7 Questions to Ask When Determining Whether Your Partner Is a Narcissist
Narcissist or Just Self-Absorbed?
Slapping the label of narcissist on your partner, boss, friend, or mother-in-law is the hottest thing going in pop psychology today. Everybody on the face of the planet has become utterly convinced they're being mistreated by one. In reality, though, most of us are not dealing with narcissists but simply self-absorbed people who are annoying, yes, but abusive, no. So ...if you're dating someone who has you wondering, ask yourself the following 7 questions :
A Narcissist Loves Flattery From Strangers and Eats It Up
1. Does He Care More About What Strangers Think of Him Than What You Think of Him?
The person you're dating may initially captivate you by his charming way with strangers – joking with servers at restaurants, chatting it up with salespeople at stores, and always telling engaging stories at parties. You may think: What a catch! But, as the relationship develops, you see his easy rapport with strangers does not carry over to his relationship with you.
A narcissist feeds off the attention he gets from casual relationships – the mail carrier who laughs at his joke, the co-worker who praises his sense of style, the barber who admires his full head of hair. While most of us take these everyday compliments with a grain of salt, he finds them extremely gratifying. This superficial give-and-take that most of us call “chit-chat” is more meaningful to him than a deeper relationship with you. He's the life of the party but shallow as a puddle one-on-one.
2. Does She Consider Herself Special in Some Way, Setting Herself Apart from Regular Folks?
Just like Superman with his x-ray vision, a narcissist believes she, too, has unique powers that set her apart from everyone else. She often brings up her specialness in conversation because it's central to her identity. She may see herself as unusually perceptive, a superior communicator, exceptionally attractive, or uncommonly moral. She may see herself as a princess, deserving preferential treatment, luxurious surroundings, and lots of admiration. She may exaggerate her importance, making comments such as: “Everyone is always coming to me for advice...My entire family would be in shambles if it weren't for me...People are always telling me I should write a book about my life!”
Some narcissists see religion as their super power. They believe they have a special one-on-one relationship with God in which He speaks to them directly and guides their everyday lives. We've all heard NFL players thanking God for their Super Bowl wins and actors praising the Lord for their Academy Awards. They think God sees them as exceptional, deserving of recognition, and this confirms what they think of themselves. In your relationship, the narcissist will always be the one who sets the course and leads the way because, after all, she's being steered by a Higher Power.
3. Does He Give You the “Silent Treatment?”
If you're like many people, you clam up when you get mad, frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed. You don't want to say something you'll regret so you wisely refrain from speaking until you've sorted out your thoughts and can speak rationally about them. This may take a matter of minutes or a few hours. Your intent is to avoid hurting your partner and damaging the relationship.
The narcissist gives the “silent treatment” for an entirely different reason – to punish, control, and demoralize. Make no mistake about it, he's using it to make you suffer and squirm. In fact, some narcissists like to give the “silent treatment” without explanation, putting their victims off-balance and making them feel scared and vulnerable. Their vengeful self-imposed muteness can go on for days, weeks, and even months. They take the "silent treatment" to the extreme and use it often. If you try to become more assertive in the relationship, the narcissist will use it as a weapon to squelch your independence.
4. Is She Thin-Skinned?
A narcissist takes offense at the slightest of slights. She's highly sensitive to any perceived insult. She can't take a joke, can't laugh at her foibles, and can't let anything go. She's never self-deprecating. You may start censoring your speech around her so as not to hurt her fragile feelings. You may feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells. When you make comments not even directed at her, she may interpret them as a personal attack. You gradually realize you'll never win and become resigned to it.
It's nearly impossible to talk to a narcissist about anything you find troubling in the relationship. She will take what you said, twist it, and make you the bad guy. A narcissist is not self-reflective so you're in for a losing battle. She can play the martyr like nobody else.
If she hurts you, don't hold your breath waiting for an apology. A narcissist rarely if ever says “I'm sorry.” If she were to even notice your distress, she would only offer a lame, insincere acknowledgment. She would never say, “I'm sorry I called you dumb. I was mean.” Instead, she would say, “I'm sorry you reacted that way to what I said.” She puts it all on you.
5. Does He React With Anger When You Disagree With Him?
When others disagree with us, we find it annoying but not cause for anger and rage. A narcissist, however, gets unduly upset when someone has a differing viewpoint. He becomes hell-bent on changing her opinion or berating her for clinging to it. He cannot tolerate losing an argument. He cannot be wrong.
A live and let live attitude is not part of his makeup. A narcissist will argue with you until he's beaten you down and you've lost the will to live. Debating back and forth is futile because he doesn't want to listen. A narcissist (deep-down) is an insecure person who needs to believe he's always right. He's drawn to a woman who avoids confrontation and is willing to smooth over rough patches to make his life run smoothly. He does not look for an equal. He typically wants someone younger, less experienced, and easy to influence.
Deep-down a Narcissist Is an Insecure Person
6. Does She Ever Give You Compliments?
A narcissist believes her role is to receive compliments, not give them. You may start to feel like you're walking through the desert, searching for a drop of water, if you're seeking praise or validation from her. You'll start to lose self-esteem and that's exactly what she wants. When you're unsure of yourself, you're in a weak position. She's in control and more powerful.
You are collateral damage as she bolsters herself, minimizing your experiences and achievements in the process. If you get a promotion at work, she'll say, “I've gotten SO many promotion over the years. I've lost count.” If you're excited about becoming an uncle for the first time, she'll say, “I've been an aunt for 10 years. It's not a big deal.” She'll burst your bubble and you'll start getting depressed.
Want to Know If You're Dating a Narcissist? Just Ask!
7. Does He Genuinely Empathize With You When You Experience Heartache?
A narcissist has little or no ability to experience empathy. But he often fakes it, saying sympathetic words and giving comforting gestures, when it serves his needs. He may act compassionately when you're dating but give up the pretense when you're married.
Some wives say their narcissistic husbands began acting cold and unsympathetic soon after the nuptials. They first noticed the behavior when they needed their husbands to care for them when they were suffering from the flu, recovering from surgery, or getting over the death of a relative. The narcissists, unable to cope with the nurturing role, got extremely frustrated, angry, and resentful.
If You're Fascinated by Narcissists Like I Am, You'll Love This Book
I was first introduced to a narcissist when I was just a teenager and my sister married one. Now, four decades later, I'm still fascinated by my brother-in-law and other selfish, egotistical individuals like him. I'm always eager to gobble up new insight on them and that's why I loved this book by Dr. Sandy Hotchkiss. Within its pages, she details the seven deadly sins of narcissism: shamelessness, magical thinking, arrogance, envy, entitlement, exploitation, and bad boundaries. As I read about each one, I recognized my brother-in-law as well as several other self-absorbed people in my sphere. Hotchkiss does a superb job of explaining how to cope with the narcissists in our lives - whether they're co-workers, bosses, friends, neighbors, or family members. She also gives invaluable advice on how to break free of one when the relationship is destructive. If you're fascinated by narcissists like I am or looking for ways to deal with them, this book is a must read.
© 2016 McKenna Meyers