If you are in a relationship with a narcissist and believe you require legal support. Then please contact our team to speak to a specialist family lawyer.
Updated August 2023
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist is someone who displays characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, a mental illness that causes an excessive sense of self-importance. Someone with a narcissistic personality will:
- Display a pattern of egocentric thinking and behaviour
- Be unable to understand or care about others and their feelings
- Seek attention and admiration in all areas of their life.
They might be described by others as arrogant, selfish, and manipulative. However, despite projecting a confident or grandiose image, often the root cause of narcissistic behaviour is low self-worth.
Masking their insecurity means that even when their behaviour creates problems, people with a narcissistic personality are extremely resistant to change, quick to blame others, and sensitive to even the slightest criticism.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can have extensive effects on your mental health. And with characteristics including a heightened sense of self-importance, lack of empathy, inability to make healthy connections, and a lack of remorse, it’s no surprise that these relationships can be incredibly toxic.
Julian Hawkhead, Senior Partner, shares seven signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist.
All too often, I see clients whose relationships have broken down due to one party displaying narcissistic traits. Narcissists can be incredibly charming. They excel at projecting a flattering and attractive image of themselves, drawing people in with their confidence and charisma. It’s easy to get sucked in. Sadly, the charm offensive doesn’t last for long. Having a narcissistic partner can have a devastating impact on a person’s mental health.
What are the traits of a narcissist?
Here are seven narcissistic traits to watch out for:
1. Narcissists are controlling
Narcissists like to be in control. Of everything. What’s more is that they will use this control to exploit and manipulate everything to their own advantage and not care about who gets hurt along the way.
Typically charming at the start of a relationship, their narcissistic traits are often initially well hidden by a carefully crafted ‘false self’. It’s a strategy designed to reel you in and temporarily make you feel as though they truly value you.
Inevitably the charm ends, and their true character is revealed, leaving the other person in the relationship feeling dominated and as though they’ve lost control of their life.
2. It’s all about them
Narcissists are so preoccupied with themselves that nothing else gets a look in. Never happier than when things revolve around them, a narcissist will quickly redirect focus onto themselves if attention strays.
People that exhibit narcissistic behaviour believe they are superior to others, so when they don’t receive the admiration or recognition they think they deserve, they feel affronted and may even become abusive.
With their exaggerated sense of status, they’re also likely to be disparaging and disrespectful about people they consider inferior.
3. They lack empathy
Lack of empathy is a defining characteristic of a narcissistic personality. A narcissist simply does not care about the needs, wants, or feelings of others, unless there’s something in it for them. This applies to friends, family, and partners, alike.
Without the capacity to relate to other people’s feelings, narcissists seem immune to remorse or guilt, leaving them free to behave as they want to without repercussions.
4. They manipulate people (including you)
Masters of manipulation, narcissists are highly skilled at twisting situations and working them to their advantage. They have a range of manipulative techniques including, gaslighting.
Manipulation allows the narcissist to increase influence and control, by casting doubt and invalidating their partner’s reality.
They’ll make you lose trust in your instincts, deliberately causing confusion and anxiety. When done on repeat and over time it can have a serious and lasting impact on a persons’ mental health.
5. They have an inflated sense of entitlement
One key trait of narcissistic personality disorder is an inflated sense of entitlement, where the narcissist believes, whether earned or not, that they deserve special treatment, rewards and privileges not afforded to others.
No one else’s needs are more important than theirs. There is no option other than to get what they want, and they’ll do what whatever it takes, firmly believing that rules don’t apply to them.
However, when their entitled beliefs backfire, and things don’t go their way, it can lead to a sense of intense disappointment or anger.
6. Nothing is ever their fault
Narcissists never take responsibility for anything because they don’t believe that they can do anything wrong. Lying, cheating, complex excuses; narcissists will do anything to avoid scrutiny of their behaviour.
Combine their lack of regard for the truth and their fine manipulation skills and before you know it you’ve apologised for something you did not do.
7. They need constant praise and attention
Narcissists crave constant validation, otherwise known as narcissistic supply. They’re fuelled by admiration, recognition, and attention to counterbalance their underlying insecurity and lack of self-worth.
Their addiction to external validation creates a cycle that bolsters their all-important sense of status and power, confirming what they already believe, and further inflating their ego.
But no matter how much praise you give them, it will never be enough.
People with narcissistic traits might also:
- Be preoccupied with success, power, and appearance
- Believe they can only be understood by equally special people
- Expect others to do what they want without question
- Envy others and believe others envy them
- Be prone to bragging and exaggeration
- Obsess over status
- Insist on having the best of everything
- Exaggerate accomplishments and talents.
What can you do if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist?
Narcissists will deny their own flaws and mistakes to protect themselves from their deep-rooted feeling of inferiority. An effective way of doing this is to project their own insecurities onto you.
Being wrongly labelled or blamed for things you didn’t do can be very difficult and over time can impact your self-esteem. Having a narcissistic partner can have detrimental long-term effects that are difficult to overcome. Leaving a partner with narcissism can be even harder. But with the right support you can do it.
It takes a great deal of self-knowledge and self-confidence to end any relationship. Talking to a solicitor to understand your legal rights is a great starting point. We also advise clients to talk to trusted friends and family about what they’re going through, and seek counselling if you feel it will be beneficial.
We highly recommend that you seek legal advice to ensure that the process will work for you and your family. You can contact our specialist team below.
If your partner makes you feel threatened or anxious or you are in an abusive relationship, please do seek urgent support.
The National Domestic Violence Helpline is open 24 hours a day and can be reached on 0808 2000 247.
Get in touch
If you would like any advice on leaving a relationship with a narcissist, please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist divorce lawyers.
- National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
- The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327
- The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
- Galop, National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
- Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123