Narcissism Relationships (A comprehensive guide)

In this guide we will talk about narcissism relationships and answer questions such as Can I have a healthy relationship with a narcissist?, Is it safe to be in a relationship with a narcissist? among other related questions. 

Narcissism relationships: Can I have a healthy relationship with a narcissist?

Narcissism relationships can become very challenging. Narcissistic partners can have difficulties really loving someone because they don’t actually love themselves and they lack the ability to be empathetic towards others, especially their partner’s feelings creating a lot of resentment in their partners (Psychalive.org).

The struggle within the relationship can be caused by one of the partners having a narcissistic personality disorder or both. You have probably encountered one or several narcissistic people in your life (e.g narcissistic boyfriend or narcissistic mother) and you have been subjected already to emotional abuse and in some cases even physical, 
The Mayo Clinic 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.”

We live in a world governed by a narcissistic mentality, with the increasing impact of social media such as facebook, Instagram or snap chat (to name a few), people are often engaged in showing themselves to the world to gain approval and boost their self-esteem. 

However, how can you be sure you are in a narcissistic relationship? Well, if your partner is often thinking about themselves, are always looking for attention and approval, they think they are superior or they feel they are always right, then you may be dealing with a narcissist. 

They will only pretend to care about you when they have something they actually need from you or if you can be useful in fulfilling their needs. This can cause a lot of distress in the relationship. 

People narcissistic personality disorder do not tend to seek treatment and which leads to never getting diagnosed. Studies have suggested men are more prone to be narcissistic which according to Psych Alive, “roughly 75% of the individuals diagnosed with NPD are men. Although almost everyone has some self-centered or narcissistic traits, most people do not meet the criteria for having a personality disorder”. 

Moreover, you may be wondering what are some of the signs or symptoms to identify someone as narcissistic? Well, there are some common traits a narcissistic partner could have and you can spot after carefully analyzing their behavior, however, the degree of presentation of the traits can vary from one person to the other (psychalive.org):

  • Sense of entitlement or superiority
  • Lack of empathy
  • Manipulative or controlling behavior
  • Strong need for admiration
  • Focus on getting one’s own needs met, often ignoring the needs of others
  • Higher levels of aggression
  • Difficulty taking feedback about their behavior

Is someone born a narcissist or they are made?

It has been suggested that narcissistic people are often nurtured by narcissistic parents or relatives. Also, it has been said that narcissistic people are often neglected and their lack of empathy is a result of their parents not attending their emotional needs. 

As it is usually the case, narcissistic people tend to manipulate and use others for their personal gain. Meaning, it is likely that their parents only paid attention to them when they were serving a specific purpose.  They will sort of grow up with the same behavioral pattern they have known their entire life and it can be very difficult to adjust or change later on in their adulthood. 

Is there a way to manage narcissistic people?

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, explains to MedCircle that there are 5 ways to manage narcissistic people you may have encountered in various settings or aspects of your life such as relatives, a partner or spouse, friends or even your boss. We will proceed to explain each aspect:

  1. Maintain realistic expectations: this is the main key above all the others, because if you can do that you don’t get any unpleasant surprises or shocked, even though you may still feel disappointed but maybe not as much as if you had high expectations about the relationship. 

These realistic expectations can mentally and physically prepare you to get ready to interact with that narcissist in your life, even if they are abusive or unkind to you.  

  1. Radical acceptance: the main aspect here is to accept that they are not going to change and you will have to accept the reality aspect of the situation. 
  2. Do not engage: this is a hard one, even though you have to talk to them you don’t have to give them “too much rope”. Keep your answer trim and slim, don’t show them any sign of vulnerability and put yourself on the spot. She recommends preparing a list of topics, keep them shallow and superficial where there is no place to start an argument. 

Engaging in an argument and defending your point of view actually can have the contrary effect, you are giving them some credibility about what they just said and avoid the urge of defending and explaining because they won’t use facts, instead they will always talk about their version of the truth.    

  1. Set boundaries: this is related to not engaging and understanding when it is time to leave the conversation. When you are in a narcissistic relationship you tend to have this voice in your head saying “this time it will be different” and encourages you to have hope. 
  2. Managing the back end of it: by setting boundaries and avoiding ruminating about the situation once you are not engaging with them anymore can be life-changing. 

Are there any signs I am dating a narcissist?  

There are some signs that can tell you you are dating a narcissist. According to Gabrielle Kassel from Healthline, here are some of them.

They are extremely charming at first

 you may think you are living in a fairytale and everything is perfect. They may even text you all the time and have already told you they love you even if you just met them. Experts also term this as “love-bombing”. 

However, this is just their tactic to get you to appreciate them and feed them with attention and appraisal. 

As soon as you do the slightest thing they consider disappointing, they can easily turn against you, making you feel as guilty as possible for something you have said or done. Remember, “real love” needs to be nurtured and grow day after day when there is some effort put into it. If someone comes too strong at the beginning and too fast, be aware. 

They tend to hog the conversation and talk about how great they are

 Narcissists love to talk about them, about their accomplishments and achievements (grandiosity). This helps them feel better with themselves and will create this appearance of self-confidence. 

They will often tend to exaggerate their accomplishments and are actually pathological liars so you will actually believe everything they say at once. 

Try talking about yourself to see what happens and how they react. If they don’t express any interest or tend to shift the conversation back to them then it is likely you are dealing with a narcissist. 

They will feed off your compliments

Narcissists tend to show themselves as confident people, but deep down, they actually have a lack of self-esteem.  If you don’t feed them with compliments or praise them, be sure they will try to get it sooner or later. 

If you are dating a narcissist they will need you to keep complimenting them so they can feel good about themselves even if it means putting others down. In contrast, people who are self-confident won’t need others to lift themselves up.   

Lack of empathy 

It is no secret that narcissistic people lack the ability to put in someone else’s shoes to feel how they are feeling. They lack the skill of validating your emotions and understanding how you feel.

If your partner does not even care if you had a bad day at work or won’t even bother to ask or they seem quite bored when you talk about that fight you had with your best friend then it is likely you are dealing with a narcissist.

They don’t have any or many long-term friends

Most narcissists will lack real long-term friendships. If you do the exercise of digging deeper into their relationships you may notice they actually have a few buddies or casual acquaintances. 

As a result, they might get mad when you go out with friends, making you feel guilty for spending some time with them or they might even try isolating you from them.   

What if I want to leave the narcissism relationship?

Take into consideration that getting out of a narcissistic relationship is not an easy task, every time you try to move away from them, they find to find the way to lure you back in. They are very good at manipulating you and you may not even notice you are in their spider web where every time you try to move, it only makes it worse and you can even go deeper into their abusive pattern. 

Take into consideration they can be so charming, charismatic and use their manipulative tactic to always have you wrapped around their finger. You have two choices, either you leave them for good and start your healing process or learn to love them how they are accepting the fact that it is really difficult they will change. 

Why is this blog about narcissism relationships important?

Here we discussed mainly what it means to have a relationship with a narcissist, especially the romantic type but you can also have a relationship with a friend or a relative that in the end will have the same effect in your life. 

Managing a narcissist is not easy and if you have spotted some of the signs in a potential partner you are still able to get out of it. However, it becomes a bit harder when you have a narcissistic mom or sibling. You will have to face the fact that you cant actually change them but instead, try to distance yourself emotionally from them so they won’t hurt you or have a negative effect on you emotionally speaking. 

Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about narcissism relationships

What is a narcissistic man like?

A narcissistic man will have a behavioral pattern that includes being self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a marked lack of empathy towards your feeling or anyone’s feelings and they will require an excessive amount of attention and appraisal. They can also be described as cocky, manipulative, selfish and patronizing.

Can a narcissist fall in love?

This is a controverted topic, some might say they are incapable of loving because they don’t even love themselves and other agree that when narcissists fall hopelessly and deeply in love with codependents, they love even more intensely than a person who is psychologically healthy (someone who is neither a codependent nor a narcissist). Codependents are their source of “feeding” for their ego. 

What are the 9 traits of a narcissist?

Some of the traits according to the Mayo Clinic may include:

Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it.
Exaggerate achievements and talents.
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.

Do narcissists get jealous?

They might feel jealous of the amount of time to spend with friends or relatives since it is a time you are not dedicating to them. This is why they will attempt to make you feel guilty for not spending “enough” time with them and will try to isolate you from others. 

Does a narcissist know they are a narcissist?

In some cases, a narcissistic won’t recognize the fact that they are narcissistic even if you show them all the scientific facts, making it very difficult to seek professional help. However, some others will know and recognize they are narcissistic and may even feel proud of it. 

Recommended reading

  • Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: A Guide to Finding Clarity and Reclaiming Your Joy After Leaving a Toxic Relationship
  • Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents: A Guide to Understanding Narcissism and Overcoming Relationships With Mothers and Fathers With Narcissistic Personality … Narcissism NPD Series Book 1)
  • Narcissist Partner Abuse: Recognize Narcissism and Understand How to Escape from Toxic Relationships Ceasing to Be a Victim of Your Partner. Finally Healing from Emotional and Psychological Abuse
  • Narcissism: How to Stop Narcissistic Abuse, Heal Your Relationships, and Transform Your Life
  • Narcissism: How to Stop Narcissistic Abuse, Heal Your Relationships, and Transform Your Life

What we recommend for personality disorders

Professional counselling

  • If you are suffering from a personality disorder then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out 

Psychalive.org: In a Relationship with a Narcissist? What You Need to Know About Narcissistic Relationships

Goalcast.com

Helpguide.org

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