It’s important to be careful with the term narcissist these days, it’s true. People casually bandy about the word, without an accurate sense of what it means. It’s widely used as some sort of a vague put down, and many people just use it as a way to smear someone who didn’t give them what they want. But don’t be so careful that you miss the signs that your partner is actually subjecting you to narcissistic abuse.

It’s easy to be lulled into complacency and confusion by a true narcissist’s manipulation.  But life with a severe narcissist can do a number on your nervous system and even contribute to C-PTSD,  Thus, it is wise to know what to look for and how to care for yourself should the need arise.

So. What does a narcissistic partner look and sound like?

Often, we think of the malignant narcissists of the movies and media. That variety is clearly selfish and attention-seeking. They are always top dog and atop the pecking order. They get their own way, put others down, and give very little thought to the pain in their wake.

Essentially, that kind of narcissist is hard to miss. However, in a relationship, the signs may not be so glaringly obvious. After all, you were charmed into the relationship by their confidence and compliments initially.

Thus, it’s important to recognize, then that narcissism is much more than a person’s appearances and the general stereotypes. If your partner is a narcissist, your life can become incredibly unstable and painful in subtle and confusing ways.

So, how can you get some clarity and start to make some key decisions about your relationship? Look for the signs. Here are several strong indicators of narcissism to look for.

Their Behavior Goes Beyond Vanity

Narcissism and authentic self-love are not the same. Narcissism isn’t even just being full of one’s self. If your partner truly has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), they are enamored with an idealized, bigger-than-life self-image.

Why? Because they’re really insecure deep down. Of course, they won’t let that show. To you, a pattern of self-centered, arrogance will emerge over time. They will demand a ridiculous amount of emotional stroking. Admiration must come from everyone, especially you. And they won’t return the favor.

They Lie (period)

Narcissists, of course, are not better than everyone else. Therefore, they must lie to keep up appearances. They will often exaggerate or blatantly lie about their experiences, accomplishments, and abilities. So, if you find that you are constantly catching your partner in a lie, suffering demands to maintain their falsehoods, or covering up their lies, look closely at why.

When it comes to the topic of narcissism and lying, people often use the word “gaslighting”. Here too, this has become a word that has been stripped of it’s meaning by the overuse and misuse. Many people use it as if to convey the belief that their narcissistic loved one is somehow “trying to make them question their own sanity”. While this definitely occurs with some, it’s also the case that many people with strong narcissistic traits lack insight.  When faced with disagreement, they will blame, project and belittle.

They Expect to Win (Even When They Don’t Compete)

If your partner expects to get what they want, regardless of their contribution, narcissism may be at play. Sometimes this can be subtle. They may quietly, but repeatedly, list their virtues to signal their deservedness.

Or, you may constantly hear that the place would fall apart without them.  It is their talent and personality that bring the clients in at work. Their looks and earning power attract potential partners. And you? You’re lucky to be chosen.

On and on it goes. Why? Because, no matter what, they must get what they want and people should want to give it to them.

Power Plays are the Only Way They Play

Do you find that you go along to get along in your relationship? That may be because you realized some time ago that you will never win.

People with narcissistic personality disorder blame others and take that slightest criticism poorly. Personal attacks are read into every disagreement. They don’t say sorry without an agenda. In fact, you may find yourself apologizing for your own peace of mind, not because you mean it. Otherwise, the state of your relationship is likely to be plagued with harassment, silent treatment, and cold withdrawal.

If Any of This Sounds Familiar, You Need Support.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist,  it’s going to be very difficult to stay healthy and stay together. You might be considering staying or leaving your narcissistic lover.

Regardless, you need to know that you deserve to feel valued, acknowledged, and fulfilled.  This can be a challenge, particularly if you were raised by a narcissistic parent. If that’s the case, you may have grown accustomed to people with a lack of empathy. Don’t sacrifice yourself or your mental health.

Please don’t deny yourself solid support. Reach out and find out today how trauma and PTSD counseling can help.