Being a narcissist doesn’t mean that a person is self-confident or self-absorbed. It is very different from this. We may call someone a narcissist when they talk about themselves constantly or post too many selfies or flexing pictures on dating profile.
But a real narcissist can have a mental health condition called narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). They can have certain characterization:
- a deep need for excessive importance, attention and admiration
- lack of empathy for others
- often having troubled relationships
Licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC says that it 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. Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish explains “Narcissism falls on a spectrum”.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders most recent edition has listed nine criteria for NPD, but to clinically qualified as a narcissist, someone need to have only five of them.
9 official criteria for NPD
- 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 behaviour
- lack of empathy
- envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudes
It’s important to get diagnosed by a qualified expert to determine someone as a NPD. Because you can’t spot a narcissist just with these criteria.
Here we’re giving you 10 signs to check on your partner and if you find these signs fit, we have also some tips to help you.
1. Very charming at first
Do you ever hear about “love bombing”? When a person tells that they’re in love with you within the first month, constantly text you or show over excitement towards you is generally referred as love- bombing.
Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, founder of Kaleidoscope Counselling in Charlotte, North Carolina says “Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special and that special people are the only ones who can appreciate them fully”. But they could turn on you as soon you do something that they don’t like. Tawwab says “How narcissists treat you, or when they turn on you, actually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own [beliefs].”
Weiler’s advice: If someone came on too strong at the beginning, be wary. Sure, we all love to feel lusted for. But real love has to be nurtured and grown.
“If you think it’s too early for them to really love you, it probably is. Or if you feel like they don’t know enough about you to actually love you, they probably don’t,” Weiler says. People with NPD will try to manufacture superficial connections early on in a relationship.
2. Always talking about themselves
Psychotherapist Jacklyn Krol, LCSW, of Mind Rejuvenation Therapy says “Narcissists love to constantly talk about their own accomplishments and achievements with grandiose. They do this because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it helps them create an appearance of being self-assured.”
Clinical psychologist Dr. Angela Grace, PhD, MEd, BFA, BEd, adds that narcissists will often exaggerate their accomplishments and embellish their talents in these stories in order to gain adoration from others. They’re also too busy talking about themselves to listen to you. The warning is two-part here, says Grace. First, your partner won’t stop talking about themselves, and second, your partner won’t engage in conversation about you.
3. Need compliments
It seems like they’re super self-confident but they are not. According to Tawwab, most people with NPD actually lack self-esteem. “They need a lot of praise, and if you’re not giving it to them, they’ll fish for it,” she says. That’s why they’re constantly looking at you to tell them how great they are.
Shirin Peykar, LMFT adds “Narcissists use other people — people who are typically highly empathic — to supply their sense of self-worth, and make them feel powerful. But because of their low self-esteem, their egos can be slighted very easily, which increases their need for compliments”.
“The main difference between folks who are confident and that with NPD is that narcissists need others to lift them up, and lift themselves up only by putting others down. Two things people with high self-confidence do not do,” Peykar says.
4. Lack of empathy
According to Walfish, Lack of empathy, or the ability to feel how another person is feeling, is one of the hallmark characteristics of a narcissist. “Narcissists lack the skill to make you feel seen, validating, understood, or accepted because they don’t grasp the concept of feelings,” she says.
5. No long-term friends
They generally do not have any real or long-term friends. They keep only casual acquaintances with people. They can even lash out at you when you meet with your friends.
6. Mean with you
They will constantly become mean with you after sometime being in a relationship. They will start to have problem with everything you do such as your clothes, your food habits, your friends, etc.
“They’ll put you down, call you names, hit you with hurtful one-liners, and make jokes that aren’t quite funny. Their goal is to lower other’s self-esteem so that they can increase their own, because it makes them feel powerful” Peykar says.
Gaslighting is a hallmark of narcissism. It includes manipulation and emotional abuse. They will spin the truth, lie and falsely accuse others.
“They do this to cause others to doubt themselves as a way to gain superiority. Narcissists thrive off of being worshipped, so they use manipulation tactics to get you to do just that,” Peykar says.
8. 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
9. Panic when it comes to break up
They will try hard to keep you in their lives if you want to back away. “At first, they may love- bomb you. They’ll say all the right things to make you think they have changed,” Peykar says. But they never change. They do this until they find anyone else to date.
10. Lash you out when it’s done
They will try to hurt you as revenge, if you finally end the relationship. “Their ego is so severely bruised that it causes them to feel rage and hatred for anyone who ‘wronged’ them. That’s because everything is everyone else’s fault. Including the breakup,” Peykar says.
How to make yourself ready to breakup with a narcissist
- Make yourself remind that you deserve better.
- Talk to your friends about it and build a support network.
- Try to take your partner to a therapist.
- Get yourself to a therapist.
“You cannot change a person with narcissistic personality disorder or make them happy by loving them enough or by changing yourself to meet their whims and desires. They will never be in tune with you, never empathic to your experiences, and you will always feel empty after an interaction with them. Narcissists can’t feel fulfilled in relationships, or in any area of their lives, because nothing is ever special enough for them. The best thing you can do is cut ties. Offer them no explanation. Offer no second chance. Break up with them and offer no second, third, or fourth chance,” Grace says.
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