Narcissistic personality disorder: a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance; a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others…Behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. ~ Mayo Clinic
Did you know that narcissists have a “split personality?”
Instead of living as their highly-sensitive and vulnerable selves, narcissists develop and exhibit a deeply-held, false persona that is equal parts grandiose, unempathetic, conceited, self-centered, and entitled.
In other words, narcissists are highly-developed children. They choose to ignore past issues and act out in similar to a child who doesn’t get their dessert first. The narcissist will literally destroy other peoples’ lives to get what they want.
It goes without saying that narcissists are less-than-ideal romantic partners, friends, roommates, colleagues, or acquaintances. Once again, they are both unaware of and unconcerned with how their actions affect others.
Here are seven signs that you are in a relationship with a narcissist:
1. They LOVE talking about themselves
“My father’s favorite responses to my views were: ‘but…,’ ‘actually…,’ and ‘there’s more to it than this.’ He always has to feel like he knows better.”
Narcissists love to talk about themselves to the point that they hoard an entire “conversation.” There is no two-way communication. If you try to get a word in, they’ll merely continue dwelling on about themselves.
2. They’re extremely entitled
“Why didn’t I get promoted? I’m the best employee here.”
Narcissists expect preferential treatment from everyone. They expect others to cater to their needs, without any questions being asked.
In a relationship with a narcissist, your partner will often feel as if they “deserve” something that they haven’t earned. Instead of pulling up their pants and getting to work, they’ll feel that’s beneath them and insist on someone else (YOU) doing it.
3. They focus entirely on the external
They’ll go out of their way to look the part. They take “fake it til you make it” very seriously. Often, hanging out with the who’s who, they’ll put themselves in the rooms they feel they deserve to be in even if it means lying to get there. If you as their partner don’t also look the part, you’ll find yourself being forced to change something about your appearance.
They’re the most handsome, the most beautiful, and if you don’t agree, or remind them of this often, you’ll find yourself in a verbal attack or given the silent treatment.
4. They are grandiose in thinking
Ever heard the song “You’re So Vain”? The 1988 classic manages to capture a narcissist’s thinking perfectly. Here are a few lines:
Well I hear you went to Saratoga
And your horse, naturally, won
Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not, you’re with some underworld spy
Or the wife of a close friend
The lyrics are far-fetched to the point of being almost funny. The song also happens to accurately describe narcissistic delusions of grandeur.
5. They unabashedly break rules
“This queue is ridiculous; think I’ll just cut ahead of that old guy.”
Narcissists take pride in breaking the rules. As they don’t care about anyone else’s feelings, they show no hesitation in doing so. They’ll steal, break appointments, ignore traffic laws … they’ll do pretty much anything that violates social norms.
But what if they get caught? A hypothetical question leads us to the sixth sign:
6. They are supreme manipulators
“Let me tell you what ACTUALLY happened…”
Narcissists are skilled excuse-makers and schemers.
In a relationship with a narcissist, your partner will often play the blame game to get what they want. Guilt-tripping is another useful tool for the narcissist, as it can – often, capably – manipulate the victim into thinking that they’re wrong or at fault. It’s a sick, twisted game – and one that narcissists, unsurprisingly, enjoy playing.
7. They violate boundaries
“Oh, that’s your stuff? Don’t mind if I do…”
Surprise, surprise! Narcissists couldn’t give two craps about personal boundaries. They’ll blatantly disregard your personal space; along with your feelings, thoughts, and even possessions (turns out many love to steal, too.)
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you can see their outright indifferent attitude towards people and things that you care for. This behavior is a manifestation of a narcissist’s deeply-held insecurities.
It’s crucial for someone who is in a relationship with a potential narcissist to understand the inevitability of emotional (potentially, physical) abuse. It’s also paramount to know that this behavior will never change. Narcissists make a living (literally) through being calculated, cold schemers.
It’s also crucial to grasp that it doesn’t matter if they “technically” qualify, i.e., are diagnosed as someone with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). In fact, this diagnosis is quite rare. However, experts estimate that around 6% of the U.S. population displays signs consistent with those of moderate NPD – roughly the same percentage of people diagnosed with depression.
If you or someone you know is the victim of emotional or physical abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233). NDV’s website site www.thehotline.org.