Narcissism is very common these days. There is an increasing chance that there is a narcissistic partner and narcissism in relationships.
Scientists speak of a narcissism epidemic or a condition that is spreading at lightning speed.
They found that narcissistic personality traits are on the rise just as quickly as obesity. This is mainly due to the society in which we live.
So are you dealing with a narcissistic partner or is there narcissism in your relationship?
When is someone a narcissist?
People increasingly feel the need to show how fun and successful they are through social media.
Clinical psychologist Jan Derksen claims that students today are much more assertive , extroverted, materialistic and egocentric. These are all indications of narcissism.
Of course, this does not necessarily mean that someone actually has a narcissistic personality disorder . According to Derksen, there is also such a thing as ‘healthy narcissism’‘.
However, if you are in a relationship with someone who has a narcissistic disorder, you will find that this is no fun. Narcissists do everything out of self-interest and minimize the feelings and the environment of other people.
They themselves do not realize that they have a problem that often leaves the other frustrated behind. It is important to recognize this disorder in time and to know how to deal with it.
Relationship with a narcissistic partner
One of the most destructive relationships you can have is a relationship with a narcissist.
In the beginning, the narcissist seems very normal and charming, but after a while the real characteristics come to the fore. From then on it is often a relationship where feelings of powerlessness and humiliation get the upper hand.
In the early stages of the relationship, narcissists are very charming and interesting. They are very good at seducing people and do not immediately show their negative traits.
They can lie very convincingly and immediately captivate everyone with their charms. They exude confidence and are very nice to deal with.
But this self-confidence they radiate is not real. Deep down, narcissists feel enormously inferior and they compensate for this through their behavior.
In the beginning, the relationship is very pleasant, but narcissists have a tendency to manipulate people. As soon as the narcissist feels that the other person feels connected, the manipulation will increase.
It’s not just manipulation that becomes a problem. Aggressive behavior can even arise within a relationship with a narcissist.
Especially if the narcissist’s conditions are not met. The narcissistic partner will always try to keep someone with them anyway.
They often do this in a compulsive way. They act jealous, but on the other hand, they make sure that the partner does not get any power over them. Rather, the partner is treated as a possession with their feelings completely ignored.
Someone who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder is unable to feel true love for another person.
He or she only loves himself. The narcissist does not want the partner to become independent and will often do everything to prevent this.
The narcissist will give his partner a sense of obscurity and insecurity in order to mislead him or her.
As a result, the partner will often make even more effort and that is exactly what the narcissist wants. The narcissist likes a lot of attention, but he will never let the other person get too close.
He cares about being placed on a pedestal, but he is unable to build a real connection with anyone. And this is very frustrating for the partner.
A relationship with a narcissist is very difficult and can have a major effect on the partner’s self-esteem.
It is very taxing and exhausting. After all, the relationship is dominated by the demands and wishes of the other person.
He or she feels superior and is unable to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Narcissists usually don’t have long-term relationships, but they switch partners very often.
A relationship with a narcissist often ends in a painful way.
After all, the narcissist does not want to change because he thinks there is nothing wrong with him. Nothing is their fault. They will always blame everything on the other.
In discussions, the partner is often made to feel guilty. After the relationship ends, the narcissist will try again to find another ‘victim’.
Characteristics of Narcissism in Relationships
Both men and women can suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.
Yet we see that women are more often the victims of narcissism in relationships than men.
Most traits are similar, but women sometimes employ other methods such as crying and other forms of emotional manipulation. Female narcissists also often use their bodies, sexuality, and physical charms.
It is not always easy to recognize narcissistic traits in your partner.
Many narcissists can appear very normal and can lie very convincingly, which allows them to hide their behavior well.
Narcissists are very self-centered and can show little empathy. They feel above the law and can be irascible if their wishes are not met. They often find it difficult to compromise with people because they feel they are not doing anything wrong.
Below are some characteristics that you can recognize in narcissistic people. Note that many people can have 1 or a few traits without actually being a narcissist.
However, if you recognize several aspects, this may be an indication that your partner has narcissistic traits. However, a diagnosis can only be made by an expert therapist.
The following signs often come back to narcissism in relationships:
People with a narcissistic personality disorder function fine at first sight, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Behind this charming and confident mask there is a great sense of fear and emptiness. Narcissists often have trauma in their past.
For example, as children they were neglected or did not feel safe. This gives them the idea that in order to survive, you have to invest more emotionally in yourself than in others.
This has never fully developed in narcissists, which means that they cannot get along well with others later in life.
Living with a narcissist or breaking up a relationship: 10 tips
Partners of narcissists often feel misunderstood and unhappy.
They feel like they can’t get through to their partner. Yet they have invested a lot of effort and time in the relationship and they feel a lot of love for the other person.
They prefer to postpone the choice to leave the narcissistic partner until they are sure they have tried everything.
Living with a narcissist is a difficult task. Relationship problems due to stress are very common.
It takes a lot of energy and it is very heavy emotionally. The danger is that the narcissist’s partner will die after a while.
It’s not easy living with a narcissistic partner, but it’s not impossible either.
Here are some tips that can ease dealing with narcissism in your relationship:
1. Know that you cannot change your partner
You can hardly change a narcissist.
This is only possible if he himself acknowledges that he has a problem and makes the choice to be treated. However, that chance is small because narcissists think they are perfectly normal themselves.
So if you live with a narcissist, you should see him as he is.
So know that they lie and manipulate and that they always put the blame on someone else. Knowing this and being able to deal with it will keep you immune to this behavior.
2. Have no expectations
Narcissists don’t want love, they want attention and admiration and their only goal is to find people who can give it to them.
So don’t expect them to feel real love for you.
This may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. So don’t expect empathy, support, love or understanding.
Narcissists cannot do this. They often only show something if they want something from you which makes it not sincere.
3. Show that you are in control too
As a partner you are more vulnerable because you have more feeling and empathy than the narcissist. You often assume honesty, but the narcissist does not shy away from manipulation.
He uses every means in his power to get what he wants.
Let your narcissistic partner know that you are no longer playing his games. Don’t give in to provocations and make it clear that you have as much control as him.
4. Set Your Limits
Decide for yourself how far you can go. Your narcissistic partner will test you and make you feel guilty.
Try to be emotionally used as little as possible.
Clearly indicate your limits and dare to say ‘no’. You can cut off conversations in which abuse takes the upper hand.
If you don’t clearly set your boundaries, the narcissist will walk all over you.
5. Set an ultimatum
A narcissist wants to connect you emotionally with him and will do anything to achieve this
† If it becomes too much for you, you can threaten to leave him. This will make the narcissist afraid of losing his power.
He’s going to realize he needs you anyway. He usually does not realize this because he is only concerned with himself.
By making it clear to him that you are leaving, you have an emotional weapon. If he’s prone to this, he’ll step back again.
And this will be hard for you. You will feel lonely at times and think you will never get out of this.
6. Be as neutral as possible
Make sure you have your own life and find happiness in your own contacts and interests.
Be neutral or almost ignoring the narcissist. Note that neutral does not mean weak. Narcissists have a nose for that.
If you show any kind of weakness, the narcissist has you in their sights. So maintain an assertive or neutral attitude as much as possible. Don’t give too much and don’t give too little.
7. Slimming helps
Do you want to get something done from the narcissist? Slimming helps.
Make the narcissist feel like your idea is actually his. With a bit of luck, he will idealize you and you will get everything done from him.
When in company, never criticize the narcissist. He will never forgive you for this.
You can do this behind the scenes, but still be very careful.
If you think he is spouting nonsense in public, you can carefully ask questions so that you can determine his ignorance. However, try not to say flatly that he knows nothing about it.
9. Always be on your guard
If you go along in the world of the narcissist, everything goes smoothly. However, you must always realize that this can always change.
It can help to become a little narcissistic yourself. You should certainly not outdo, but manipulating back slightly can be useful.
10. Trust your gut
It can take a long time to realize that you are dealing with a narcissist.
Being yourself is extremely important when you are in a relationship with a narcissist.
At some point, you may realize that your partner is always making you feel stupid or worth less.
Once you realize this, you can ask other people in your environment how they experience this person.
Do they feel the same?
Then you can try to talk to the narcissist about this. This is best done with an ‘I-message’:
“I see that this keeps going wrong and that I can’t get through to you.”
There is a good chance that your message will not get through, but then it is at least clear that the problem is not with you.
When to break up with a narcissist?
If you feel that you are only feeling unhappy and frustrated in your relationship with the narcissist, it is better to end the relationship.
If you stay in the relationship for too long, the consequences for your own identity are very damaging.
The narcissist constantly manipulates you so that you feel completely ignored. After a while you are thoroughly unhappy and you no longer know who you are. Of course you can’t keep taking this.
Narcissists usually do not accept help from others to, for example, go to therapy.
The small part that does go to therapy often experiences difficulties with the psychologist. It is usually a long-term process that involves many ups and downs.
When therapy is not an option either, the last option is to free yourself from the destructive relationship. However, this is not always easy. After all, the narcissist will do everything to keep you in his power.
Narcissists are masters at emotionally abusing other people to get their way. It is important that you decide that you no longer accept this. You are the only one who can make this decision.
The only way to completely break free from the narcissist is to cut off all contact completely.
This is extremely difficult, yet it is necessary. Change phone number and email address and stay for a while at an address he doesn’t know. Block him on social media and avoid all physical contact.
Make sure you gain control over the situation and don’t be led by sadness and curiosity to get back in touch.
Make sure you can surround yourself with people who support and help you cope with this difficult situation.
Narcissists can be very aggressive if they don’t agree with you. So seek a lot of support from your loved ones and try to rebuild your self-confidence.
Realize that you are the most important person in your life and that you are in control. Take care of yourself, be yourself and try to do as many things as possible that you enjoy!
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