“Is my partner a narcissist?”
Uh-oh, you’re typing this title on Google?
Then you’re probably already closer to the answer than you think. Buckle up, bestie, and throw away your rose-tinted glasses because we’re going to be identifying some major red flags today.
The first order of business is to define a narcissist. Clinically, a narcissist is a person diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which the Mayo Clinic defines as “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance.”
“They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others.” Ringing any bells? It sure does for me!
Now, while I’m not qualified to diagnose anyone (and this is me just being snarky, but would a potential narcissist actually get themselves diagnosed without intervention?), let’s still put our thinking caps on and comb through some of their traits and some of its manifestations in a relationship.
By no means is this a checklist; this is, however, a definite thinker. Will the list resonate?
Let’s find out:
These are the 5 traits I wanted to point out: The Grandiosity, The Entitlement, The Control, The Disregard, and The Aggression. Listed under each one are some of the manifestations of it in relationships, it’s also important for me to note that these warning signs can overlap under different traits.
The intention and motive are the same despite having different names.
1) They bloat their importance
Have you ever told someone a story and their reply to you was a dismissal of what you just said and a one-upmanship from them in one fell swoop? It’s a competition, you see, even when it isn’t.
You ate at a new sushi place? They had better sushi. In Japan.
You got a pay raise? They got an even bigger pay raise. Probably even a promotion.
You got a new apartment? So did they, and in an even better part of town, etc.
Will all of their claims be true? Not necessarily, but they just need to win.
Image is everything to narcissists; it’s one of the main driving forces of their personality: how they present themselves, how they appear to other people, and how they are perceived.
Narcissists—or people with narcissistic tendencies—tend to bloat their importance, reputation, and status. They want to be (and believe themselves to be) the best in any room. Smartest, richest, most attractive, most successful, the superlative of any adjective.
This brings me to the next point: Lying constantly.
2) They lie constantly
Narcissists lie a lot, persistently and constantly. Even when the lie is not sustainable. What do I mean by this?
When someone can tell you that a loved one has passed away to gain your sympathy or to get out of a responsibility. When someone can fake a promotion or a high-paying job just to appear successful in their career. When someone pretends to know a famous person for clout. Or pretend they went to Japan just to say they had better sushi.
When someone can create an entirely different reality despite it being easily disproved, that’s what I mean by an unsustainable lie. And it’s never just one lie, it’s one lie after another. It’s one lie to cover up another lie.
And when you do point it out or suspect them, they will make you feel bad for doubting them (that’s manipulation, by the way.)
3) They are easily angered when things don’t go their way
As I said, everything’s a competition for these people. They’re hypercompetitive. And if they feel like they’re not winning, that won’t bode well for everyone involved.
They’re easily angered even over the smallest things. They’re bad at accepting criticism (but most probably have no problem dishing it out.) Everything is perceived as an insult even when it’s a valid input.
Everything is a provocation, even when it isn’t. Seeing the pattern yet? Truth is only important to narcissists if it’s their truth.
4) They victimize themselves
“If you aren’t for me, then you are against me.”
A narcissist thinks that the world revolves around them. They think the world and everyone in it owes them whatever they ask for.
And when things go wrong, they blame everyone but themselves. They hold no accountability for their own actions. Responsibility? Ha! Dream on!
They will frame the narrative that they are at a disadvantage. Examples: “I only cheated on you because you never have time for me.” Or “Why are you making me out to be the bad guy when I just want the best for you?”
Again, the truth is only important to narcissists if it’s their own.
5) They don’t do anything unless rewarded
This superiority running through their veins makes them believe that certain activities are below them. They think they’re too good to participate in something they don’t deem worthy of their attention.
An example of this is when they expect sexual favors when they do something nice for you. Or when every favor comes with “What am I getting out of it?” attached to it. I keep saying “favor” but this could be as mundane as everyday chores.
Every favor and every task is transactional.
6) The emotional manipulation
Emotional manipulation can have many names and may look different from one person to another. It could be subtle, persistent, and long-term. It could also be obvious and sudden. Or both.
Whichever way they do it, the end goal is for you to be at a disadvantage. Or they make you think you are.
7) The love bombing
You might be thinking, “Why is love bombing under ‘control’?”
Well, they want to control what you think about them. They want you to see them in the best possible light and fast. They want to control the narrative of your relationship. They want to control public opinion. They want to control the highs and lows of your relationship, the pace of it. They want you to validate them.
They want you to owe them and yes, it is emotional manipulation.
8) They don’t ask for your opinions
They don’t consult you when making decisions, no matter how big or small the decisions may be. (They might think they can make the best decision.)
They don’t care about your preferences, either.
They don’t ask because they don’t care. Repeat after me: They don’t ask because they don’t care. It’s never just a one-time thing, either.
This is also a form of control. They don’t care about what you want because what you want is not important to them. Their needs come first. Unless, of course, what you want is also what they want.
9) If you do give your opinions, they will think or say that you’re wrong.
If you do give your opinions, they will think or say that you’re wrong. They will make you believe that you are.
If someone is nasty enough to consciously make another person question their sanity, that’s such a blatant disregard for someone’s well-being. Gaslighting can make people unsure of their reality, making it easier for narcissists to control them.
10) They never apologize
This one is pretty self-explanatory. They don’t apologize. Ever. Down to the smallest of things.
They don’t hold themselves accountable. They will run around you in circles to squirrel out of responsibility and blame everyone but themselves.
11) They weaponize apologies
Okay, so maybe they do sometimes apologize, but then they weaponize it. An insincere apology, an apology that serves as a preamble for something else. It’s never just a sorry.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.” or “I’m sorry you were offended.” The blame lies with you still.
How about the microaggressive, “Sorry, I was just joking, you know”? It’s punting the responsibility back to you and your “inability” to take a joke.
TL;DR, they will only apologize if they can get something out of it.
12) They are vindictive
Narcissists carry grudges, they are vindictive even to the extent of pettiness.
As I said, everything is a competition for narcissists, and if you aren’t cheering on them to win then you are hoping for them to lose. And they take that personally.
13) They are prone to aggression and violence
This one is also pretty self-explanatory: Narcissists are prone to aggression and violence. They are ragefully reactive when provoked. (And sometimes even when they aren’t.)
This research from Ohio State University reviewed 437 studies of narcissism and aggression involving a total of over 123,000 participants and found that narcissism is linked to an increase in aggression and violence, 21% and 18% respectively.
So… what now?
If this list resonated, you might be feeling a lot of intense emotions right now. A lot of confusion, and a lot of overthinking to be had. That’s okay. That’s understandable. A second opinion, either from your support system or from a professional, could be helpful, too.
Regardless of what you choose to do moving forward, you don’t have to go through it alone. Don’t let shame nor blame stop you from reaching out. Let me remind you that you are important, you are worthy of a healthy relationship, and you deserve love that doesn’t bring you pain.
Hang in there.