The thing about dating a narcissist is that you may not realize you are dating one until you’re well into the relationship. It can be difficult to identify narcissistic traits at the beginning of a relationship because narcissists are often charming and good readers of emotions, which can make you feel emotionally connected to them. But narcissists take much more than they give, often leaving their partners feeling completely inadequate, wondering where they went wrong. To help you better determine if you might be dating a narcissist, here are eight signs to pay attention to.
1. Narcissists are charming & manipulative
“When they are getting their way, everything’s fine. But if you cross them or challenge them, they engage in a full-court press to get you to relent or capitulate. Their mantra is ‘My way or the highway,’” divorce attorney Jacqueline Harounian tells SheKnows.
2. They thrive on the appearance of success
They want to act and look like they’re the best at everything. “But in reality, the narcissist has a very poor self-esteem. As long as you go along with the facade, the relationship will be smooth. If you peek behind the curtain and expose a flaw, there will be hell to pay,” says Harounian.
3. They exploit the relationship through social media
While it is OK to share details of your relationship with others, a narcissist will take it to the next level by posting intimate details of their relationship on social media. “They will constantly post videos and images of themselves with their partner to create the illusion of a fabulous life together rather than actually taking the time and energy on the relationship themselves,” Jenna Ponaman, a relationship coach and expert, tells SheKnows. To the partner, this can feel like viewers are impeding their opportunity for intimacy and growth with their partner.
4. They dismiss your concerns
Narcissists have difficulty recognizing the needs and desires of those around them, explains Grant Brenner, a board-certified psychiatrist and coauthor of Relationship Sanity: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Relationships. “Rather than seeking to connect and relate, forming a partnership and connection with others, those with pathological levels of narcissism — as contrasted with healthy narcissism — mainly are using others as an accessory. They don’t care who you are, but what you are, and how you make them look good.”
5. They are highly confrontational
Someone with narcissistic behavior will be very sure to have their needs met and can come off as very demanding. “If they feel that their needs are not being met, they will be very quick to voice their opinion and concerns. You will even notice it in the style of their confrontations or arguments. For example, a healthy argument would consist of complimenting their partner on things they excel in, followed by their concerns. A narcissist will not compliment, they will simply be defensive and point out the flaws of their partner,” says Ponaman.
6. They lack empathy & are vindictive
There is no meeting in the middle to settle differences, large or small. Harounian says, “The narcissist leaves a trail of broken relationships from childhood to the present, including family members and former paramours.”
7. They only want to hear praise
“People with unhealthy narcissism seek admiration from others, and only admiration. If they are vulnerable narcissists, they will tend to act injured if feedback is anything other than complimentary,” says Brenner. “You will feel demeaned and insignificant. If they are grandiose narcissists, they will not act victimized, but they will be dismissive of feedback if it does not confirm their vision of themselves as superior. If you do it enough, they will get annoyed and lose interest, moving onto greener pastures.”
8. They will expect you to go out of your way for them
Giving and taking is a one-way street — they will take, expect special treatment from you, take what you do for them for granted or give lip-service gratitude at best and quickly forget you did anything for them unless they bring it up in the future in order to get something else they want from you. “You may want appreciation or expect reciprocity, but don’t hold your breath. They won’t feel like they owe you anything, and they won’t feel a genuine desire to provide care later on. If anything, you should be grateful for the chance to serve them, because in their eyes, it makes you look good by association,” says Brenner.