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In any romantic relationship, there can be times when your partner seems to be a little selfish, self-absorbed or full of themselves. Maybe they take an excessive amount of time to perfect their physical appearance, carefully applying makeup or spending hours each week in the gym, or maybe they seem to only care about their own goals and the attention and praise they receive from achieving them. In any individual, it is possible to be a bit narcissistic about the things that we are proud of or the goals we have, whether it is our accomplishments, appearance or ability to perform. However, in some relationships this narcissistic behavior can be extreme, causing feelings of resentment, disassociation or distance from their partner.
Recognizing You are Dating a Narcissist
In several cases, Narcissistic Personality Disorder can go undiagnosed by a professional. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a continuous and constant pattern of behaviors in which the individual seems to care only for themselves, craves attention and can often seem cruel at times. Individuals who are diagnosed or even borderline narcissists can exhibit characteristics that serve as red flags to those around them. Narcissistic characteristic traits can include:
- A selfish nature
- Having a strong sense of entitlement
- Lack of care or compassion for others
- Appears charming to others
- Seeks to be the center of attention
- A need for constant approval, praise or compliments
- Gaslighting behaviors
- Blames others for faults or mistakes
- Loves to talk about themselves
- A need for receiving instant gratification
In many cases, the narcissist will be charming, alluring and seeming to have the best of everything. But these individuals are often driven by their own needs and only present a perspective that will achieve those needs. They will often engage in relationships with those who will shower them with compliments or gifts, seek to please them in every aspect of their life and relationship, or those who can offer the narcissist the opportunity to exhibit a level of superiority over their partner.
Realizing that you are in a relationship or dating a narcissist can be difficult to cope with. These individuals are often resistant to changing or altering their behavior at the bequest of their partner. Their sense of entitlement often leads them to believe that their behavior is not wrong, but that it is justified because they have worked harder or that others simply do not stack up to their level.
5 Ways to Deal when your Partner is a Narcissist
Many times, individuals in a relationship with a narcissist often find that the easiest solution is to terminate the relationship. In other cases, the level of attachment or length of the relationship commitment may be a catalyst where the partner feels they cannot or do not want to leave their partner. If you are dating a narcissist, here are some tips for the best practices for dealing with their behavior.
1. Evaluate your relationship
Narcissistic behavior can occur in relationships in mild ways which do not cause harm to the partner. However, it is very important that you evaluate your relationship to ensure that no abuse is happening. In cases of severe Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the narcissist can be maliciously manipulative, engaging in gaslighting behaviors that cause emotional and mental harm to their partner. Evaluating your relationship and looking for signs of abuse is the first step to determining if your relationship is salvageable.
2. Assess your contribution to their narcissism
Narcissists often feed off the approval and praise of others. If you are the type of partner who incessantly provides your significant other with affectionate praise and rewards, you are becoming a source of supply. Much like giving a child unlimited candy, eventually, the hunger for that type of praise and approval grows and grows, becoming a dangerous monster that can lose control. Take a step back and evaluate your own responsibility in ‘feeding the beast’ that is narcissism. If you realize that you are always praising their actions, good, bad, and ugly, examine how you can change or alter your behavior so that you provide only appropriate levels of approval.
3. Discovering their denial
In many cases, narcissistic behavior begins in small ways. Some individuals with narcissistic behavioral traits will deny that they are acting or behaving in such a way. They will ignore their own faults, such as blaming others and find any excuse to avoid recognizing their own issues. If you find that every time you mention their narcissistic behavior, your partner denies the actions, you may want to explore other options for change. However, when an individual exhibits high levels of denial regarding their behavior, they often are most resistant to addressing or changing those characteristics.
4. Examine your Emotions
Many times, those individuals who are in relationships with their partners have explosive emotional reactions to the narcissist’s behaviors. Maybe your girlfriend posts too many pictures on social media and received thousands of comments from strange men. Maybe your boyfriend spends a lot of time with his female friends and you feel it is inappropriate. When responding to these situations with an explosive emotion, you create an opportunity for the narcissist to disregard your feelings as overdramatic or out of context. Instead, approach these situations with caution and a calm head. Let your partner know that these issues are affecting your feelings and how you feel regarding your relationship with them.
5. Assess Their Willingness and Seek Outside Assistance
In many relationships, issues will grow and fester for long periods of time before one partner can recognize and verbalize their presence. The same is true for being in a relationship with a narcissist. Examine your conversations and interactions with your partner where you discuss the things that are bothering you. Do they seem willing to listen and respond? Do they seem motivated to improving the condition of your relationship? If so, wonderful! You and your partner can work together with a couple’s therapist or other professional to help identify and eliminate the problem areas for narcissistic behavior in your relationship. A professional can help you to identify where you are enabling your partner as well as helping them to realize the effects of their behavior on those around them.
It is important to remember when dating a narcissist that not every relationship will be salvageable. In some cases, the narcissist is unable to recognize their issues or they may not be ready to deal with the difficulty of changing their behavior.