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Are you dating a Narcissist?

To most people, a “narcissist” is just someone vain and self-absorbed, a man or woman obsessed with their appearance and confident to the point of arrogance. But a narcissist can be a lot more than that. They might well be suffering from a psychiatric disorder called Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) — and to someone dating them and trying to win some of the love the narcissist keeps for him or herself, that can be a real problem.

This disorder is widespread. It’s estimated to affect at least one person in 100, both men and women. It’s not unreasonable to believe that the guy you (eventually) dismissed as an “asshole” or the girl who left you wondering about women’s reputation as the gentler sex was, in fact, suffering from a mental disorder.

There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable... I simply am not there.

“…there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.” (American Psycho)

The beginning

A relationship with a narcissist usually starts well. Narcissists can look great on paper. They tend to be attractive, charming and really committed to meeting “the one.” A narcissistic man often tell his new girlfriend that she is “the woman of their dream”; women tell their boyfriends that they were “meant to be,” making him feel very special. They also tend to want to move fast in the relationship.

This honeymoon phase though ends quickly as they reveal their true self — and being with a narcissist soon turns from a thrill into an extremely painful experience. As one anonymous woman from Virginia put it in an Amazon review of Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On by Cynthia Zane and M.S. Kevin Dibble:

“He went from loving, devoted, and committed to cold, critical, and most heartbreakingly, unfaithful, seemingly overnight. None of it made sense, and it was practically killing me waiting for him to return to the way it was.”

Because the relationship starts out so well, and because the ugliness seems to come out of nowhere, even the most grounded people can get caught by surprise. They might later admit to having seen plenty of red flags but because the illusion of the narcissist’s great qualities is so vivid, they tend to be ignored:

“[T]he normal mind cannot grasp that someone who showed so much love, affection, attention, and tenderness could turn so cruel and vicious under any circumstances let alone without provocation of any kind,” says Anonymous. “I had never before seen it. I couldn’t believe that what I was experiencing was real. The ugliness only came out after many, many months of no ‘red flags.’”

Who usually dates narcissists?

Although people with co-dependent tendencies are more likely to stay longer with a narcissist, even the most self-confident person can end up with one, if only for a short time. “mytvc15” of Cleveland, OH, described herself on Amazon as a “confident and happy person” until she dated a narcissist:

“I was reeling, sobbing, confused and humiliated at the hands of a classic narcissist. Having had good judgment and good fortune, my first encounter with someone with this disorder came at 44, and at a time when empathy and compassion are my focus. So, when the narcissist in my life did everything I explained would hurt me, and attempted to humiliate me, I just couldn’t make sense of it.”

For narcissistic men, victims tend to be beautiful, accomplished, trusting women who both mirror what they think they should have — someone beautiful in the mirror — and someone they feel they should be able to control.

It could be you, right now.

So, are you dating a narcissist?

It can be hard to recognize a narcissist — they are so charming and convincing! They spend their whole lives honing their skills. But there are a few questions you can ask about your partner that will tell you whether you’re dating someone with NPD, and heading for a great deal of future pain.

Answer yes to more than a few of these questions, and you’ll need to take action.

Early signs:

  • Do they look young for their age?
  • Are they exceptionally good in bed?
  • Does he have issues with his mother?
  • Do they push you to commit to him/her and talks about getting married very soon after you meet?
  • Do they tell you “you’re the woman/man of my dreams”? Does she say that you’re a “perfect match”?
  • Are they emotionally immature?
  • Are they more of a receiver than a giver?
  • Does he have grandiose tendencies? Does he compare himself to “other great men” and refer to himself as an “Alpha Male”?
  • Do they exaggerate their accomplishments?

Morals and relationships with others

  • Do you feel that your partner has questionable morals?
  • Do they lie or manipulate you and others?
  • Do they show a lack of empathy towards you and others?
  • Do they accuse you or previous partners of being abusive or treating them badly?
  • Do they blame everybody for their problems and never take responsibility for their life?
  • Do they often get into conflict with others? Do they sue people — or are sued by others — frequently?
  • Do they play the victim card often?
  • Do they expect you and others to follow their plan without regard to what you want to do?
  • Do they show a lack of remorse?
  • Do you feel they have “no heart”?

Abusive behavior

  • Are they moody (“Jekyll and Hyde” moody) for no apparent reason?
  • Do they fly into a rage when you ask simple questions?
  • Does being with your partner make you feel confused, chaotic, and drained?
  • Does your partner say unbelievably hurtful things to you for no reason then accuse you of overreacting or being too emotional?
  • Does he or she treat you badly and then disappear for days only to reappear and act like nothing happened?
  • Do you feel worse emotionally since you started dating?
  • Does your partner make you feel bad or worthless?

These questions give you a pretty clear picture of the characteristics of a classic narcissist. Your narcissist, if you have one, might not display all of these traits — most don’t. But there is a clear pattern and once you meet one narcissist, you meet them all.

Educate yourself

Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On

Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On

If you’re single and dating then learning about NPD is vital. You must know what you are dealing with in order to get out of the relationship quickly, pick up the pieces and move on. I highly recommend Cynthia Zayn and M.S. Kevin Dibble’s book. Narcissist Loverswill take you from the start of the disorder to identifying it and then to breaking up and moving on with your life. Once you have the knowledge you will more easily be able to take the right action, which is always to break up quickly and completely.

What to do when you realize you’re dating a narcissist?

There is no way to fix or improve the behavior of a narcissist. Your best chance of happiness is to get out.

“If you are involved, or have been involved. RUN…and get help! Pick up the shattered pieces of your life and take them with you…you will be okay with help and hard work…with resistance!” says Lisa R. of Lombard, IL, on Amazon.

Breaking up with a narcissist

You may think that breaking up with a narcissist will put the end to this suffering and that the end is as simple — or no more difficult — than any other breakup. You’re likely to be unpleasantly surprised. You can expect the narcissist to:

  • React with rage;
  • Insult you and try to break you down;
  • Half-apologize for the insults and try to explain themselves;
  • Hurt you in any way possible;
  • Try to make your life a living hell a much as he or she can.

Break up with a narcissist and you can expect to see rude comments about you posted on Facebook or Twitter. They’ll send you angry and vicious emails. They’ll badmouth you to your friends, threaten you or people close to you or even your business, and try to sue you or seek other ways to get revenge.

You can expect the narcissist to try to make your life a living hell a much as he or she can

You can expect the narcissist to try to make your life a living hell a much as he or she can: “Oh, I’m to be “handled”, am I? Like toxic waste. You see me on sufference. I’m an imposition to be tolerated.” (Notes On a Scandal)

Cease any communication

It helps to heal when you can more clearly understand that the person who charmed and romanced you is in fact a sick and emotionally dangerous person.

Narcissists are difficult to get rid of because breaking up with them means that they have no external supply of admiration. Any attention you give them lets them believe that you’re ready to give them more. That’s why you have to cease communication with the narcissist immediately and completely. You must be diligent about not communicating with them whatsoever, not returning so much as one word in a text or an email.

In fact, you should block their phone number so that they can’t text you or phone you and refuse to meet under any circumstances.

Moving on

Narcissists have clear sociopathic traits — lying, lack of remorse, manipulation and control, guilt if you question anything. It is vital to learn about them, especially if you are repeatedly a victim of them.

Read Narcissistic Lovers to learn about the person you were involved with, understand what happened and recognize that the fault lay with your narcissistic partner, not you. Their actions were emotional abuse and you should leave as quickly as you can, try to learn from the experience and take heart that not everyone in the world is this self-absorbed.

You may feel like a victim, someone who’s experienced a terrible thing and you may even become depressed and discouraged about life. But narcissists only make up a small minority of people, and now that you know how to spot them, you have a greater chance of avoiding them in future and finding the right person for you.

It could take you a few months to recover, but your life will look brighter as you move on.

Extra Bonuses

New! Donald Trump

Narcissistic Movie Characters:

Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

We need to talk about Kevin

Mildred Pierce

Famous Narcissists

I can’t be 100% sure here, but based on what I read, I suspect the following famous people are narcissists:

The list goes on and on, many actors/reality show participants strive to become famous in order to get their “Narcissistic Supply”. Dr. Drew researched this issue and found that 10% of female reality show participants are in fact Narcissist.

“Of the dozens of actors, musicians, comedians and reality TV personalities interviewed for the study, Dr. Drew says female reality show contestants were by far the most narcissistic. He says people who were committed to a talent were much less narcissistic. “The people that had a skill—like musicians with deep commitments to their craft—[had] less narcissism,” Dr. Drew says. “People on reality shows, they’re on TV because, ‘Hey, it’s me! I just need to be on TV!’ And that’s a narcissistic impulse.”

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Comments (11)

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    Merav Knafo


    You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing!


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    Glad I Left Him, he stole my self esteem and confidance


    This was very good, detailed info. I agree 100% with its contents, and the man I just left after 2 1/2 years of lies, cheating and misery will hopefully soon be only a bad memory. He was like a nasty habit I had to quit but couldnt for a long time. I have discovered my part in this roller coaster relationship as well… I am a co-dependant “love addictict” personality, and figuring this out and that he’s a Narcassist has been a blessing to me. I can change… he cannot. Im getting my power he sucked out of me back every day, and have filed a restraining order against him so he wont contact me (hopefully) ever again. If he does its a felony…and I WILL have him arrested if he does!


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    I’m going to apply this information for sure!


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    Great Article thanks for writing this!


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    A great article here…thanks for taking the time Merav!


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    Frank J


    With so many messed up people I bet we’ve all met one…(Or will do) LOL


  • safety online


    safety online

    Are you dating a Narcissist? Leaving and Surviving someone with NPD | LookBetterOnline Blog


  • Dating A Narcissist Blog | Dating Around Me


    […] Are you dating a Narcissist? Leaving and Surviving someone … – To most people, a “narcissist” is just someone vain and self-absorbed, a man or woman obsessed with their appearance and confident to the point of arrogance…. […]


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    This has been a great article, enjoying your slant on this topic, thanks so much.
    I too am out now, since March last year, however my ex Narc did contact me several times, plus stalked, phoned, and it always got me by surprise since he had frequently changed his mobile numbers, so I couldn’t block my phone to unknown numbers since I take a lot of business calls. Hearing from the EX delayed my healing a lot, and if it wasn’t him contacting me, he would ensure that his Sister In-law passed messages on about how he was doing.
    Whenever the Sister In-law would approach me it was always at my workplace, (a Shopping Centre), so it was hard to avoid her, usually her tales would be cynical and nasty about my EX (her relative), as after all the danger and abuse he had dished out to his elderly parents, the rest of the family were certainly wary of him.
    However, the last time I saw her (just days before Christmas) she relayed her news was positive. Before I could interrupt her, she told me that my EX actually had a job now, (after 6 years unemployment and leeching off both myself, his parents and anybody else I guess). I said that was great and went to return to my job, but she landed me with a blow by saying that she thinks EX has ‘met his match’. I said Pardon?
    She told me that he had met a woman who was a Psychiatrist, and she was ‘keeping him in line’, and now he is ‘much healthier’, and ‘just wanted to get away from everyone and everything’. Then she wished me and my family (who she has never met) Merry Christmas, and off she went.
    I swear almost smugly.
    I don’t understand this, given all that she had seen and known of him before, but I guess he must have woven some pretty nasty lies about me and his family will fall back to that now because he is making out he and his life is great in this new romance, (like this is testament to the lies he told about his life with me).
    After all the unwanted contacts I had from him and his family member, I have not had the chance to heal adequately, so my progress had almost re-started after I heard he is now with another woman.
    I guess it made me feel very angry after the extreme abuse and damages he subjected me to the whole time we were together, (4 years or so).
    Like your words above, I have struggled with feeling discouraged and depressed about life a lot.
    It is silly, because I have a good job, (my own business), good family, some friends, and I don’t know why I obsess over this topic of Narcissism and Abuse all the time. I seem to cycle in and out of good and bad, have some good days, (or weeks) and then some bad ones.
    I read somewhere that one should figure out what they need in their life right at that point, so they can target the times they begin to obsess over their EX, and satiate that need.
    Mine Is probably boredom.
    I don’t get much time off my job, (2 days in 15 months right now) and before that one holiday in 4 years!!
    The thing is, I am not especially motivated to be that social at the moment, friends call me, and I don’t even answer. I really don’t have much time for males either, any male friends that I have, I simply want to avoid as much as possible. Why is that?
    Tomorrow I have a female friend visiting my home for a coffee, which will be nice, but it is the only social event I have really had in almost 2 weeks now. All my nails have been bitten off again, and I guess I am feeling pretty low in general.
    This despite going to the gym, and having lost a little weight, (a real plus).
    Anyway, despite having been out since March, the last time I spoke with EX was in mid August last year, between then and December, he managed to find himself a job on a Farm-stay, and love bomb another woman into yet another ‘fake relationship’.
    How he managed to con a Psychiatrist I will never know, it really is beating me up inside knowing this. It could be all a lie though, and passed on to me knowing how insecure it would make me feel.
    Why do I even think about it?
    Why do I care?
    I worry that this time, when he becomes abusive, he might kill someone in his rage, (like he almost killed me several times). I only hope that he doesn’t get that chance, and that if it is true, that she kicks him to the kerb.
    I know that I don’t want to get back with him, it just annoys me that I am even still thinking about him and his new life. I also know I am not alone in this, (that there are many other women out there going through the same thing) and that too makes me angry.
    Sorry for the long post.


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    very interesting and informative article!
    I am currently writing my thesis dissertation on John Banville’s books, which all feature a narcissistic protagonist, with a focus on how women are represented. Even if it is just from a literary perspective, all of your comments fit the profile of my protagonists perfectly. Thanks for the inspiration! Lize


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