couple holding hands

7 Signs You Are in a Relationship With a Narcissist


Sober Recovery Expert Author

couple holding hands

When we make new friends or start a romantic relationship it is natural to want to give ourselves and put our best foot forward. We smile more, laugh at each other’s jokes even if they aren’t that funny and are slightly more agreeable to some degree. This is normal until you get into a more comfortable and natural rhythm of interacting as our authentic selves with others.

However, some people are happy to take your good gestures and kindness and stop giving to you in return. At a slow pace, your significant other may begin expecting much more than they are giving in return and do not care that your feelings are suffering. It is good to be aware that a person being overly self-involved and arrogant, demanding and extremely expectant may have a narcissistic personality and become abusive emotionally, verbally, or both. Watch for these signs that might be leading you into a relationship with a narcissistic abuser.

A narcissist needs extreme validation regularly to feel satisfied and wants you to be their source despite the cost of your own self-worth.

1. They say you are more special than other men/women.

This probably sounds harmless enough and typically makes someone feel good inside. The difference is that a narcissist plays on your feelings of wanting to be special to someone. Initially, he or she will shower you with affection and make you feel as special as they say you are. However, over time their attitudes and actions will slowly begin to change and, though you were convinced of your specialness, you aren’t treated that way anymore. Only when you threaten to end the relationship do they again use this tactic to gain undeserved forgiveness.

2. They don’t allow anyone else into your relationship.

A narcissistic person wants to isolate you. Their motive is to keep you from anyone who may see them for what they are. They do not want to be around people who know they are abusive and will warn you away in any manner possible. If they keep you to themselves, no one can see what is happening and you will be too lonely to leave.

3. They tell you that no one understands them but you.

This is another way to con you into allowing poor behavior. A narcissist will complain that they are victims of misunderstanding and have no other friends and family or that people dislike them. Do not believe this. There is a reason why they have no other people in their lives. Narcissists have no empathy or attachment to people and do not have the skills to learn.

4. They disappear for no reason and then blame you for it.

Suddenly your calls and texts go unanswered for hours or even days. It is natural to feel confused and worried when this happens and you may wonder what caused them to do this. When the person finally shows up or calls acting as if nothing happened this can be very upsetting. To take the blame off themselves, however, you are told that it is your fault because of some very small incident. Or worse, your feelings are dismissed and treated as invalid. Suddenly, you are apologizing for something you didn’t do and making that person feel empowered.

5. They gaslight as a means of manipulation.

Most people are familiar with this term. But for those that have not heard of it, gaslighting is a behavior to confuse and manipulate you. Coined by the 1982 play “Gas Light,” the whole purpose of gaslighting is to crush someone’s self-esteem and confidence so that they can no longer function independently. Narcissists are very good at playing this game and will have you second guessing your better judgment before you know it. This is a way to discredit your legitimate thoughts and feelings, allowing for verbal abuse and humiliation.

6. They withhold intimacy, money or interaction.

Visiting with a friend or family member can result in unexpected punishment from a narcissist. Even working overtime or returning late from a shopping trip can cause an unreasonable response. You may suffer the consequences of having your self-esteem stripped. The silent treatment and a full lack of acknowledgement or a restriction of any physical contact are common in these situations. Even having your bank account restricted happens if this person has access to it. Narcissists are secretly very insecure and empty inside. They will do anything to avoid abandonment. If you don’t give every spare moment to them for the feeding of their ego, you will be punished to make sure you know what the priority is. Them.

7. They trash other relationships.

A narcissist’s goal is to be worshipped because they really have no sense of self. It is your job to fill them up. When you get involved with a narcissist, they will inevitably begin offending everyone you know in an attempt to make you give all of your attention to them. Easily resorting to lies, a narcissist will claim victimization and being disliked, insulted and more. It will be an excuse to not attend functions, follow through on social plans and even family events.

Notice how most of these signs co-mingle within each other. Often, one symptom leads to another in a series.

People with narcissistic personalities are extremely fearful of others opinion of them, are cowards and have an enormously negative outlook on themselves. Often secretive and underhanded, they need someone that will dote on them and is easily manipulated into doing so. In a constant search for validation, your willingness to love them is exploited. Once you are involved, you will be working very hard for a relationship that does not give very much in return.

A narcissist needs extreme validation regularly to feel satisfied and wants you to be their source despite the cost of your own self-worth. They are incapable of returning love and really don’t care that you are in emotional or physical pain. Narcissists have no concern for anyone but themselves. That is a painful realization if you have given up your whole outside world to be with this type of person.

The only way to overcome a relationship with this individual is no contact at all. Many of the people who become involved with narcissists have codependent tendencies. Please take the time to investigate if you fall into this category and let people who truly love you help you.

If you discover you are in a relationship with a person like this, do not blame yourself. These emotional swindlers are very good at influencing kind, giving individuals who mean well. The slightest involvement of someone who will not fall prey to their advances will send them running. Talk to your friends or family and include them in every part of your life.

If you or someone you know is seeking help, please visit our directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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