Warning signs that you’re dating a narcissistic person

How can you detect the warning signs you’re dating a narcissist? How can the man of your dreams turn out to be your worst nightmare? How did you end up falling for this and ignored the warning signs? How do so many become blind sighted in a relationship with a narcissist?

Why do so many miss the warning signs when they’re dating a narcissist?

It is not easy to notice the warning signs when dating a narcissist, when you have the wool pulled over your eyes, and getting swept up in their charm. At the beginning of a relationship, many can be captivated by a narcissistic person, when they are being enticed into a relationship. During the “love bombing” phase, a narcissist can portray themselves to be the perfect partner, when they’re looking for their perfect supply, to fill their emptiness. Many who feel lured into a relationship will feel loved while meeting all of their needs in the beginning. The couple feels mesmerized in an idealised fusion with each other. In this early phase, they’re able to cover up their behaviour and hide their Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

At the idealised stage of the relationship, the narcissist will admire you because they project their idealised fantasy onto you and see you through a glorified lens, whereby they present a ‘false self’ that pretends to be whatever you are looking for in the relationship, in order to win you over. They like the excitement of the thrill of the chase, of concurring a new supply, that will boost their self-esteem and overcompensate for their fragile real self. Once the partner is hooked into the relationship, the narcissist reveals their defensive behaviour causing the partner to see the cracks. When the narcissist is exposed for their behaviour,  and when the partner stops serving all their needs or begins to formulate their own views, this idealised fusion is broken. At this point the partner stops mirroring their grandiosity or making them feel special, so the supplies run out. At this moment, the narcissist suffers a narcissistic collapse. The relationship quickly turns from idealising to devaluing their partner.The partner is unable to provide them with their idealising supplies to keep their self-esteem intact. The partner goes from feeling loved to feeling devalued in the relationship. The narcissist uses controlling tactics to regain supplies, avoid fragmentation and inflate their grandiosity, at the expense of their partner. Here’s are some warning signs that you’re dating a narcissist

Warning signs that you’re dating a narcissist:

  • Do you find your partner has high expectations of you and nothing you do measures up to their standards? Does this cause you to feel inadequate about yourself?
  • Are they correcting your behaviour, or trying to change you or your appearance?
  • Have you felt pressure to be perfect or approach things the way they do?
  • Have you felt forced into doing things?
  • Do you struggle to express yourself because it will be wrong?

Why do narcissists act this way and control their partners behaviour? According to James Masterson, underlying their false, grandiose self is a real self that feels flawed for not being perfect. Yet, they had to measure up to their parents standards to feel perfect or grandiose.  They project this disowned inadequate part of themselves onto their partner, who ends up feeling worthless or not good enough. When the narcissist projects how they feel, they momentarily feel better about themselves, while diminishing their partner’s self-esteem.

  • One clear warning sign you’re dating a narcissist is that the narcissistic partner has no empathy and makes the relationship all about them, discounting the emotional needs of others. They put their grandiose needs above others.
  • Due to their false, grandiose self, they feel superior and right, and expect others to treat them this way and agree with them, while putting them first.
  • When raising issues with a narcissist, the fault gets turned around, so the partner is blamed for the problems. The narcissist cannot take responsibility for their actions. It will always be the partner’s fault.
  • Narcissists cannot listen to criticism and defends to avoid  feelings of deflation.
  • When injured or feeling inadequate, they cause others to feel this way, causing them to doubt themselves and give up their own mind. Eventually, the partners mind becomes appropriated and taken over, until they lose themselves completely.
  • Gaslighting is used to make the partner question themselves or doubt their perception, so the partner gives up  speaking their own mind in the relationship
  • The partner often walks on egg shells and feels scared to speak to avoid causing narcissistic rage. They often feel pressure to go along with the narcissist’s expectations.
  • Eventually, the partner will give up themselves to appease the narcissist, going against themselves. Many often take on the narcissist’s views, losing themselves entirely.
  • The partner can feel like an empty shell of a person, as if the life-force has been sucked out of them.
  • The narcissist feels pain when others do not agree with them or understand them, so they convince others to do so. They impose their way to do things..
  • They feel disappointed when their partner stops giving them supplies, or stops attending to their needs.
  • When others do not prop them up, they are left with their impaired self that feels empty inside.

I often hear that intimacy stops when the narcissist’s partner stops focusing on meeting all of their needs. This is because there is a break in the idealised fusion with the partner, who once idealised them or put them on a pedestal. When the narcissist falls off the pedestal and the true colours appear, this causes the narcissist  to feel deflated. They rely on the validation and approval of others to maintain their fragile self-esteem. They fall apart when others stop seeing how perfect they are, so they devalue the partner to avoid feeling exposed or judged. Often, they withhold emotional intimacy. The narcissist relies on others to boost their self esteem, otherwise they can easily discard their partner and seek another supply. They often resort to affairs or porn to escape their emptiness of the impaired self

The narcissist withholds emotional intimacy by covering their vulnerabilities to protect themselves from feeling exposed or hurt in relationships. When hurt, they will withdraw or attack back to deflect the pain, unable to hear their partner or provide empathy for them, to protect themselves from feeling vulnerable. Therefore they can be emotionally unavailable to loved ones.

The narcissist expects that their partner will admire them or reflect how perfect they are, otherwise they devalue the relationship or find no need for it. Whenever partners do not meet all of their needs, the manifest narcissist feels disappointment in their partner for failing to live up to their unrealistic expectations. They react in the following ways.  They inflate their grandiosity, so they feel better and ward off the empty or inadequate feelings. They will remind you about how great they are, and try prove that they’re right, by ignoring how you feel. They may use addictions, sexual addictions or affairs, to pick themselves up when feeling deflated, to give them the ego boost. When injured by their partner or when their partner disapproves of them, the narcissist will want to prove how good they are, in order to defend themselves and avoid judgement, by proving that others are wrong. They honestly do not understand how others do not see how perfect they are, because of their delusional grandiose self. Often, they believe that they are right and their partner is wrong, and they can be very convincing and appear to draw people in to being on their side, vilifying their partner. They often create a group of sidekicks who collude with them and serve a function for them, propping them up.

Narcissists can feel bored and empty once their partner stops supplying them, so they look for ways to fill the empty void within themselves. Yet, they project that the partner is boring or incompatible with them, when they are not fulfilling their emptiness, feeling deprived and feeling entitled to a more exciting partner to supply all their needs of their empty self.

Eventually, they will discard partners who do not fulfil  all of their needs or who expose them. When the idealised fusion is broken, they stonewall or cut off  their emotions, and cannot get close to their partner. Love is about mirroring them as being perfect and attuning to all their needs, which is unrealistic and cannot sustain the longevity of a real relationship.

To a narcissist, love is about making them feel important, not about their partner. Love is a one-way relationship for them.

Nancy Carbone offers relationship counselling for individuals recovering from narcissistic abuse and provides marriage counselling at Counselling Melbourne. For more details visit https://www.counsellingservicemelbourne.com.au/ or follow us on social media on  Facebook and Twitter

Nancy Carbone is a counsellor and psychotherapist and offers  Couples Therapy. She specialises in the treatment of personality disorders from the Psychoanalytic International Masterson Institute in New York. Nancy has been a clinical trainer and supervisor. She has worked as a therapist for over 17 years in private practice and organisations. 


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