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So, you think you’ve found the one? He's witty, charismatic, attractive, and he showers you with compliments.
There is a flash of excitement and everything seems perfect — except sometimes he exaggerates when he talks about his resume. And, you wish he wasn't so condescending to your BFF. The bragging? Well, it is a turn-off.
Brace yourself. You may be dating a narcissist.
We’ve all run into a narcissist at some point in our lives. For decades Hollywood has loved depicting narcissistic characters — from the bratty, manipulative Scarlet O'Hara to the far more cold and ruthless Tony Soprano — because their behavior is so dramatic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) often monopolize conversations, belittle or look down on people, have a sense of entitlement, and insist on having the best of everything. And as evidenced in Scarlett O' Hara and Tony Soprano, NPD, which tends to affect more males than females, varies from person to person on a spectrum. Some may be on the extreme end while others are in the middle.
9 signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Of course, not all bad behavior can be clinically diagnosed as NPD. But if you find a new dating prospect exhibits several signs of the disorder, you may want to think twice before moving forward with the relationship. Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., lists the following signs to look for in your bae to protect yourself from exploitation and abuse.
1. He exaggerates his achievements in the hope of receiving praise from other people.
2. He's preoccupied with fantasies of limitless success, love, and brilliance.
3. He believes he's special and should only associate with other special people.
4. He needs to be admired.
5.He feels entitled and believe his needs should always be met.
6. He takes advantage of, and exploits other people.
7. He lacks empathy for other people.
8. He gets jealous of other people and believes they are jealous of them.
9. He's arrogant and he displays self-important, condescending, behaviors.
How the signs manifest in a relationship
1. He'll shower you with attention at first, and then become hot and cold.
Narcissists can be highly complimentary or solicitous early on. But over time, when he feels like he "has" you, the power will shift and his needs will be put before yours. Your emotional and other needs will not be fully met. He may even put you down so he feels better. You'll find yourself adored, but then devalued.
2. He'll quickly grab control of the relationship
Narcissistic people are often very controlling of their partners.
3. He will fail to respond to your emotional needs.
A narcissist has a lack of empathy toward others — including you.
If you express your emotional needs to a narcissist, he may not respond. The key question to ask yourself is, "What is he actually doing to meet my emotional needs?" If he repeatedly fails to meet your emotional needs, it may be time to get out of the relationship.
4. He'll play mind games with you.
One technique favored by narcissists is gaslighting, a power struggle tactic in which a person makes a victim question their reality. This keeps the narcissist in a powerful position and keeps you questioning your own experiences.
Michaelis points out how “a narcissist may actually change their behavior for a brief period of time and become the ideal partner for a little while. But they usually slip back into their old ways when they feel that the person will not leave.”
Just because a narcissist has little empathy for others, it doesn't mean he lacks feelings. If he believes he's being wronged in some way — or if someone doesn't believe in him —he'll try several different strategies in order to avoid the experience of loss.
Talk to an expert
So, what do you do if you find yourself dating a narcissist? “If you discover that you are dating a narcissist, you should try to get help," says Michaelis. "Seek out a licensed mental health professional for guidance in your particular situation.”