How to know you are dating a narcissist
Always keep in mind that narcissists can be either men or women, this is not mutually exclusive to a particular gender.
Have you found yourself in a relationship with someone who no longer understands you? Someone who you no longer understand? Was the relationship too good to be true in the beginning? A prince in shining armour or a princess you have always dreamed of, that later turned into a critical, demeaning and cruel individual?
Does everything seem to be about him or her?
Do you feel like your love life is an emotional rollercoaster filled with ups and downs and never with the feeling of stability and tranquillity? Do you find yourself in a repetitive cycle of loving someone who doesn’t love you the same, or they come across like Dr. Jekyll and Mr/Mrs Hyde?
Have you found that the relationship has impacted you so greatly that you no longer recognise the person who you once were? Is the sexy, confident, happy, outgoing individual nowhere to be found?
If you answer yes to most of these questions then it is more than likely that you are dating a narcissist who has impacted you greatly.
There are a number of things to look out for if you are in a relationship with a narcissist:
1. Does he/she blow hot and cold? Does he/she become distant and silent only to go back to their old ways and showering you with lots of attention?
2. Does their erratic behaviour leave you wondering if they have someone else, and does your gut feeling tell you they cannot be trusted?
3. Are your needs met with insensitivity, your input unappreciated, or your accomplishments no matter how big or small always left unacknowledged? Does your giving, caring, kindness and thoughtfulness always go unappreciated and unrecognised? Does your life feel uninteresting in your partner’s eyes?
4. Can you never do anything right in their eyes, and are you constantly made to feel guilty when you have clearly done nothing wrong?
5. Do you ever feel that you are in love with someone constantly giving you mixed signals and never knowing where you stand from one minute to the next?
6. Were you placed on a pedestal only to be stripped naked to your core with no reason or warning? Were you seduced by their overly caring, intensely tentative and seducingly addictive manner of containing you, only later to discover that your needs are never met with any empathy or care?
7. Have you grown into someone who constantly walks around on tender hooks with anxiety and worry not to rock the boat, always wondering what you say and do next will trigger the cycle you have become stuck in?
You need to ask yourself the question… Am I in a relationship with a narcissist?
Narcissism is a word that is used too frequently nowadays, often in the vein of attempting to describe a partner who presents with erratic behaviour usually in how they relate to us. But what is a true narcissist…
In my experience, narcissists are individuals who need perfect mirroring, perfect stroking of their ego, perfect responses. They need constant control and this can manifest itself in controlling you too. Whenever they are injured ‘emotionally’ or insulted, they will typically withdraw or isolate themselves very seldom allowing for a proper discussion to develop and resolve the situation. They often do not realise that their withdrawal from the situation evokes anxieties (often unconscious) in others, especially in significant other relationships.
Narcissists are driven by the need to be liked, desired, and appreciated. They isolate themselves emotionally or physically and constantly fear the loss of ‘specialness’. Easily injured or outraged when not properly understood and are dominated by guilt and self-hatred coupled with idealized and omnipotent fantasies.
Preoccupied with a loss of self-regard, while having an over investment in self, and will do anything to preserve a sense of specialness. This prompts them to prove themselves by isolation from others and concentration on perfection, power and omnipotence. This withdrawal is accompanied by a desperate need to be desired and appreciated. They can become easily injured, insulted and outraged when their partner does not properly mirror or understand and appease them.
The only way in which the narcissist can be healed is if they are skilfully guided away from the guilt, exhibitionism and arrogance and leading them towards a resurgence of natural curiosity.
There are two central issues for the narcissist:
1. They have an inner child who is constantly searching for a sense of a missing entitlement in life.
2. They seek out others to confirm and justify their exaggerated ‘entitlement’ fantasies and distortions that the world is deeply indebted to them e.g. “why should I try getting a measly bar job? You know how talented I am! I’m going to be an actor or actress!
Narcissists’ in “love” are highly invested on an emotional level in someone who has qualities that they wish to have or had and no longer poses (beauty, power, organization, sense of self, ability to be alone). The narcissist then tries to own/possess these qualities through envy. They seek out love relationships with someone who will often show qualities that they are lacking in themselves.
Although painful, being with a narcissist can also be highly charged on an erotic level: because of their tendency to stir up envy and greed in others due to withholding from their partners, combined with charm to lure their partners back into the so-called “loving” relationship. This leaves partners of narcissists’ confused and feeling abandoned. The highs can be very high and the lows can be very low, leaving the person constantly in a state of questioning themselves.
Always keep in mind that in “Love” relationships they tend to distort and misperceive the good intentions of others. Therefore the best approach to a narcissist is containing them so that they can make good use of perceptions and experiences, and to take some control over their own destinies.
If this is the path you wish to take with your narcissistic partner, be warned that this will more often than not lead to a difficult and tiresome journey which will render you feeling more helpless and burnt-out. If you recognise that you are dating a true narcissist and they will not see a therapist to assist them in understanding the way in which they relate with you, find a therapist for yourself to help you strengthen yourself to leave!
It is truly unfortunate in these circumstances to take such a drastic stance and recommend leaving, however from my extensive experience with narcissistic personality disorders it takes a truly skilled therapist to uncover the depths of the narcissist and assist them in the healing process—but this is only if they want to!
This is by no means an issue that cannot be resolved, however it will take time, patience, more effort than the “normal” person is willing to provide.