Do you remember the story of Narcissus?
Narcissus loved only himself, but he wanted love, attention, and praise from everyone. He shunned the love of the beautiful wood nymph Echo, and in doing so he angered Nemesis, the goddess of revenge. Nemesis attracted Narcissus to a pool of water, where, upon seeing his reflection, he fell in love with himself. Narcissus could not tear himself away from his reflection, and he drowned pursuing it. This mythological warning to those who fixate on themselves gives us the words “narcissist” and “narcissism.”
We are living in an “it’s all about me” day and age. To an extent this is healthy, because you should always keep yourself and your best interests first and foremost in your mind. Some people, however, take this behavior to extremes, especially today’s narcissists, who have been bred and groomed by modern conveniences and external stimuli such as social media to believe their own hypes.
Are you dating a narcissist? Here are 6 tell-tale signs to look for.
You May Be Dating a Narcissist
1. Very Charismatic and Charming
The narcissist is one of the most charming people you will ever meet. He (or she) will dazzle you with a smile, impress you with his knowledge, and tell you wonderful stories all about himself to pull you in. You are almost immediately attracted to him and his whirlwind of self-importance. You might even feel privileged that he is giving you this attention, which will make you work for more of it.
The narcissist will also chase after you with a passionate fire like no other. Once he has you, however, that’s a different story. The attention soon all shifts onto him, and you’ll find yourself working to keep him around.
2. Jumping through Hoops
Once the narcissist has you in a relationship, his unwritten and unspoken rules start to surface. It’s almost like a game, and unfortunately you are an unaware participant. You will find yourself jumping through imaginary hoops for him. In his mind this is all about pleasing him.
His ego is easily bruised, but he has no concern for you or your feelings. He will grow impatient and angry if you are hurt by his words and actions. You soon learn to hide or shut off your feelings.
3. The World Revolves around Him
If you’re dating a narcissist, you may notice everything in the relationship revolves around him. He desires and craves the spotlight in every area of his life, because it helps to build up his ego and self-importance.
You got a promotion at work? Thank him, because without him in your life you would have never gotten it.
Have something you want to do? He will twist it around to make it sound as if it were his idea or to make the activity all about him.
Celebrating your birthday? He will take you out where he wants to go to celebrate. Your gift might even be something from which he can benefit.
4. Twisting Everything to His Benefit
Any and all slights-real and imaginary-on the narcissist are dealt with and viewed as personal attacks. A narcissist is never wrong. Never. Ever. Criticism undermines the false shell of perfection he has built up around himself.
He will twist your words, the situation, and your perception of what happened, and he’ll soon have you believing whatever happened is your fault, or even someone else’s. It’s anyone’s fault but his, really, because he is perfection personified, in his mind.
5. One Way Listening
When you both are in a discussion (or argument), the narcissist will only listen to you so he can negate or minimize what you’ve just said and turn it around on you. This is commonly referred to as unilateral listening.
When he does start to talk, his sentences in the conversation will most likely start with “But,” “Wait a minute,” or “However.” You will most likely feel defeated and exhausted by his tactics, and you soon adapt to his way of thinking.
6. Controlling Boundaries and an Outrageous Sense of Entitlement
In other words, he can do things but you can’t. One thing is for sure if you are dating a narcissist-you can never, ever treat him the same way as he treats you. Everything he does is for his own personal pleasure and ego.
For example, if you find out he cheated, he will come back with a twisted (refer to #4) justification as to why he is allowed to do this, but you are not. You would completely bruise his fragile ego (refer to #2) by going outside of the relationship to have your needs met, even though he is not truly capable of fulfilling any needs but his own.
His relationship, his rules. He might even tell you if you don’t like it, you can end the relationship. By this time though, you’re so invested in the relationship that you give into the narcissist and his twisted ways.
If you get in too deep with a narcissist, you may find yourself feeding off of and filling yourself with false hopes and dreams of someday earning and deserving his love and affection. You might even start thinking that one day you will do and/or say the right things to make this roller coaster stop. You start to live in a fantasy world. He may even pull a few of your friends into his whirlwind of bullshit and elevated self-importance.
This is when you know it’s no longer love, but an obsessive and abusive game of cat and mouse.
Warning: Because a true narcissist will not think or believe anything is wrong with him (refer to #4), the chances of him changing or agreeing to get help are slim to none. You cannot change him, but you can change how you react to him and his behavior. This might ultimately lead to you saying enough is enough and ending the relationship.
My best advice would be to check out the following books, as they helped me when I found myself dating a narcissist. If that doesn’t help, then please seek professional assistance. And remember: there’s no shame in being single, especially after an unhealthy relationship. Good luck!
Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist – Steven Carter & Julia Sokol
Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed – Wendy T. Behary, LCSW