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6 Signs Your Partner is a Narcissist

How to Recognize When Your Partner Has NPD (And What You Can Do)

It's common to hear the term narcissist and think of someone who is self-absorbed or extremely self-confident, but clinical narcissism is much more complex. Among other symptoms , someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) will show an extreme lack of empathy and will often manipulate and/or exploit others, even those who are closest to them. Narcissism may stem from one's own insecurities, self-doubt, and low self-esteem, even though those with NPD often have charming personalities and leave a great first impression.

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of a narcissist, especially when they are a loved one. Here are a few key things to look for if you think your partner suffers from NPD:

1. They Have An Excessive Need for Attention

Narcissists have a distorted sense of self-importance and entitlement and will often go to great lengths to receive attention from others. Their belief that they are above everyone and everything goes hand in hand with their need for constant admiration—they live in a fantasy of sorts.

A sign that your partner has NPD might be them showing little to no interest in conversations where they aren't the focus; they may even interrupt to shift the focus to them at inappropriate times. Observing how your partner interacts with others in group settings versus your one-on-one interactions is a good way to better understand their personality.

2. Their Reactions Don't Match the Situation

A common characteristic of narcissists is reacting to something small with intense rage. This level of outburst is usually out of place in relation to the context of the situation—for example, sharing an opposing political viewpoint or offering constructive criticism.

Similarly, narcissists always think they are right and will rarely apologize, even when they are in the wrong. A disagreement with your partner might quickly turn into a screaming fight without you realizing how you ended up there.

3. They Lack Empathy and Compassion

Narcissists lack the ability to understand or share another's feelings, which is a skill needed in healthy relationships.

How does your partner react when you express feelings of sadness or pain? Do they show genuine interest in your feelings and/or emotions, or do they seem to only care about themselves?

4. They Can't Maintain Friendships

Does your partner have friendships that have lasted for a while? How does your partner talk about their friends when they are not around? How many long-term relationships have they had in the past?

Narcissists' inflated egos make it difficult to form lasting friendships because they lack the ability to connect with someone without putting them down. Consider how your partner talks about their friends and how they see themselves in comparison with others.

Another reason why it's difficult for narcissists to maintain friendships is their issue with boundaries—their need for control is always present, and if they don't always hold power in a friendship dynamic, they may lose interest immediately.

5. They Gaslight You

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that is often used by narcissists in their relationships that give them a sense of power. It can take many forms and is often hard to recognize when you are the victim of gaslighting because it usually results in you questioning your own emotions and reality.

Examples of gaslighting might be your partner denying a previous conversation ever happened when you're certain it did, or invalidating your feelings when you react to something they did to hurt you. You might find yourself questioning whether you're overreacting to everything, assuming everything is your fault when you get into arguments, or apologizing for everything without fully understanding why.

6. They Put You Down

Because narcissists need to feel better than everyone else around them, including a significant other, they resort to putting others down if it means maintaining their superior façade. Additionally, narcissists feed off the reactions of others—like getting upset when they say something hurtful—because it assures them that they still have power.

Be aware of how your partner reacts to the successes in your life—do they undermine your achievements worth celebrating? Do they react to the news of your accomplishments with boredom instead of offering their love and support?

What To Do If Your Partner Shows Signs of NPD

Learning and accepting that a loved one has NPD is difficult, even when their actions have taken a toll on your own mental health. If your partner shows any of the symptoms above, they may be suffering from NPD and should seek professional help. You may also be suffering from a toxic relationship. Here are a few things you can do if you suspect your partner is a narcissist:

  1. Approach your partner with compassion when urging them to seek professional help.
  2. Build a network of trusted loved ones to help keep your reality in check, especially if you're experiencing gaslighting.
  3. Consult a professional about options you have for your relationship and how you can begin to heal.

Here are some additional tips for leaving a toxic relationship without guilt or shame .

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