8 signs you're dating a narcissist
At first, it seemed like the perfect romance. He took you on moonlit walks along the beach, treated you to candle-lit dinners, and surprised you with flowers and expensive jewelry. He seemed madly in love with you and regularly told you how beautiful you looked. The relationship progressed quickly, and soon he began to talk about marriage.
Then, suddenly, as soon as you believed you had found the perfect husband, he began to back away. He called you less often and made up excuses about why he couldn't see you. He no longer spoke about a future together, and soon he was out the door.
When you are dating a narcissist, it can be intoxicating and exciting at first. You may allow yourself to get swept away by his confidence and charisma. But, after your partner achieves his goal of enacting the perfect couple and the novelty of courtship wears off, he begins to feel bored and, unwilling to commit, backs out of the relationship.
If your narcissistic partner does not leave you, he may begin to reveal his other, less-idyllic side. You will likely begin to realize he cares more about himself than about you. As long as you feed his ego, he is good-natured, but as soon as you embarrass him, he may discard you, or lash out in rage.
Either way, a narcissistic relationship is doomed to fail, or at least leave you unhappy with a partner who will manipulate you and remain callous to your pain.
What is narcissistic personality disorder?
Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder has an exaggerated sense of self-importance, an unhealthy need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Yet, behind their mask of arrogance, narcissists suffer from fragile self-esteem and can feel threatened by the smallest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder tends to create problems in several areas of life, including family, work, school, and relationships. People with this disorder often have significant interpersonal conflicts and difficulty regulating emotions and behavior.
Narcissists thrive on attention and recognition and may become preoccupied with fantasies of success and power.
The problem is, it can sometimes be difficult to discern the difference between true narcissistic personality disorder and someone who simply has a lot of self-confidence.
You may be wondering:
How can I tell if I am dating a narcissist?
If you are in love with someone who seems to care more about himself than you or the relationship, here are eight signs that you could be dealing with a narcissist.
- You feel you are being used or manipulated. A narcissist's number one priority is himself. This means narcissists will do whatever it takes to get what they want and fuel their ego, even if this means using you for their gain.
- They always turn the conversation onto themselves. Everyone likes talking about themselves, but narcissists take this to the extreme. For instance, if a friend starts telling a narcissist about her breakup, instead of empathizing, the narcissist will start talking about his past relationships. If you tell him about a project you initiated at work, instead of asking you more about the project, he will bring up one of his business successes. Regardless of the topic of conversation, narcissists will always find a way to turn the conversation onto themselves.
- They do not demonstrate empathy. The classic symptom of narcissism is a lack of empathy. Narcissists are incapable of putting themselves in someone else's shoes. To discern whether you partner can empathize, ask yourself: when I share my struggles with him, does he support me? If the answer is no, this is a big red flag that your partner could be lacking in empathy.
- They are overly sensitive to criticism. Nobody likes being criticized, but narcissists fly off the handle at the slightest hint of criticism. When criticized, they usually respond by fighting or giving you the cold shoulder. Nothing is ever their fault. A narcissist is not likely to apologize because he believes he can do nothing wrong.
- Your partner feels entitled to everything. If you are dating a narcissist, your partner may feel he is superior to others, and, therefore, deserving of special favors and treatment. If you do not feed his inflated self-image, he may become angry and hostile.
- They appear charming and romantic...at first! Narcissists often appear enticing and attractive during the initial stages of the relationship, while they are still trying to win you over. Narcissists will use flattery, charisma, and seduction to get your attention and make you feel special. But, ultimately, the narcissist is not really interested in you; his wooing is merely a tactic to make you give him what he wants.
- They have grandiose visions of themselves. Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and often think of themselves as a hero. If you are dating a narcissist, your partner may believe you could not live without him.
- They are obsessed with their appearance. A narcissist may spend hours a week at the gym or take an excessive amount of selfies. In an attempt to feel good about themselves, narcissists try to impress others with their appearance. This can manifest itself physically, socially, academically, sexually, or financially.
I'm dating a narcissist... now what?
If you suspect you are dating a narcissist, you can develop strategies to cope with narcissistic behavior and protect yourself from pain and emotional abuse. In some cases, psychotherapy may help your partner improve his narcissistic behavior. In other more severe cases of narcissistic personality disorder, the healthiest option may be to leave the relationship.
If you need help navigating a narcissistic relationship, our therapists can help you assess the severity of the case and figure out the best way to move forward.
Contact one of our therapists today to learn more about how they can help or to learn more about online therapy.