How To Tell If Your Significant Other Is A Narcissist

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Question from a reader:

“Is there any hope for narcissistic personalities? I am involved with a man who has this disorder.”

First of all, I have to ask if he is actually clinically diagnosed? Actual narcissistic personality disorder is one of the most misunderstood disorders by the general public and often confused with simply being ego-centric, which is not considered a disorder.

A key differentiator between the two, in my opinion, is the ability to feel empathy. Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) isn’t self-aware enough to understand that the version of themselves that they put forward is really an overcompensation for shame and low-self esteem. They see nothing wrong with their actions and can’t feel empathy for the people that they attack.

Someone who is simply narcissistic, on the other hand, may be so for exactly the same reasons as someone with NPD, however, they DO have the capability of recognizing it on their own, and they may simply choose not to.

Here are some common symptoms of NPD:

  • Lacks empathy – sees no wrong in personally attacking others, or completely ignoring you
  • Being told “no” comes off as a personal attack
  • Is oblivious to his own disorder
  • Has a need for admiration
  • Treats others as sub-human, but sees it as “they way it should be”
  • Has few friends
  • Is asocial when no attention from others is available

NPD pervades all aspects of the person’s life. It is an intrinsic part of their personality, whereas general narcissism may only affect a few aspects.

People that show high tendencies toward narcissism (non-clinical) are psychologically healthy and well-adjusted, often even very successful, whereas people with actual NPD are inflexible and volatile, and don’t manage day-to-day life well.

People with NPD, however, are often so skilled at being manipulative that most people around them won’t even be able to tell that they have NPD. They are able to completely conceal their dysfunction in order to get what they want. You won’t see their true self until they’ve become very close to you. Someone who just has narcissistic tendencies doesn’t hide it like that.

If you’re truly involved with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then they aren’t in this relationship to love you, they’re only in it to get love from you. And what’s worse is, they don’t know any other way to be in a relationship.

If they simply have narcissistic characteristics, then they have the capacity to use self-reflection as a means of healing, depending on the severity of the characteristics.

The more important question here, though, is you. How does this relationship make you feel? Is being in this relationship what’s right for you?

Ultimately, we cannot control or change the people we are in a relationship with. We can only work on ourselves.

Some key questions to ask yourself might be:

  • How do I feel about myself when I’m around this person? Is it mostly a positive feeling or is it mostly a negative feeling?
  • If the answer is negative: What are my motivations for being in this relationship? Do those motivations have to do with me, or the other person?
  • If the answer is for the other person: Are my motivations for being in this relationship a detriment to myself?

A lot of times we stay in relationships that aren’t healthy for us because we feel a duty to the other person, and we sacrifice who we are for their happiness.  We might feel that leaving that person is a selfish thing to do. But if you’re in this relationship, and it’s detrimental to you, that’s not a good thing. You have to love yourself as much as you love them. And sometimes, leaving is the best thing you can do – both for you, and for them.

Leaving a relationship can be difficult and if you find yourself at a loss for what to do, check out my previous article titled 3 Ways to Cut The Cord On A Toxic Relationship.

Click here for more information on NPD.




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