It can be pretty hard to figure out if you are in a relationship with a narcissist. Thankfully, there are signs that can help you out.

Narcissists are all around us. From that friend on Facebook who never posts a bad selfie, to the charming boss at work who always manages to get the conversation back to herself. The problem is that they exist on a spectrum, just like autism. Like autistic people, there are a wide range of narcissists, from those who have full-blown egos to others who just tip-toe onto the scales.

Here are four signs that can help you identify whether you are in a relationship with a narcissist:

Are you the centre of attention?

It sounds counterintuitive, that a narcissist would direct their focus onto someone other than themselves, however, in the early stages of a relationship this is exactly what happens.

A narcissist will target an attractive, powerful, rich or popular person and make them feel like they are the centre of the universe. The narcissist will turn themselves into what they think is the perfect partner for that person, and play out that role to perfection.

They will shower the target with love, affection, gifts, compliments; they will literally put them on a pedestal and sweep them off their feet. The target will not know what has hit them, they will have never experienced a love like this before. For them, it will be as if they have found their soulmate.

Do you start having doubts about yourself?

It is important to understand what a narcissist tends to do next, once they have ensnared their victim. As soon as the target has been acquired, the narcissist quickly loses interest. This can happen over a period of weeks or literally overnight.

For the target, this can be devastating. One moment they are being lavished with attention, the next nothing. When this happens you start to doubt, not your partner, but yourself.

You ask yourself – ‘What did I do to make this wonderful person stop loving me?’

The narcissist is absent, silent, does not return calls, the change is a complete 180-degree turnaround and you are left confused and wounded. However, in the narcissist’s mind, a different theory is taking place.

At the start of the relationship, the narcissist was on a high, their emotional void was filled and their feelings of boredom were satiated. Now that high has worn off and they are bored again. You are obviously not what they imagined and they start taking their frustrations out in you.

Does your partner get violent when challenged?

Every relationship with a narcissist will constantly involve violence instead of conversation to win an argument.

The problems begin once a narcissist has realised that you should not be on that pedestal they put you on. As they begin to create distance between you, you need to know what has happened to that loving person you feel in love with. But that person never existed, and the harder you try to find them, the more the narcissist will pull away. If backed into a corner the narcissist will lash out, because the worst thing for them is for someone to discover their true self.

The most dangerous time to be around a narcissist is when their façade is crumbling around them. They will do anything to protect it, even kill. The best thing you can do is walk away and not look back.

Have you been dropped from a relationship with no explanation?

A narcissist will end a relationship and walk away without a second glance. But as with all things, we need closure and understanding. This is especially true if the relationship has been problematic and our self-esteem has been damaged.

Getting over the cruel and demeaning behaviour of a narcissist takes time. People with narcissistic traits are cold, unemotional, cruel and do not feel pity or remorse. They are skilled in targeting and manipulation and choose their victims carefully.

What people should remember is that a narcissist will never take responsibility for their own actions, they will always make excuses and blame others for their misfortunes. Victims of narcissists feel like they were caught up in a whirlwind that picked them up and then tossed them out of the sky.

Do you think you are in a relationship with a narcissist?

If any of the signs above ring true for you, it could possibly mean that you are dating a narcissist, but remember what we said at the start, they are on a spectrum. It could be that your partner just touches narcissism and this means that they simply take extra care with their appearance.

However, if they go through periods of not talking which end up in violent rows, it may be time to reconsider where you go from here. Only you know whether you can be happy or not, but remember, the narcissist will never change.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Emily

    I’d like to see the sources for this information.
    The DSM-IV characterizes Narcissism as portraying at least five of the following traits (quoted from the DSM-IV):

    “1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
    2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
    4. Requires excessive admiration
    5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
    6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
    7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
    9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    Associated Features: Depressed Mood Dramatic or Erratic or Antisocial Personality

    Differential Diagnosis: Some disorders have similar or even the same symptom.

    Histrionic Personality Disorder;
Antisocial Personality Disorder;
Borderline Personality Disorder;
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder;
Schizotypal Personality Disorder;
Paranoid Personality Disorder;
Manic Episodes;
Hypomanic Episodes;
Personality Change Due to a General Medical Condition;
Symptoms that may develop in association with chronic substance use.”

    I can see a few similarities, but overall none of these imply the characteristics you’re describing. First and foremost, the DSM-IV specifies that someone needs to display at least five of the nine traits above to be considered narcissistic. That means everyone displays the personality disorder in varying ways, but that in no way equates to a “spectrum.”
    From the above characteristics, a narcissistic person likely wouldn’t feel a need to “turn themselves into what they think is the perfect partner for that person,” because they wouldn’t feel like there is anything to change (extrapolated from points 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9).
    “As soon as the target has been acquired, the narcissist quickly loses interest… Now that high has worn off and they are bored again” doesn’t comply, because that makes it sound as though nothing a partner did could keep the interest of a narcissistic person. Most of the criteria for narcissism includes feeling entitled to admiration and recognition, which implies that as long as they were being treated with the affection and attention they felt they deserved, from a person they felt deserved their time, they’d stick around. Since it sounds like people with narcissism are very self-serving, and taking advantage of someone isn’t the same as manipulating them, then as long as a partner did something that served a purpose for them (including the attention they felt entitled to), they’d stay (extrapolated from points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6).
    There is no mention of violent or even aggressive behavior in narcissistic people in the DSM-IV. Considering the DSM-IV characteristics, it sounds like narcissistic people are more concerned with being treated in a way that reflects the pedestal they put themselves on. It doesn’t make sense if “the worst thing for them is for someone to discover their true self,” because a person displaying narcissistic qualities characteristically wouldn’t feel a need to change for anyone in the first place. They expect recognition for who they already are. They may have an exaggerated sense of their abilities and accomplishments and self in general, but that’s not the same as a facade. A delusion, maybe, but not a facade (extrapolated from points 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9).

    The fourth section is the only one that seemed to fully comply with the DSM-IV qualifying attributes for a narcissistic person (extrapolated from points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9).

    1. Alexander Figueredo

      I think your scratching the surface, actually The Narcissist is very good at molding into the ideal lover of their target. For instance they will begin the relationship by consistently complimenting you as well as putting you on a pedestal. I will give you an example of what took place between me and one of my ex’s who is a Grandiose Narcissit and falls under the emotionally abusive Covert.
      When we met we hit it off like mad and our first conversation was full of flirting keep in mind her this conversation took place while in the car with her then current “Supply” the next day I picked her up and took her home. She Immediatley began complimenting me consistently and gave me 100% of her attention. She then began asking me questions along the lines of what do I want in a girl, what do I look for in a relationship, What turns me on ETC. However when I would ask her questions like what did she want in a bf she immidaltey either redirected the questions with a gauge answer or just flat out ignored it. She then began to use the info I have her to mold into everything I had ever wanted in a woman once she molded into that “Personality” she began saying things like I want to be with you forever, your my soulmate ETC. This got me hooked bc I had never been treated even remotely close to love quite like this once she began to see that I was falling hard and the more I fell the more she began to pull away until she began emotionally abusing me with Gaslighting tactics and telling me all the abuse I was talking about was entirely imagined. It got worse and worse she began a “Come here go away” cycle which absolutely destroyed me confidence and self esteem because every time she admired me it was followed by even worse domination and attacks as well as flirting with any of my friends she was around just to make me jealous she also had a multitude of affairs that she pronounced to the world i continued doing everything I could to give her the admiration she wanted by going as far as stealing Naked pallets, tarte eyelash primers and two faced bronzers ECT trying to get her to treat me how she used to. Eventually I lost everything and when I had nothing left to give she walked out of my life like I was nothing she left me absolutely destroyed crying on the floor and before she left she said “Wow look at how powerful I am, I absolutely destroyed the person you used to be and laughed she then proceeded to call me a bitch of a man and told me that I was beneath her.” “She told me to call her when I got my life back together as she would be more then willing to try again when I did. The Black / White or idealization – devaluation stages were the absolute worst times life the constant back and forth from complimenting me follwoed by personal attacks going happy to depressed to dominating and putting me down to depressed to Paranoid to sad to happy….

  2. Muhammad Sadiq

    Great, thanks for sharing this article. Cool

  3. Gary Ellis

    What should I do if I already met one, and we now broken up and they want to be just friends? Do I stay or leave?

  4. James

    Run as fast as you can. And NEVER get back or be friends with them. They repeat over and over ..

  5. Frank

    This is my wife exactly and up to now just looking at a way to get out but not quite sure of the right timings

  6. lorraine

    I have been away from a Narc for 6 months now, and yes I have sad days and have been left with the feeling, emptiness and why me. Why did I keep going back. your just hoping they will change. BUT THEY NEVER DO. I knew from almost the start of the relationship, there was something strange about him. I never could talk or have an option, he would always talk over me and louder, finish my sentences off for me. And twist what I was going to say. If I confronted him and said no that is not right. He would scream at me at the top of his voice and I would panic as people could hear and it would frighten me little dogs. Many times he has screamed at me in public and at the open window or back door, so everyone could hear and say some degrading things, I have been to hell and back for four years off and on. He kept all my furniture and things and claimed them as his. One time he sat on my back and held my hands up my back and I could not breath, I thought I was going to die.I use to be black and blue all the time and never wanted to go out and had to miss work and then say Im boaring I never wanted to do anything. If I use to try and fight him off in self defence he would tell everyone I hit him, Im 8st and he is 15st. once he pushed me so hard, my head went through the wall. I had to leave other wise I would have died. The last time I was with him, I had to call the police again and escape with my dogs back to a empty home with nothing but a mattress and bed base, not even a TV. But I have started to build my life again and get new things, bit by bit, just me and my dogs

  7. T

    I think you summarized the immediate basics of a new relationship with a narcissist entails rather accurately. Which is what I gathered your article was more so geared towards than the complexities and in depth entails of the disorder itself. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. Julie

    Thank you Janey. Helpful.

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