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Relationship with a Narcissist: What It’s Like & What It Means for You

What can you expect from a relationship with a narcissist, and how can having a narcissistic partner impact you?

Relationship with a Narcissist

Being in a relationship with a narcissist tests the limits of love. Most people are inclined to believe narcissists are too in love with themselves to truly love others. But that may not necessarily be true. Here we will break down what a narcissist is, and what being in a relationship with a narcissist can mean for you.

What is a narcissist?

This definition is hard to nail down. While narcissism is a personality trait, it is also a personality disorder and the personality disorder exists on a spectrum.

Some narcissists cannot maintain healthy relationships with others, while some can live a normal life with minimal problems. Only a psychology professional can truly determine who is and isn’t a narcissist.

That being said, it is generally believed that a narcissist is a person who is extremely self involved to the point of ignoring those around them. A Narcissist lacks empathy, and believes themselves to be worthy of special treatment and praise just by virtue of being who they are.

Naturally, this makes them bad partners. Read on for signs that your partner may be a narcissist. [Read: 25 signs of covert narcissism – A special kind of mind game]

The narcissist is charming…at first

The narcissist may have a practiced charm that they use to get through life. After all, if they were openly nasty and self involved no one would want to spend time around them.

But while the narcissist may be charming, it is all surface level. They are only as nice as they need to be to get what they want from you. [Read: How to recognize and end toxic relationships]

The narcissist has grandiose ideas of themselves

A narcissist is pathologically self involved. They will talk constantly about how great they are, and all of their accomplishments *both real and imaginary*. This might seem impressive and even charming at first, but quickly falls apart when you realize that you are in a relationship with someone who in only interested in themselves.

A relationship with a narcissist means a constant need for praise and compliments

Narcissists have the need for a romantic love. They feel the need to fill the void in their lives. While narcissists get into relationships, they do not necessarily feel love towards their partner. They also lack the ability to bond with them.

Narcissists tend to need people more than the normal person does. It becomes apparent that their sense of self-worth and self-esteem highly depend on how others view them. A relationship with a narcissist means constantly feeding their ego and agreeing with their boasts. [Read: Why people fall for Narcissists & 12 Secrets that make them so addictive]

Narcissists lack empathy

This is because narcissists do not care for anyone except themselves. They are oblivious as to how their actions affect others. They often view their mates as objects that are disposable and easily replaced. [Read: Emotional manipulation: 14 ways people mess with your mind]

Narcissists have no long term friends or relationships

If there was any red flag to look for, this is it. Narcissists are incapable of maintaining long term relationships due to their lack of empathy and inability to see others as equal to them. If you are in a relationship with someone who has no other relationships to speak of, they may be a narcissist.

Narcissists are master manipulators, and their charm is deceptive. But once you get past that, you will find that the narcissist is a very difficult person to have a real relationship with. [Read: How to recognize and stop selfish people from hurting you]

What narcissism is not

Like many cultural buzzwords, Narcissism has become a synonym for “a jerk.” While narcissists can act like jerks, the terms are not one in the same. Narcissism is a personality disorder, that requires a psychology professional to diagnose. While someone might be arrogant or self involved, that doesn’t necessarily make them a narcissist.

Can a narcissist ever be happy in a relationship?

As previously stated, Narcissism is a spectrum and some Narcissists can maintain healthy relationships. However, the lack of empathy and self involvement that comes with Narcissism makes forming and maintaining romantic relationships difficult.

Once the narcissist get what they want, they will likely begin to show their true colors. Their partners will be in for a shock when they find their mate gradually sheds their mask to reveal the ugliness within.

A few months into the relationship, the narcissist finds themselves feeling a void within that makes them grow restless and moody, constantly questioning their partner’s worth in the relationship. Their constant need for praise and ego boosting may cause the narcissist to look outside the relationship to have their needs met.

They become indifferent towards their mates, when they once showered them with affection. Soon, their partner becomes an emotional wreck. [Read: 12 signs of a narcissist and 12 ways to break up with them]

Can a relationship with a narcissist work?

This depends entirely on people involved in the relationship, and how willing they are to seek counseling and work on their problems.

Unfortunately, many find out their partner is a narcissist too late in the relationship. The kind, caring person once generous with romantic gestures turned out to be a cruel manipulator.

The other member of the relationship may feel angry and betrayed.They may understandably be desperately tries to bring back the person they fell in love with, only to find out that person never existed in the first place.

This complicated roller coaster of affection is often too much for people to take in a relationship.

How being in a relationship with a narcissist changes you

Unfortunately, most narcissists aren’t capable of loving someone completely. Their love for someone becomes a measure of their need. Once that need is fulfilled, they discard the person to the wayside.

Being discarded, and the grim silence that follows, can be very emotionally damaging. For one, it leaves the person questioning how they could have believed that the narcissist loved them, impairing their ability to trust others. It may also leave the ex blaming themselves for trusting such a toxic person. [Read: 17 Symptoms of narcissism that make someone mean, aloof & detached]

Who dates narcissists?

We would all like to believe that we are clever enough to avoid the charms of the narcissist. But the reality is that anyone can find themselves sucked into a toxic relationship with a narcissist.

Once the relationship takes its course, the narcissist’s “hot and cold” behavior can make their partners feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster ride. One that is not fun, and very difficult to get off of.

Can a narcissist make you feel like a narcissist?

A commonly employed manipulation tactic used by abusive partners is “gas lighting.” This is the process of making your partner question their reality and “feel crazy.”

If you are dating a narcissist, they may attempt to avoid taking responsibility for their actions by telling you that you are the narcissist and they are the victim. Reversing the victim and the offender puts you off kilter, keeping you confused and under the narcissists spell. [Read: 14 Signs a Narcissist is playing mind games with you & gaslighting you]

How to get out of a narcissistic relationship and heal from your experience

When the narcissist ends a relationship, they often end it abruptly and without a goodbye. The relationship ends just as swiftly as it started, with only cruel silence left for their mates to endure. Whether they ended it or you did, you need to heal from your relationship with a narcissist.

Don’t do this alone

If you’ve just broken up with a narcissist, they are going to want you to feel like they are the only person you have. You need to prove them wrong. Now is the time to surround yourself with loved ones and friends.

Don’y bypass the healing process

You may be tempted to just “shake it off” and move on. But untreated wounds do not heal. You need to take time to recover from this experience and get your head right before you start dating again.

Build strong foundations

Take this time to focus on you and your healing. Go to therapy, hit the gym, turn off your phone– whatever you need to do to rebuild your foundation and start feeling good again.

Practice boundaries

While this is especially true for your narcissistic ex, it goes for everyone in your life. Friends, family, even coworkers can all benefit from healthy boundaries [Read: How to set boundaries in a relationship: 19 rules for healthy love]

Don’t feel the need to tell everyone what happened

While it is important to be able to vent if you want to, you don’t need to tell everyone what happened. You may even feel embarrassed for putting up with bad behavior for so long. You don’t need to tell anyone about the details of the breakup if you don’t want to.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

There is a lot of blaming going on in a relationship with a narcissist. You might continue to blame yourself even after the relationship is over. Try not to be too hard on yourself— you were just looking for love, and you did nothing wrong.

Make new memories

When you are ready, try to make new memories that do not remind you of your narcissistic ex partner. You don’t need to start dating again. Just get out into the world and do some things you enjoy with friends.

What to do with a narcissist you had a relationship with

Still dealing with your narcissist ex? Here are a few tips

Educate yourself about narcissism

The more you know about narcissism, the easier you can deal with a narcissist. Learning about the disorder can even help you empathize with your ex *just don’t get back together with them*. [Read: 27 Secret signs of Narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

Create boundaries

Creating boundaries is incredibly important for healing. But be warned, your narcissist ex is going to fight back. By creating boundaries you are limiting their control over you, and they are unlikely to handle that well.

Speak for yourself and watch your wording

A narcissist is a master manipulator. They will put words in your mouth, or twist what you are saying to benefit them. When dealing with a narcissist you had a relationship with, be sure to speak for yourself and choose your words carefully. When it doubt, just leave the conversation.

What not to do with a narcissist you had a relationship with

Now that you know what to do, here are a few pitfalls to avoid when dealing with your narcissist ex

Don’t bother confronting or arguing with your narcissist ex

You are never going to win. Their lack of empathy makes it impossible for them to see things from your perspective, so save your breath.

Don’t try to direct them or offer advice

Because narcissists believe they are inherently special and deserving of special treatment, they are not going to accept any advice. In order to take steps to better yourself, you must first acknowledge that you need to get better, and a narcissist isn’t going to do that.

Don’t expect your narcissist ex to see your point of view about your relationship

One of the hallmarks of narcissism is an inability to empathize with others. You ex will never truly understand how their narcissistic actions impacted your relationship.

Keep communication expectations low

Don’t expect a lot of communication from your narcissist ex, especially now that you are no longer in a relationship. If they couldn’t communicate well before, they certainly won’t now

Consider counseling to help you process your relationship with a narcissist

A traumatic breakup is very hard. While you can rely on your friends and family to see you through, a counselor or therapist will be able to help you heal and move on. It can also save your friendships with people who simply cannot listen to you talk about your narcissistic ex anymore.

[Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

Being in a relationship with a narcissist just isn’t worth it. Don’t be a victim of the narcissist; and never allow the past to pay a visit yet again.

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Colleen Anne Javellana
I'm a quirky and passionate individual who believes in True Love. I live for deep conversations and a good novel to read. I am in love with Life, and I want to ...
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