Is My Partner A Narcissist?
Does your partner display personality traits of being self absorbed, need excessive praise, crave favourable treatment, and have a grandiose sense of own importance?
Are these traits causing you emotional distress, or problems within the relationship?
There is a chance your partner could be suffering from a mental health condition known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Want to skip straight to how to deal with a narcissist? Click here.
On this page:
- What is a narcissist?
- Signs that your partner is a narcissist
- Warning signs
- How to deal with a narcissist
What Is A Narcissist?
A narcissist is someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Narcissism is a mental health condition most commonly present in men. Narcissism stems from poor self esteem, and the need for control.
Their deeply rooted insecurities form into narcissistic tendencies as coping mechanisms in relationships. A relationship with a narcissist can be draining because of potential emotional manipulation.
Some people with NPD do not realise they have it, and while their actions are not intended to hurt you – they do. Meanwhile, some can be aware they have a narcissistic personality disorder and are consciously manipulative.
Signs That Your Partner Is A Narcissist
Narcissism exists on a spectrum. The most common narcissistic traits include:
- Sense of self importance (Grandiosity)
- Sense of entitlement
- Lack of empathy
- Charm and manipulation
- Love bombing
- Trauma dumping
- Future faking
- Chronic emptiness and boredom
A narcissistic partner may not display all traits, but five or more could be cause for concern.
Are you unsure as to whether or not they are a narcissist? Contemplate the following scenarios:
Does you partner .. ?
- Seek excessive admiration and praise from others?
- Feel like they deserve special treatment, or rules don’t apply to them?
- Have a charming image to make people believe they are superior?
- Feel as though they can do no wrong?
- Refuse to accept criticism, or take responsibility for their actions?
- Display lack of empathy towards other people?
- Love bomb you with compliments and praise early in a relationship?
- Become easily irritated when things do not go their way?
- Become disinterested with you and make themselves the centre of all conversations?
- Make you feel like nothing you do will ever be good enough for them?
- Change their behaviour abruptly with little warning?
- Have a constant need for attention?
- Have an inability to recognise the needs of others?
- Act impulsively, having little to no regard for the consequences of their actions?
- Give you the silent treatment for hours?
If your partner displays a combination of these narcissistic traits, then they could be a narcissist.
Concerned partners may recognise the signs of their partner’s narcissistic personality, especially in long term relationships.
‘What makes a great date may not make a great mate’.
Healthy relationships are vital for our wellbeing, and a relationship with a narcissist, or dating a narcissist, can have an extreme impact on your life, and those involved – including children and family.
Narcissists can engage in emotionally abusive behaviour, and warning signs of an abusive relationship include:
- Disrespect through insults and name-calling
- Public humiliation
- Verbal abuse: Yelling and being threatening
- Accusations, displays of jealousy
- Gaslighting and denying your emotions or reality
- Blaming you for everything
- Isolating you from your family and friends
- Not respecting your emotions, trivialising your experiences, needs, or opinions
- Convincing you how you should feel or behave
- Projecting their shortcomings onto you or the relationship
- Being controlled by their behaviours and reactions, like you are walking on eggshells around them.
If your partner displays any of the warning signs mentioned above, we recommend you seek professional support in leaving the relationship.
How To Deal With A Narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist can be difficult. Their hypersensitivity, coupled with their lack of empathy can result in being offended easily. Narcissists often misunderstand views that differ from their own, and struggle to see the needs of others.
Here are some things you can do to deal with a narcissist:
- Recognise the truth of their personality
- Focus on yourself
- Avoid telling them the ‘right’ thing to do
- Manage your expectations
- Stand up for yourself
- Set healthy boundaries
- Confide in a friend
- Leave the relationship.
Recognise The Truth Of Their Personality
At the beginning of a relationship, it is easy to be swept away by the beauty, charm, and charisma of someone new. They talk the talk and start to walk the walk, before things turn dark.
When they show you who they truly are, you should recognise the truth of their personality. If they show a lack of empathy and care towards other people, if they lie and manipulate others, it is likely they will do the same to you eventually.
Despite how much they say they care, their behaviour towards others is a sign for how they could potentially treat you.
Accept them for who they are, because chances are they won’t be changing any time soon.
Focus On Yourself
Narcissists crave attention, and when they do not receive this, they are met with resistance and resentment.
If a narcissistic partner is in your spotlight and doing no good, try to shift your focus. You do not want their thoughts or behaviours to have power over your wellbeing.
Remind yourself of your worth. It is not your job to ‘fix’ them, you need to care for yourself first. Focus your time and energy into your own interests, goals, and hobbies outside of the relationship.
By putting your needs first, you are reaffirming your right to a healthy partnership.
Avoid Telling Them The ‘Right’ Thing To Do
Narcissists will likely not shift perspectives, as they believe they are perfect and faultless. The feelings of others, including friends they supposedly care about, are often not taken into consideration.
If you are in an argument with a narcissist, avoid conversations about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, because they will not be receptive to this dialogue.
Convincing them they are to blame, or to take responsibility for their actions, can be a waste of your precious energy.
Manage Your Expectations
It is unfortunate, but a narcissist is unlikely to apologise for any wrongdoing they have caused. If you expect them to apologise, you will be disappointed, because this most likely will not happen.
Narcissists do not see any issues with their behaviour, and partners of narcissists have to constantly take on the emotional load of two people because of this.
If a narcissist makes a promise to you, they could genuinely mean it. However, when a narcissist gets what they want, their motivations disappear and their actions likely no longer match their old words.
Insist they meet your needs before you meet theirs, and be strong when conveying this communication.
If they can’t keep their word, you should not keep them.
Stand Up For Yourself
Standing up for yourself can be difficult, but it is necessary. You need your narcissistic partner to know that you are not tolerating their behaviour.
Let them know if they want the relationship to continue, they will have to work on establishing a more positive sense of self. Encourage them to be the best version of themselves they can be, to fully show up in the relationship in a positive light.
Having a healthy relationship with others begins by having a healthy relationship with yourself, and narcissists do not have this.
When you stand up for yourself and express your needs, wants, desires, expectations, and goals, your partner should be receptive of these and want to help you achieve them.
If your partner shows disrespect for you or those things mentioned, they do not really care about you or love you in a way you deserve.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are important for positive relationships to flourish.
Healthy relationships are when both parties:
- Make an equal effort to understand one another
- Are able to acknowledge any mistakes and take responsibility for their actions
- Show up as their authentic selves without any worries about how the other person will react.
Boundary setting can include:
- Saying ‘No’
- Not explaining, defending, or justifying yourself because a narcissist won’t want to listen – and if you do these things it still gives them power
- Communicating what will and won’t be tolerated
- Call them out on their behaviour in a matter-of-fact way
- Putting yourself first, respecting your own time and not letting go of your needs to meet theirs
- Directly confront them during a conversation
- Not accepting their criticism.
Confide In A Friend
Having a support system is important. Talking to a friend or trusted person, like a psychologist, can be helpful.
Let them know of your situation and seek help if you feel the relationship is beginning to take a toll on you.
Leave The Relationship
If the relationship is emotionally or physically abusive, separating from your partner is recommended.
The narcissist in your life will expect you to put them and their needs first, but it is important to know that you are the number one person in your life – not them.
If their words and behaviours are impacting your wellbeing, it is time to leave.
This can be difficult and there are various (24/7) support services available if you are in a crisis situation:
- Lifeline – 131 114
- Domestic Violence Line – 1800 65 64 63
- 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
- The Salvation Army – 1300 363 622
- The Line – 1800 695 463
If you are in immediate danger, call emergency services on 000.