6 subtle signs your partner has narcissistic tendencies, according to psychology

As British writer and actor Stephen Fry once wisely put it: “Counterintuitively, self-hatred is one of the leading symptoms of clinical narcissism.”

“Only by telling yourself and the world how much you hate yourself can you receive the reliable shower of praise and admiration in response that you feel you deserve,” he continues.

You see, narcissists often use their bucketloads of charisma to reel the people around them right in, including and especially their romantic partners, but behind closed doors, their behavior can be super toxic and manipulative. 

This means they may belittle you, gaslight you, and make you doubt your own worth—all in their insatiable quest for admiration.

But here’s the kicker. As raised by Fry, while these troublesome folks might seem like they’re full of themselves, in reality, they are most likely struggling with a whole other world of inadequacy and worthlessness.

Beneath that confident, self-loving exterior might lie a different truth—a truth of deep-seated insecurity and self-loathing.

They rely on external praise to fill a void within themselves, a void created by their own self-hatred.

By seeing the signs of narcissism in your relationship with your partner, you can protect yourself from falling into a pattern that drains you emotionally.

Here are the signs your partner has narcissistic tendencies, beginning with an oft-overlooked one: they make you feel good, really good.

1) They’re good at making you feel incredible about yourself

A person with narcissistic tendencies has an almost other-worldly ability to make you feel amazing about yourself. But usually, this doesn’t last long. Not at all.

“If you start dating a narcissist, they might make you feel like the admired and desired person in the world. But eventually, their attention will fall away from you, making you feel confused and rejected,” says an article on the warning signs of narcissism in PsychCentral.

I have found that often the most adoring men I have been with have also been the most narcissistic.

What do I mean by this? Well, they are the kinds of dudes (but they can also be women) who seem to excel at showering you with compliments, making you feel like the most remarkable person out there.

In other words, they have a knack for making you feel like badgalriri. Yep, the only girl in the world!

But here’s where things get ultra, ultra tricky: that euphoric feeling will not last! Let me tell you that for free.

You see, narcissists aren’t all that interested in forming genuine connections or lasting relationships.

You see, their main goal here is to feed their own (ginormous) ego. 

While they may dust you with all of that lovely lovely praise and make you feel like you are basically sky high, it’s all part of their long-winded ploy to keep you on the hook.

So, what’s the tell that your romantic partner has narcissistic tendencies? It’s their incredible knack for making you feel uh-mazing about yourself.

That is, until their own agenda takes over. 

So, the next time you find yourself falling under the spell of a charming someone—no shame, we have all been there—take a breather.

Then, ask yourself: is this genuine adoration, or am I simply being wrapped up in a narcissist’s bag o’ tricks?

2) They always talk about how wonderful they are

Do you often find your SO diving headfirst into a rousing oration about their latest win at work, their killer dress sense, or their irresistible charm?

Well, there’s a high chance they aren’t just feeling themselves… they are feeling something else: narcissism.

According to Mayo Clinic, a narcissistic partner will tend to “behave in an arrogant way, brag a lot and come across as conceited.”

Of course, we’re not saying here that we don’t love ourselves and big ourselves up—that’s healthy. What I mean is that when it becomes a never-ending stream of praise for themselves, it can be a major worry.

A narcissistic partner of yours might hijack every chat to showcase their superiority, leaving little space for anyone else to shine—and that includes you.

This might also look like you sharing your hopes, dreams or wins of your own, and this person immediately shifting the spotlight and steering the conversation back to themselves. 

And trust me, this can be absolutely exhausting. My goodness it can.

Remember, this kind of problematic behavior is about so much more than pride. 

Instead, it is a deep-seated craving for validation and admiration. And as much as I hate to be the harbinger of bad news and doom, this craving never, ever ends.

3) They use others in their lives for their own gain

pic2456 6 subtle signs your partner has narcissistic tendencies, according to psychology

If you are often left feeling like your needs and desires come second to your special someone’s, almost as if you are merely a tool in their quest for personal gain, you might want to look a little deeper—even if it’s hard at first.

A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology purports that people with narcissistic tendencies tend to “take advantage of other people with no intention of paying them back.”

Let’s get to the bottom of this. This level of taking advantage might mean that this person will show interest that is only conditional and solely when it serves their best interests.

They might also be seeking your assistance but fail to reciprocate whenever you need their support in return.

Soon, it becomes super clear that you are mainly only seen as a means to fulfill their desires, rather than being a valued partner in a loving relationship.

Consistently exploiting others for personal gain within a relationship is a huge red flag that points towards narcissistic tendencies.

To me, it hints at a cavernous lack of empathy, as well as a major belief in entitlement, where one expects special treatment at the expense of others.

Believe you me, nobody deserves to be treated as a disposable item in someone else’s life.

4) They’re obsessed with being admired and powerful

This aforementioned study detailed another warning sign of a partner with narcissistic tendencies as them spending huge amounts of time thinking “about gaining unlimited success, power, or love.”

What this means is that this lover of yours constantly seeks admiration, validation, and special treatment, believing they’re entitled to it because, well, they’re exceptional—or so they believe.

This relentless pursuit to be number one isn’t just a little quirk of theirs, it’s actually a clear marker of narcissistic tendencies.

If you are struggling with this you might need to ask yourself: can you really connect deeply with someone who prioritizes their image and status above all else?

Yes, we absolutely all seek validation from our partners, but when it becomes their driving force, it can turn toxic—real fast!

5) They might admit they’re narcissistic

“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of a psychological study into narcissism. 

At first, you might brush it off, perhaps thinking they’re just being candid or even cracking a self-deprecating joke. But let’s take a minute here. 

This seemingly innocent confession might actually be a glaring sign waving right before your eyes.

Bushman continues. “People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don’t see narcissism as a negative quality—they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly.”

This is one point I have struggled with from time to time. Why, o why, would someone proudly declare themselves narcissistic? 

It’s akin to a conwoman boasting about their latest online hoax or a uni student flaunting their cheat sheet after an exam. Yucky, huh?

If we go a little deeper, we can actually see this admission is a clear indication that they not only can see their behavior but also view it as something to be proud of.

In the case, it also highlights their major incapacity to grasp the impact of their actions on others, and an unsettling level of self-absorption.

6) Their listening is almost always one-sided

Psychologist Susan Heitler, explores one major sign of a covert narcissist: unilateral listening.

Now, what does this mean exactly? Basically, it’s a kind of one-sided, selfish listening—so the opposite of active listening.

Basically, you might be chilling with them on the sofa, voicing your struggles at work, or your aspirations at CrossFit, but instead of engaging with you, you notice their eyes totally glazing over, attention wandering, until they steer the conversation right back to themselves.

Dr. Heitler breaks it down further. “Narcissistic listening dismisses, negates, ignores, minimizes, denigrates, or otherwise renders irrelevant other people’s concerns and comments,” she says.

When a person repeatedly fails to engage in balanced conversations, it’s kinda like they are only focused on how your words relate to them—and them alone.

As we all know (well, most of us!) communication is a two-way street. That’s just how it works.

Both partners should be sharing, acknowledging each other, building and maintaining a connection

However, when one person absolutely dominates the conversation, they are essentially putting up a major roadblock to that connection.

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Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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