Everyone has “moments” of narcissism in a relationship. Someone prioritizes themselves and their feelings over what would be best for both of you. I've heard the word “narcissist” thrown around a lot by my friends, particularly when a bad relationship ends. However, there's a difference between someone who is selfish and someone who is a serial narcissist. A narcissist is really someone who is projecting an idealized self whom they constantly personify to avoid feeling or being seen as their true selves.
Deep down, behind that grandiose projection, a narcissist is actually very fragile. That's why relationships with narcissists can be so destructive: They are more interested in preserving their self-image and are never concerned with how they affect others. If there is no give and take in your relationship, or if the person you're dating shows any of these other red flags, you're dating a narcissist.
1. They Only Talk About Themselves
Sex therapist Stefani Threadgill says that over 75 percent of narcissists are men. In men, narcissism manifests with an "insatiable need for attention." "His ego is entitled and approval-seeking," Threadgill details. "He is easily bruised by your failure to notice, praise, or compliment him, and he is highly reactive to being ignored."
Even though a narcissist prides themselves on their emotional autonomy, they come across as highly emotional and sensitive to the smallest perceived slight from you. Anything that takes them out of the spotlight is a threat to their ego.
Senior Matchmaker and Dating Coach Lori Salkin, of the website SawYouatSinai.com, says that a serial narcissist will turn every conversation back onto their favorite topic: themselves. You dates will feel like a one-sided conversation. “Every time you try to share a story or opinion, your date changes the subject back to what he or she thinks or his or her opinion, and doesn't seem to mind that they're doing all the talking. You're more just there to listen,” says Salkin.
If you feel like your date would be able to carry on the same conversation with their own reflection in a mirror, then that basically guarantees they are a narcissist. If they invalidate your opinion constantly because they think they are the only one who can ever be right, then you should dump their toxic presence immediately. You are never going to be able to prove your worth to someone who only values themselves. And you shouldn't have to try.
2. They Are Constantly Digging For Compliments
Narcissists are alluring, says Threadgill, and the first to boast about their own accomplishments. Their boasting might read as self-confidence, but it is actually much more sinister. The high expectations they have for themselves extend to you, as well.
"Your presence only enhances the perfect image [they] present," Threadgill says. "[They have] high standards and expectations that you must meet in order to be with [them]." If you fail to meet their expectations, they will quickly become unavailable. If you are insecure, this might heighten your attraction to them. Don't be fooled.
Salkin agrees that validation often comes at the expense of the person the narcissist is dating. “If you feel you are constantly being asked to stroke their ego and tell your date that he or she is right and brilliant and good looking ... they're likely a narcissist,” she adds.
Part of the way a narcissist will validate themselves is by constantly trying to prove you wrong. The slightest pushback threatens to crack their fragile reflection, and admitting fault would mean they'd have to see their own imperfections. It isn't going to happen with this one.
3. They Control Everything You Do Together
According to Salkin, on a date with a narcissist, you are not going to get a say about what you are going to do together. If you make a suggestion, it's going to get shut down.
“Your suggestion of cooking dinner together and catching up on Game of Thrones is immediately shot down with 'we are going out to dinner,'” Salkin says. “[There is] no consideration or even acknowledgement of your interest in a different plan.
Threadgill adds, "Competitive and punishing, [they] may be critical, demanding, condescending, demeaning, objectifying, and unresponsive." A narcissist only cares about what they think and feel, and will have little regard for you and your emotions. Their entire ego depends on it.
4. They Are Evasive Emotionally
A narcissist might have pursued you intensely at the beginning of a relationship, but eventually, as they see your flaws, they will diminish their attention. If you confront them, they will be unsympathetic and unapologetic, says Threadgill. "A narcissist prides [themselves] on [their] emotional autonomy. Thus, [they see] emotional vulnerability as weak, pathetic, and needy and avoids emotional intimacy," she continues.
A narcissist will vanish as soon as they are threatened by emotional attachment, unmet expectations, or impatience — in short, anything that seems to suggest they are not perfect. Threadgill warns that a narcissist may even turn their failings around on you. "[They] may accuse you of taking things too fast too early in the relationship," Threadgill says. A narcissist is good at holding up mirrors — don't buy into the reflection that they are projecting.
If any of these characteristics or behaviors resonate with you, then there is a good chance the person you are seeing is a narcissist. Dating a narcissist can have a serious impact on your self-esteem. In addition to ending the relationship, it might be important to seek out someone to talk about the issues you faced in dating this person. A better, more loving relationship is around the corner. Let this one disappear in its own reflection.
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