If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it is like being on a roller coaster. The highs can be high but the lows can be very low. The up and down nature of the relationship and other factors often lead a partner to do anything and change anything about themselves in order to please their narcissistic partner in hopes of returning the relationship to a high.
Let’s look at some characteristics of a narcissist to better understand what behaviors this person may exhibit.
Characteristics of a Narcissist based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual:
- Lacks empathy
- Grandiosity in fantasy or behavior
- Need for admiration
- Sense of self-importance
- Sense of self-entitlement
- Believes he/she is unique or “special”
- Requires excessive admiration
- Interpersonally exploitive
- Envious of others
- Displays arrogant or haughty behaviors
Now that we have a better grasp of what traits a narcissist might display let’s look at how these traits could impact a relationship?
7 Signs you’re in a Relationship with a Narcissist:
- Relationship Shift: The relationship starts off amazing and your partner seems perfect. They are loving, affectionate, attentive, charming and make you feel like you’re the most important thing. However, at some point things change and the relationship begins to shift. The narcissist can become more distant, begin devaluing their partner and strip away at their self-esteem.
- It’s All about Them: Narcissists love to talk about themselves, their accomplishments, successes, feelings, etc. If the conversation shifts off them they will find a way to interrupt and redirect the conversation back to them. Example: During an argument, you begin to explain your feelings and instead they switch it to how they feel.
- They are Never to Blame: Narcissistic individuals do not like to admit fault. Doing so would mean that they are not perfect and have flaws which would be too much for them to acknowledge. As a coping mechanism, they shift blame onto others by minimizing their partners’ feelings, arguing and/or playing the victim. They can always find some reason or way to make it the other persons fault.
- You’re Always Saying the Wrong Thing: Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be difficult because it seems like everything you do or say is wrong. You feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells. Say the wrong thing and they will criticize you relentlessly for doing so.
- Gaslighting: This is a type of manipulation used to make others question their reality. This can be done by convincing you your views or feelings are wrong or telling you that you’re overreacting. Example: You catch them flirting with someone else and confront them. Instead of apologizing they criticize you for not trusting them and for being insecure and jealous. This causes you to question your actions and apologize for not trusting them.
- Lack Empathy: Narcissists have a very difficult time empathizing with others. They can only understand how they feel and expect others to feel the same way. This makes relationships with a narcissist difficult because trying to get them to understand your feelings can seem impossible.
- Entitlement: They often feel like they are deserving of all positive outcomes only. They expect others to treat them well and for others to meet with their expectations. When others don’t, they are often very upset and will let everyone know it. Example: Although you change your behaviors or schedules to accommodate them you get no appreciation for it because they expected you to do so.
If you are in a relationship with or have exited a relationship with someone who exhibits these characteristics, give us a call.
Author’s Note: Jasleen moved and is no longer working with Healing Hearts of Indy. You can choose another therapist by going to the ‘Meet The Team’ tab on the home page or by calling (317)218-3038.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. (pp. 669-670)