Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Am I in a Relationship with a Narcissist?

5 signs you're involved romantically with a narcissist.

The fact that you find yourself asking whether you’re in a relationship with a narcissist points to one of the fundamental problems of being romantically involved with a narcissist—confusion.

It’s very easy to know when you’re in a relationship with some other types of people. If you’re involved with an alcoholic, it probably won’t take you long to work it out. If your partner has severe depression, you’ll probably be aware of it fairly soon into the relationship.

But working out whether or not you’re involved with a narcissist can be a whole lot trickier. Your partner may be outgoing, charismatic and charming. You may feel lucky to have been chosen to be their partner. If they’re more of a vulnerable narcissist, you may feel you’re providing a vital purpose in life by being their emotional support. Whatever, it can feel really good to be with a narcissist during the early stages—and it can take a while to work out that there’s anything wrong in your relationship.

Here are five signs that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.

They cannot handle criticism.

If we’re brutally honest, most of us don’t like to be on the receiving end of criticism. However, if the criticism was fair, most of us will be able to deal with it and, hopefully, learn from it. If your partner is a narcissist, he or she will be unable to cope with criticism in this measured way. Feeling like they are on the receiving end of a critical comment can cause major conflict and, if you’re with a narcissist, you may end up keeping quiet and feeling like you’re walking on eggshells.

They know best

If you’re with a narcissistic partner, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable or skilled you are in a particular area, they always know best. Narcissists have a sense of being special, and this specialness goes for the special, or expert, knowledge they believe they have about a whole range of issues. If you’re with a narcissist, it’s very unlikely that they have any interest whatsoever in your opinion and, once again, you may find yourself keeping quiet rather than triggering your partner’s one-sided monologue.

They’re expert manipulators.

Social relationships are complex in the life of a narcissist. Instead of being honest and direct, if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, they may use a variety of manipulative tactics to get you to meet their needs. You may well not know this is happening for a long time and you could find yourself in a relationship for several years before you realise the means your narcissistic partner uses to manipulate you.

They’re jealous.

Narcissists tend to be envious of others and if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist they may be jealous of your friendships, achievements and hobbies. Narcissists often see other people who are close to them as extensions of themselves and become jealous when you attempt to do things on your own.

They put themselves first.

If you’re with a narcissist, they will always put their own needs first. They may lack empathy towards you and continue in behaviors even when you have expressed your upset. Narcissists often choose partners who will also put the narcissist first too, and you may find yourself exhausted and ignoring your own needs in order to fulfill the desires of your narcissistic partner.

Being in a relationship with someone like this is extremely damaging to your self-esteem. You start to question the validity of your own needs and opinions. You become worried about causing conflict with your partner and may find yourself effectively silenced because of this. You may find yourself giving up friends, hobbies and activities because of your partner’s jealousy. If you are with a narcissistic partner and are feeling the effects, please seek the help you need.