How do I know if I’m dating a narcissist?
Well, dear reader, I think if you are asking me this question,chances are you`re dating someone who is narcissistic but let`s take it further…
It seems that when dealing with difficult people, one of the most challenging types is someone who is narcissistic. While narcissism is actually considered a mental illness, not everyone who displays narcissistic behaviours is necessarily suffering from a mental illness. They’re just extremely challenging to deal with on a regular basis. With this in mind, I want you to think about the person you are currently dating and mentally go over the psychiatric definition of someone who has the Narcissistic Personality Disorder in your head:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, lack of empathy, as indicated by at least five of the following:
- a grandiose sense of self-importance
- is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- believes that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- requires excessive admiration
- has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes
To me, what defines a narcissistic personality is someone who thinks they truly are, “the bee’s knees”. They think they are better than everyone else, deserve special treatment, and seem to live in their own little world. In common parlance: SELFISH. There’s usually an ‘entitlement’ thing going on; where he/she acts like a king or a queen and expects people to drop everything to ‘serve’ him/her.
Unfortunately, many women have the experience of being raised by parents like this and/or being in friendships and intimate relationships with such people. They come to therapy feeling ‘crazy’ because they are angry with such people; yet don’t think they should be because the narcissistic person has convinced them otherwise.
Narcissists are some of the most frustrating and crazy-making people to deal with in the universe. In order to protect yourself from people like this, use the criteria for narcissism listed previously to discern whether someone in your life may be narcissistic. Then do whatever you have to do in order to protect yourself from being a victim of this person and their insanity. There are a lot of good books out there which will help you in this vein:
- Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited by Sam Vaknin
- The Object of my Affection is in my Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner
- The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family by Eleanor D. Payson
- Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality by Elsa R. Ronningstam
Read as much as you can. Educate yourself. Then take the steps necessary to protect yourself. It may be helpful to seek counselling to gain to learn self-care in the face of narcissistic personalities. Sometimes this means getting away from these people all together, and sometimes you can have milder but distant contact. The most important thing to remember in dealing with these people is that it is them who has the problem, not you.