We’ve all had bad relationships but sometimes there’s much more to it than just a poor fit between two people. Sometimes the relationship can be toxic, and even just being around the person can be toxic, without you realizing it until it’s too late. A relationship with a narcissist can turn into one of abuse and once the signs of abuse are there, many victims are so deep into it, it’s hard to see a way out. A narcissistic abuser will make their victims feel like everything is their fault, so they may not even realize they are in an abusive relationship. This allows the cycle of abuse to continue.
We’re seeing the word “narcissist” tossed around a lot more here lately, but do you know what it really means? How would you know if you were dating someone like this? The signs may not be obvious as you think. Sometimes the signs are very subtle and if you don’t know how to look for them, they’ll go completely unnoticed.
The Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” This alternate persona to the real self often comes across as grandiose, “above others,” self-absorbed, and highly conceited.
Still, just being high on one’s self doesn’t make one a narcissist. There’s more to it than that.
Here are eight warning signs you are dating a narcissist:
- Lack of reliability – A good way to spot a narcissist is to match their actions to their words. Are they all talk with no follow-through? Do they regularly make promises they can’t keep? The lack of dependability might be emotionally as well. Does he promise to be there for you always and then bail every time you need him? Lack of reliability is a big sign of a possible narcissist.
- They seek instant gratification – Many narcissists are highly self-centered and self-absorbed. They want what they want and they want it NOW. They truly believe they are entitled to all the things they want. They are very prone to instant gratification. If the person you’re dating doesn’t like when you say “no” or “let me think about it”, or gets angry or frustrated when they don’t get what they want right away (socially, sexually, or inter-personally), it might be a red flag.
- They love to talk about themselves – They go on and one about themselves. We’re not talking about simple get-to-know-you conversation – this SHOULD take place while dating. A pathological narcissist, however, loves to talk about themselves, usually in grandiose and exaggerated ways. Simply put, they take bragging to a whole new level. They may also put others down to show their own superiority, and show excessive focus on their own personal issues and concerns. Basically, it’s all about them, all the time. No one can best them, no one knows x, y, z subject like them.
- They are a manipulator – Everyone manipulates to some extent, even without meaning to but to a narcissist, manipulation is their greatest tool. If the person you are dating is using others to meet unreasonable self-serving needs, to cover up their own perceived inadequacies or flaws, or to fulfill unrealized ambitions, this is a problem. A narcissist will often date you just for what they get from you – status symbol, financial benefits, etc.
- Constantly puts others down – A huge red flag of a narcissist is that they will constantly put others down. They do this often as a way of boosting themselves up. This helps them feel and appear superior. They may constantly point out the misgivings of others, even when there is no reason to do so. They will try to disparage or put down the accomplishments of others as well, including you. They may talk negatively about their family, their co-workers, former or current colleagues, and more. They might talk about how their friends are clueless or incompetent, or put down on how others look and dress.
- They have problems with authority – We’re talking major issues with authority here. They think they are above the law, may think they don’t have to pay taxes, or obey traffic laws, and they think they know better than anyone, including people in a position of power. They may not believe their own diagnoses because they think they know better than the doctors, for example. They may regularly try to challenge authority or prove they are above the rules that everyone else must follow.
- They think your emotions are a sign of weakness – If you try to explain to the narcissist how you feel about something inconsiderate they’ve done, they may blame you. Even worse, they say your emotions are a sign of weakness. If you’re sad about a loss, you should “get over it”. Many narcissists feel emotions very shallowly and find them a weakness. They will see it as a flaw in you as well.
- They are full of drama – It will seem like everything around them is one big stage where they are the center of attention. Drama, drama, everywhere! They will always be the hero in their own stories and they will often exaggerate or even outright lie about details and facts, to present themselves as the hero. It’s part of a dynamic called “narcissistic supply”. They seek excitement and drama in their lives to help give them adoration and notoriety. You will never be more than just a side player in their game of life.
Keep in mind that while we see this word being tossed around a lot lately, someone with true narcissistic personality disorder has a mental disorder. They’re not just “full of themselves”; they take it to the point of obsession, can be charmingly manipulative, and could have a sociopathic lack of empathy toward others. They can be dangerous, and they definitely do not make good partners. Get out while you can!