Abusers, manipulators, villains—this is what narcissists are called. This definition does not always hide a “demonic personality” or a person with a mental disorder. We are trying to figure out the main narcissist traits and how to deal with them.
Few people can match the ability of narcissists to make such a spectacular first impression. They radiate confidence, charisma, and charm from their first message on the best online dating sites.
Some people can see the destructive nature of narcissists through their brilliant masks, draw conclusions and not let such people into their lives. Still, those who could not recognize the narcissist in time and even started a relationship with them will have a hard time.
How to know if someone has a narcissistic personality disorder? We have compiled a list of narcissist traits by which you can determine who your chosen one really is. We will also tell you about ways to cope with such a partner and protect your mental health.
What Is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Let's start with a narcissist definition. Narcissism is a feature of the psyche in which people perceive themselves as unique individuals, consider themselves better than others, which does not always correspond to reality. Similar traits are present in the character of many people.
In a healthy person, they translate into ambition and a desire to gratify. But under a certain scenario, laid down in childhood, such behavior can turn into pathology, which is often accompanied by other diagnoses, for example, bipolar disorder and depression.
Contrary to popular delusion, people with a narcissist personality disorder do not love themselves very much. Rather, they admire their grandiose projection, which allows them to close gaps in their self-worth. This protection allows narcissists to avoid deep feelings and self-doubt. A person with such a disorder cannot stand minimal criticism. They perceive comments as a personal offense and can go mad if someone refuses to admire them.
How to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder? You can check how many narcissist traits you or your partner have using the NPI questionnaire. The more positive responses a person gives to statements from the list compiled by American psychologists and researchers, the more vividly narcissistic traits appear in them. Meeting people with a true personality disorder is not common. According to various sources, their number in society varies from 1% to 6%.
Narcissist and Society
On a superficial level, narcissists come across as quite pleasant people. Studies have shown that many socially active narcissists have charisma, hold an audience, are not afraid to express themselves, appear confident, and have high academic and professional aspirations.
These qualities are often promoted in job interviews and help narcissists get into leadership positions. However, such bosses may use too subjective criteria when assessing employees, focusing not on their professional achievements but the degree of admiration, loyalty, and the absence of doubts about the correctness of the manager's decisions.
Close relationships are not easy for a narcissistic sociopath. In partners and friends, they primarily seek confirmation of their exclusivity, superiority (which reinforces vulnerable self-esteem). It is common for these people to confuse the attachment that accompanies healthy partnerships with the addiction that can hold them back and inspire fear.
The demands for constant adoration and recognition of their grandeur, which the narcissist often implements in the form of excessive control over the thoughts and feelings, in most cases, sooner or later, are not fully satisfied. As a result, it leads to conflicts and an increase in manipulative behavior.
How to Identify a Narcissist?
Contrary to popular belief, narcissists do not sit in front of a mirror all day. Moreover, they become skillful and sophisticated manipulators with a complete lack of empathy. Such men and women stop at nothing to suck out the last drops of dignity and a sense of security from the victim (friend, partner). Relationships with narcissists can not only be painful but downright dangerous.
We have collected 12 narcissistic behavior traits and signs that you may be dating a narcissist (only a specialist can determine for sure). If your chosen one meets several points, then you should think about whether everything suits you. It can only get worse further.
Often narcissists are extremely attractive
Even if they do not look like Johnny Depp, their charisma, self-confidence, and ability to attract everyone's attention compensate for their unfashionable appearance and win hearts. Unless, of course, you are listening to their peacock bluster for the thirtieth time rolling your eyes.
They confuse kindness with weakness
Anyone who has ever dealt with a narcissist knows that the kinder you treat them, the tougher they get. Such people consider themselves “born to be cruel,” and they can even boast of their ability to oust people from their usual social circle and humiliate them.
You may have heard something similar at the beginning of your relationship, but narcissists are so great in other ways that you close your eyes to such things or think that you do not have enough information to draw your conclusions. You will feel the full seriousness of these narcissist traits only when you find yourself in the victim's place.
Narcissists treat their victims with such intense hatred and cruelty that you may sometimes get the impression that you are not human at all.
You are perfect as long as they think so
Narcissists are masters of compliments, and at the beginning of your relationship, they will assure you of their love, bathe you in their attention and adore you. They will shower you with compliments, tell you how lucky they are to meet you, and so on.
Thus, you begin to depend on them, and they examine the boundaries: will you leave or go further? Will you respond in kind and follow their example? This is how they figure out your level of self-confidence and where your limits are.
When the in narcissist and empath relationship, they discover that you are just a person, then prepare for the worst. Their “punishments” often include offenses intended to dishonor and humiliate you, to deprive you of your dignity, preventing you from saying a word. There can be no more talk of adoration. You can be finished off with an indifferent attitude or silence, or they can spread dirty rumors about you behind your back.
They are jealous, but they cheat
Are you successful and happy? Attractive and confident? Do you have many friends or are you an excellent cook? You're doomed.
A narcissist who plays the victim role is jealous of their partners for everything living and inanimate because they consider you their food source. They value your success, popularity, or attention to you as a threat to their nutrition, so they begin to get angry or, on the contrary, surround you with care, groom and cherish. But by no means think that they need you. No, only your attention.
Do you think the narcissist will compromise their principles to protect your feelings that they do not care about? The answer is obvious. And by the way, they often cheat just to annoy you or hurt you.
They use sex as a weapon
They love to watch porn and cheat on you because they consider themselves a gift from God. Narcissists despise relationships, so they prefer masturbation to sex with another person. In an effort to punish, upset, or even humiliate, they often “deprive” their partner of sex, again and again choosing porn over sex.
Dr. Sam Vaknin admitted his narcissist traits to himself and wrote Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited. According to it, all narcissists hate intimacy and use sex as a weapon or tool to manipulate. Some narcissists, as the doctor claims it in the book, “masturbate with partners,” while others, in particular men, despise women and consider sex with them an “unpleasant routine.” Familiar narcissist quotes?
They often go mad
Speaking of rage, we do not mean harmless attacks that happen to almost everyone in a specific situation. We mean a full-fledged, burning, and destructive rage in which the narcissist erases any remnants of dignity from the one who dares to criticize them. By the way, anything can be regarded as criticism, even if you rightfully told them that they offended you.
You think you are exchanging information with them to build a strong relationship, and they believe that you are cheating on them. When you give them an opinion or point out that they hurt you, they will never agree with you or admit their guilt. It is a short path to narcissist abuse.
Instead, they will think that you are trying to better them. Do not forget that narcissists consider themselves to be perfect in every sense, so the very idea that they are wrong or may be wrong is simply not possible to them.
They love control
It is vital for narcissistic entitlement to feel domineering and powerful. This is why they do not get involved in situations that they cannot control. They are constantly looking for additional “food sources” to control and use to the very end.
Narcissists attract both successful people and those with extremely low self-esteem. Anyone the narcissist cannot compete with is immediately devalued. You must remember that for narcissists, over time, everyone, without exception, devalues.
They are obsessed with their reputation
Narcissists think of love, power, adoration and are afraid of being exposed. Therefore, they often threaten partners whom they have betrayed, abused, or hurt, or fake shame and regret so that no one else knows the truth about them. These are simple narcissistic abuse examples.
There are no boundaries for them
The concept of “boundaries” for them is an empty sound. Do you want to get to know them better before starting a relationship? Forget it. They will do everything so that you do not hesitate and think they make you better, stronger, and more confident. Tell them about your fear of heights, and they will make you skydive. Explain why you don't like smoking, and they will light a cigarette in front of you. Leave them alone in your apartment, and they will reveal your every secret to using against you.
They are incapable of empathy
Take your time and think about these narcissist traits. They don't care. They don't empathize. They don't put themselves in your shoes. They don't feel anything but a selfish desire to use you as a source of nutrition. Better yet, make you suffer.
For example, you have been cheated on. When you cry, the narcissist blames you of “desperate to get attention” and explains that he only stayed with you because you are very sensitive and in need of support.
They lie. About everything
You can be lied to about anything – from their childhood favorite TV show to promises to be faithful. But narcissists do not tell the truth because it is not interesting (although they are very dull people, in fact). They will imitate the delight of each of your activities and hobbies so they even can boast with your words to others.
They don't change
Recent studies have argued, one after another, that there is no cure for narcissistic abuse syndrome. Narcissists can learn to communicate more respectfully, but it will take years of therapy. As a result, you will not be able to build a relationship with the narcissist. The true relationship that you dream of or deserve.
No matter what narcissists say, do, promise, or confess, they will always look for “food sources.” If the narcissist disappeared from your radar, then the food was found somewhere else. If they returned to you, then it means that they were denied there, and they came back to you.
How to Communicate with a Narcissist?
Building an even relationship with a narcissist is not always easy. Some people prefer just to cut them off. But what if this is not possible? Let's say such a person is a family member or an ex-husband/wife with whom you have common children.
- The first thing that psychologists advise is to try to detach emotionally. Ignore toxic language and manipulation. It is useless to expect sudden changes in narcissist behavior. Research has shown that narcissists are not likely to learn from their mistakes simply because they believe they don't make them.
- Your personal boundaries are your guardian against the actions of the narcissist. “This will not work with me anymore,” “I will not follow these manipulations” – phrases that will help to avoid an unpleasant conversation or obsessive requests of the narcissist.
- The shortest possible answers, “yes” and “no,” are your main allies in a dialogue with such a person if they begin to resort to manipulations and other narcissist traits. By minimizing communication, you give them less reason to stick to a phrase and launch an attack.
- Keep to the topic of conversation, and do not go aside. Perhaps your partner will try to overwhelm you with accusations or getting personal. In this case, the phrase “We are moving away from the topic of conversation” will help to get the discussion back on track.
- Compliments. If you really need to get something out of the narcissist, be generous with praise. Most likely, they will even enjoy fulfilling your request. Yes, this is manipulation, but who said that only a narcissist could use this technique?
How to Break up with a Narcissist?
The end of a relationship is never easy. Narcissist break-up can be doubly difficult. For them, the fact that they were dumped is unbearable abuse. That is why they will try to get you back by any means. It is a simple narcissist abuse cycle.
During this period, they will become sensitive and gentle. They will swear in eternal love and will do this until their victim loses attention. Often, therefore, the relationship with the narcissist develops into a cycle of separations and reunions. Nevertheless, if you decide to put an end to your communication, psychologists recommend the following:
- Write down their narcissist traits and reasons why you want to break up. It's best always to keep this list close if the narcissist decides to drag you back into a relationship by talking about eternal love.
- Give up illusions. It is difficult for such people to change, especially without the help of a specialist. Think if you have time to wait until they finally learn to show empathy and respect?
- Cut off all contacts. Ask a friend to pick up your stuff from the narcissist's place. Block this person on all phones and messengers. If you have common children, at first ask someone close to you to be with you at common meetings.
- Let go of your feelings. Breaking up, even with a toxic person, is always difficult. Give yourself time to cope with this situation. Just do not expect mutual suffering from the narcissist. During this period, they will most likely try to restore their damaged narcissistic ego and choose not the most pleasant ways for this: either they will tell everyone what a bad person you are or seek solace in the arms of someone else.
It may be wrong to shift responsibility for your relationship onto the narcissistic partner, demonize them, take the position of “victim,” expect regret, and suffering from the partner. After all, for some reason, you have come into this relationship, have been staying in it, and, perhaps, remain now. If necessary, you can seek help from a specialist to cope with narcissist abuse recovery, but you need to make a decision yourself and don't give it up.
It is important to decide here: do you want to move further together or on this path of life, your ways will separate. After all, staying with your narcissistic partner is also your decision. Thus, in our opinion, you are taking responsibility for your life and, if something does not suit you, changing it. Just be happy!
Have you noticed narcissist traits in your partner? Have you ever experienced a narcissistic cycle of abuse? Do you have any advice on how to deal with it? Please share your thoughts with us. They may be very helpful.
About the Author:
Robert Faulkner is a family and child psychologist. He has been working with couples of different ages and wants to share his thoughts about relationships with you. Robert’s hobby is traveling inside the UK and abroad. He has visited more than 15 countries, including the USA, Spain, France, the Netherlands, etc. One of Robert's biggest dreams is to take a photo on the top of Everest.