5 Signs You’re in a Relationship with a Narcissist
Is someone in your life constantly bragging in their social media posts, exaggerating about everything, and talking about all the amazing things they’re going to accomplish one day? How can you tell if they’re just obnoxiously self-centered, or if they’re suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder?
A Narcissist or Just an Inflated Ego?
Many people fall into the category of being overly self-confident, arrogant, and demanding, but this doesn’t necessarily make them narcissistic. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) go beyond these everyday characteristics—they express grandiosity, have a constant need for excessive admiration, and show a lack of empathy for others.
The number of people with true narcissism is estimated to range from less than 1% to over 6% of the population. This mental health disorder is far more common in men, who make up 50%-75% of those affected.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the Brain
The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-V, spells out 9 criteria for NPD. To qualify for clinical diagnosis as a narcissist, a person only has to meet 5 of those items. But symptoms don’t tell the whole story. Brain imaging studies have found that people who suffer from NPD tend to have abnormalities in the brain.
In particular, a 2013 study found that narcissists have less gray matter volume in a region of the brain believed to be involved in empathy. Other brain imaging research has found that people with NPD also have hypersensitivity in brain systems associated with distress and social pain networks.
5 Signs You’re Hooked on a Narcissist
Some of the hallmark signs that you’re involved with a narcissist include:
1. It’s all about them.
Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and make everything revolve around them and their needs, not yours.
2. They sweep you up in their grandiose goals.
People with NPD are preoccupied with fantasies about unbridled success and power. They manage to convince their partners that these unrealistic goals are in fact attainable due to their unique and special talents.
3. Constant admiration is required.
Narcissists have a sense of entitlement and believe they deserve special treatment. You need to provide an endless supply of admiration to keep the relationship going.
4. No criticism allowed.
When questioned or challenged, your mate is likely to lash out with rage or anger.
5. You’re being exploited.
People with narcissistic personality disorder have a lack of empathy that often leads to the manipulation or exploitation of their partners.
The Trouble with Relationships with Narcissists
Because of their supreme confidence, charm, and life-of-the-party personalities, narcissists can be intoxicatingly attractive to some people. They tend to go overboard when wooing a love interest, sweeping you off your feet, and making it seem as if you must be very special to be invited into their extraordinary world. And it feels that way…at first.
With time, however, you may realize that the narcissist’s exaggerated delusions of grandeur are merely fantasies. And you may find yourself stuck in an endless cycle of doing whatever it takes to try to please the narcissist, but no matter how much admiration you show them or how much you buy for them, it’s never enough.
Trying to stand up for yourself by saying no to their demands can backfire and set you up for harsh criticism and psychological manipulation intended to make you take the blame for not living up to their expectations. This toxic unhealthy relationship can lead you to develop symptoms of anxiety or depression.
If you’re involved with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder, it can be hard to get them to seek treatment. After all, they believe they are special and typically refuse to admit that they have a problem. Looking at the brain, however, can help identify abnormalities associated with NPD and show that issues may be biological, not moral.
In some instances, however, it can be just as important for you to seek psychotherapy to help you handle your own feelings and to find strategies you can employ to improve the marriage or relationship or to gain the courage to walk away from it.
At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of couples overcome marital conflict and mental health issues so you can mend relationships. If you’re struggling in a relationship with a narcissist and want to learn how to handle it, we can help. Simply call 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.