According to the Mayo Clinic research group, a narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder. Sufferers of this disorder will have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they are superior to others but behind that mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem. Narcissists are vulnerable to the slightest criticism and will make you feel like you’re always saying the wrong thing and making them upset.
Without the right words, anything and everything can set them off. So, how do you know when you’re dating a narcissist? Here are eight telltale signs.
1. Narcissists love to play a game known as “Love Bombing”.
Love bombing is a game narcissists often play to lure their victim. When you first met them, he/she may have showered you with affection and told you that you were “the one,” or that you two were “meant to be”. They love to give compliments and expensive gifts in the beginning and would even take you to an expensive holiday trip.
The truth is that they are no Prince/Princess Charming. The narcissist just wanted you to take the bait, psychologists say. As the relationship progresses, however, their love becomes one sided and it’s all about them, day and night. If you feel like the relationship is progressing too fast, then your gut instinct is right. Narcissists love to declare their undying love for you a few weeks after meeting them. They will keep telling you that you’re their soul-mate, and if they’re making you uncomfortable, then the affection probably isn’t coming from a good place.
2. They are unreliable and never follow through with their promises.
The second telltale sign to spot a narcissist is to measure his/her actions against their words. They lack reliability and never follow through with their promises. Their promises to keep up with your requests will be forgotten or they never follow up with the agreements. Narcissists do this purposely since it hurts their partner emotionally. They are there for you one minute and gone the next. This pattern of inconsistency where they promise one thing and do the exact opposite is a sign that you are dealing with a narcissist.
3. They are predators.
Narcissists are predators. Before they cast the net on you, they may have already been searching for a new target. These kind of people are constantly on the lookout for those who are emotionally weak, in order to easily exploit them. Their target is always someone who they know they can get a lot from, but also with vulnerabilities. This is why they often target people with low confidence and an underlying self-esteem problem.
Narcissists pretend to be caring and in the beginning will often show passion for your family, friends and career. When you see such qualities, you see the good in them and fall into their trap. Once they know you bought it, they turn on you. According to therapist Silvia Horvath, they even go as far as learning about you using social media before striking up a conversation.
4. You constantly feel pity for them.
According to Dr. Martha Stout, if you find yourself often pitying someone who constantly hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100% that you are dealing with a narcissist. A narcissistic person is likely to mention how badly they’ve been treated in the past and may refer to past abuse in their life, or bad previous relationships. This doesn’t mean that they could be lying, but it’s wise to be wary.
A narcissist person will know how empathetic you are and to make you go “awww”, they reveal deep and personal information. When someone tells you painful stories from the past, you automatically have a tendency to assume you’re bonding with them. In reality, they’re creating an illusion of closeness, which they will ultimately use against you.
5. They use a tactic known as “gaslighting”, to gain power over someone else.
Dr. Stephanie Sarkis from Psychology Today explains how narcissists use a tactic known as “gaslighting”. Manipulative people use this to basically make you the victim and makes you question reality. They act as the puppet master and sometimes it’s too late before the victim understands what’s going on. There are several stages to gaslighting and it happens gradually over time.
It can start with a lie here and there, a cynical comment so often and as time goes by, the intensity of the lies and comments will increase. They can tell you outright lies, which you know isn’t true but they are so adamant about it that you start to question what’s real and what’s not. They also deny doing or saying things even though they did. The more they do this, the more you start to question your reality and start accepting theirs.
Narcissists are also well aware of your boundaries. When they know that they have gone too far, they will throw in a few compliments here and there to shift focus away from them for a short period of time.
6. They act like they’re entitled to everything.
Narcissists are always wanting preferential treatment from others. They want their partner, friends or family members to cater to their needs, without being considerate in return. Their mindset is that the world revolves around them. A good way to spot a narcissist is to pay close attention to how they treat service people such as a waitress or waiter during a date. If they have the tendency to pick on them for even the smallest mistake, then be aware since that mentality will shift towards you at some point during the relationship.
7. Jekyll and Hyde behaviour is common among narcissistic abusers.
Does your partner exhibit a behavior where they are being complementary and kind to you one minute, and then accusatory and mean the next? This behavior is known as the Jekyll and Hyde and it is common among narcissists to keep you in line. Narcissist abusers can be loving and charming when they are around family or friends but at the privacy of your home, they will unleash the monster within them.
Over time, this behavior will increase and you will start seeing the cynical side more often than the good ones. Some of the common signs to spot a narcissist is to see if they throw a constant shade of insults at you. Others such as gaslighting, lacking emotional or physical intimacy, withdrawing affection, disappearing, or blaming you for their mistakes, also known as projection are common signs.
8. When they’re finished with you, they will devalue and discard.
Once you feel like you are the most important person in their life, narcissists will cast you aside. Their aim was to deprive you of your love, money, time and respect. Once they are done with you, they will start searching for a new target to feed on. This final phase of a narcissist is known as the “smear campaign”. During this stage, they have depleted you of all your resources and will start looking towards your friends or family members for resources. They are so charming in convincing them that your own friends and family will have trouble believing your side of the story.