“Am I dating a narcissist?” – Understanding narcissistic traits and warning signs
When it comes to toxic relationships narcissism is one of the main offenders.
Recognising narcissistic traits in the early stages of dating can be difficult as everything seems too good to be true but what follows the honeymoon period can leave you confused and heartbroken.
Despite the fact it’s highly spoken about, narcissism is not that well understood. It goes far beyond Greek mythology, which tells the tale of the character Naricussus, known for his good looks and beauty. Yet despite his beauty, he rejected romantic advances and instead fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.
The character of Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself. This quality, in turn, contributes to the definition of narcissistic personality disorder, a psychiatric condition marked by grandiosity, excessive need for attention and admiration, and an inability to empathise.
Whilst it is common for most people to be somewhat narcissistic with self-love and self-worth and in this age of selfies, likes, and comments, you can only imagine the effect narcissism has on our society.
To help you date better and create a healthy attachment let’s take a deeper look at what to look for so you can avoid falling in love with a narcissist.
In this blog will teach you everything you need to know including:
- How to tell if I am dating a narcissist
- 9 ways to spot a narcissist
- What causes someone to be narcissistic
- 7 early warning signs of a narcissist
- 5 warning signs that your boyfriend is a narcissist
- 5 warning signs of narcissism in women
- The Do’s & Don’ts of dating a narcissist
- 3 strategies for leaving a narcissist
It should be noted that there is a difference between being narcissistic and having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), being in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic tendencies can be an emotional rollercoaster. Worse yet, According to research conducted by the Cleveland Clinic for mental disorders, it’s estimated that 5% of the population have NPD!
How to tell if I am dating a narcissist?
Since the phrase is thrown around like it’s going out of fashion, I thought it would be best to start by explaining what it is…
Like most things, narcissism can be seen as a spectrum. On one end you have mild narcissistic traits, on the other you have full blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). And whilst most of us begrudgingly inhabit a few slightly narcissistic traits, NPD is actually clarified by the NCBI as a mental health condition.
Early warning signs of a narcissist include having narcissistic traits or tendencies such as:
- Being self-centred.
- Seeking attention.
- Having a grandiose sense of self-importance.
Although, it’s worth noting that Individuals can exhibit these traits to some extent without having NPD.
Whereas on the other hand, NPD is a mental health condition characterised by the following traits:
- A pervasive pattern of grandiosity
- A need for admiration
- A lack of empathy for others
- + more discussed further down below
Remember, individuals with NPD may exhibit extreme versions of narcissistic traits, and their behaviour can significantly impair their ability to function in relationships, work, and other areas of life.
But let’s dive a little deeper…
9 ways to spot a narcissist
The phrase ‘narcissist’ is frequently used in a casual manner, but are you actually aware of its significance?
See, NPD is characterised by an inflated self-esteem, an insatiable desire for praise, and an inability to empathise with others. Narcissistic Individuals often have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a fixation on fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, and a conviction that they are exceptional in some way.
So if you are wondering ‘am I dating a narcissist’, common symptoms and traits include:
- A fragile sense of self-esteem that is easily threatened by criticism or rejection
- A need for constant attention and admiration
- A lack of empathy for others
- Highly critical of others and quick to point our your flaws
- A proclivity to exploit others for one’s own gain
- A sense of entitlement
- Envious and jealous behaviour
- Gaslighting with an nnability to accept blame
- They are insecure and overly sensitive to criticism
Clearly, narcissism is all around us and distinguishing the difference between someone slightly narcissistic and those with NPD can be extremely difficult. However, to make things clearer, let’s dive deeper into the causes of NPD…
What causes someone to be narcissistic
4 theories behind the birth of narcissism
Although the precise causes of narcissism are unknown, researchers believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors may be involved. Here are some of the possible causes of NPD:
- Biology and genetics: Because NPD tends to run in families, there may be a genetic predisposition. Moreover, according to the Amen clinic there is evidence that NPD is linked to alterations in brain structure and function.
- Childhood: The FTCC claims that it is possible that NPD is caused, in part, by adverse experiences in childhood, such as abuse, neglect, or inconsistent parenting. Children are more likely to acquire NPD if they are the recipients of excessive praise, admiration, and glorification.
- Societal factors: NPD may have societal and cultural roots, such as the prevalence of attitudes and beliefs that place a premium on material achievement, authority, and social standing. Narcissism may also flourish in a society that values independence and boasting about one’s accomplishments.
- Cognitive factors: Several researchers have hypothesised that patients with NPD have a cognitive bias towards self-aggrandizing interpretations of circumstances, which would be influenced by both cognitive and personality characteristics. Additionally, those with low self-esteem and low agreeableness may be at a higher risk for developing NPD.
With this newfound understanding, you’ll be better able to identify the following warning signs and avoid toxic people who exhibit these characteristics.
7 early warning signs of a narcissist
Narcissism can have a significant impact on relationships. If you’re dating someone who has NPD, you should be aware of the warning signs and red flags that could indicate a toxic relationship.
The first sign is noticing the pattern of abuse. This narcissistic cycle of abuse is one of the most concerning aspects of NPD in relationships, and it usually has four stages:
If you have ever had a whirlwind romance with someone who seemed too good to be true and then suddenly turned toxic chances are, you experienced this cycle of abuse…
Maybe they initially showered you with love, attention, and gifts, making you feel like the most important person on the planet. But, as time passed, their behaviour began to shift. They became excessively critical, manipulative, and emotionally abusive, leaving you confused and hurt.
If you have experienced this, you have seen the early warning signs of a narcissist firsthand…
During the idealisation stage, the narcissistic partner frequently appears to be the ideal partner. In every way, they appear charming, charismatic, and flawless. However, as the relationship develops, they begin to devalue and criticise their partner making them feel insecure and worthless. A narcissist will have you second-guessing yourself as they gaslight you which makes you question yourself into believing it might be you with the problem.
Eventually, the narcissist may abandon or threaten to abandon the partner, leaving them confused, hurt, and broken. In some cases, they may even attempt to re-enter the relationship by promising to change or by making false apologies.
However, on top of the abuse cycle, here are the:
7 common traits of a narcissist:
- A lack of empathy
- Self-absorbed and preoccupied with their own wants and needs, often at the expense of others.
- They may also have grandiose ideas about their own self-importance, even if they lack the credentials to back it up.
- They believe they are superior to others and thus only associate with those who they believe are also superior.
- They have a sense of entitlement to get whatever they want, regardless of who gets hurt or what lies are told along the way.
- They live in a fantasy world that supports their grandiose illusions, and they have glorified stories of their beauty, success, power, and brilliance.
- Gaslighting and narcissism go hand in hand. A narcissist will gaslight you, project the blame onto you and have you believing everything is your fault.
Since narcissists have an insatiable desire to be admired and praised, they can become sulky and aggressive whenever the attention is not on them. Plus, they will have no shame in using and manipulating people to get what they want because, after all, they believe it is their entitlement to get what they want.
The worst part is that if they are unfaithful in a relationship, they will manipulate the situation to make themselves appear as the victim. All because of their inability to fully comprehend another person’s feelings.
Clearly, this broad spectrum can be confusing and challenging. So if you are still wondering:
‘Am I dating a narcissist?’
Then let’s see how it differs for each gender…
5 warning signs that your boyfriend is a narcissist
While both sexes can exhibit similar characteristics, there are some significant differences in how narcissism affects men and women. Consequently, the early warning signs for both differ massively…
- Narcissistic men may feel they have a right to be in charge, admired, and showered with praise. In their arrogance, they may think they deserve special treatment.
- Narcissistic males may have difficulty empathising with and caring about the emotions of those around them. It’s possible they’re too wrapped up in themselves to notice when their partner or those around them are suffering.
- Narcissistic men could have an inflated opinion of themselves. Guys with this trait may overstate their abilities or accomplishments and constantly seek approval and praise from others around them.
- It’s not uncommon for narcissistic men to be hostile or aggressive in their relationships. They could get defensive or upset when their activities are criticised, and they might act out physically if they feel threatened.
- Narcissistic guys may be unable to admit when they are wrong. They could shift the blame or offer excuses when questioned about their actions plus, they might get defensive or dismissive when challenged about their conduct.
5 warning signs of narcissism in women
Although lots of different narcissistic traits appear in both genders, the following ones can be an early warning sign that your girlfriend is a narcissist:
- A narcissistic lady may spend hours of each day perfecting her physical appearance with the help of cosmetics, hairstyling, and the latest fashions. It’s possible that she’s fixated with looking her best at all times, which means she’s constantly thinking about how to improve her appearance.
- A narcissistic woman’s need for approval and praise from others may drive her to extremes. She may have a tendency to speak over others, interrupt them, and ignore their opinions.
- A narcissistic female may utilise her attractiveness and charisma to get her way. She might lie, manipulate, exaggerate, or otherwise deceive others to acquire what she wants.
- Narcissistic women are prone to envy and jealousy, especially when they see other women as more beautiful, successful, or well-liked than themselves. She could develop feelings of envy and resentment towards them as a result of their success.
- They play the martyr or victim and everything they have experienced is more painful, harder and they have suffered more.
It is important to note that not all men and women who have narcissistic traits will exhibit these behaviours, and there is a wide range of narcissistic behaviour that can affect people of any gender. Understanding the differences between narcissistic men and narcissistic women, on the other hand, can help us better understand and address the specific challenges that each gender may face when dealing with this personality disorder.
Despite the numerous early warning signs of a narcissist, a serious lack of empathy is the most detrimental sign. Not because you won’t have a shoulder to cry on but because no matter how hard you try to communicate your point and feelings, they will never understand…
You could waste endless energy just because they can’t be held accountable for doing anything wrong. In fact, because no one can match their arrogance, they frequently intimidate and belittle others. Plus, they cannot be criticised because they’ll just retaliate in anger and become extremely irritable while also projecting everything else back onto you as if it were your fault!
So if you can’t criticise their behaviour without the risk of retaliation, what can you do if you are dating a narcissist?
The Do’s & Don’ts of dating a narcissist
Dealing with someone who suffers from Narcissism can be extremely challenging and confusing. However, In order to better handle your relationship, please take into account the following advice:
- Realise that your partner’s NPD is the result of a diagnosable medical condition and not your own failings.
- Make sure you and your partner have mutually agreed upon limits. Keep your cool and don’t let their actions upset you.
- If you need assistance navigating the relationship, talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist.
- You should encourage your partner to contact a doctor if they are experiencing mental health issues. Although no treatment exists to eliminate all of NPD symptoms, counselling can help people cope with the condition.
- Excessively praise your partner as it can over inflate their already inflated ego. Acknowledgements must be grounded in reality and negative behaviours cannot be ignored.
- Rationalise your partner’s actions or attribute them to your own shortcomings.
- Let your partner deceive or mislead you. Breaking up with someone is an option if they repeatedly disregard your boundaries and refuse to get help.
So, If you or someone you know is currently in a relationship with someone who has NPD, know that you are not alone. Regardless of the situation, maintaining your own mental and emotional well-being should always be your top priority in any relationship.
With that in mind, sometimes an exit plan is the only way out. However, it has to be done strategically in order to keep yourself safe, so consider the following points before calling it a day…
3 strategies for leaving a narcissist
Clearly NPD makes it difficult, if not dangerous, to end a connection with the other person. When breaking up with a narcissist, here are some of the most effective ways to safeguard your mental and physical health:
1. Preparing to leave safely:
- Take precautions before you depart. Get a restraining order or other form of legal protection if you feel threatened.
- Start collecting evidence of the narcissist’s abusive actions by taking screenshots of their texts, emails, and social media posts.
- Make sure you have a secure location to stay and that your loved ones, pets, important documents and valuables are all taken care of.
2. Creating a support system:
- Get in touch with loved ones who can comfort you during this difficult time.
- Become involved with a group for those who have overcome narcissistic abuse.
- If you need help processing your feelings and recovering from the relationship, you could contact a therapist who specialises in trauma or abuse.
3. When in Doubt, Seek Expert Advice:
- You can’t count on a narcissist to change their ways or accept responsibility for their acts, therefore you should encourage them to consult a therapist.
- Consider getting some counselling to help you manage your emotions and improve your self-esteem.
- If you are co-parenting, a family therapist can help you and the narcissist set boundaries and learn to communicate effectively.
- It’s important to keep in mind that breaking up with a narcissist isn’t impossible, despite how difficult it may be. Make sure your mental and physical well-being comes first, and get the aid you need to move on from the relationship.
To summarise, being in a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be a difficult experience to say the least. However, this blog has covered everything from the causes of NPD to the early warning signs so you never have to wonder ‘am I dating a narcissist?’. Remember, it is critical to understand the narcissistic cycle of abuse whilst acknowledging the fact that NPD sufferers seriously lack empathy. Also, it is vital to protect yourself and your emotional well-being by understanding how to handle a relationship with a narcissist. If you need assistance navigating a relationship with someone who has NPD or just need some tools to move forward, our matchmaking service is here to help. We provide a supportive and safe environment to assist you in finding the right partner. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.
WISHING YOU LOVE, ALWAYS,
Louanne Ward x