5 Ways to Spot Vulnerable Narcissistic Abuse in a Romantic Relationship

Hey Optimist Minds!

Do you and your partner struggle to have a smooth relationship? Are some days full of love and affection while other days packed with ugly fights? You might be in an abusive or toxic relationship. But it can be hard to recognise this, especially if you’re a survivor of vulnerable narcissistic abuse.

This kind of abuse is highly insidious, so you don’t realise when you’re going through it. A prominent feature of vulnerable narcissistic abuse is that the victim constantly feels like the perpetrator. The intense guilt and shame of being stuck in that situation prevent you from identifying the abuse.

This video will talk about how to spot if your partner is putting you through vulnerable narcissistic abuse. Make sure that you only use this information for educational purposes and not to diagnose a narcissist. 

If you find that you’ve been experiencing narcissistic abuse, we recommend that you consult a mental health professional to understand it better.

Here are five ways to spot vulnerable narcissistic abuse in a romantic relationship.

Number One

Notice if they have a mask on in front of others.

Does your partner treat you differently if people are watching? Do they act all sweet and affectionate in public but become cold and resentful back at home?

A vulnerable narcissist cares a lot about how the outside world sees them. So they will invest in appearances and play the role of a doting partner when you have an audience. Even if you’ve just fought, they’ll try to keep the friction a secret from others.

Once they’re sure no one is watching, they’ll take off the mask and show you their true nature. At home, they might yell, mock, insult, or even punish you if they’re upset with you. However, if visitors show up, they’ll quickly put on the sheepskin again and pretend they’re not a wolf.

Number Two

Keep a record of who gets blamed for each fight.

After a fight, is it you who usually ends up apologising? No matter what happens, are you made to feel like it’s entirely your fault?

Deflection and projection are behaviours common to all types of narcissism, but vulnerable narcissism makes a person more sensitive and insecure. They read too much into things and see criticism even when it’s absent. In general, a narcissist will never take accountability for their behaviour. Instead, they will always find something or someone else to blame.

In romantic relationships, the narcissists will accuse the partner of causing it whenever there is a conflict. They may say something like, “if you could only get it right, we wouldn’t fight so much”, or “why do you keep making me do this?” 

It’s unfair to make such statements as the onus for making a relationship work is never on one partner alone. Moreover, we’re each responsible for our own choices and feelings. Vulnerable narcissistic abuse leaves the victim feeling guilty for things that they have no control over.

Number Three

Check if they have a continually negative perspective for life.

Is your partner constantly focussing on disaster, pain, suffering or grief? Does their excessive negativity seem draining or exhausting?

As compared to grandiose narcissists, the vulnerable kind are a lot more insecure and unsure of themselves. They’re likely to feel isolated from the rest of the world and portray themselves as a victim. Despite your best efforts to cheer them up, they quickly fall into an endless loop of negative thoughts.

Your partner might spend so much time thinking this way that they start believing untrue things. They may be paranoid that others are trying to sabotage them or not care about them. 

More often than not, vulnerable narcissists are shy or reclusive and prefer being on their own. As your partner, they might expect you to live like a hermit as well.

Number Four

See if they’re able to let go and forgive.

Do you sometimes feel like, deep down, your partner hates you for something that happened a long time ago? Does your partner often weaponise irrelevant things from the past?

Another red flag that your partner might be a vulnerable narcissist is a resentful and vindictive nature. You might have done plenty to apologise and compensate for something in the past that had upset them.

It’s highly possible that the thing you did was utterly unintentional and you had no idea they would be so hurt by it. Despite that, you might have gone out of your way to make it up to them. However, regardless of your efforts, your partner is unable to forgive you. Instead, they remind you of it every time they want to make you feel guilty.

Number Five

Observe whether they’re excessively jealous and controlling.

Does your partner think you’re cheating on them even if they have no reason to think so? For example, do they try to limit who you can talk to or spend time with?

Typically, a vulnerable narcissist is convinced that their partner will abandon them. So even if you’ve always been sincere and loyal to them, they can be absolutely sure that you’ll leave them. 

If they feel threatened by another person, they might accuse them of flirting with you or looking at you in the wrong way. Once this happens, it doesn’t matter how much evidence and justifications you present to them. They’ll find it hard to believe that you wouldn’t do that to them.

Did the situations we discussed seem familiar to you? Do you tend to find yourself in these positions? If yes, then it’s likely that you’ve been subjected to vulnerable narcissistic abuse. It’s best to seek professional help to learn what you can do about it.

A link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below.

Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.