How do you tell if your partner is a narcissist?

How do you tell if your partner is a narcissist?

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is extremely exhausting. If you are reading this, you might have realised that there is something wrong with your relationship. Maybe you don’t feel valued, maybe you are starting to doubt your own sanity or maybe you feel that your partner is so self-absorbed that they don’t really care about your thoughts and feelings.

Although people tend to use the term “narcissistic” to describe someone who is self-absorbed and vain, narcissism can be a much more serious condition that is extremely toxic and debilitating for those who are the closest to such an individual.

Narcissism is a spectrum disorder which means that someone with a higher number of narcissistic traits will bring more destruction and chaos into your life.

Here are 9 warning signs that will help you recognise that your partner may be a narcissist.

1. They lack empathy.

Lack of empathy is one of the most telling signs of narcissism. Narcissists don’t care what other people think or feel. Everything always needs to revolve around them and their needs.

They can fake empathy if that is what they need to do in order to have their needs met but they are unable to have a genuine interest and desire to put themselves into someone else’s shoes.

If your partner doesn’t care about your wants and needs it is a red flag that you are in a relationship with a narcissist.

2. They invalidate you.

Do you feel that you really matter in this relationship? Do you feel that your partner really gives you space to express your thoughts and feelings? Or do you often feel that your emotions and feelings are not worth the time?

Invalidation is one of the most hidden and sinister forms of emotional abuse. It is extremely harmful to the victim as it slowly aims at erasing your identity and personality.

Another form of abuse is gaslighting which is also a typical modus operandi for narcissists.

3. They gaslight you.

Narcissists are extremely good at manipulating people and gaslighting is one of their favourite forms of manipulation.

The term gaslighting comes from the 1944 movie called “Gaslight”. The movie is about a husband who manipulates his wife into thinking that she is losing her mind by dimming gas-fueled lights in their house.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where the abuser is trying to get control over their victim by gradually planting seeds of doubt in the victim’s mind.

Gaslighting is about making you think that you are slowly losing your mind and you can’t trust yourself anymore.

If you are not sure if you have been a victim of such abuse, you may ask yourself these questions:

Does your partner often question your recollection of events?
Do they tend to suggest that you “imagined things” or that you are oversensitive although they behaved in a way that was completely inappropriate?
Do they often say that they were joking whereas, in fact, they said something that was harmful, not funny?

These are some examples of gaslighting.
You learn more about gaslighting and how to deal with it in this video.

4. They take no responsibility for anything.

Does your partner take responsibility for their words and actions or do they have a tendency to blame others?

Even children in pre-school are asked to take ownership when they break a toy or leave a mess behind them. It is certainly not too much to ask an adult to take responsibility for their words and actions.

Unfortunately, narcissists think that nothing ever is their fault so they can’t be bothered to even consider taking responsibility for what they say and do.

If you have just realised that your partner tends to always blame others for whatever happens in their life, that might be another red flag that you are in a relationship with a narcissist.

5. They need to be constantly admired and validated.

Deep down narcissists are deeply insecure people and they need validation and admiration from the external world to survive. It is their fuel.

Unfortunately, no matter how much love and support you give your partner, nothing is ever good enough. You are never able to fill that immense void of insecurities they have inside them.

Even if you mean well, they will always look for double meanings and doubt your good intentions so deep down they don’t believe they are lovable at all.

6. They want to control everything and everyone.

Their fragile ego hides under their huge sense of entitlement. Narcissists believe that it is their right to control everything and everyone.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you might be facing a real challenge to set healthy boundaries or any boundaries at all. Your partner will want to know what you’re wearing, who you’re talking to, where you are going to do grocery shopping. Everything needs to be approved and monitored.

Why do they obsessively want to control everything around them? Because it gives them a feeling of power and superiority. It boosts their ego to know they can make you do things you don’t want to do or prevent you from doing the things you want to do. They need that sense of control over another person in order to validate themselves, and as we said earlier they need constant validation to survive.

7. They are emotionally cold.

Narcissists are very shallow with their emotions. Being in a relationship with a narcissist means that you can’t count on cuddles, spontaneous hugs and gentleness. It also means that you won’t be comforted even when you are going through some tough times.

Being with an emotionally cold person will leave you feeling confused and very lonely.

8. They regularly put you down.

Although on one hand, narcissists have an inflated sense of self, on the other hand, they are extremely insecure. In order to cover that they love putting people down, especially people that radiate kindness and happiness. If you try to nourish these qualities in you, narcissists will hate that. They will do everything to dim your joy and happiness.

Think right now if you have ever shared any good news with the narcissist in your life. How did they react? Were they happy for you? Or did they say something that immediately made you regret your decision to share anything with them?

9. They gradually isolate you from yourself and others.

And the last very telling sign that your partner might be a narcissist is their tendency to separate you from the people who really love and care about you.

It is probably a slow and multilayered process. For example, they might pretend at first that they like your friends but then gradually they will start planting seeds of doubt in your mind if your friends are really a good influence on you or if they are really your friends. The same applies to your family members.

They will also do their best to isolate you from yourself. Strategies like gaslighting are meant to do exactly that. When you start thinking that you are losing your mind, you will be in doubt whether you can trust yourself at all.

You won’t know what is true, what is just your imagination and what is your partner’s manipulation. You will be isolated from your common sense and your intuition. It is a very insidious form of psychological abuse that will gradually make you lose your mind for real this time.

Your next steps.

If you have read this list and your fears that your partner is a narcissist have just been confirmed, please remember that there is a way out of this situation. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fast but you can start setting up your boundaries and introducing some respect for yourself in this relationship.

Please also remember that the good days that you might think you have with the narcissistic partner are meant to be there to keep you confused and paralysed to take any action to leave the relationship. A part of you takes such times when your partner shows you their kinder face as evidence that they are a good person. After all, we all engage in confirmation bias– we only accept these pieces of evidence that align with our worldview, and discard everything else. Keep that in mind and don’t fall into that trap. That’s just another form of manipulation.

If you need help in managing this exhausting rollercoaster of being in a relationship with a narcissist, please reach out.

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