11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist
Narcissistic personality disorder isn’t the same as self-confidence or being self-absorbed.
11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out
When someone posts one too many selfies or flex pics on their dating profile or talks about themselves constantly during a first date, we might call them a narcissist.
But a true narcissist is someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It’s a mental health condition characterized by:
- an inflated sense of importance
- a deep need for excessive attention and admiration
- lack of empathy for others
- often having troubled relationships
What it boils down to, says licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC, is selfishness at the (usually extreme) expense of others, plus the inability to consider others’ feelings at all.
NPD, like most mental health or personality disorders, isn’t black and white. “Narcissism falls on a spectrum,” explains Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”
The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, but it specifies that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist.
9 official criteria for NPD
- grandiose sense of self-importance
- preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-
- status people or institutions
- need for excessive admiration
- sense of entitlement
- interpersonally exploitative behavior
- lack of empathy
- envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
That said, knowing the “official” diagnostic criteria doesn’t usually make it easier to spot a narcissist, especially when you’re romantically involved with one. It’s usually not possible to determine if someone has NPD without the diagnosis of a qualified expert.
Plus, when someone is wondering if they’re dating a narcissist, they generally aren’t thinking, “Do they have NPD?” They’re wondering if how they’re being treated is healthy and sustainable in the long-run. Please avoid diagnosing your partner in conversation. Rather, read on to gain some insight into the health of your relationship.
You’re here because you’re concerned, and that concern is valid if your health is at stake. If you think these signs fit, we’ll also give you tips on how to handle the situation.
1. They were charming AF… at first
It started as a fairy tale. Maybe they texted you constantly, or told you they loved you within the first month — something experts refer to as “love bombing.”
Maybe they tell you how smart you are or emphasize how compatible you are, even if you’ve just started seeing each other.
“Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones who can appreciate them fully,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, founder of Kaleidoscope Counseling in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But as soon as you do something that disappoints them, they could turn on you.
And usually you’ll have no idea of exactly what you did, says Tawwab. “How narcissists treat you, or when they turn on you, actually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own [beliefs].”
Weiler’s advice: If someone came on too strong at the beginning, be wary. Sure, we all love to feel lusted for. But real love has to be nurtured and grown.
“If you think it’s too early for them to really love you, it probably is. Or if you feel like they don’t know enough about you to actually love you, they probably don’t,” Weiler says. People with NPD will try to manufacture superficial connections early on in a relationship.