What Is a Narcissist?
Firstly, you need to understand what narcissism is. You’ll probably have heard the term before, usually about people who like to take care of the way they look, or like to take a lot of selfies. True narcissism is actually a personality disorder as recognised by mental health professionals. A narcissist will lack empathy of others, have a higher than average sense of importance, and a need for attention and admiration. There are 9 official criteria to be diagnosed with the disorder:
- A sense of entitlement
- Lack of empathy for others
- An inflated sense of self importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, and beauty
- The belief that they’re unique and can only be understood by high status people
- Envy of others, or the belief that others are envious of them
- Arrogant and haughty attitudes
- Need for excessive admiration
- Exploitative behavior
Be aware that to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), you only need to meet 5 of these criteria.
Now you know what a narcissist is, you can look for clues in your partner’s behavior. Here’s how you can understand if your partner is a narcissist.
They Display A Lack Of Empathy
This is one of the most classic signs of narcissism. When you have a bad day, will they do their best to listen to you and try to help you feel better? Or, when you tell them about that bad day at work, do they get impatient, annoyed, or even make you feel bad for bringing it up?
A narcissist is unable to empathize with anything that you’re going through. At best, they may just express boredom when you try to talk to them. They can understand any emotions that aren’t their own, which is why many of their relationships fail over time.
They’re Insistent That They’re Always Right
In every relationship, there needs to be compromise. You will always fight to some degree, but in healthy relationships you’ll be able to work it out. Do you feel that your partner will never try to see your side of the argument, and insists that they’re always right? That’s a sign they may be a narcissist.
If you find yourself avoiding arguments with your partner and placating them, that’s a warning sign. When you do argue, you find they won’t try to understand you, compromise, or even listen to you, because they believe they’re in the right.
They Gaslight You
You may have heard the term ‘gaslighting’ in the last few years, and it’s a term that’s all to familiar to those with narcissist partners. Gaslighting is the practice of manipulating someone, making you doubt yourself and maintaining their own superiority.
For example, you may find your partner will make you feel less secure in your own memories of the relationship, that you’re always wrong, and that you need to apologise for things, even if they aren’t your fault.
If you’re experiencing this, be aware that it is a form of emotional abuse. It’s a red flag that you mustn’t ignore.
They Only Want To Talk About Themselves
Does your partner love to talk about themselves and the great things they’ve done? It’s our human nature to want to brag about the good things we’ve achieved, but with narcissists, they take it up to 11. All they want to talk about is themselves, and how great they are.
Because they’re so busy building themselves up, they’re too busy to talk about you. If you try to talk about yourself, and they keep bringing the conversation back to themselves, that’s a warning sign.
They Were Super Charming At First
When you first met your partner, they were incredibly charming, and now you’re wondering if you’re imagining all the warning signs you’re seeing. This is a process termed as ‘love bombing’ by experts. When they’re first courting you, they believe they should be with someone as special as themselves. As such, they tell you how amazing you are as they want you to be on the same pedestal as them.
This is why it’s so painful when you do something that goes against this imaginary idea of you they have. As soon as you ‘ruin’ it, they will turn on you.
They Panic And Lash Out If You Try To Leave
Maybe you’ve tried to leave your partner before. When this happened, they panicked and started to love bomb you. They may have been so convincing that you thought they’d genuinely changed, and decided to give it another go.
If you decide you’re done for good, they will lash out. You deciding to leave goes against everything they believe about themselves, The breakup has to be your fault, rather than their own. As such, they may bad mouth you to others, try to steal your friends, or instantly start dating someone else. Their good reputation means more to them than your feelings.
If you want to leave, remember that you cannot change them. If they offer change, remember it’s not going to happen. Build up a support network of friends and family, and then cut ties. They will do their best to contact you and make you come back, but resist temptation by blocking them. Finally, consider therapy to process the relationship and find a way forward.
If you feel your partner is displaying narcissist tendencies, then you’ll find the relationship painful and unfulfilling. Use this guide to see if your partner fits the mold, and then find a way out.