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Narcissism

Is My Partner a Narcissist?

Here are seven signs.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash
Source: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

How do you know someone is a narcissist? It is not easy.

I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother and it took me nearly six decades to understand narcissism and the full implications on me and my life. I also had my share of narcissistic partners. For some reason, I attracted them or was attracted to them and I didn’t know what healthy love looked like. Abuse translated for me into a kind of love. How about the boyfriend who called me ‘dummy’? While I was the academic who attended university and he didn’t get the grades to even apply. Or the one who promised me for over three years to take me away for a weekend and never did.

In this post, I want to present you with the seven signs that you could recognise in yourself, as a response to your partner, which might indicate you are the victim of abuse. Most likely narcissistic abuse.

1. You feel uncomfortable in their presence

Your discomfort is fed by confusion. You are not sure what to do or how to behave to get the approval of your partner. One time you talk about your work, they seem interested and engaging. The next time, when you talk about the ‘follow-up’ of the situation you discussed earlier, they seem to have lost total interest.

They might laugh at a joke you tell, next time they tell you off for telling the same type of joke.

It feels as if you can’t relax when they are around, because you can’t predict their reactions.

2. Your confidence has gone down since you met them

You were always bubbly and enthusiastic. You had no problem doing something spontaneously and you felt happy in your own skin. Since you are in the relationship your confidence has reduced to such a low level that you don’t recognize yourself anymore. There seem to be problems and challenges that didn’t exist in the past. You are nervous about making choices now. But you used to have no issue with decisions.

3. You know something isn’t right but can’t put your finger on it

You feel that discomfort and try to find rational reasons for it. But your mind can’t come up with decent explanations. You tell yourself you are making things up and are overreacting. But who is telling you that? That might be your partner.

4. You make up excuses for their behaviour

They give you the cold shoulder and you tell yourself it is because they are tired. They put you down and you tell yourself it is because they are stressed. They blame you for something they did wrong and you tell yourself it doesn’t matter. What you are doing is called ‘cognitive dissonance’. It refers to situations involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviours. You experience discomfort and in order to restore the balance, you change your attitude, belief, or behaviour. You become untrue to yourself.

5. You sacrifice what is important to you to please them

As it happened you are less close to your friends and family. Your partner keeps on throwing critical remarks about them. Or refuses to spend time with them so you have to go by yourself. You start to feel a bit lonely and alone and where you had strong and close connections in the past, these have all subsided. Who could you go to these days if you wanted to confide?

Not only are you alienated from people who were important to you, but you also compromise on some of your values. You might find yourself giving in regularly on important situations, just to keep the peace.

6. You blame yourself for what is happening

You constantly reflect on the relationship and ask yourself what you could do differently to make it better. And what would have happened if you hadn’t made those mistakes, done the wrong thing, or said something ‘stupid’? You approach the relationship from the perspective that it is all down to you and that it is all your fault. You start self-loathing (autophobia or self-hatred), being convinced that you are inferior, bad, worthless, unlovable, or incompetent.

7. You spend a lot of mental energy on your partner

How much energy and time do you give to understand your partner? You keep on asking yourself the following questions. Why would they react like this? Are they stressed? Tired? What can I do to make them better? What was the reason you had that argument? You try to make sense of situations that don’t make sense. In other words, you try to apply logic to illogical situations, which of course, will leave you wondering. And instead of thinking about your career, focusing on your studies, improving your physical health, or developing your own business, you spend energy on agonizing over your partner.

A romantic relationship is always a creation of two people, who should both take 50% responsibility for how it develops. It is never down to only one of the two. It is a dance where each plays its equally important part.

The relationship with a narcissist is a dance where the narcissist is leading. They decide on the steps, the rhythm, the moves, and for their partner to follow them they apply interesting manipulation techniques. Well-known principles are applied to create victim and perpetrator dynamics and according to recent research the perpetrators, their victims, and the witnesses form a complex and highly emotive relationship, bound in secrets and silence.

It is tough to break the silence. But the first step is a recognition of what is happening by acknowledging your feelings and behaviour. If you recognise the above, it is time to look further. Are you in a relationship with a narcissist?

References

To find out more, just take this simple quiz and then take your next steps.

Read more about seven signs of the narcissistic relationship.

From Victim to Victor - Narcissism Survival Guide is an easy to follow and effective self-help book for victims of narcissistic abuse.

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