Last updated date: 19-Aug-2022
32 mins read
Narcissism has existed for as long as humanity has, and has been acknowledged for as long. The word derives from the Greek mythology narrative of Narcissus, which dates back to at least 8 A.D. The official diagnosis is based on psychoanalytic thought, which began with Freud but has since evolved with different schools of psychology recognizing somewhat differing understandings of the personality disorder. A personality disorder affects how a person thinks, behaves, and interacts with others.
Narcissism (or egoism) is characterized by a proclivity to act in a self-centered manner. Genuine care for the feelings and needs of others is nearly non-existent. Instead, narcissistic people appear to regard other people as nothing more than objects to be manipulated.
What is narcissism?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “narcissism” has three meanings that are strongly correlated. The first meaning is of egoism and egocentrism. The second meaning is “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”, while the third narcissism meaning is “love of or sexual desire of one’s own body”.
W. Keith Campbell, who is a notable American psychologist for his studies on narcissism, describe the psychological definition of narcissism as an inflated self image.
Narcissism psychology definition
Narcissism broadly describes one’s need for self-admiration, but it is important for us to understand that a narcissistic personality disorder might have a serious impact and seriously harm the one that is suffering from it.
Narcissism psychology may affect different parts of one’s life, such as relationships, work, education, or business. Moreover, those who suffer from such a disorder are considered to be overall unhappy and disappointed when they are not treated with the admiration they think they deserve. Also, people suffering from NPD do not find relationships fulfilling, which pushes other people to avoid interacting with them altogether.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a type of narcissism that has raised levels of severity on the narcissism spectrum. NPD is identified by the occurrence of two pathological personality traits. The first one is grandiosity. The patient has feelings of entitlement, is extremely self-centered, and strongly believes that he/she is undoubtedly better than anyone else. The second personality trait within NPD patients is related to the fact that they are the ultimate attention seekers. NPD patients will do all that is possible to get in the spotlight and stay in it for as long as possible.
According to the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is considered to be a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, which is present in both the patient’s behavior and fantasy. Moreover, the DSM-5 considers the NPD to exist under the form of constant need for admiration, while lacking empathy. According to DSM-5, NPD cannot be diagnosed in children or teenagers, as it starts in early adulthood.
Furthermore, according to DSM-5, the patients suffering from NPD usually have a sense of high self-importance (the patient presents own achievements, talents or skills that are disillusioned and far from reality), the patient also is self portraying himself as a successful, powerful, intelligent and genial person. Patients that suffer from NPD usually consider themselves unique and believe that they can only be associated and understood by successful and powerful people.
They have an excessive need for being admired and a strong sense of entitlement, as they have unrealistic expectations of the treatments they are about to get in different situations. In addition to the NPD patients’ lack of empathy, in relationships they are mainly exploitative, taking advantages of others in order to achieve their own goals.
What is narcissism? The deeper meaning
Translated in several languages other than English, narcissism pronounciation is quite the same. Narcissism in Spanish is “el narcisismo”, translated in French, narcissism becomes “narcissisme”, in Italian, it is “narcisismo” and despite the fact that mostly all words that are spelled and sound alike in Latin languages, they have entirely different forms in German, the German translation of narcissism is “Narzissmus”, which is one of the few words used in recurrent German to have a common etymology as its homologues from other languages.
Beside the fact that usually the word narcissism is more or less spelled the same in various languages, it also has the same meaning, as the universal narcissism synonym is self-love, while the narcissism antonym is diffidence, which means one’s modesty or shyness due to lack of self-confidence.
It's good to know that the narcissism's antonym is modesty. Both words describe the narcissist's opposite behavior which consists of the ability to be moderate, in order to avoid indecency or impropriety.
Narcissus Greek Mythology
The etymology of the word narcissism points straight to the pre-Greek period. Narcissism is derived from the ancient Narcissus, son of the river God Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. According to Book 3 of Metamorphoses by Ovid, as a child, Narcissus was expected to live a long life only if he never discovered his marvelous embodiment.
As Narcissus is also recognized in the Greek mythology as a hunter, while he was roaming the woods in search of prey, without awareness, he kept on breaking the hearts of all the girls he met. Among the ones that had become one of the victims of Narcissus' looks was Echo, a nymph of Mount Kithairon.
While Echo was falling in love with Narcissus, he rejected her as he used to do with all of his admirers. Fulfilled with sadness, Echo left the life she knew in order to waste herself away, becoming just a sound, always dependent on others. As the Goddess Nemesis heard the whispers of Echo and found out about the history between her and Narcissus, she made him reach some water where the reflection made it possible for him to truly see and discover his own embodiment that sets the hearts of many others on fire.
As Narcissus was admiring himself in the reflection of the water, he started to love himself so passionately that he melted away. In the place where Narcissus found himself and disappeared, a flower appeared instead, which is called daffodil nowadays, but whose Latin and scientific name is Narcissus.
Is narcissism a mental illness?
Narcissism consists on being extremely self-centered without taking into consideration the needs and desires of those around you. But is narcissism a mental illness?
Narcissistic people do not necessarily suffer from a mental disease. Narcissism could be either a caracter or a mental disorder, depending on where the symptoms of narcissism are positioned on the narcissism spectrum.
Even if everyone shows narcissism signs from time to time, those that really suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorders are on the long term affecting both themselves and the people around them.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is 1 of the 10 clinically recognized personality disorders listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It belongs to the subset of cluster B personality disorders, which are those marked by an intense degree of drama and emotionality. Historically, there has been much debate surrounding the exact definition of NPD, and competing theories exist regarding its etiology and optimal treatment.
Narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is 1 of the 10 clinically recognized personality disorders listed in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It belongs to the subset of cluster B personality disorders, which are those marked by an intense degree of drama and emotionality. Historically, there has been much debate surrounding the exact definition of NPD, and competing theories exist regarding its etiology and optimal treatment.
Narcissistic people do not necessarily suffer from a mental disease. According to studies, narcissism is related to external factors, such as conjuncture, for example. And depending on the narcissism symptoms, you can easily check with the narcissism spectrum how narcissistic you are and if you need medical help.
To a somewhat degree, everyone possesses narcissistic characteristics. A healthy degree of narcissism helps healthy people take pleasure in their accomplishments and find satisfaction in their personal lives. Even a high level of narcissism can occur on occasion. The majority of teens exhibit narcissistic characteristics as a natural and healthy component of their development and personal progress.
Prevalence percentages from community samples ranged from 0.5 to 5% of the US population. However, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) appears to be more frequent in therapeutic settings. Prevalence rates in the United States range from 1% to 15% of the population.
NPD may coexist with other mental diseases, making diagnosis difficult. Among the most common comorbid illnesses are substance use disorders. Other personality disorders that are frequent in persons with NPD include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
A comorbid antisocial personality disorder is said to have the most negative effect. There is much contention around the diagnosis of NPD. There are two basic subtypes, including grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic personality disorder.
When it comes to the prevalence of the condition, there are major gender inequalities; about 75% of patients with narcissistic personality disorder are men.
Type of narcissism
There are different types of narcissism on the spectrum, each type affects the person differently. Many people associate narcissism with four different types of the disorder. It is important to understand that narcissism is complex and that it can be expressed in different ways. Therefore, there are more than just four types of narcissism. Here are the eight most important types of narcissism to understand:
- Healthy narcissism is normal and most people have it. Healthy narcissism exists in the narcissism spectrum and as long as it keeps with reality, it is beneficial, as it works as an impulse for the person to know it’s worth and what it is entitled to.
- Grandiose narcissism represents mostly the broader term of narcissism as those who suffer from it have a constant need to highlight their qualities, a sense of entitlement and self-obsession. Displaying these narcissism traits is often made at the cost of the others around the person suffering from it.
- Vulnerable narcissism is the opposite of grandiose narcissism. The people suffering from it are usually shy and may also be chronically envious and hypersensitive to the opinions of others. The vulnerable narcissism makes the one who suffers from it become very defensive when being criticized by others.
- Sexual narcissism is the type of narcissism that emphasizes the sexual qualities of the one who suffers from it. Studies show that sexual narcissists are obsessed with their sexual performance and need the sexual admiration of others. Therefore, they are known as being serial cheaters and that they use sex to manipulate others.
- Somatic narcissism is the type of narcissism that makes the one suffering from it obsessed with his/her own appearances. The looks are very important for somatic narcissists as they are extraordinarily obsessed with weight and physical appearances, this also makes them have a tendency to criticize others based on their looks. Of course, somatic narcissists see themselves as more beautiful, stronger and fitter than they are.
- Cerebral narcissism is the opposite of somatic narcissism, as those who suffer from it are overvaluing their intellectual qualities. A cerebral narcissist will always feel more intelligent and cleverer than others and will also try to make others feel unintelligent. Therefore, it might be difficult for a normal person to win over an argument when the other person is a cerebral narcissist.
- Spiritual narcissism is the type of narcissism that is expressed through spiritual actions. The spiritual narcissist would differentiate from the others by using sensitive and spiritual actions.
- Malignant narcissism is the most damaging type of narcissism. This type is a mixture of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and antisocial traits and constant egocentricity.
Normally, symptoms of narcissism can vary from case to case, depending on the level of severity of each patient. But, the main narcissism traits are as follows:
- Overestimating his/her self importance;
- Has a feeling of entitlement and need constant admiration;
- Highlighting his/her superiority despite the lack of achievements;
- Exaggerating his/her own achievements and skills;
- Constant preoccupation with success, power, geniality; and finding the most astonishing mate;
- Constant need to be associated only with people known to be part of the elite society;
- Disrespecting others around them by monopolizing conversation and looking down on people they consider as inferior;
- Expecting special favors from everybody, especially higher positioned people; Getting angry whenever they are not treated as expected;
- Taking advantage of others around them in order to satisfy their own needs and to obtain what they have in mind;
- Complete lack of empathy and ability to identify the needs and feelings of others, including their significant other;
- Constant envy of others who have already reached their goals; constantly thinking that others envy them;
- Arrogant behavior;
- Insisting on having the best of everything; narcissistic individuals like to have the best work or position possible and the most extravagant car that they can buy;
- Finding it difficult to build interpersonal relationships and get very easily offended by people.
In addition to the symptoms that can be identified by other people, narcissistic individuals have also the ability to hide their true feelings or emotions. For example narcissists can:
- Find it difficult to regulate emotions and behavior;
- Find stress and adapting to change as overwhelming;
- Start feeling depressed or moody after not being able to achieve the perfection that they are aiming;
- Have deep feelings of shame, vulnerability, humiliation or insecurity that they are continuously trying to cover on the outside.
Causes of narcissism
Though what stirs narcissism up is still unknown to researchers, they have fit it into a biopsychosocial model of causation. Therefore, researchers think that Narcissistic Personality Disorder appears at the crossroads between nature, nurture, environmental and social, genetic and neurobiological factors, by applying a biopsychosocial model.
How do I know if I am a narcissist?
If you have key signs of NPD, a mental health expert such as a psychologist or psychiatrist (psychotherapist) can assess you. Your psychotherapist will administer questionnaires to you and then speak with you.
You'll talk about what's bothering you. Long-term habits of thinking, feeling, behaving, and engaging with others will be the emphasis. Other mental health issues will be identified and ruled out by your psychotherapist.
Nowadays, you can easily find out how narcissistic you are, based on the narcissism spectrum, by completing an online narcissism quiz. Despite the studies and systems behind the narcissism tests, any of these online tests assume that the result might not be totally accurate. Anyhow, performing an online narcissism test could be useful, as it could offer you a glimpse of your positioning on the narcissism spectrum.
Your psychotherapist may use personality tests to determine whether you have narcissistic features. The tests are just questions that you must answer truthfully. They provide your psychotherapist with a deeper understanding of how you think and feel. Among the tests are:
- Personality diagnostic questionnaire-4 (PDQ-4).
- Millon clinical multiaxial inventory III (MCMI-III).
- International personality disorder examination (IPDE).
Is narcissism genetic?
Though there is not enough information on how genetics influence the development of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there is enough evidence to show that NPD is a psychological condition that can be inherited from other members of the family. The studies show that one is more likely to develop NPD if it has been in the medical history of the family.
In the “A Twin Study of Personality Disorders”, it's mentioned that, based on the rate of occurrence of personality disorders in pairs of twins, there is a moderate-to-high likelihood of the heritability of NPD. The study “The Genetic Epidemiology of Personality Disorders” highlights the fact that specific genes and genetic interactions are highly contributing to the emergence and development of NPD.
Therefore, the results of the studies performed so far show that narcissism is genetic and that the odds of inheriting it are higher than just developing it for the first time in the family.
Treatment of narcissism
Even if Narcissistic Personality Disorder is usually a lifelong condition, there are high numbers of patients that have shown significant improvements and signs of recovery after receiving appropriate treatment. Moreover, scientists are highlighting the fact that some real-life events, such as new achievements, manageable failures or solid relationships might have a corrective character and could play the role of therapy for narcissism. Also, they can lead to improvements in the level of pathologic narcissism in the long run, which could be considered a narcissism cure.
Although there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat NPD, many people may benefit from the therapy for symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, mood lability, brief psychosis, and impulse control disorders.
Antidepressants have been utilized, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Risperidone, an antipsychotic, has helped some individuals. Mood stabilizers such as lamotrigine are administered to some patients.
Even if there is no specific medication licensed to treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder, patients usually benefit from medications that can weaken the symptoms of this disease or concomitant axis I disorders. The medications that are mostly used in narcissism treatment are antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder learn how to better comprehend the aspects of their behavior that influence others and the quality of their relationships via Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They learn how to transform their faulty views in order to become more well-adjusted and happy. They also learn how to recognize their maladaptive beliefs, how to modify their harmful behaviors, and how to restore emotional control.
A cognitive-behavioral therapist assists patients in focusing on their present difficulties and developing relevant and meaningful solutions. The therapist assists the patient in identifying mistaken ideas, self-destructive attitudes, and mental patterns. Then they assist the patient in replacing them with more healthy and correct ways of thinking. The patient then learns to adjust his or her behavior as a result.
You are not alone if you have experienced great anguish as a result of a parent, another relative, or a friend. Therapy may help you rediscover your own voice, learn to trust your own viewpoint, feelings, and understanding, and learn how to break away from the anguish and strain of being in a relationship with a narcissist.
Narcissism and alcoholism
Studies have shown that patients that are diagnosed with NPD are more predisposed to develop comorbid axis I diagnoses, including depressive disorders, which can usually be referred to as narcissism depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, anorexia or even substance related disorders (which are mainly alcohol and illegal drugs, such as cocaine). Therefore, there are many cases of narcissism and codependency.
Narcissism vs psychopathy
Though both narcissism and psychopathy may have similar traits, it is important to understand what the differences are.
Narcissistic persons tend to consider themselves the most superior and capable of doing anything, while people suffering from psychopathy do not have the need for admiration and success, they feel the need of doing illegal things without being caught. Moreover, one of the main differences between these two is that the narcissistic person is usually loud and wants all the attention on him/her, while the social predators, psychopaths, want all attention to be completely off of them.
In order to easily understand the differences, here are some examples of the thoughts of a narcissistic person:
- “I love myself, I am very loveable and you love me too”;
- “Nobody is as good as I am”;
- “Everybody should appreciate me for what I am”;
- “Everybody should be loyal to me”;
- “I am associated only with the persons that have the highest status”.
Here are some of the thoughts of a psychopath:
- “I do not care about human rights, as I care more about my personal rights”;
- “There should be a way to bend the rules and avoid the laws”;
- “As everybody lies, there is no harm in lying”;
- “People are usually unable to see what happens around them so they deserve what happens to them”;
- “Emotions do not exist”.
Narcissism of small differences
Sigmund Freud came up with the term "narcissism of small differences" in order to describe the existence of differences between people from the same groups and the same territories that drive them to dispute. These tensions that happen in close relationships are due to the hypersensitivity to details of differentiation between people of the same group.
Narcissism in children
Usually, narcissism can only be diagnosed in young adults. They can present some narcissistic traits, however, narcissism can in some cases start to manifest at the age of 7 years old.
The narcissistic traits that a child can have are:
- Considering himself better than the other kids around him;
- Finding it difficult to make friends and to maintain the friendships he/she has;
- Constant need to get attention and claiming his/her right to get attention;
- Being ungrateful for those around him who show kindness;
- Excluding other children from his/her group based on superficial reasons such as the other kid having a lower social status or being poor;
- Being envious of other children that are considered to be better than him at something;
- Not being able to take responsibility for his/her actions and their effects and also does not look into the eyes of someone who is speaking to him/her;
- He/she might be antisocial often and steal others toys;
- Presenting irritation when being told what to do.
Narcissistic traits that are starting to exist in children are mostly the same narcissistic traits that are present in adults.
Studies show that even if narcissistic personality disorder is affecting both men and women, there has been enough data gathered to show that narcissism in women and narcissism in men might have different traits.
One of the most common female traits of narcissism is martyrdom. The narcissistic female will show everybody that her pain is greater than anyone else’s pain and that the efforts she is doing are also greater than anyone else’s efforts. It is considered that this narcissistic trait is related to vulnerable narcissism.
Secondly, narcissistic women tend to be more superficial as they become focused on good looking appearances. They might become interested in developing a specific character or adopting values if they consider it to be as part of building a greater image of themselves.
Furthermore, narcissistic females are more competitive and more jealous than narcissistic men. Therefore, they always have to be the prettiest, smartest and most successful woman in the room. If there is another woman competing against the narcissistic traits mentioned before, the narcissistic one will find ways to humiliate her and to take her out of the social group.
Additionally, women can become overbearing parents that, for example, go to their childrens' houses and start to rearrange the furniture, wash the dishes and the clothes and perform other controlling activities, such as teaching their children about the education of the grandchildren. This is due to the fact that narcissistic women consider themselves as experts in most situations and that they are superior to anyone.
How to deal with a narcissist?
In terms of socially dealing with persons that have narcissistic behavior, you should understand that some people that have an inflated sense of self and/or need constant praise might be more than just a narcissistic person. It is important for you to understand that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a true condition and it is more than just narcissism characteristics. It might be difficult to establish a relationship with a person that has narcissistic behavior even if he/she does not have NPD. There are narcissistic people that have an inflated sense of self, need constant praise or do not recognize the needs of others, without having NPD. But how do you proceed when you need to establish a relationship with a person that has this kind of narcissistic behavior?
1. You need to truly understand a narcissist
It might be difficult not to get emotionally attached when dealing with narcissistic personalities as they are very charming, when they want to, and they might set a trap for you by making grand, exquisite promises to you or by trying to convince you of how important your needs are to them, whereas time will most certainly prove quite the opposite.
It's very important to see the real face of the narcissistic person, to catch them off-guard when they are not in the spotlight. Therefore, if you catch them lying or manipulating, it is very important to understand that they might do the same things to you. Moreover, you need to understand that there is no way you can change the way a narcissistic person treats others. Just try to notice one’s true colors and understand that they are unchangeable.
2. Change the focus point
Narcissistic people are by default seeking the spotlight, no matter the price. They enjoy keeping the spotlight on themselves, whether it is for a positive or negative reason.
If you need to deal with a narcissistic person, do not allow him/her to shape your life. As they are known to be attention-seekers, do not give up needs and time to fulfill their need for attention, as it will never be enough.
Always take up some “me time” and truly understand that it is not your duty to change the way narcissistic people treat those around them. It is also recommended to often remind yourself of your goals and desires, in order to easily keep yourself focused on what is important: you. This way, it's easier to keep track of your life and to not let narcissistic persons infiltrate it.
3. Always keep your guard up
If you're dealing with narcissistic person and you should stand up to them, you need to be prepared for their response. They most often victimize themselves and will try to highlight you as the unreasonable and controlling one, all of this while trying to get the sympathy of others, which they find easy to do as they are usually very charming.
You need to stand up for your opinion and not get fazed by the controlling and abusive behavior that people with narcissistic personalities have. If you do not stand up until the end of the argument and sustain your opinion, in the following arguments, the narcissistic person will discredit you from the beginning.
4. It is not “Mea Culpa”
Usually, persons that have narcissistic personality are prone to consider themselves as close to perfection as one can get. So if one of these people hurt you, they are very likely to deny the responsibility and to admit that they have done so. Moreover, such people might as well project their own harmful behavior on you. In such scenarios, you might want to accept the blame in order to maintain the peace, but you should not underestimate yourself for the sake of another’s screaming ego.
5. Always have a safety net
In case you really have to deal with a narcissistic person, you should also have a safety net that is made of people that help you grow, as consuming too much time in a dysfunctional relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality can be emotionally exhausting.
Therefore, it's always good to have a network of people that can offer functional relationships and who can create a propitious environment for your development and flourishing.
You can do so by signing up to hobby classes or by getting active in your local community through volunteering programs or charity.
It is very important to always surround yourself with people that make you feel well.
6. Now, not later
It is a well-known fact that narcissistic personalities are good at making promises in all kinds of situations. They typically vow to stop doing the exact thing or things that annoy you and to do everything better from then onwards. And they might even be very sincere when promising. But after getting what they need or desire, their motivation is gone alongside their promises.
7. Remember: Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a real thing
When dealing with a person that suffers from NPD, it might be a problem just for you, as he/she might not identify his/her need to seek professional help. This might truly affect your relationship, as people that suffer from NPD are prone to other disorders, such as mental health or personality disorders or even substance abuse, which could be the real need for medical healthcare.
In such scenarios, you should advise the affected person to seek medical attention, but always keep in mind that it is strictly their responsibility.
Additionally, always keep in mind that even if NPD is a mental health condition, it is not an excuse for harmful behavior.
8. Get help
As dealing with a narcissistic personality, can be exhausting for you, both physically and mentally. Therefore, in case you detect symptoms of anxiety, depression or any other unexplainable physical symptoms, you need to check up with your doctor. In case of any more serious situation, the doctor from primary care will send you to a specialist that can help you.
It is important to keep in mind that you are not alone and that you let your family and friends know and support you in such difficult moments.
Narcissism in relationships
In terms of romantic relationships, you might always find yourself in a difficult position when the partner has a narcissistic personality. Therefore, here is some information that we put together in order to help you find out easily if your partner is suffering from narcissism and how you should proceed.
1. Spotlight is on the narcissistic one
If your partner has a narcissistic personality, then you might not be a stranger to conversations that are centered only around your partner. You might as well be used to conversations being hijacked and redirected towards him/her.
As it is well known, narcissistic people have a need for constant attention (that also includes having decisions, opinions, thoughts or choices in their favor) and if they do not get it, you might expect irritation and resentment.
Narcissistic people truly believe that the world is revolving around them and that they are entitled to have anything they want, while your impressions, opinions or thoughts have no weight in their judgement.
2. They might start out as magical
At the beginning of a relationship with a narcissistic person you will meet new highs, that nobody before has been able to make you reach. You will get extremely spoiled and you will be surrounded by lots of affection and flattery.
As researcher Michael Dufner found out, people that have narcissistic personalities are thought to be more appealing romantic or sexual partners in the short-term, as they are more confident and charming. Such narcissism characteristics are transforming them into more appealing candidates.
3. Narcissism and bipolar
There might be a huge difference between your partner at the beginning of the relationship and the partner you are involved with after a couple of months. As it is known for narcissists to develop multiple personalities, you might find yourself dealing with a person that has nothing to do with the one you fell in love with. One minute, your partner is this sweet, caring lover, while the next minute, your partner is a completely different person. Some narcissists might still offer affection and gifts to their partners, while simultaneously defaming them. This might be scary and very confusing. Time always reveals one’s true colors.
4. No Boundaries
While being involved with a narcissistic person, you might find that there are no boundaries set. And even if there are boundaries, the narcissistic person oversteps them, without taking into consideration the harm it may result to his/her partner.
They usually keep on breaking the promises they make, to give an example, a narcissist can borrow money from someone without ever intending to pay it back, all without showing any type of remorse.
5. The narcissistic partner will isolate you
A narcissistic person develops lots of techniques through which he/she will infiltrate into their partner’s life and completely alter it. One of the methods used is to isolate you from your friends, passions and even work, in order for you to become fully dependent on your narcissistic partner.
The narcissistic partner could cut you off from friends and family by controlling and monitoring your phone, e-mails and social media apps. He/she can control the use of vehicles and can pull you out of your hobbies or even ask you to quit your job. Therefore, the narcissistic partner could make you totally dependent on him/her.
If your partner is a narcissist, then you might be used to comments such as: “I paid for this car, therefore I decide when and where you can use it!” or “Why are you staying so long at work? I thought you loved me!”. These are comments that will step by step isolate you from the rest of the world and in concordance with the activities mentioned before, the narcissistic partner will make you lose your own identity, transforming you into a diminished and weakened version of yourself.
6. Total lack of empathy
In narcissistic relationships, the understanding between partners, as well as the ability to express freely any feeling, desire, or goals, does not exist.
Narcissism empathy is just non-existent. It has been studied and is well known that narcissists have a total lack of empathy as it is one of the main narcissism traits. So don’t expect to get any empathy from a narcissistic person at all.
Due to the constant need of being wanted, the narcissistic partner may look and play it like he/she wants the best for your relationship, but the truth is that he/she is concerned only about his/her own ends. Therefore, as the narcissist is too self-centered, his/her decisions will have the best outcomes for him/her disregarding the greater good of the couple.
7. Other reality
A narcissism example in relationships is that the partner that suffers from NPD considers himself/herself better than anyone. The NPD suffering partner is not even able to imagine himself/herself being equal to somebody else and he/she believe that they are superior in all aspects, thus making him/her unable to experience love.
8. Narcissistic persons are inflammable
As we have mentioned before, the narcissistic partners are very self-centered and when things do not go their way – you strongly disagree with him/her, or if they are not getting all the attention, they will feel hurt very easily and will find it very hard to deal with criticism, therefore they might quickly become angry and impatient when they do not receive the treatment they consider themselves entitled to.
9. Walls all around
Due to the symptoms of narcissism, the partner that suffers from this disease is most likely to build walls all around his emotions, insecurities, fears or shame. As he/she continuously has the need of being superior, the walls are solid and will not fall down.
The narcissistic partner is unable to show his/her true vulnerability and will continuously portray himself/herself as a powerful person. In intimate relationships, this can be a game of cat and mouse as the narcissistic partner will create traps to get attention but as soon as you get too close, he/she will push you away.
10. Lack of responsibility
If you are in a relationship with a narcissistic person, you should know that when it is about a positive thing, your partner will take all the credit and praise for it.
Unfortunately, if there is a negative thing, you will never hear your partner saying that he/she had anything to do with it. Your partner will act hurt if anybody would insinuate that he/she had any responsibility at all for the negative outcome. Moreover, the narcissistic partner would deflect, avoid and deny any responsibility related to the unwanted result and blame it completely on others.
11. Status before anything else
You should understand that being in a relationship with a narcissistic person, he/she is obsessed with power and success and will do anything to project his/her status in front of others. Unfortunately, your narcissistic partner will become very jealous whenever they see people reaching their goals. Also, your partner might accuse others of being envious for what he/she already has, including you. So always be prepared of becoming a target of his/her attacks.
There is a great dichotomy between what the narcissist feels deep down and the feelings and emotions that he allows to hit the surface. The bipolar narcissist is composed of two personalities: the authentic one (the personality that experiences jealousy, in this case) and the actor (the personality that sells to the public all the qualities he/she has – fantastic or real).
Due to the split personality of the narcissist, they see the world in black and white. Therefore, according to a narcissistic person, the world is divided into winners and losers.
Researchers have found out that when a narcissistic person considers that there are threats to his own ego, he/she will do anything to eliminate the risk. Any narcissistic person feels a constant need to be ensured that he/she cannot be seen weak, or defeated. This means that a narcissistic person is able to do anything in order to keep this false sense of self-security, including harming his/her own significant other.
12. Narcissistic relationships – one of the partners is a manipulator
You should be fully aware that when being in a relationship with a narcissistic person, you are subject to their manipulation game. And you should be aware that your narcissistic partner is an expert in manipulation.
Despite the fact that you might usually be able to identify when someone is trying to manipulate you, you should be very careful when dealing with a narcissist, as they have very developed and stealthy techniques of playing with others around them, especially their partner.
Narcissists have two moods in terms of manipulating their partner. One of the methods that narcissists use is to mock their partner. They will shout out loud some ugly truths about you in front others while covering it up by using pretexts like “it was just a joke, can you not take it so seriously?” or “everybody was thinking about it, I just said out loud”. The other method they use to manipulate their partner is to play the role of the victim. Every time you will try to start explaining what you feel about relationship arguments, your narcissistic partner will turn to you and throw at you phrases that will leave you speechless. Your narcissistic partner will tell you that you are the one that always starts the arguments and that you only want to expose his/her defects and that you never look at yourself and recognize your own defects. One of the defects that your narcissistic partner will tell you that you have is that you are a manipulative person. All these arguments will turn around the discussion and the narcissistic partner will become the victim, while you are highlighted as the “bad” one.
Additionally, people that are diagnosed with NPD are known to suffer from gaslighting too. If you are not familiar with the term, gaslighting is a category of emotional or mental abuse that can be very harmful on the long run. The whole process through which the narcissistic person will make you doubt yourself as much as possible, in order for you to become totally dependent on him/her leaving you with emotional and mental scars, including brain fog, feeling of helplessness, inability to decide, lack of memory, PTSD, anxiety, depression or you can even start to take into consideration the opinions of others more than your own.
When being gaslighted in a relationship, there are 3 stages. The first one is represented by disbelief. You will not let your partner infiltrate your reality and change your perspective. In the second stage, you will start the defense. The more and more gaslighted you are by your partner, the more and more you will try to defend your perspective. You will find logical arguments that deny your narcissistic partner’s opinions, but you will try to be fair and put yourself in his/her shoes. Changing the perspective, could make you more prone to strongly agreeing with your narcissistic partner’s opinions and to totally disagree with your own. This could lead you to the third stage of gaslighting – depression. The more gaslighted you are, the more insecure you are. The more you start questioning your own reality, the more you will take your narcissistic partner’s perspective of life as the right one.
As mentioned before, gaslighting can become harmful on the long term and you may experience narcissism victim syndrome. Also, the effects of being gaslighted will remain, even if your narcissistic partner breaks up with you.
13. How long will the romantic relationship last?
It might be very difficult to end a romantic relationship with a narcissistic person. Usually, a narcissistic partner will take all your love, money and self-respect. Once you become useless to him/her, he/she will dump you. If you try to break up with your narcissistic partner, before he considers you to be useless, you should be prepared to get pulled back aggressively in to the relationship, as he/she will use any trick that is needed, in order to reach his personal goals.
14. Narcissism, no contact
If you really want to break up with a narcissist you should really have no contact with him/her at all. This means that you shouldn’t:
- Have any rendez-vous;
- Hang out together in a group setting;
- Remain friends;
- Accept gifts from his/her;
- Talk on the phone, neither phone calls, neither texts;
- Connect on any social media.
Moreover, if you really need to get over a narcissist, you shouldn’t think of them or make excuses for their behavior, they also shouldn’t be a subject of discussion while talking to your friends.
If you feel like asking or presenting some interesting information about narcissism, you could check out Reddit, as it is a forum where people share engaging information.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder marked by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a profound need for adulation, and a lack of empathy for others. People with NPD typically have highly fragile self-esteem and are unable to cope with even minor criticism beneath the outward display of confidence.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is technique-based and practical, with "homework" assignments that help patients immediately use the skills they've acquired in treatment.
If you have a loved one who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, whether alone or in conjunction with a substance abuse problem or another mental illness, finding a qualified cognitive-behavioral therapist or a recovery program that uses this highly effective therapy can help restore your loved one's mental health and improve his or her overall quality of life.