Someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), a mental health condition are often characterized by:
- an overrated sense of importance
- Crave for excessive attention and admiration
- lack of empathy for others
- often having troubled relationships
What it boils down to, says licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC, is selfishness at the (usually extreme) expense of others, plus the inability to consider others’ feelings at all.
NPD, like most mental health or personality disorders, isn’t black and white. “Narcissism falls on a spectrum,” explains Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”
The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, HOWEVER, someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist.
9 criteria for NPD-You need only 5 to qualify as a narcissist
Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration.
- grandiose sense of self-importance
- preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- need for excessive admiration
- sense of entitlement
- interpersonally exploitative behavior
- lack of empathy
- envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
And having 1 or 5 of these signs doesn’t make your partner a narcissist. Rather, it’s good cause for reevaluating whether or not you’re thriving in your relationship. You’re not responsible for their behavior, but you are responsible for taking care of yourself.
Knowing the 9 criteria doesn’t usually make it easier to spot a narcissist, especially when you’re romantically involved with one. It’s usually not possible to determine if someone has NPD without the diagnosis of a qualified expert.
Spotting a Narcissist-10 signs you are Dating a Narcissist
However, simply knowing these criteria doesn’t make it any easier to spot a narcissist in real life, especially if you are romantically involved with them. Often, the closer we are to someone, the more difficult it is to see them clearly.
Here are some of the TOP 10 “real life” signs to look out for if you think that you might be dating a narcissist.
1.They lack empathy
Their lack of the the ability to feel how another person is feeling, is one of the trademarks of narcissistic personality disorder.Narcissists lack the skill to make you feel seen, heard, or validated. This is because they don’t generally grasp the concept of feelings. They generally understand their own emotions, but not the emotions of others.
Ask yourself; does your partner care if you are upset or tired, or stressed? How do they react when you express your feelings?
2.Lack of long-term friends
Most narcissists don’t have many, or any, long-term, real friends.Most of their friends are ‘friends for benefit”. Simply put, people eventually see through them and don’t hang around. If you take a closer look at their “friendships” they will likely only have acquaintances, people they hang out with sometimes but talk about behind their backs and enemies.
As well as pointing to underlying issues with sustaining relationships (even platonic ones), this might also mean that they lash out when you want to hang out with your friends. They might claim that you don’t spend enough time with them, that you like your friends more than you like them, or try to point out flaws in your friends.
Ask yourself:How does your partner treat someone when they don’t want anything from the other person? Does your partner have any long-term friends?
3.They were very charming… when you first met
This is a period known as “love bombing”. They planned nice dates, bought presents or flowers, text you back right away, told you they loved you early on, and so on. They might even emphasise how compatible you both are, maybe telling you that no one else “gets them” as well as you do.
However, as soon as you do something that disappoints them, they turn on you. You will usually not know exactly what it is that you did. You will be left wondering how you’ve hurt them, and how you can fix it. Narcissists are very adept at making you think that it is all your fault and that you need to be the one to fix it.
They may make you feel as if you are crazy or going mental!-gaslighting
Often, the difference between when they “love” you and when they turn on you is like night and day.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse and is another trademark of narcissism. The term “gaslighting” came from a play written in 1938 by Patrick Hamilton , called Gas Light.
During this play, the male character dims the gas lights and then proceeds to convince his wife that she is imagining it. Gaslighting “involves psychologically manipulating someone to make them doubt their own sanity” (Anat Toffeel, from Solace Woman’s Aid).
According to Verywellmind.com : Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships.
It is a covert type of emotional abuse where the bully or abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality.
Signs of gaslighting include:
You no longer feel like the person you used to be
you feel more anxious and less confident than you used to be
You often wonder if you are being too sensitive
you feel like everything you do is wrong
you always think it’s your fault when things go wrong
you apologise often
you have a sense that something’s wrong, but you can’t identify what it is
you often question whether your response to your partner is appropriate
You make excuses for your partner’s behavior.
Gaslighting is another way that a narcissist will gain superiority over those around them. It is a way for them to “break you down” and get what they want.
5.They dominate the conversation
- Narcissists love to talk about their own achievements and accomplishments with grandiose.
- They feel better and smarter than everyone around them, but also talking about how much better and smarter they are helped to create the appearance of being self-assured.
- Because of this, narcissists will often exaggerate their accomplishments and embellish their talents in these stories in order to gain adoration from others.
- Lots of people like to talk about themselves, but you will get an inkling that you are talking to a narcissist when the conversation is always about them and when they don’t engage in conversations about you.
- Ask yourself; what happens when you do talk about yourself? Do they ask follow-up questions? Are they interested? Or, do they make the conversation all about them?
6.They love and often thrive on compliments
- Narcissists may seem like they are overly confident in themselves but, as we’ve said above, most narcissists actually have quite a low self-esteem.
- Therefore, they need a lot of praise and if they feel like they aren’t getting enough, they will fish for it. They will say things like “doesn’t this look good on me?” and wait for you to actually answer them. And answer affirmatively.
- Narcissists attach themselves to highly empathic people who will supply them with admiration and compliments buoy their self-esteem.
- Someone who is actually self-confident won’t rely solely on you, or anyone else, to boost their self-esteem.
- Some narcissists will expect you to act as their partner, so that they can get the emotional and se xual benefits of being in a relationship, but will still seek out other relationships prospects. A narcissist believes that they deserve the best, and so they will keep their eye out, always looking for someone “better” to come along.
- If you notice this and speak up, your partner will likely gaslight you, telling you that you’re imagining things or making things up. They will probably also use it as another reason not to fully commit to you.
- However, if you don’t speak up, they will take that as a silent message that they can carry on and that you don’t deserve their respect.
8.They panic when you try to end the relationship
- As soon as you back away from the relationship, a narcissist will try that much harder to reel you back in. They may go back to the love-bombing stage of the relationship, treating you really well, buying you gifts, “prooving themselves” to you.
- However, they won’t be able to sustain this, and will eventually go back to their narcissistic ways.They simply can’t handle the idea of someone else leaving them. This hits their vulnerability and low self-esteem hard and will cause them to panic and hold on tighter.
9.When you really end the relationship, they lash out
- When they realise that you are really ending the relationship and that they can’t reel you back in, they will make it their goal to hurt you for abandoning them.
- Their ego, and self-esteem, are so badly hurt that they feel rage or hatred towards you. They won’t see that they have done anything wrong, and so they will feel betrayed by you and abandoned.
- They can’t stand the idea that anyone else will think badly of them either, so they will bad-mouth you and blame you for the relationship ending, just so that other people don’t think poorly of them.
10.They think they’re right about everything… and never apologize
“There is no debating or compromising with a narcissist, because they are always right,” Tawwab says. “They won’t necessarily see a disagreement as a disagreement. They’ll just see it as them teaching you some truth.”
According to Peykar, you may be dating a narcissist if you feel like your partner:
- doesn’t hear you
- won’t understand you
- doesn’t take responsibility for their part in the issue
- doesn’t ever try to compromise
While ending the relationship is the best game plan with a narcissist, Weiler advises on avoiding negotiation and arguments. “It will make you feel crazy. The thing that drives a narcissist crazy is the lack of control and the lack of a fight. The less you fight back, the less power you can give them over you, the better,” she says.
And because they never think they’re wrong, they never apologize. About anything.
This inability to apologize could reveal itself in situations where your partner is obviously at fault, like:
- showing up for a dinner reservation late
- not calling when they said they would
canceling important plans last minute, like meeting your parents or friends
Good partners are able to recognize when they’ve done something wrong and apologize for it.
How to breakup If you are Dating a Narcissist
- Constantly remind yourself that you deserve better.
- Strengthen your relationships with your empathetic friends.
- Build a support network with friends and family who can help remind you what is reality.
- Urge your partner to go to therapy.
- Get a therapist yourself.
- DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria for the personality disorders. (2012).
- Grace A. (2019). Personal interview.
- Kirkwood A. (2019). Personal interview.
- Krol J. (2019). Personal interview.
- Peykar S. (2019). Personal interview.
- Tawwab NG. (2019). Personal interview.
- Walfish F. (2019). Personal interview.
- Weiler R. (2019). Personal interview.