Contrary to popular belief, narcissists are neither obnoxious nor unpleasant to be around. If anything, their negative traits make themselves obvious long after they have charmed their way into someone’s heart (and are in the process of breaking it apart). Are you dating a narcissist? We break it down here:
What is a narcissist?
Before we begin, it’s pertinent to explore who actually falls under this category. Not everyone who is shallow, superficial, or mean translates into a narcissist. There are several more nuances to understand if you are dating a narcissist or not.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is actually, much like other similar conditions, on a spectrum. It ranges from people who are mildly narcissistic to those who are full-blown malignant in their conduct. Here are the key points:
- They are manipulative, often arguing, emotionally blackmailing, or downright snowballing their partners into doing what they want.
- They think the sun shines out of their behind. Everything they say, think, or do is gospel to them. And they expect you to see them the same way. No such courtesy is extended to you, the partner.
- They lack empathy for most people, and they pretend they are in some special club that’s above most others.
- They can dish it, but they can’t take it. If you hurt their self-esteem, even after they have repeatedly attacked yours, it results in tantrums and fits and more emotional abuse.
- Are you dating a narcissist? Look out for the lies. They often gaslight you into thinking you are wrong.
- They need constant verbal and physical displays confirming their superiority to their partner, and do not reciprocate.
Are you dating a narcissist? Red flags
- They make claims and promises they have no intention of following through with. Future faking is a very real issue that narcissistic partners bring to the table, and if you aren’t careful, you can get swept away by their charm only to realise you ended up in a swamp instead of a lake.
- Your feelings are less important than their reputation. Having an argument or tussle in public, around people they don’t know, results in them becoming overly agitated or angry. Their outward façade must not be disturbed, no matter the cost.
- They manipulate, manipulate, manipulate. Gaslighting, emotional blackmail, piling on the guilt, and so much more are common behaviours for narcissists to get what they want. So if you find yourself asking if you are dating a narcissist, start by seeing how often you end up doing things that you don’t want to, but they do. And then measure how often you are on the receiving end (the score will make it obvious).
- Once you were perfect, now you’re broken. Narcissists draw people in with their charm and adulation. Once they get bored, all the praise turns into toxicity and is replaced by every single thing they believe is wrong with you. From how you look, to your job, to your hobbies—a switch flips. And because the narc love bombed so heavily at the start, in most cases, a partner is left wondering if there is some truth to what they’re being told. Victims continue to chase the faux warmth and affection they once had, giving the narcissist even more control.
- A truly grotesque tell is how they do things that upset you, despite knowing that they do. Clear communication on boundaries is met with resistance and mocking. They lack empathy to a great extent, so watch out for situations where you may need them emotionally and see how available they are. A narcissist sees their own pain as excruciating and someone else’s pain as dramatic.
- Their other relationships are weak too. You aren’t the only person a narcissist is toying with; their behaviour extends beyond romantic partners. So if you’re with someone who seems to have nothing to do with their family, and has very few friends, you might want to take a step back and rethink things. Of course, like a partner, they are able to gather friends around too. But eventually the façade comes apart and either people set boundaries that cause the narc to step back or their own behaviour pushes people to cut them off.
So this is our advice. Are you dating a narcissist? Or is your partner just difficult? Either way, look for stability in relationships.