10 Tips That Indicate You Are in a Relationship with a Narcissist

Have you ever been in a relationship where you felt like you were on a rollercoaster, but couldn’t get off? Perhaps you walked on eggshells because you were unsure or fearful about your partner’s unpredictable behavior. Or maybe you got up this morning and wondered who the hell was the person lying next to you. If this is you, then there is a good chance that you may be in a relationship with a narcissistic individual. A narcissistic person is someone that is self-absorbed, and only cares about meeting their own needs. Here are some tips on what to look for if you suspect that you are in a relationship with a narcissist.

1) If their lips are moving….. There is a saying in 12-step recovery programs, if an addict’s lips are moving, then they are lying. The same is also true for narcissistic individual; they often lie just as easily as they breathe. They very seldom tell the truth about anything, and in fact – telling the truth often makes them anxious.

2) Presence of Vulnerable and Intimate Feelings. A narcissistic lover does not have genuine feelings of happiness, sadness, guilt, regret, empathy, or similar feelings. The reason that they do not express these feelings, is because they believe that that they are superior; thus emotions (particularly those that are considered to be vulnerable and intimate) and emotional attachments are considered to be a weakness. They view people who express these feelings as being weak, and beneath them. If a narcissistic person does express these emotions, they are typically faking, most likely as a ploy to get something from you. Narcissistic individuals particularly detest crying, because for them, crying signifies that one is supposed to feel bad or nurture the individual who is upset. Therefore, they feel that when someone is crying, it is a reminder that they cannot feel empathy; which is upsetting to them.

3) Rage aka Tantrums. Tantrums can occur spontaneously; and are characterized by acts verbal/emotional aggressiveness, and may escalate to physical violence. When a narcissist expresses rage, there are no limits in the wrath that they express, as their objective is to unleash their fury and express to you how worthless that they think you are. They will try to provoke you into having a negative reaction. While they may apologize for their behavior, their apologies are insincere.

Narcissistic people are only satisfied when they get their way because they believe that they are always right. If you challenge their opinion, statements, or their behaviors; they view this as an insult, and will most likely act out by creating arguments just to tell you that you are wrong, even when they know that you are right. They have periods of unprovoked or unexplained anger, because of some wrong they feel you did unto them. Anger towards someone else may be displaced onto you if they were unable to express their anger towards the targeted person.  A narcissist’s motto is “I will get you back.”

4) Users – One of the biggest red flags of a narcissistic partner is that they will use you, and won’t think twice about doing so. A common way that a narcissist abuses their partner is by draining their wallets. A narcissist doesn’t like to be inconvenienced in any way therefore they will drain your emotional and financial piggy bank, and will not feel guilty about the destruction that they have caused. Even if your narcissistic partner has money – they will not to share it with you because they consider that to be an inconvenience. Often they will engage in emotionally abusive tactics in order to make you spend your money. For example, they may blame you for not having money to pay rent by stating “you wanted me to move in your house. Since it’s your house, you should pay the bills.” To get out of paying for things, they may also disappear when the restaurant check comes, or lose their wallet.

5) Lack of Intimacy– While a narcissistic partner can be tender and loving during sex, they lack overall intimacy. Their expression of love is a mimicked behavior, and often consists of empty words and bottomless actions used for the sole purpose of getting their way. However, because a narcissistic person lacks emotional depth, they also lack in intimacy. They are full of mystery and unanswered questions; and this is intentional. They do not want to reveal their true selves to you – their vulnerability, fears, or even true details about their past.

6) Rushing into a relationship – Ordinarily, it takes a while to get to know a person, understand them, and fall in love.  A narcissist person uses smooth talk and charm to sweep you off of your feet and rush into a commitment so that they can get their needs met. The quickest way that narcissistic people do this is by sex, or pressuring commitment very early in the relationship. It is not uncommon for a narcissistic individual to try and pressure you to have sex on the first date, or move in with you after 1 month of dating. They are the typical definition of a “whirlwind romance.”  

7) Change in Sexual Behavior – Most narcissists, are very sexual people (with some exceptions). A narcissistic partner controls the type, style, and frequency of sexual activity.  Thus, in the beginning of the relationship sex is frequent, blissful, (maybe even risqué), and fulfilling. Then without warning, sex with your narcissistic lover is mechanical, degrading, or non-existent. Your partner may even ask you to perform sexual acts that they refuse to perform on you. Typically, when the sex dynamics change, the sleeping patterns will also change. A partner who lovingly cuddled you and slept close to you in the beginning of the relationship, will create distance in the bed by sleeping far away from you, asking you not to “touch them,” or avoid sleeping with you altogether.

8) Affairs – Narcissists are notorious for having affairs outside of the relationship. Their sexual behaviors can be very reckless due to their desire for control others. Your partner may engage in reckless behavior such as promiscuity, unprotected sexual activity outside of the relationship, flirting or flaunting another relationship in front of you, sex with prostitutes, swingers’ clubs, etc. Your narcissistic partner is also likely to deliberately allow you to find out about their infidelities. It is not uncommon to contract a sexually transmitted disease from a narcissistic partner.

9) Tumultuous Relationships – A narcissistic partner has a history of unstable short-term relationships. They may have long-term relationships, but they are characteristically dysfunctional and fake, and serve only one purpose – which is to use that person in some way.

When a narcissistic partner discusses their past relationships, their stories have a theme. The themes in their stories imply that they are the ‘victim’ or ‘white knight’ in all their relationships. Either they were always the tortured soul, or they rescued everyone else. Because they never accept responsibility; they never admit to any of their wrongdoings and the real reason for the demise in their relationships (which usually has something to do with them). They also never willingly terminate a relationship. Their policy is to always ‘leave a foot in the door,’ and it isn’t uncommon for them to try and rekindle a relationship with their ex. In a narcissist’s mind, a relationship is not over until they say it’s over.

10) They hate special occasions – especially if it’s not about them. Often, a narcissistic partner will make it difficult to spend holidays or special occasions with them. Typically, they will create enough tension and stress where they make it all about them – even when they ruin it. They may disappear from the engagement, cause a scene, refuse to open gifts, or openly flirt with other guests. Either way, it will keep a bad a taste in your mouth about your partner’s actions. However, for the narcissist partner, any attention on them, including negative attention is considered a huge success.

These tips are not to be all inclusive, however if you notice these signs in your partner, there is a good chance that you are in a relationship with a narcissistic partner. Should you find yourself in a relationship like this, recognize that it is abusive. If you find yourself in this type of relationship, I would recommend that you get yourself support through therapy.

© Natalie Jones, LPCC, PsyD.