Narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD, is a psychiatric condition that can be both baffling and devastating to others. It is marked by grandiosity, a constant need to be the center of attention, and near-total self-absorption. When others fail to live up to their impossible demands, narcissists employ more than a few psychologically manipulative tricks to try to force compliance, often including verbal and emotional abuse.
Like all mental health disorders, narcissism exists on a spectrum. There are many more self-absorbed people in the world than full-blown narcissists. Nonetheless, even mild to moderate narcissism can be extremely damaging to romantic relationships. Here are 5 signs that your partner might be a narcissist.
1. Love Bombing
All couples go through a honeymoon phase fueled by passion and novelty. Many people put their partners on a pedestal at this time, believing that they can do no wrong. Narcissists, however, take this to a whole new level. You have something that they need or want, such as status, money, or attractiveness, and they are determined to set up a long-term supply. So they engage in behavior known as love bombing, smothering you with grand comparisons to movie stars or poets and promising to go to the ends of the earth for you.
2. Over-the-top Gestures
Although all the attention and compliments can be flattering, take a step back. Odds are, you are not the only one the narcissist is trying to impress. You might be the only romantic partner at the moment, but narcissists feel compelled to top everyone, all of the time. If your partner always tries to dominate conversations with ever more elaborate stories, insists on picking up the check every time you dine with friends, or makes showy displays of conspicuous consumption, his behaviors could be red flags.
3. Effective Adornment
It is normal for humans to dress to impress, but the narcissist takes it to the extreme. Fueled by attention from others, narcissists are often fantastically good looking. They know exactly how to dress, style their hair, apply makeup, and accessorize in a way that will maximize their appearance in every situation. They may not be born any more attractive than anyone else, but perfecting their appearance, something often referred to as effective adornment, helps fulfill a deep-seated need.
4. One-sided Neediness
As you get to know a narcissist, you will begin to realize just exactly how needy that person is. Their stories are carefully crafted to elicit maximum sympathy, so it may take some time before you start to find a common thread. Invariably, though, they manage to turn every story you try to tell, or every need that you express, into something about them. If you feel like you are always bending over backwards, can rarely get a word in edgewise, and are frequently ignored, you might just be dating a narcissist.
5. Inability to Recognize Different Points of View
As any sports fan can attest, humans tend to hold tightly to their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and worldview. However, most adults can recognize that their point of view is not the only one, enjoy talking or debating with others, and can laugh at their own passionate devotions to things that don’t really matter at all.
For a narcissist, the world revolves around her. She is the center of everything, and therefore, her opinions are not only the only ones that matter, but the only ones that can or should exist. If you challenge her on anything, no matter how petty, she is likely to experience major cognitive dissonance and lash out in anger.
How could you possibly be so stupid as to entertain any opinion other than the obviously correct one? Why do you hate her? How could you treat her so poorly? With a flair for the dramatic, a narcissist can be an exhausting person to be around.
A diagnosis of NPD is serious, and diagnosing people’s mental status is best left to the professionals. However, plenty of people exhibit narcissistic traits without being full-blown narcissists. If you recognize any of the above patterns in your relationship, it might be time to reassess whether it is the right relationship for you.
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Written by: Lisa FritscherNEXT