Am I Dating A Narcissist? Here’s How To Tell
It’s hard to find a good catch these days. Sure, there are “plenty of fish in the sea”, but how do you know if you are getting hooked by the lure of a narcissist? It’s easy to be reeled in by good looks and charm. And it can be difficult to identify when it’s happening, but before diving deeper, learn how to answer the question “am I dating a narcissist?” And, more importantly, learn how to stop the narcissist so you can avoid drowning in his or her reflection!
The Best and Worst Months, 1-4:
Narcissists are generally said to be more attractive, entertaining, charming, exciting, stylishly clad, and cheerful at first sight! You could easily be swept off of your feet at the beginning of the relationship, which tends to start quickly, with full force. Narcissists love to both lavish you with attention while constantly trying to impress you with their accomplishments, charms, and winning personalities. The fact that they come on strong by paying a lot of attention to their love interests, in the beginning, can be deceiving, making their lovers think they are selfless and overly caring.
They do tend to put themselves on a pedestal, making sure to surround themselves with people who adore them. They cannot tolerate those who do not praise them often and will frequently put those people down. It wounds their sense of self-worth when others do not shower them with praise. This was Nicole’s experience with Tom. “At first, I was so impressed by Tom. He is a successful surgeon, lives by the beach, and took me to the best restaurants; he even took me to Hawaii a month after we started dating. After a while, though, just having a conversation with him became exhausting – everything would be about him and how great he was.”
Month 4 + and Beyond:
Once you’re hooked into the relationship, the narcissist starts to change dramatically. This change can start gradually and then become more apparent as the relationship continues. They start to pull back emotionally from the relationship. They tend to avoid taking responsibility when they have done something wrong or hurtful. They shift the blame onto others; after all, it was someone else who “pushed their buttons” or “made them act” in a hostile way. They have a difficult time empathizing with their partners and being able to see exactly how they acted in a hurtful manner.
James had this issue with his wife, Linda. “Everything was always someone else’s fault, never hers. The way she would talk to people, including me, was very entitled. If I tried to open up to her, she would give me a cold look, as if she couldn’t care less, and said she didn’t have the time to deal with me being a baby.”
Through blame, manipulation, bullying, and acting entitled, they avoid taking responsibility for their part in the relationship. They start to point the finger at their partner when things go wrong. The bullying might start in small ways, such as being critical or harsh, and then become more hostile and possibly even threatening. They often stray from the relationship, looking for something “better.” It’s what they feel they deserve when they are being “wronged.” It’s no wonder that people who are high in narcissism also tend to be unfaithful in their relationships. They think that they should have what (or who) they want, regardless of the consequences, because the rules simply don’t apply to them.
Angry when rejected, overreacting to small slights, and punishing those who do not support their grandiose image of themselves, narcissists can be extremely difficult to contend with.
It’s never about you not being “good enough.” It is important to know that these personalities are ingrained and would take a lot of work on your partner’s part to change. No matter how loving, responsible, or nurturing you are, you cannot change a narcissist in action … only drown in his reflection trying!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Paul DePompo is a psychologist, speaker, researcher, and author of the book “The Other Woman’s Affair”. He is recognized as an expert in helping people learn how to be their own coaches and make lasting change and is the founder of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Institute of Southern California. Dr. DePompo’s no-nonsense approach utilizes short-term techniques, that when mastered, make for long-term change. Follow him on Twitter @DrPaulDePompo.