If you recognize these 8 behaviors, you’re in a relationship with a narcissist

by Brendan Brown | January 23, 2024, 8:59 pm

Have you ever noticed your partner’s constant need for praise and admiration? 

Or perhaps you’ve experienced a lack of empathy, where your feelings seem to be brushed aside or ignored entirely? 

If you identify with these signs, you may be in a relationship with a narcissist. 

I know this realization can be both confusing and distressing. But don’t worry, in this article, we’ll explore 8 key narcissistic tendencies which usually show up in relationships. 

It’s not going to be an easy read, but it is important you recognize the signs now before it gets too late.

1) An obsession with appearance and status

Your partner seems to care a lot about how they look. Not just that, but how others perceive them is of utmost importance.

They constantly look in the mirror, talk about their achievements, and compare themselves to others. 

You might have noticed their obsession with status symbols and name-dropping famous acquaintances.

But what’s beneath the surface? 

Often, this obsession hides a deep insecurity. 

Your partner needs validation and admiration to feel good about themselves. If you’re feeling pushed aside or undervalued, this could be why.

2) A lack of empathy

Ever felt like your feelings just don’t matter? It’s painful, I know. 

Your partner may seem disconnected from your emotions and show little concern for your well-being. 

They might brush off your feelings, telling you to “get over it” or that you’re “too sensitive.” 

Both are phrases I’ve been told in the past, so trust me, I get how cruel it feels to be told this by someone who is supposed to care about you.

But the sad truth is, this lack of empathy can wear on you over time. 

It can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration. 

Remember, your emotions are valid, and you deserve someone who truly understands and cares about you.

3) Manipulation and control

You’ve probably noticed that your partner wants to have control over everything

Whether it’s deciding where to go for dinner or who you can see, they want the final say. 

Unfortunately, this is a classic sign of a narcissist

And as their partner, you might have even experienced manipulation, as they twist words and situations to make you feel guilty or wrong.

Here’s the thing:

These controlling behaviors can be disorienting and deeply unsettling. You may feel like you’re losing yourself in the relationship. 

My advice? Trust your instincts and remember your worth. Don’t let them control your mind or lower your sense of value or self-worth. 

4) The need for constant praise

Does your partner crave compliments and attention

They might fish for praise, subtly or blatantly, and become upset if you don’t provide it. 

And you may find yourself walking on eggshells, worried about their reaction if you don’t shower them with admiration.

Consider these aspects:

  • Frequency: How often does your partner seek validation and praise from you?
  • Reaction: What happens when you don’t meet their expectations for admiration? Do they become sulky or angry?
  • Expectation: Do they expect praise for even small and ordinary accomplishments?

What you’re experiencing isn’t normal. 

This need for constant praise isn’t about you; it’s about their insatiable desire to feel important. 

You deserve to express yourself authentically, without fear of your partner’s response.

5) Belittling and criticism

Criticism from a partner can be constructive, but in your case, it may feel constant and demeaning. 

Whether it’s your appearance, your intelligence, or your interests, nothing seems good enough for them. The belittling comments might be overt or hidden behind “jokes.”

This constant criticism can erode your self-esteem

But I want you to remember:

It’s not your fault, and it’s not about your shortcomings. 

Ultimately, it’s about your partner’s need to feel superior. You’re enough as you are, and someone who truly loves you will see that.

6) Unpredictable mood swings

You never quite know where you stand, do you? One moment everything is fine, and the next, there’s a storm. 

Your partner’s mood can change in an instant, leaving you feeling anxious and confused.

This unpredictability can be exhausting. 

You may feel like you’re constantly trying to navigate their moods, never quite knowing what will set them off. 

I’ve been through this myself – a relationship where I walked on eggshells for 3 years before finally realizing he’ll never change. So I feel your pain. 

Remember, a loving relationship should bring you comfort, not constant anxiety.

7) Playing the victim

When things go wrong, it’s never their fault, is it? 

Your partner may have a tendency to play the victim, making everything about them and their suffering. Typical narcissistic behavior

They may blame you or others, never taking responsibility for their actions.

Reflect on these points:

  • Blame shifting: Does your partner always shift the blame to others, never taking accountability?
  • Emotional manipulation: Are they manipulating emotions to garner sympathy, even when it’s undeserved?
  • Avoidance of responsibility: Do they consistently avoid owning up to their mistakes or shortcomings, instead turning the focus on others’ faults?

This behavior can be draining and create a never-ending cycle of guilt and resentment. 

You’re not responsible for their happiness or their mistakes. Understanding this can be the first step towards freeing yourself from this burden.

8) Fantasies of success and power

Dreaming big is one thing, but your partner may have grandiose fantasies of unparalleled success, power, and brilliance. 

What’s worse is that they might express these ideas with conviction, expecting you to buy into their exaggerated self-image.

I get how challenging it can be to ground yourself in reality when faced with these fantasies. 

Recognize that this isn’t about you lacking ambition or vision; it’s about their need to feel extraordinary. You have your own dreams and values, and they matter just as much.

So, if you’ve identified with the points in this list, there’s a good chance you’ve got a knot in your tummy right now and are unsure of what to do. 

Don’t worry, keep reading, I’ve got you covered:

My partner is a narcissist, now what?

It’s a painful realization to come to, understanding that your partner may be exhibiting narcissistic behaviors

Your emotions may be all over the place, and that’s completely normal. 

But now that you’ve recognized the signs, it’s time to consider some steps toward positive change. 

Here are five actions you can take:

  • Seek professional help: Therapists or counselors who specialize in narcissistic behaviors can provide support and guidance tailored to your situation.
  • Build a support system: Lean on friends, family, and support groups who can offer empathy and encouragement during this challenging time.
  • Educate yourself: Learn more about narcissism so you can understand what you’re dealing with. Knowledge is empowering.
  • Set boundaries: Clearly define what you’re willing to accept in the relationship and communicate these boundaries firmly.
  • Consider your options: Evaluate your relationship and consider whether staying or leaving is the healthiest choice for you. This may include seeking legal advice if necessary.

Taking these steps won’t magically make everything better overnight, but they can set you on a path toward healing and growth

You don’t have to face this journey alone, and seeking help from professionals and your support network can make a significant difference in your well-being. 

Remember, prioritizing yourself and your needs is not only acceptable but vital.

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