Signs that indicate You’re with a Narcissist
Realizing that you’re dealing with a narcissist can be one of the most challenging things to do. They’re very charming, successful, attractive and highly manipulative. They are exceptionally confident and can easily make you feel like the most special person in the world. However, they cannot keep up this game for too long. And eventually you will find yourself trapped with a person with an exceptionally high sense of self-importance, selfishness and entitlement.
“In a relationship with a narcissist you will do 90% of everything in the relationship. The 10% they give is only when they want something.” – Tracy Malone
It’s not easy loving someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dr. Craig Malkin offers a helpful guide to catching the signs of NPD early on in a relationship.
At the beginning of April this year, I was tapped by the Huffington Post Live team for a discussion on narcissism. I happily agreed to appear, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that narcissism happens to be one of my favorite subjects. Early in my training, I had the pleasure of working with one of the foremost authorities on narcissism in our field, and in part because of that experience, I went on to work with quite a few clients who’d been diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder. That’s where I learned that the formal diagnostic label hardly does justice to the richness and complexity of this condition.
The most glaring problems are easy to spot — the apparent absence of even a shred of empathy, the grandiose plans, and posturing, the rage at being called out on the slightest of imperfections or normal human missteps — but if you get too hung up on the obvious traits, you can easily miss the subtle (and often more common) features that allow a narcissist to sneak into your life and wreak havoc.
Just ask Tina Swithin, who went on to write a book about surviving her experience with a man who clearly meets criteria for NPD (and very likely, a few other diagnoses). To her lovestruck eyes, her soon-to-be husband seemed more like a prince charming than the callous, deceitful spendthrift he later proved to be. Looking back, Tina explains, there were signs of trouble from the start, but they were far from obvious at the time. In real life, the most dangerous villains rarely advertise their malevolence.
“A victim of circumstance is a casualty. A victim of convenience is a narcissist.” – Alan Robert Neal
So what are we to do? How do we protect ourselves from narcissists if they’re so adept at slipping into our lives unnoticed?
I shared some of my answers to that question in our conversation, and I encourage you to watch it. But there were a few I didn’t get to, and others I didn’t have the chance to describe in-depth, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to revisit the topic here. Tread carefully if you catch a glimpse of any of these subtler signs that you’re with a narcissist:
5 Signs You’re with a Narcissist
1. Projected Feelings of Insecurity:
I don’t mean that narcissists see insecurity everywhere. I’m talking about a different kind of projection altogether, akin to playing hot potato with a sense of smallness and deficiency. Narcissists say and do things, subtle or obvious, that make you feel less smart, less accomplished, less competent. It’s as if they’re saying, “I don’t want to feel this insecure and small; here, you take the feelings.” Picture the boss who questions your methods after their own decision derails an important project, the date who frequently claims not to understand what you’ve said, even when you’ve been perfectly clear, or the friend who always damns you with faint praise (“Pretty good job this time!”). Remember the saying: “Don’t knock your neighbor’s porch light out to make yours shine brighter.” Well, the narcissist loves to knock out your lights to seem brighter by comparison.
Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it’s often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they’ve reached the boiling point — even when they’re in the midst of the most terrifying tirade.
“A Narcissist does not honor your boundaries and will get angry when you try to protect yourself.” – Tracy Malone