11 Signs You May Be Dating a Narcissist
Dating a narcissist can be exciting, intense, and intoxicating – at first. Initially, a narcissistic partner may be charming, say all the right things, and make you feel like you are in a fairytale relationship.
However, after the initial wave of intoxication, your partner may show their true colours, leaving you to question, “Am I dating a narcissist”?
Do you notice your partner is only concerned about themselves? Are they manipulative? Do they lash out if you stand up for yourself or criticize them? Do they constantly make fun of you or nit-pick you?
Here, we’ll go over tips on how to know you’re dating a narcissist and how to get out of a toxic relationship with them.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Just because an individual appears very confident, vain, or self-centred does not automatically mean they are a narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition that can only be diagnosed by a professional. Narcissism involves an inflated sense of self-importance, an excessive need for praise, toxic relationships, and a struggle to empathise with others.
Although an individual with NPD may appear self-assured and confident, this arrogance is only a mask for an extremely fragile self-ego underneath. This delicate self-esteem is threatened by even the slightest criticism.
Narcissists have difficulty regulating their behaviour and emotions, leading to problems in relationships, school, work, and family. Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder rely on the recognition and attention of others to feed their frail ego and are often obsessed with fantasies of power and success.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, these are the nine official criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (only five of the nine are needed to qualify for NPD):
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- A belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- A need for excessive admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally exploitative behaviour
- Lack of empathy
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- Demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudes
How To Know You’re Dating a Narcissist: 11 Signs of NPD
While Narcissistic Personality Disorder can only be diagnosed by a professional, there are some warning signs you can watch for to know you are dating a narcissist.
1. They Seemed Wonderful At First
Narcissists often come off as extremely romantic and charming at the beginning of a relationship. But this is simply a tactic to get what they want.
After a narcissistic partner has won you over with elaborate gifts, vacations, flattery, or romantic gestures, a switch will flip at some point. Once the honeymoon phase is up, they will start withholding affection, belittling you, and devaluing you. As soon as you do the slightest thing wrong or disappoint them in some way, their behaviour will become increasingly unpredictable, manipulative, and cold.
2. They Require Constant Praise and Admiration
Although narcissists often seem overly confident, most individuals with NPD often have extremely poor self-esteem. Because of their low self-confidence, their egos can easily be damaged.
Narcissists require an almost constant stream of praise and reassurance to support their fragile egos. If you aren’t offering up enough compliments about how successful they are, how smart they are, how good they look, how good their house looks, or how good their choices are, they will fish for compliments.
Often, narcissists gravitate toward empathetic people who will help them feel powerful and help contribute to their sense of self-worth. Narcissists depend on others to lift them. And, they make themselves feel better by putting other people down.
Remember: If someone has true self-confidence, they won’t rely solely on you or someone else to feel happy with themselves.
3. They Never Say Sorry or Take Responsibility for Mistakes
When is the last time your partner owned up to a mistake and offered up a sincere apology?
One of the biggest signs that someone is a narcissist is that they never say sorry. Taking responsibility for a mistake would crush their frail ego. Translation: It is NEVER their fault.
Even if a narcissist is obviously at fault, they will find a way to avoid apologising at all costs. The blame will always be deflected and placed on you, or someone else.
A narcissist believes they can do no wrong, making it next to impossible for them to make a genuine apology.
4. They Control Conversations
Sure, we all love talking about ourselves, but narcissists take it to a new extreme. They are too focused on talking about themselves to want to listen to you. They will control and hog the conversation, exaggerating their accomplishments and praising themselves.
No matter the topic, a narcissist will find a way to focus the conversation on themselves. Doing so helps them feel smarter and more accomplished than everyone else, along with helping them appear self-assured.
If you ask yourself, “Am I dating a narcissist?”, think about the following questions:
- Are the conversations always focused on your partner
- Does your partner ask you questions about yourself?
- Does your partner turn conversations toward themselves?
- Does your partner ask follow-up questions and express genuine interest when you are talking?
5. They Lack Empath
A classic sign of a narcissist is an inability to empathise. Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder do not understand how to care about someone else’s feelings, only their own.
To determine if your partner is empathetic, think about the following:
- Does my partner express concern when I’ve had a bad day at work, have a stressful deadline, or have a fight with a friend?
- Does my partner act bored or disconnected when I’m expressing my feelings?
- Does my partner offer support when I am having a hard time?
- Does my partner make me feel understood, validated, and seen?
6. They Have Very Few Solid Relationships
Romantic relationships aren’t the only type of relationship that is difficult to maintain with a narcissist. Does your partner have long-term, valuable, healthy relationships with any friends or family members? Most likely, they won’t. Look closer at their connections and see if you discover they mostly have casual acquaintances, surface-level bonds, or strained relationships.
Often, their behaviour catches up with them and narcissists naturally drive people away. Other times, narcissists are quick to cut anyone out of their life that dares to challenge them or does not shower them with praise or meet their expectations.
7. They Must Have Their Way
Pay close attention to your partner’s reaction if you refuse to do something. Do they withhold affection? Do their verbal insults increase? Do they lose their temper?
Narcissists feel entitled and think they deserve to have every desire and need to be met. If you let them down, they do not know how to deal with the rejection and will likely lash out at you or give you the silent treatment.
8. They Panic Over a Possible Breakup
If you start distancing yourself, a narcissist may push to keep you in their life. However, it is unlikely they will make a positive, lasting change. Narcissists often find themselves in hot-cold, roller coaster relationships that are on and off.
9. They Lash Out If You Insist You Are Done
If you leave a narcissist, they may make it a priority to hurt you since you rejected them. In their eyes, the breakup will be 100% your fault, and they will likely start badmouthing you or immediately dating someone else in an attempt to save their injured ego.
10. They Constantly Belittle You or Those Around Them
If you are dating a narcissist, there is a good chance they make fun of you or others often. Whether it is what you watch, how you eat, or what you wear, you may feel constantly belittled by your partner.
By putting you down, making jokes about you, or calling you names, they will try to raise their self-esteem at the expense of yours.
11. You Cannot Criticise Them – Even Slightly
While they are comfortable dishing out criticism and rude or embarrassing comments at other people, a narcissist is overly sensitive to criticism. This is because the slightest indication that they aren’t perfect is a complete assault on their fragile ego.
You will likely be given the cold shoulder, cut off completely, called crazy, or disrespected if you dare criticise a narcissist. Even if you are simply expressing frustration, speaking your mind, or letting them know something they did hurt your feelings, their ego will be threatened. This may lead them to lash out or act victimised by your actions.
Because of this, you may feel like you are “walking on eggshells” or ignoring certain issues just to keep a narcissist from losing their temper.
What To Do If You Are Dating a Narcissist
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is difficult to treat. Because seeking treatment would require acknowledgment that they aren’t perfect, narcissists are extremely unlikely to accept help.
You can’t change anyone, but you are in control of your own choices and behaviour. If you truly are dating a narcissist, you will most likely never be enough for them. They struggle to feel fulfilled in relationships because no one is special or good enough for them.
What can you do if you are dating a narcissist? Make a clean break and cut ties with them completely. Do not give them a second chance.
The rejection may cause the narcissist to continually contact you or harass you. The less you engage in negotiation or fighting or arguments, the less power you give them.
Think You’re Dating a Narcissist?
Although this article isn’t meant to provide medical advice or to diagnose your partner, all of these signs are relationship red flags that are worth paying attention to.
Do you find yourself repeatedly dating narcissists? If you need to get to the bottom of why you are struggling with your relationships, our matchmaking experts are here to help. With a deep understanding of emotional behaviours, the human psyche, and modern relationships, we can help you pinpoint any dating patterns so you can move forward toward a loving, healthy relationship with someone who values you and respects you.