The word “narcissism” comes from the Greek story of Narcissus, a hunter who fell in love with his own reflection. Now, while this story of Narcissus is a fun piece of Greek mythology, being in a relationship with someone with a narcissistic personality can be anything but.
So, today, we’re going to dive into what narcissism is, signs to look out for, and how to deal with a narcissistic partner.
What Is a Narcissist?
A true narcissist is someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). These disorders are more commonly found in men than women, but women can be narcissists as well. Narcissism stems from the need for control mixed with poor self-esteem and happens when insecurities turn into narcissistic tendencies that the individual uses as coping mechanisms in relationships. Because of this, relationships with narcissistic people can be incredibly draining.
Some people may have NPD without realizing that they have it but others may be very aware that they have NPD and are intentionally manipulative all of the time.
Signs Your Partner Is a Narcissist
It can be very tricky to spot, especially because, like most personality disorders, narcissism is not black and white, it is many different shades of grey — it exists on a spectrum.
That being said, there are a number of traits that you can look out for that are commonly associated with a narcissistic personality disorder. These traits are:
- Sense of self-importance and entitlement
- Lack of empathy
- Constant need for praise
- Envious behavior
- Constant charm and manipulation
- Chronic boredom and emptiness
- Trauma dumping
- Love bombing
- Emotionally abusive behavior — such as gaslighting, imposed isolation, etc.
Now, even if your partner is a narcissist, they may not display all of these traits. But, if you are noticing that they display more than a few of these traits, it may be that your partner has NPD — even if they are unaware of it.
As we mentioned earlier, spotting a narcissistic partner can be difficult, and if you are still having a hard time figuring out if your partner is exhibiting signs of narcissism, there is another approach that you can take to help give you a better idea of whether or not they have a narcissistic personality disorder.
Chances are that your partner may have NPD if you find yourself feeling like:
- Your confidence has gone down
- You are walking on eggshells or are uncomfortable in their presence
- You make excuses for their behavior
- You know something is wrong but you don’t know what it is
- You make sacrifices to please them
- You blame yourself for things happening
- You spend a lot of mental energy on them
If you are noticing these feelings within your relationship — especially if they are in conjunction with your partner displaying some of the narcissistic traits listed above — it might be the time to consider seeking professional support that can help you properly address the reality that your partner may have NPD.
How to Cope with a Narcissistic Partner
OK, so you are noticing that your partner exhibits narcissistic traits and you are feeling drained and less confident since starting your relationship with them. How can you address this?
Well, the truth is that a person with a narcissistic personality disorder is unlikely to change their personality, so while we do have some tips here that can help you to deal with a narcissistic personality when it comes down to it, you need to decide if this relationship is giving you what you need or if the best choice for your needs is to leave it.
So, without further ado, here are some tips that can help you cope with a narcissistic partner.
Step one is to recognize the truth of your partner’s personality. If they are not showing empathy or care towards the people around you and they constantly are lying and manipulating others, there is no guarantee that they won’t behave the same way to you in time.
If you are deciding to stay with your partner, you need to accept them for who they are — because as we mentioned above, they’re likely not going to be changing any time soon.
Focus on You
Don’t let the actions or thoughts of your partner have power over your own wellbeing. We need to take care of ourselves first — no, it is not selfish.
You are not there to “fix” your partner, you are deserving of a loving and respectful relationship that addresses your needs as well as your partners. So, it is important that you ensure that you are focusing your time and energy on your own desires, goals, interests, and hobbies outside of your relationship.
Avoid “Right” and “Wrong”
A narcissist will likely not respond well to an argument about things being “right” or “wrong” and trying to convince them that they are to blame for something or that they need to take responsibility for their actions is likely to blow right over their heads.
This can make these arguments a waste of time and your valuable energy, so in general, it can be best to avoid these types of “perspective-shifting” strategies to get your point across.
Stand Up for Yourself
If you do not stand up for yourself in a relationship with a narcissistic partner, then no one will be standing up for you. You need to let your partner know — clearly — that if they want this relationship to continue they need to work on being a more positive version of themselves.
If your partner continues to show disrespect to you or your interests, goals, or desires then they are not showing you the support and love that you deserve and it may be best for you to consider whether this relationship is giving you the connection you need or not.
Maintain Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are a part of every healthy relationship — whether it is romantic or not. These are an essential part of ensuring that both parties in the relationship are getting the connection and support that they need to have a thriving, positive relationship.
The first step to maintaining boundaries is to set them. This can be done with your partner so that you can come up with your boundaries together and ensure that both of you are on the same page — as well as keep each other accountable!
Talk to a Someone
Dealing with a narcissistic partner can be incredibly difficult and emotionally draining and having a support system can be incredibly helpful in regaining some of that energy and figuring out how to cope with any issues or support you when you are needing to make changes.
You could talk to a close friend, family member, or other trusted person, like a professional therapist, for this support. Speaking with a therapist can be especially helpful because they can oftentimes offer you more advice and personalized guidance on how to best handle and improve your situation. So, if you feel that speaking to a licensed therapist could be the right next step for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow.