Are you dating a Narcissist?
Dr Jozelle Miller
January 31, 2023

Are you dating a Narcissist?

We are living in an increasingly narcissistic world. The obsession with the “look at me” mentality that is promoted by social media, has fuelled the tendency to have persons excessively enamoured with the ‘ideal’ image they portray to the world, to the extent of creating inflated egos and self-esteem. The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is defined by The Mayo Clinic 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.”

Narcissistic relationships are formed when one or both partners struggle with a narcissistic personality. If your partner is all about themselves, always needing attention and affirmation, he or she may be a narcissist. If someone is easily slighted or over-reactive to criticism, they may also be a narcissist. If they feel they are always right, that they know more, or that they have to be the best, etc., these are also signs of narcissism.

Narcissistic individuals may only appear to care about you when you are fulfilling their needs or serving a purpose for them. A narcissistic relationship can lead to a lot of emotional distress.

On paper, narcissists often have it all – a fantastic career, money, success, and attractiveness. All these awe-inspiring outward features are said to be important in a long-term partner. However, you should discard this preconceived view because fantasizing about such a companion can lead to you being on the wrong side of the story. When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, the dynamics shift more subtly.

They try to control you by withholding affection and attention. As your relationship with a narcissist spouse progresses, you’ll notice some mysterious characteristics and be disillusioned by their sudden change in behaviour.

It may come as a shock to you because you had no idea that the charismatic charmer with whom you fell in love had narcissistic personality traits at first. In most cases, the relationship deteriorates and the toxicity level rises.

10 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

Bear in mind that even if someone does not meet the official diagnosis of a narcissistic personality disorder, they can still have an abundance of narcissistic traits that make them unpleasant, difficult, or even dangerous to date. Here are a few of the red flags you should look out for.

1. It’s Always About Them

Narcissistic people always love to talk about themselves. As a narcissistic friend once said to me, enough about me, now let’s talk about my music. A first date with a narcissist often involves them telling you a lot of stories about themselves and very few questions about you or your life.

2. They Are Charming

Narcissists are incredibly charming. They can be almost chameleon-like in their ability to adapt to any situation and zone in on what makes other people tick. They are great seducers. For them, seduction is a game and they like to win. They often lose interest after they have conquered.

3. They Are Grandiose and Entitled

Narcissists often speak about themselves in highly inflated terms and love to brag. They often talk about who they know, where they’ve been, and what they’ve done. They feel entitled to special treatment — for instance, pushing to the front of a line.

4. They Love to Look at Themselves

The narcissist is often obsessed with looking at themselves in the mirror or taking tons of photographs. If you go into the home of a narcissist, you will often find tons of photographs of themselves in their own home.

5. Always a Hero or a Victim

When a narcissist tells a story, they typically present themselves as either the hero or the victim, so listen closely when the person you’re seeing tells you about their last relationship, last job, a friendship that ended, or their family dynamics.

6. No Empathy

Narcissists have little or no ability to feel empathy. They are terrible at understanding other people’s pain or hurt. They do not have a very good grasp of how their words, deeds, or actions impact those around them. They are too self-focused to be able to step out of themselves to have a deep understanding of other people’s feelings.

7. They Have a Great Ability to Dispose of People

When things don’t go their way, conflicts arise, or problems happen, they have a great ability to cut people out of their life. Their ability to form lasting emotional attachments ispoor, which is why it’s not uncommon for narcissists to not to have a lot of long-term friends.

8. They Need Constant Attention and Validation

Narcissists are like a bottomless pit when it comes to attention and validation. They never tire of hearing how great they are and need constant attention and praise. There is an emotional void that often goes back a long way to childhood, that needs to be filled but never can.

9. They Are Overly Concerned About Their Reputation

They care more about what other people think of them than about inter-personal dynamics. For example, if you have a fight in public, they are more likely to be worried about how other people perceive them than the conflict between the two of you. If you break up, their primary concern will be how they are perceived by others.

10. They Get Injured Easily

They are quick to inflame and anger and get what psychologists call a “narcissistic injury”. What I mean by this is that you can say something without meaning harm and they will take what you said very personally and get hurt and angry very easily.

How Do You Spot a Narcissist?

You’re on a first date with someone who’s exciting and fun but you’re worried they might be a little egotistical or shallow. Could your new date have narcissistic traits?

While it’s difficult to identify a potential narcissist on the first date, you might be able to spot a few red flags:

Have they been love-bombing you? Has your date been overwhelming you with affectionate texts from the get-go?

Love-bombing — excessive and affectionate communication and gestures (compliments, gifts, etc.) at the beginning of a romantic relationship — is typically carried out by narcissists to obtain power and control over you.

In fact, research suggests that love-bombing may be a necessary strategy for romantic relationships among people with high traits of narcissism and low levels of self-esteem.

Of course, people without narcissism can also love-bomb, but it’s typically because they really like you and not because they are trying to control you.
Pay attention to the conversations.

Do their conversations tend to revolve around their interests only? Do their eyes glaze over when you start talking? Do they seem to focus most on material things like nice cars or shoes?

How do they treat others?

Narcissists can be indifferent or even rude to people they think are “below” them. Pay attention if your date complains a lot or gets angry at the waiter for small things. Do they enjoy making the others feel uncomfortable?

Do they have an excessive need for attention and validation? Do they seem excessively concerned with their appearance? Are they constantly looking around to see who’s looking at them?

Do they never get vulnerable? Does your date focus only on all their achievements and successes? Do they avoid personal questions? Are they focused on getting you to be vulnerable instead?

Have you caught them in a lie? Look out for lies, games, and any manipulative tactics.

Perhaps they told you they have no contact with their ex-partner, but in the middle of your date, they get a call from their ex.

Do you like them less as the date goes on? Research indicates that narcissists tend to make a great first impression due to their perceived self-confidence, but this impression tends to decline over time due to a lack of true connection and depth.

Next week we’ll look at ways to deal with narcissistic behaviour.