Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

“That’s enough of me talking about myself; let’s hear you talk about me.”

― Anonymous narcissist

“It’s not easy being superior to everyone I know.”

― Anonymous narcissist

The Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” This alternate persona to the real self often comes across as grandiose, “above others,” self-absorbed, and highly conceited.

How do you know when you’re dating a narcissist? Here are ten telltale signs, with excerpts from my book (click on title): “How to Successfully Handle Narcissists”. While most of us are guilty of some of the following behaviors at one time or another, a pathological narcissist tends to dwell habitually in several of the following personas, while remaining largely unaware of (or unconcerned with) how her or his actions affect others.

1.  Loves to Talk About Oneself

One of the easiest ways to detect a possible narcissist is by listening to the way he or she speaks. A pathological narcissist loves to talk about himself, often in exaggerated and grandiose terms. She is also someone who’s likely to dominate a conversation. Common conversational topics for narcissists include accomplishments and achievements (the trophy complex), exciting and envy-worthy activities, excessive focus on personal issues and concerns, excessive focus on looks and materialism, and putting others down to show one’s own superiority.

2.  Charming and Romantic – But with a Catch

Many narcissists can come across as alluring and attractive, especially during the initial stages of a relationship, when they’re trying to win you over. Like a master salesperson, they use charisma to get your attention, flattery to make you feel special, seduction (flirting, gifts, dinners, get-aways, sex, etc.) to lift you off your feet, and persuasion to get you to give them what they want.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong inherently with being charming, romantic, and a good lover, the narcissist crafts these traits in order to use others. He or she is not really interested in you, but only what he wants to extract from you (often to fulfill an inner emptiness due to the inability to create true intimacy).

3.  Lack of Reliability and Follow Through

Another way to spot a narcissist is to measure her or his actions against her words. Many narcissists lack reliability and follow through. This can range from regularly breaking appointments, to habitually falling through on promises and agreements. The lack of dependability can be emotional as well - being there for you one minute and gone the next. When you observe a pattern of inconsistency between what your partner says, versus what she or he actually does, you may be dealing with a narcissist.

4.  Instant Gratification

Some narcissists, being highly self-centered and self-absorbed, expect instant gratification to fulfill their needs. This may range from goading you to answer their texts or calls immediately, to pressuring you to do things their way (socially, interpersonally, and/or sexually). A quick way to detect a possible narcissist is to gently say “no,” or “let me think about it” to a request you’re not comfortable with, and see how your date responds. If she or he tries hard to persuade you and wouldn’t let up, or shows signs of impatience, irritation, or anger (like a petulant child), take note.

5. Rule Breaker and Boundary Violator

The narcissist often enjoys getting away with violating rules and social norms, such as cutting in line, chronic under-tipping, stealing office supplies, breaking multiple appointments, or disobeying traffic laws.

“I take pride in persuading people to give me exceptions to their rules.”

― Anonymous narcissist

In addition, pathological narcissists often show wanton disregard for other people’s thoughts, feelings, possessions, time, and physical space. They overstep and use others without consideration or sensitivity, taking pride, rather than showing remorse, of their Machiavellian deeds.

6. Entitlement

Narcissists often expect preferential treatment from others. They expect people to cater to their needs, without being considerate in return. In their mindset, the world revolves around them. For instance, pay attention to how your date treats service people, such as a waitress or waiter, and other support staff. If he or she orders them around like he’s the king, or picks on minor service flaws, be aware. At some point your date may begin to exercise similar entitlement towards you.

7.  Manipulation: Using Others to Extend Oneself

Some narcissists will use his or her romantic partner to meet unreasonable self-serving needs, fulfill unrealized ambitions, or cover up self-perceived inadequacies and flaws.

“I can’t wait to show you off to my friends and make them jealous!”

― Anonymous narcissist

“I talked my girlfriend into letting me live with her rent free. I also get to use her car.”

― Anonymous narcissist

8.  Constantly Puts Others Down

In order to put up a facade of superiority, and disguise hidden insecurity and inadequacy, some narcissists will constantly put other people down, to boost their own desirability and acceptability. Targets of their negative talk may include “inferior” colleagues, “incompetent” managers, “clueless” friends, and “flawed” former relations. During the initial phase of dating, the narcissist may pour on the charm and entice you with many compliments. However, even during this stage, pay attention to your date’s seemingly minor, passive-aggressive jokes and comments about your background, body features, choice of attire, use of time, as well as personal and work priorities. Consider whether these remarks are reasonable, or reflect your date’s selfish desire for you to “change for the better”.

9.  Reacts Negatively When You Don’t Give Them What They Want

Since many narcissists can't stand disappointment or rejection, they will frequently react negatively when you don’t give them what they want, in the way they want it. Some of the common responses include:

Anger – Tantrum. Negative judgment. Personal attacks. Ridicule.

Passive-Aggression – The cold shoulder. The silent treatment. Withhold of love and affection (such as it is). Sarcasm. Calculated separation.

Emotional Coercion – Blame. Guilt trip. Calling the partner ungrateful. Threaten to withhold love and intimacy (such as it is). Pretend narcissistic victimhood.

10.  Lack of Commitment to a Serious Relationship

If you and your partner have been dating for a good length of time, and your partner is unwilling to make a serious commitment, it may be cause for concern. There are many possible reasons for a partner’s lack of commitment. Some are highly reasonable and deserve serious consideration. Others, however, may be highly selfish. What distinguishes a narcissist’s lack of commitment is his or her desire to keep the status quo with you, reap the benefits of intimacy, while keeping an eye out for other, perhaps more eligible (in the narcissist’s view) prospects.

If you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, there are many strategies and skills you can utilize to help restore health, balance, and respect. In my book (click on title): “How to Successfully Handle Narcissists,” you'll learn how to maintain composure, ways to be proactive instead of reactive, seven powerful strategies to handle narcissists, eight ways to say “no” diplomatically but firmly, keys to negotiate successfully with narcissists, and seven types of power you can utilize to compel cooperation.

Also available (click on title):

"A Practical Guide for Narcissists to Change Towards the Higher Self"

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. is available as a presenter, workshop facilitator, and private coach. For more information, write to commsuccess@nipreston.com, or visit www.nipreston.com.

© 2015 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright violation may subject the violator to legal prosecution.

Select References

mayoclinic.org

McNulty, J. K., & Widman, L. Susceptibility to Infidelity in the First Year of Marriage. Archives of Sexual Behavior. (2014)

Buss, D., & Shackelford, T. Sexual Narcissism and Infidelity in Early Marriage. Journal of Research in Personality. (1997)

Brown, Nina. “Children of the Self-Absorbed, Second Edition”. New Harbinger Publications. (2008)

Buss DM, Gomes M, Higgins DS, Lauterback K. "Tactics of Manipulation". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 52 No 6. (1987)

Johnson, Stephen. “Character Styles”. W. W. Norton & Company. (1994)

Johnson, Stephen. “Humanizing the Narcissistic Style”. W. W. Norton & Company. (1987)

Lowen, Alexander. Narcissism: “Denial of the True Self”. Touchstone. (1997)

Millon, Theodore, “Personality Disorders in Modern Life”. Wiley. (2004)

Symington, Neville. “Narcissism: A New Theory”. H. Karnac Ltd. (1993)

You are reading

Communication Success

5 Traits of Positive Narcissism and Their Downfalls

Narcissism is toxic. Some signs of narcissism might be positive in limited ways.

24 Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

Highly sensitive people often “feel too much” and “feel too deep”.

12 Common Failures of Passive-Aggressive People

Common life set-backs of passive-aggressives.