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Narcissistic Relationship: 20 Signs, How It Is to Date & Break Up with Them

Being in a narcissistic relationship is the worst. So it’s vital to your sanity and wellbeing to decipher signs of a narcissistic relationship early on.

signs of a narcissistic relationship

The problem though, is that it can be hard to tell a narcissistic person from someone who just has a lot of confidence, well it is, at least at first. So it’s essential to spot the signs of a narcissistic relationship if you can. Over time, a narcissist gives themselves away through their behavior and apparent lack of empathy.

They prioritize themselves over anyone else, so it won’t be as tricky to figure out when someone is narcissistic. The scary part about this is there are two kinds of narcissists. The first type are the obvious ones, where you can see their selfishness right off the bat.

[Read: What causes narcissism? The facts & theories to read a narcissist]

But the second one, they’re much subtle and sly in their ways. They might even seem like the perfect partner at first and appear too good to be true, but it’s only a front for their narcissistic nature. This is why it’s crucial to decipher the signs of a narcissistic relationship as early as possible before the relationship breaks you.

What makes a narcissistic relationship so destructive?

Remember that you’re in a relationship with someone who worships themselves and doesn’t care about anyone else, so they have no room for empathy, generosity, or compassion. In fact, they don’t understand it!

Being in a relationship with them is similar to dating a wall; it’s pointless and empty.

A narcissistic relationship will drain all your energy and time without getting anything meaningful or fulfilling in the relationship. If it doesn’t benefit a narcissistic partner in any way, they won’t do it.

So even if it’s as simple as providing you with the bare minimum like respect or quality time, they wouldn’t give that effort if it doesn’t benefit them in some way or they don’t get anything in return. In a narcissist’s world, you worship their feet and nothing else matters.

[Read: Dating a narcissist – What it feels like and how to encourage them to change]

20 glaring signs you’re in a narcissistic relationship

If you’re worried that you might be in a narcissistic relationship with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or even your spouse, then here are all signs to see, and a few questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Do you feel like you are being used?

Nobody deserves to feel like they’re being used under any circumstance in a relationship. If you’re looking for the signs of a narcissistic relationship, it’s feeling like you’re being used. You might feel like you are underappreciated by your partner, or that they use you as their step up.

This is so common in narcissistic relationships because a narcissist’s number one priority is themselves, nothing else even comes close. This means they will always make sure they are okay and they will do whatever it takes to feel good about themselves, but they won’t go to those same extremes for anyone else.

You aren’t and will never be partners as long as you’re in a narcissistic relationship, and it’s one of the many brutal truths you have to accept. They will take advantage of your kindness and generosity constantly, and use you only for their gain. [Read: Should you make someone a priority when you’re only an option to them?]

2. Do you feel like they overvalued you at first, but then you quickly become undervalued?

By this we mean, did they at first treat you like the world revolved around you? Did they make you feel like you were really special? Then after a while, did this change? Did they start to treat you like they were doing you a favor by being with you?

These are all common occurrences in a narcissistic relationship. Remember what we said about the second type of narcissist? They seemed too good to be true at first simply because they are.

They’re trying to get your trust and heart so that it’ll be easier to use and manipulate you when the time comes. We know this sounds harsh, but it’s the truth when dating a narcissist. [Read: 16 reasons why people find it so easy to take you for granted over time]

3. Did they get under your skin?

Narcissists display a huge amount of confidence *even if they’re insecure wrecks on the inside*, far more than the average person would dare to reveal, and because of this, it can be easy for them to get under your skin. If a person fakes that much confidence, it tricks your brain into wanting to find out why they have this high sense of self-pride. It makes you believe them wholeheartedly.

Narcissists are masters at manipulating you and knowing your weaknesses, so this is one of the signs you’re dating a narcissist. They make sure everyone knows that it’s their world they’re living in and that they’re perfect beings, and you’re not perfect.

4. Do they take hourly selfies of themselves?

There’s a huge difference between confidence and arrogance, and narcissists will evidently show you that differently. They worship themselves as if they haven’t seen anyone more perfect and irresistible. A really easy way to pick out a narcissist is to look at their online profiles on social media.

How have they talked about themselves, do they post numerous pictures of themselves every day, that are clearly taken by them? People always want to present their best sides online, but a narcissist takes it one step further, they aren’t just telling a few white lies, they make themselves seem perfect in every way, several times a day!

It’s normal for an average person to take a few pictures every now and then, but when you make a habit out of humble-bragging or exaggerating things on social media? Only a narcissist could do that. [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

5. Do they spend a lot of time at the gym?

Okay, not every gym addict is a narcissist, however you can normally pick out those who are. The narcissist doesn’t go to the gym to keep fit, they go to make sure they look better than everybody else. They will take any chance they get to show off their hard work or their body and if the situation doesn’t arise, then they will make it.

They’re self-absorbed and will make sure that they appear perfect in every way. Whether they go to the gym purely for their image or to boast something, they’ll go to great lengths to make sure everyone can see it.

They will often bring up in conversation how many sit-ups they did, how far they ran for, how slender their waist is, or how big their bum is, just so they can be complimented by the listener, and feel better about themselves. It’s basically them fishing for compliments. [Read: 8 annoying social media users that make you wanna scream]

6. Do they always turn the conversation onto themselves?

Everyone likes to talk about themselves on the occasion but a narcissist takes it to another level. It doesn’t matter what you are talking about, they will always manage to turn the conversation onto them, and their own issues.

One of the signs of a narcissistic relationship is when they always manage to swerve the topic to themselves and nobody else. Okay, let’s admit it, we all love talking about ourselves. However, not all of us make ourselves the primary focus throughout the conversation. This is only the doing of a narcissist.

For example, if your friend is going through a breakup, your narcissistic partner won’t ask your friend how they are doing, instead they will talk about a bad breakup that they had. [Read: 10 signs to recognize a selfish person and 5 steps to cut yourself off of them]

7. Do you feel like you never had their empathy?

When you’re dating a narcissist, empathy and consideration are both things they don’t have, or even understand. No matter how hard you beg for it, they can’t give it to you *and you shouldn’t ever beg for the bare minimum from your partner*. That really isn’t a joke, they are incapable of putting themselves into anyone else’s shoes but their own.

Ask yourself this, the last big challenge you had to face, did your partner support you through it? If the answer is no, then there is a good chance you are in a narcissistic relationship.

If you’ve never felt supported, understood, or even acknowledged in your relationship, it might be because your partner is a narcissist. [Read: 5 lessons to deal with judgmental people with no empathy]

8. Are they always focused on themselves?

Has your partner ever focused on something that didn’t directly involve them? Have they ever reached out to help someone, when there was nothing in it for them? If the answer is no, then you should know by now that you are likely to be in a narcissistic relationship.

Their main priority is themselves so when it comes to other people, they’re just incapable of thinking of them *including you*. Even if they do think of others sometimes, it’s mainly because they benefit from it. [Read: 8 helpful ways to stop being a self-centered person]

9. Does your partner seem picky about his or her friends?

A narcissist surrounds themselves with only people they think are worthy, or with people who make them appear better. In a way, they only become friends with people they deem special enough, and this means that they will be picky over the people they chose to spend their time with.

You might find as well that all your partner’s friends look up to them, in a way that feeds your partner’s ego. A narcissist only chooses friends that fit their standards, such as maybe someone of status or symbol. Their ego is critical to them, so they need someone who helps maintain their image or increase it.

10. How does your partner react to their pride being hit?

Most people don’t deal well with their pride being hit, but a narcissist can’t deal with it at all. You see, underneath all the confidence that a narcissist spews out, there isn’t a confident person. That’s why they go to such extremes to make sure they surround themselves with people who stroke their ego.

The minute you hit their ego, even by just a little bit, they’ll probably lash out. Depending on how they deal with anger or frustrations, they won’t take it lightly when their ego is hit.

And that’s why they always talk about themselves, to protect themselves from the truth. Their fake confidence is how they hide and shield their narcissistic nature. [Read: Narcissistic rage – How to handle the angry backlash of a narcissist]

11. Has your relationship ever been threatened because of your partner’s pride?

Similar to the sign above, we’ve already discussed that narcissists don’t take their pride lightly. If anything, it’s essential to them and they hold it dearly.

So if you’ve ever had arguments that almost caused your relationship to end, all because you stepped on their pride, this is one of the biggest signs of a narcissistic relationship.

Perhaps, you made a joke that they took offense to, or perhaps you might have told them that they did something wrong. A narcissist needs to be around people who are yes-men and ones that feed their egos, and if they don’t feel like you are doing that, then they will believe there is no choice for them but to leave you. [Read: 20 signs you’re a people pleaser and don’t even know it!]

12. Do they tend to take things further than most?

When you argue with your partner, do they tend to take things further than you would? Are they always threatening to leave unless you see things from their side, do they always make sure that you are left in the wrong?

These are typical signs of a narcissist, and it is not healthy for a person to be made to feel wrong when they are not. Maybe they tend to gaslight you in arguments or manipulate you to turn things in their favor.

Remember that a narcissist doesn’t often feel bad for the things they do wrong since they see absolutely no error in their actions and behavior. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship and shut it down for good]

13. Can your partner accept responsibility for things they have done?

Accountability is a strong word that can make or break relationships. Unfortunately, narcissists don’t know how to be accountable for their mistakes, nor do they know how to take responsibility and own up to it.

Often, you will find with narcissists that they cannot accept when they are in the wrong, they are convinced that nothing is ever their fault. They will twist and contort situations in any way they can to make sure that they escape the blame. And the scary thing is that they won’t realize they are doing it.

To them, they really are the innocent party! Failure to take accountability for their mistakes is just one of the signs of a narcissistic relationship. [Read: 12 subtle signs you’re being manipulated in your relationship]

14. Does your partner become volatile when challenged?

There will always be bad fights in a relationship, but how bad do yours get and how easily do they get there? It’s quite common for people who have a narcissistic personality disorder to easily flip off the handle. When things aren’t going their way or when an unprecedented event happens, do they react calmly or get rather volatile?

We don’t mean that they will get overly violent, but you might find that they punch walls or throw things when they feel like they are losing the argument. If they tend to lash out at the people around them, or they try to make sure everyone else feels their wrath or anger, that’s how you know you’re in a narcissistic relationship.

They won’t bother to adjust for others; all that matters is themselves. [Read: The best ways to handle dating someone with anger issues]

15. Does your partner always play the victim?

Does your partner always the victim, no matter what? This is again another really common sign of narcissism. It’s the inability to accept that they are not perfect.

They will go to extremes to explain why they were the victim and although sometimes they might seem unbelievable to you, your partner will believe their own lie fully, and may find it annoying that you can’t it see from their perspective. Instead of accepting their fault, they’d do everything to switch the blame to you and convince you they’re the victim.

The worst part is, you’ll end up believing them every time and saying sorry for something that was never your fault in the first place. One of the signs of a narcissistic relationship is when they play the victim and love using your own guilt against you. [Read: 16 signs your partner or a friend is an attention whore]

16. Is your partner controlling and demanding?

If your partner tries to control what you do or demands that you do things differently, then there is a good chance they are narcissistic. A narcissist believes that their way is best and anything else is just wrong! One of the primary traits of a narcissistic relationship is your partner’s behavior to be controlling and even manipulative.

They’ll try to make you do what they want without even considering your own needs and wants. They’ll control you, and they’re masters at passing it off as love and affection. It’s always their needs that are important, but never yours. [Read: 16 ways to deal with a controlling partner in the most efficient manner]

17. Do you feel like you’re losing yourself in the relationship?

Every person who has ever been in a narcissistic relationship will tell you that they’ve lost themselves or went on the verge of losing themselves. A narcissist will control and manipulate you into what they want.

They’ll make it seem like it was entirely your idea that you cut off all your friends and family, or it was your idea to compromise your values for their sake. A narcissist is the master of their own game and even if you think it was your own fault, it was them pulling the strings all along.

They will make you feel isolated and alone, more than you’ve ever felt your entire life. This is all because they controlled you to make your world revolve around them and only them. [Read: How to focus on yourself in a relationship & avoid losing yourself]

18. Does your partner invalidate your feelings?

When you try opening up to a narcissist, they’ll say that you’re being over-dramatic or you’re too sensitive. Even when your problem doesn’t concern them, they’ll still invalidate your feelings and gaslight you into thinking that you are incapable of dealing with your own life.

A partner who doesn’t validate your emotions or even takes the time of day to listen to your thoughts isn’t a partner worth having. Narcissists only care about themselves, so they won’t even bother listening to what you have to say unless they get something in exchange. Now, how’s that for self-absorbed?

19. Have they accused you of being jealous of them?

A narcissist is the master of flipping blame so whenever you tell them of their faults, do they deflect by making you believe that you’re just jealous of their perfection? Behind the confidence and image of a narcissist is everything they don’t want you to know – insecurity, fear, doubt, anger, and guilt.

A narcissist would accuse you of being jealous of them when it’s actually the other way around. And when their jealousy gets triggered, they will lash out at those around them, especially their partner. So one of the signs of a narcissistic relationship is the false accusations they constantly throw your way. [Read: How to deal with jealousy in a relationship & learn to overcome it]

20. Have they played the sad guy?

Ah, yes. Here’s an excellent trick narcissists love using. Whenever you talk about how you feel used or let down by them, do they use guilt and sadness against you?

They’ll say things like they don’t deserve you, apologize for being who they are, or apologize for not being good enough when it’s just a manipulation tactic to make you feel bad for them. The end result is you’re the one who ends up comforting them instead of the other way around.

These are actions only a narcissist would think of doing. So if you’re observing the signs of a narcissistic relationship, watch out for this.

[Read: How do narcissists control you so subtly? And why all of us allow them!]

So are you dating or married to a narcissist?

If your partner has some or many of the signs we have highlighted above, then there is a good chance that you are in a narcissistic relationship.

Your next step is up to you and the only person who can know whether you’re happy or not is you. You do however need to consider whether or not you can live with a person like your partner on a long-term basis, because it won’t be them that changes, it will be you.

[Read: Narcissistic victim syndrome – How to find your way out of this mess ASAP]

You need to remember that a narcissist lover isn’t necessarily a bad person, they just love themselves and care for themselves above and beyond everyone else. But it’s also crucial to spot the signs of a narcissistic relationship so you can walk away or do the necessary steps needed for your relationship and sanity.

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Emma Spencer
Born in a small city that nobody has ever heard of, commonly questioned about whether I have ever owned a farm. I have never owned a farm. I do, however, live i...
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