Dating a narcissist refers to being in a romantic relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or exhibits narcissistic traits. Narcissists are individuals who have an inflated sense of self-importance, lack empathy, crave admiration and attention, and often exploit others to meet their own needs.
Someone with high narcissistic traits may make a very good first impression. They are good at initial meetings, but this strength derives not from some charismatic maturity, but rather from a sense of need.
Dating a narcissist can be a challenging and draining experience, as they may manipulate, gaslight, and belittle their partners. They may also engage in grandiose gestures or extravagant displays of affection to gain admiration, but ultimately prioritize their own needs and desires above their partner’s.
The problem with someone who has a high degree of narcissistic tendencies is that they don’t relate to people in an ordinary way. A narcissist values other people to the degree that they supply good feedback on themselves. A popular example from children’s fiction is the malevolent Queen in Snow White. You may remember the Queen’s magic mirror; ‘magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?’
The Queen is driven to search out irrefutably positive responses that reinforce the sense of her as special. Admittedly this is a caricatured example, but if you are dating a narcissist you may find they are more interested in the feedback you give them, than in anything else.
A client’s story
I thought he was perfect, he couldn’t have been more attentive, and being with him made me feel very special. When he asked me to move in with him I didn’t need to think about it for long. But then things started to change.anonymous client
Some signs that you may be dating a narcissist include:
Some signs that you may be dating a narcissist include your partner constantly seeking your validation and attention. They may refuse to take responsibility for their actions and instead be quick to belittle or criticize you. If you then question them, they may become angry or defensive and act as though you have challenged them. They are often quick to blame others for their problems and you may feel like you are being manipulated. Narcissists often show very little empathy and have little concern for other people’s feelings. One sign of a narcissist is that they may have an air of entitlement and act as though they are superior to other people.
If you suspect that you are dating a narcissist, it may be helpful to talk to someone about it. the relationship can work to undermine your confidence in your own ideas. Alternatively, you might seek support from a therapist or counsellor to help you get your perspective back.
A client’s story
I wish I had paid more attention to my doubts. Looking back on it, it was small things at first, but I started to think that I was only there to make him feel good about himself. My friends told me I was changing, that I’d lost my confidence. They told me he wasn’t good for me. I ignored them. That was a mistake. If I’d listened to them I might have got away sooner.anoymous client
Why would you date a narcissist?
There are many reasons why someone might date a narcissist, although it’s important to note that it’s not a healthy or recommended choice. Some reasons might include:
- Attraction to confidence: Narcissists often exude confidence and charm, which can be attractive to some people. They may be very skilled at presenting a desirable image to potential partners.
- Emotional manipulation: Narcissists are skilled at manipulating others to get what they want, which can make their partners feel like they are constantly in a state of emotional turmoil. Some people may mistake this constant drama and attention for love and affection.
- Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem may be attracted to narcissists who seem to have it all together and can offer validation and attention.
- Ignorance: Some people may not be aware of the signs of narcissism or the negative impact it can have on relationships. They may not realize they are dating a narcissist until it’s too late.
- Family patterns: If someone grew up in a family where narcissism was present, they may be more likely to seek out similar relationships as adults without realizing it.
It’s important to remember that while these reasons might explain why someone might date a narcissist, it’s not a healthy or safe choice. Narcissistic behavior can be emotionally and mentally damaging to partners, and it’s important to seek support if you are in a relationship with a narcissist.
Breaking narcissistic traits can be a difficult process, as it often involves addressing deep-seated beliefs and patterns of behavior. However, with dedication and effort, it is possible to overcome narcissistic tendencies and develop healthier ways of interacting with others. Here are some tips:
- Seek therapy: Working with a therapist who specializes in personality disorders can be helpful in addressing underlying issues that contribute to narcissistic behavior. A therapist can also provide guidance on developing empathy, improving communication skills, and managing emotions.
- Practice self-reflection: Take time to reflect on your behavior and how it impacts others. Ask yourself if your actions are based on a desire to meet your own needs at the expense of others, or if you are genuinely considering the feelings of those around you.
- Develop empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Practice putting yourself in other people’s shoes and considering how they might be feeling. This can help you develop a greater sense of compassion and reduce self-centeredness.
- Work on communication skills: Narcissistic behavior often involves dominating conversations and disregarding the opinions of others. Practice active listening, ask questions, and show interest in what others have to say.
- Cultivate healthy relationships: Surround yourself with people who support you and encourage healthy behavior. Seek out people who are honest with you, and who will hold you accountable for your actions.
Remember that breaking narcissistic traits takes time and effort, and it’s important to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you work towards change.
Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often the key to developing a clearer understanding of the way we are prone to become caught up in relationships that involve complicating, and often rather destructive, ways of relating.
By giving yourself a safe space to look at these things you may start to discover a greater sense of possibilities, and this may be the beginning of developing a greater sense of understanding how to relate to yourself and others, and how to start living more fully again and to stop being caught up in narcissistic relationships.
The chance to reflect on ourselves, our feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative. Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed.
I have been working with people on issues such as this for more than twenty years. My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.