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I Love Me and Me Alone: 12 Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist

Person exhibiting signs you are dating a narcissist
There are clear signs you are dating a narcissist. Don’t ignore them!

So, you’re currently seeing someone attractive, charismatic, and confident. What’s not to like about that? It seems like you can’t ask for more.

Lately, you’ve noticed they’re showing their true colors. Unfortunately, those contain shallow and selfish tendencies. Empathy and vulnerability are nowhere to be found.

Is your partner a narcissist?

A mental health professional is the only person that should make that diagnosis. However, that shouldn’t mean ignoring warning signs when you see them. And when you do, tread carefully. Narcissists can resort to manipulative and violent tactics when left unchecked.

We’ll show signs that you are dating a narcissist. We’ll also give advice on moving on from such toxic people.

Narcissist Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore

Before we get to the warning signs, allow us to explain how narcissism works.

Professionals formally call narcissism narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). People dealing with this disorder are known to be self-observed and intensely crave attention while displaying little empathy. More often than not, they enjoy manipulation and mind games.

Here’s an interesting statistic: according to a study, around 7.7% of men and 4.8% of women have NPD. With that, don’t be surprised if you’ve encountered or dated a narcissistic person.

How do these people usually act? We’ll give 12 traits of a narcissist so you’ll know what to expect:

1. Egotism

This first trait is perhaps the most recognizable of all 12. A narcissist tends to be self-absorbed and wrapped up in their universe. If anyone or anything threatens their ego, they’ll let you know how they feel about it.

2. Limited empathy

Empathetic people can understand and relate to other people’s feelings. Sadly, narcissists can’t. This trait may explain why many of them have strained relationships.

3. Hypersensitivity

This is also one of the most telltale signs you’re dating a narcissist.

For people with huge egos, narcissists can be quite fragile folks. They’ll meet any form of criticism toward them with extreme rejection and sensitivity. For example, your narcissistic girlfriend becomes defensive when you call her out for her rude behavior.

4. Braggadocio

Man wearing sunglasses looks over his shoulder
Braggadocio is among the 12 prominent narcissist red flags.

Does your partner exaggerate when presenting themselves? If so, that’s the braggadocio coming through. Sometimes, you can even tell if they’re lying; this behavior makes establishing genuine connections difficult.

5. Envy

When narcissistic people see others having more success than them, their envy gets triggered. This trait compels them to put those folks down to make themselves look great. So, if your partner is resenting and lashing out at your accomplishments, you may want to think twice about your relationship.

6. Exploitation

For narcissistic folks, other people are just mere tools for their benefit. If you’re in a vulnerable state, they may exploit that to their advantage.

7. Toxicity

Whether it’s through dismissive tendencies or demeaning behavior, narcissists usually ruin relationships through their toxicity. It’s no wonder that they have difficulty establishing and maintaining genuine relationships.

8. Grandiosity

Having high self-esteem is one thing. Exhibiting grandiose behavior is another story. Excessive self-importance and delusions of superiority are different from having self-confidence, but narcissists can’t seem to notice that.

9. Manipulation

Manipulation is one of the defining signs you’re dating a narcissist. They engage in such behavior as a means to an end. Sometimes, we can’t even tell they’re manipulating people because they can be subtle about it.

How long can a narcissist pretend to be nice to another person? Perhaps they’ll drop their act when they finally get what they want.

10. Entitlement

Does your partner feel they’re above norms and other people’s feelings? If so, they’re probably entitled people. They demand to get nothing but the best of everything. When they don’t, they act out and feel robbed.

11. Disrespect

Boundaries don’t exist for narcissists. They don’t care about disregarding other people’s limits as long as they fulfill their wants and needs. Good luck trying to assert your boundaries with a narcissistic partner.

12. Lack of accountability

If your partner makes a mistake and refuses to take ownership of that, they’re allergic to accountability. They’d rather save their pride and blame someone else rather than own up to their actions. And when you call them out, they have the audacity to get mad at you instead of feeling remorseful.

How to Spot a Narcissist Early

Couple arguing on a date
Don’t know how to spot a narcissist early? Once you’re past the honeymoon stage, you might see the signs.

We’re aware that the first phase of a relationship is giddy. After all, the honeymoon stage makes everything seem sweet. But unfortunately, you may be too in love to realize that your narcissistic partner is bad for you.

How can you spot narcissism early? Since you already know the signs you’re dating a narcissist, take these steps before it’s too late.

1. Monitor your partner’s love-bombing

Have they been overwhelmingly affectionate from the beginning? Their excessive gestures may be a sign that they just want or need something from you.

2. Observe how they converse

How do they carry out conversations? Do they tend to talk about themselves only? Pay attention to their subjects and eye contact to get a good read on them.

3. See how they treat other people

Narcissists are rude to people who they believe are beneath them. When their nastiness is on display without remorse, you’ll know that’s their true colors showing themselves.

4. Think about your view of them

Do first impressions last? Yes. Narcissists tend to make great ones because of their personalities. However, your impressions of them may worsen over time because of their attitudes.

How Dating a Narcissist Changes You

A narcissist’s nastiness changes people around them, especially their romantic partners. Some of these changes are great, while others aren’t.

We’ll share some of those impacts for a better path to healing, which we’ll discuss a little later.

1. You may become a conflict-avoidant person

Dealing with narcissists means accommodating and consenting to their unreasonable demands, with or without challenges. And because you’ve gotten used to their behavior, this may lead you to become conflict-avoidant.

2. You may tolerate and defend manipulation and emotional abuse

Narcissists tend to be emotionally abusive and manipulative. Unfortunately, you may get accustomed to being treated in such toxic ways. At some point, you may even find yourself defending such behavior when asked about it.

3. Your self-identity may be hard to recover

Narcissistic people are domineering, making it difficult for their partners to stand their ground. And because they frequently put other people down, you’ll start to question your sense of self.

4. You’ll learn to better assert your boundaries

Getting out of a relationship filled with narcissism teaches you to emphasize your boundaries. Everyone has their limits and no one should disrespect that.

5. You’ll become more compassionate

We shouldn’t judge people with NPD for having their condition. For all their worst qualities, there are narcissists who still have redeeming traits. Recognizing that makes you compassionate.

Still, that fact doesn’t excuse their toxic treatment of others. Their behavior is a reminder to extend compassion to people because no one deserves harassment.

6. You’ll become closer to loved ones

When your narcissistic partner is making your life difficult, talking to your loved ones about your situation helps. They’ll give you the love, comfort, and support that your partner painfully lacks.

How to Recover from Dating a Narcissist

Normal breakups are painful enough. Ending things with a narcissist brings more emotional devastation because of what you’ve been through.

The recovery process from this relationship is long, but it’s a journey worth taking. Here are some tips to help you begin healing:

1. Acknowledge what happened

For some, this first step is a difficult one. We understand that admitting what happened to you can be scary because of the pain and shame. But if you want to recover, you’ll need to label your experience. It’ll help you make better sense of your thoughts and feelings.

2. Determine the triggers

Even after leaving a narcissist, you’ll notice specific things continue triggering your discomfort. Figure out what those triggers are and address them. Don’t allow them to consume you.

3. Do some self-maintenance

You’ve been through a tiring and toxic experience. Give your senses and mental health a rest by exercising self-care. Whether it’s crying to sad songs or going on vacation, do whatever makes you feel good without shame.

4. Find yourself

Narcissists can make you feel lost because you’ve changed a lot about yourself just to please them. Recover your sense of self by returning to your old favorite hobbies. We also recommend talking to your loved ones (as previously mentioned). You’ll be reminded that your experience doesn’t and won’t ever define you.

5. Look for professional help

If your turmoil still persists, you may want to reach out to a therapist for help. They’ll help you make sense of your experience while providing a safe space.

Going to therapy is okay. It’s 2023, and it’s time to let the stigma go.

It’ll take more work to heal from such a toxic relationship, so give yourself some time for a much-deserved recovery. You owe it to yourself.

When you start seeing the signs you are dating a narcissist, think about whether staying with such a person is worth it. Regardless of your decision, remember that you don’t deserve to be a mere pawn for such a person. They don’t and will never own you.

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