Are you in a relationship with a narcissist? These 7 signs are indisputable, and will tell you everything you need to know.
Living with someone who displays narcissistic personality traits can be challenging, to say the least. Although you may love the person, their narcissistic traits often leave you feeling confused, belittled, ashamed, and even unloved.
It is helpful to know why they act this way. People who display narcissistic traits have built a defense against their underlying insecurities, unresolved conflicts, and unpleasant memories or feelings, which comes out as toxic (and harmful) behaviour. Chances are, these people were rejected in some way during their childhood, by the very ones who were supposed to show them unconditional love and support. Now, they simply defend their feelings of rejection by repeatedly telling themselves, and others, that they are perfect and lovable.
Recognizing potential narcissistic traits can at least help you to make sense of seemingly senseless behaviour. If you recognize any of these 7 signs in your relationship. then you’re likely involved with a narcissist:
Gaslighting, or “crazy making,” is a manipulation technique narcissists often employ to get what they want. They will tell you things like, “I never said that,” and make you doubt your own sanity. When you try to point out something they said or did that hurt you, they make you feel like the crazy one because they act like your reaction to their abuse is irrational.
Yashar Ali writes, “Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.”
2. You’re never heard
Conversations with these types of people are usually one-sided. They love to talk about themselves, and if you try to sway the topic in another direction, one of 3 things will happen: 1) they will ignore you and dismiss whatever it was you were saying, 2) they will argue with you and become extremely defensive or insulting, or 3) they will say something that is completely irrelevant, but makes you look dumb by comparison. Basically, they will find a way to direct the attention back to themselves, regardless of what the topic of conversation might be.
It could even be something as menial as the colour of your shoelaces. They’d find a way to make it about them. It’s almost like some sort of mind-boggling personality disorder magic trick that leaves you in an uncomfortable state of awe and frustration.
3. Breaking rules
Whether it is societal norms, like tipping, or ground rules for the home, like turning the lights off at night, a narcissist will deliberately break rules in order to establish control. Or, at least that’s how they see it. You may wonder why on earth someone wouldn’t tip a waiter who worked hard to give excellent service, or why someone would want to intentionally waste electricity (even after you’ve explained the cost etc). Well, there isn’t any rationale or logic behind these actions, they are done as a means to control their environment. No one is going to tell them what to do, and if you think you can, you better think again.
Narcissists are drawn to chaos, and if there isn’t any around, they will create some.
4. Constant let-down
A typical trait of these types of individuals is they always let you down. Broken promises abound, along with lack of reliability and follow-through. They will say one thing and do another- quite regularly. Pay attention to their inconsistencies and watch them pile up.
Maybe it was a class they said they would help pay for, or an agreement about who would do what chores, or maybe it was an emotional agreement that was broken. Perhaps they keep saying they are there for you and will be around to talk about whatever you need, but then when the time comes, they are no where to be found.
This is a big one. Narcissists feel entitled to pretty much everything- clothes, personal items, money- you name it, they think they can have it. And all without asking, of course.
It might be little things at first, but it will start to encroach on your personal boundaries eventually. Insensitive words quickly follow insensitive actions.
6. Superiority masked as “help”
This manipulation tactic is common in narcissists. They will point out your “flaws” or “lack of intelligence” by making fun of you and playing it off as they are helping you.
How often do you hear seemingly minor, passive-aggressive jokes and comments about your body, facial features, choice of clothing, use of time, or personal priorities? It’s not normal for someone who cares about you to constantly try to break you down.
7. Lack of commitment
Because they are as self-absorbed as they are, a narcissist will never be able to fully commit to another person. Their world revolves around them, and what can benefit them. Of course, they are charming at first, but their true colours start to reveal themselves after a while. They are always keeping their eyes open for what, or who, can benefit them the most. Once they’ve milked everything they can from you emotionally, and perhaps financially, they will move on to their next victim and blame you as the reason for their departure.
If these traits sound familiar to you, then you’re probably feeling increasingly irritated, frustrated, stressed or easily angered when you had no anger before. Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself in a spiral of negativity, with disappointments around every corner. Maybe your self-esteem has plummeted, and your health isn’t what it used to be.
Staying in a toxic relationship doesn’t help either person. The best thing you can do is understand that you can not change them. Not because they are a narcissist, but because no one has that kind of power over another.
Related: 8 Ways To Spot A Narcissist
This short animated video by W. Keith Campbell gives some important information on what a narcissist really is, and why they act the way they do.
Written by Raven Fon