ad collaborative post // Self-confidence and a lust for life can be very attractive qualities in a person, but what happens when these things go too far? At what point do you begin to suspect that your charming, daring and confident partner might actually be a textbook narcissist? And more importantly, how can you tell?
First things first – what is a narcissist? If you’re wondering how to spot a narcissist, you can look for someone who:
- Has a bloated ego
- Constantly needs to be the centre of attention
- Finds it hard to feel empathy
- Struggles to create meaningful relationships with others
Needless to say, being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist can be a bit of a challenge.
Many of us assume we can spot a narcissist a mile off – but is anything in life really that simple? Narcissists can hide in plain sight without you ever knowing.
So, how do you find out if your partner is a narcissist? It’s a word often bandied around, but rarely truly understood. We’ve spent years working with narcissists, while also counseling their significant others. To help you understand whether you’re dating someone with narcissistic personality disorder, you can look at these 7 character traits:
They act superior to other people
This can be anything from looking down on other people to showing open disdain for people they don’t believe are on their “level” – not to be confused with self-confidence, narcissism is usually unfounded and comes from an inner belief that they are better than everyone else, without exception.
If you are living with a narcissist, this mindset might get to you and grind you down. You might begin to feel that they’re right, and that you’re ‘less than’. But never forget, everyone has worth, and nobody is innately superior to anyone else.
They constantly need to be in control
Whether it’s deciding what to eat or choosing who you can go out with, a narcissist will want to micro-control every aspect of your life to suit their needs. So, if you’re noticing that your partner is trying to make every single decision for you, you could well be dating a narcissist.
Autonomy is one of the three basic psychological needs. A narcissist can strip you of that, leaving you without any control, any shred of power or any real sense of self. Never forget that you are an individual, and your thoughts, feelings and decisions matter.
They don’t respect your boundaries
This point is two-fold; either they don’t respect your boundaries, or they simply don’t acknowledge them. Either way, if your partner is constantly overstepping the mark and making you feel uncomfortable, you might want to rethink your relationship.
As Psychology Today points out, ‘No’ is the one word no narcissist wants to hear, so they might even perceive your boundaries as a challenge. Having boundaries is important, so make sure that yours are acknowledged and respected.
They lack empathy
If your partner struggles to empathise with you or anyone else, or they pull away from you when you need them to be by your side, it’s a clear sign that they are a narcissist.
It’s common for narcissists not to understand, or even care, what other people might be going through, as the only person who matters is themselves. Not only is this type of behaviour damaging to a relationship, but it also means that they could turn out to be a somewhat dangerous person, as they won’t consider how their actions could damage other people’s lives.
They’re never wrong
No matter what the argument or discussion is, a narcissist is never wrong, and they won’t let things lie until they’ve proved they are right – or so they think.
The best way to tackle this type of behaviour is to not argue with them as there is no way you can win. You could tell them water is wet, and the grass is green, but they will never admit defeat if it goes against what they believe to be true.
Although these types of people can be mildly entertaining in a bar for an hour or so, trying to have a meaningful relationship with someone who can never be wrong will never end well. So, if you notice this type of behaviour in your partner, you might want to weigh up your options.
They gaslight you
Narcissists love to make you feel like you’re the one who is “crazy” or being unreasonable as it allows them to exert control over you and make it appear that you are out of touch with reality. However, gaslighting is a very manipulative type of behaviour and can lead to drastic consequences, including increased anxiety, paranoia and depression.
If you feel like you’re being gaslighted, it’s vital that you nip it in the bud immediately and let whoever is trying to do it to you that you won’t stand for it. This isn’t just about saving your relationship; it’s about looking after your mental well-being.
They act aggressive if you threaten to leave
If you become sick and tired of someone’s narcissistic tendencies and threaten to walk away, they will put out all the stops to stop you from going. They don’t want to lose control over you – they’ll even tell you everything you want to hear to try and claw you back.
So, if you think you might be with a narcissist and want out, expect this sort of behaviour to occur.
They might even go so far as to lash out and become aggressive if they feel like you won’t be coming back, so don’t be surprised if you receive a torrent of abuse after you leave.
What to do next
If some of these points relate to your partner and you feel that you’re with a narcissist, it’s time to focus on yourself. It might be time to move on for the sake of your mental well-being.
About the Author: Amy Launder is an intersubjective psychotherapist with The Awareness Centre. Amy works with a variety of clients covering issues including low self-esteem, abuse, anxiety and depression.