A relationship with a narcissist
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can have far-reaching effects on your mental health. And with characteristics including a grandiose sense of self, lack of empathy, superficial charm and a lack of remorse, it’s no surprise that these relationships can be incredibly toxic.
In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we have revisited one of our most well-read articles on the seven signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist.
Your partner is always right, needs to be the centre of attention and can’t handle any criticism. Sound familiar? Well, you could be in a relationship with a narcissist.
Julian Hawkhead, Senior Partner joins us on the blog to share the 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 the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). A mental condition, narcissism “is characterised by an overvalued sense of self-importance and a disregard for and lack of empathy for others.” *
NPD is a very extreme form of narcissism and affects approximately 6% of the population with men more affected than women. For those sufferers and the people in their lives, it can cause a lot of problems, particularly in emotional relationships.
Narcissists can be a nightmare to live with, they can destroy your confidence, make you feel utterly depressed and lose all sense of self and reality. So how do you know if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist?
Here are seven signs to watch out for…
They are controlling
The narcissist likes to be in control…of everything. People frequently confuse the control with attention, but it often spirals and gets to the point where the other person in the relationship feels dominated and in minimal control of their life. Do you constantly find yourself asking for permission to go somewhere? Does your partner monitor where you are? Check your messages?
It’s all about them
Yes, it is all about them. They are so totally preoccupied with themselves that nothing else gets a look in. And if it is not all about them, they will make it so. A narcissist will be put out if the conversation is not about them – and will turn it so it is.
They lack empathy
If their needs are being met, quite frankly a narcissist simply does not care. They have a complete lack of empathy for others even their friends, partner and family; do not have the ability to identify with their feelings; don’t think twice about taking advantage of others to get what they need without any feelings of remorse or guilt.
They manipulate people (including you)
The masters of manipulation, narcissists are very skilful at twisting situations and working them, so they get what they want. One of their preferred techniques is gaslighting (you can read my blog on it here), whereby they convince you that your views are wrong, often over a long period of time. They use this technique to make you feel worthless, constantly questioning your instincts, feeling confused and anxious and that you can’t do anything right.
They have an inflated sense of entitlement
Narcissists believe they are truly special and much more superior to the people around them. Nobody is as clever, good looking or engaging as they are. They expect to always get what they want because they are just so much better than anyone else.
Nothing is ever their fault
They never take responsibility for anything because they don’t believe that they can do anything wrong. Lying, cheating, complex excuses, anything to deflect from how they behave. Add in their fine manipulation skills here and before you know the other partner has apologised for an argument they did not cause.
They need constant praise and attention
You will be expected to put your partner first always and frequently acknowledge their wonderful achievements, talents and appearance, whatever they do.
A narcissist must be the centre of attention and as a partner, you must dote on them. Any signs of disapproval or disagreement with what they say will not be received well.
What can you do?
Being married or in a relationship with a narcissist is incredibly difficult. Leaving one can be even harder, however with the right support you can do it.
It takes a great deal of self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-confidence to end any marriage. Talking to a solicitor to understand your legal rights is a great starting point. I also advise clients that they talk to friends and family and seek out counselling.
Sometimes it’s about taking the first step and making that call. The Relate website is very helpful.
You must get professional 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 advice. The National Domestic Violence Helpline is open 24 hours a day and can be reached on 0808 2000 247 or visit the website.
Get in touch
*Dr Annemarie O’Connor, Clinical Psychologist and Director at themindworks, a private psychology practice in London.
This article was originally published on 5 December 2018 and has since been edited.