Relationships with other people are often affected by toxic patterns, which translate into poor communication, difficulty setting boundaries, or damaging behaviors. One of the most common instances, when a relationship displays toxic mechanisms, is when one or both of the partners have Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits.
Let’s learn what NPD is and how to recognize it in your partner. Doing so can help you cope with toxic behavior, understand why they are doing certain things and find the strength to deal with it or leave the relationship.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
People who experience Narcissistic Personality Disorder, whom we will further call narcissists, are defined by an inflated sense of self-importance, focusing on how other people perceive them. NPD is categorized as a personality disorder, and it often affects the narcissist’s life, as well as the life of people around them.
Partners of a narcissist are often victims of their behavior and it can take time for them to recognize the patterns of the disorder. Often, victims of narcissistic partners have personality disorders of their own, like low self-esteem, abandonment issues, or unhealthy attachment models like anxious attachment.
When you learn to recognize your partner’s narcissistic traits, you will likely learn that your own mental mechanisms trigger or feed a narcissist’s behavior.
Signs that Your Partner Is a Narcissist
If you are not sure what drives your partner to act inconsistently towards you, to diminish your feelings and who you are, to bring you down constantly through criticism and aggressive behavior, read on the most common signs that you are dealing with a narcissist.
When in a relationship with a true narcissist, you are very likely to observe some of the following signs. They are the official criteria for diagnosing NPD, and if your partner displays at least 5 of these behaviors, they are likely to be on the spectrum of NPD.
- They have an inflated sense of self-importance.
- They are often dreaming about scenarios of great success, being powerful, excelling, or finding ideal love.
- They strongly believe they are unique and superior, identifying themselves with entities with similar traits.
- They need to be admired and agreed with constantly.
- They believe they are entitled to be treated well and be on the receiving side of relationships.
- They will take advantage of others for their own gain.
- They lack empathy and won’t be aware of or care about your feelings.
- They often think others are envious of them while being envious of others themselves.
- They are often arrogant, rude, and condescending towards others.
Common Scenarios in a Relationship with a Narcissist
If you recognize many signs of NPD in your partner, it might be eye-opening regarding many events and scenarios in your relationship. Often, narcissists will deny any wrongdoing on their part and will manipulate their partner into thinking it was all their fault.
For a partner who lacks self-esteem, these common mechanisms displayed by a narcissist can worsen their co-dependency issues, their criticism towards themselves, and the very vulnerability that feeds a narcissist’s behavior.
“Gaslighting” is often used by narcissists to make others think they are the ones being irrational and unreasonable. Besides denying any wrongdoing, a narcissist can twist the facts and interpret them as an exaggerated reaction from their partner. For a person with low self-esteem, this can lead to feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and uncertainty, which are all obviously very toxic for them.
Another very common trait of those with NPD is a lack of empathy, or even sympathy, towards the feelings of others. A narcissistic partner will not support you when you are feeling down when you are underperforming for any reason or trying to protect your mental health by setting boundaries. A narcissist will make it all about themself and will profit from your vulnerability.
How to Manage a Narcissistic Partner?
Dealing with a narcissistic partner can be extremely difficult, especially in cases where child custody is involved. Because of the inflated sense of self and superiority, and their rejection of what they perceive as control or criticism, people with NPD will most likely not seek professional help.
As a narcissist’s partner, the best you can do is to manage your own reactions to your partner’s behaviors, and recognize the mechanisms in your own life that pushed you to be with such a partner.
If there is any abuse or sign of danger coming from your partner, seek help from specialized organizations. If you wish to leave a narcissistic partner, a therapist can help you process every step, and cope with your own feelings.
The specialists at Dr. Quintal and Associates Counseling Center are fully equipped to help you deal with a narcissistic partner. Book a free consultation and make the first step towards a happier, healthier relationship with yourself.