We’ve become a society that’s entirely focused on itself, from selfies to social media profiles loaded with pictures of ourselves. In this media-obsessed world, we see the term “narcissistic” thrown around quite a bit, but what does it actually mean? How do you know when you’re in a relationship with someone who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder? Here are some tips to follow so you can spot the tell-tale behavior of a narcissist before they embed themselves in your life.
So, what does NPD actually mean? Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition that affects its victims in several ways. The victim idealizes a sort of “artificial” version of themselves. Basically, a narcissist falls in love with themself, but at the end of the day, the person they’re in love with is nothing more than an illusion.
Narcissists usually battle intense insecurity, which manifests itself as a “better” version of the person. That “better” version soon becomes their central focus, to the point of detriment to those around them. The self-absorption becomes more important than even maintaining friendships, jobs, and relationships in general.
It’s important to note that someone who seems selfish isn’t necessarily a narcissist. The next few signs are more impactful and fall well outside the scale of someone who just seems “selfish”.
Being raised by narcissists can certainly have an effect on how one views themselves. Since NPD stems from insecurity, being raised by people who are completely self-absorbed can create a need for attention. This is a symptom of NPD, and we’re not just talking your typical need to be noticed. Everyone wants to be noticed in some ways, but narcissists go above and beyond to ensure they’re noticed and praised by their peers and strangers alike.
The narcissist’s need for attention can be smothering. Constantly seeking validation, attention, and praise are just some of the behaviors you should be aware of. If your significant other can’t go more than a few hours without wanting your attention or a compliment, you might be in trouble.
Normal relationships can bear time apart, but a narcissist needs to be noticed at all times. This can come in the form of endless texts, emails, messages, and even anger when you don’t answer within their expected time frame. You’ve probably dated someone who got upset when you didn’t answer a message within a few hours; now imagine that every few minutes.
Whatever moral code you may follow, it’s generally agreed that exploiting people for personal gain is an undesirable and reprehensible trait in a person. Exploitation comes in many forms and doesn’t just include money or financial gain. You can be exploited for resources, both emotional and practical, and plenty of other things.
Narcissists don’t feel any shame when they exploit a person. Exploitation is just a means to an end for the narcissist, and as long as they get what they want, the collateral damage they inflict along the way means absolutely nothing to them. A scorched Earth policy is basically the protocol for a narcissist, laying waste to the people around them for personal gain.
Alongside exploitation comes bullying. Bullying can be emotional, physical, or both. Mental and physical bullying make for a dangerous partnership, and narcissists are no stranger to either. If your partner constantly belittles, makes fun of, or otherwise makes you feel insecure and like less than a person, you’re being emotionally bullied. Although physical bullying is less common, it can occur; and in the case of such abuse, you should absolutely seek help as soon as possible.
It’s all too easy for us to make excuses for those we love, but the fact is, narcissists don’t care about your feelings or how they damage your life. If it means they’re going to gain something, they’ll tear down your entire existence just to build one of their own.
Guilt-tripping is a favorite practice of narcissists. This occurs when they do something that upsets you, or they want you to do something you’re not interested in, and they pull out the guilt card. They’ll start saying things like, “well I guess you don’t want me to be happy then.” This type of behavior is classic manipulation on the side of the narcissist, and the perfect tool for bending those around them to their agenda.
This one is easy to fall for because none of us wants to intentionally upset the people we love, but keep in mind that guilt is a powerful weapon that can keep you bound to something that will slowly drain your mental health.
It’s easier said than done to leave a relationship, especially one that you’ve invested a significant amount of time into. If your partner matches the behavior described in this article, you may be dealing with a narcissist, and you’re probably not going to be able to make them change, and it’s only a matter of time before the behavior evolves into abuse.