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Narcissistic Relationship: 36 Signs, How It Feels, Patterns & How to End It

Do you think you are in a narcissistic relationship? Here is what you need to know about narcissists, how to deal with them, and how to break up for good.

signs of a narcissistic relationship

A loving romantic relationship is something that brings out the best in the people involved. A narcissistic relationship does the exact opposite.

We choose our partners based on certain aspects beneficial to our well-being. Besides the usual physical attraction, you choose someone who shares your interests, someone who supports and cares for you, and complements your shortcomings. 

By knowing the signs of a narcissist, you can avoid a new relationship that will be the total opposite of what you want and need. 

There are instances when one person in the relationship is too absorbed in themselves to pay any real attention to their partner. This is where the balance is upset. And with enough stress, the relationship will ultimately fall to pieces. 

There are more narcissists out there than you might think. Sometimes they’re hard to spot but understanding the signs of a narcissist will help you to avoid a relationship that could tear your heart into pieces. [Read: Loving a narcissist – how to tell if you’ve fallen for a narcissist]

What is a narcissist?

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]

While all people are naturally geared towards self-preservation, someone who thinks that they’re the center of the universe can be described as a narcissist. Narcissism has many attributes that make it stand apart. 

A true narcissist suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD. While everyone tends to be a little narcissistic very occasionally, a person with NPD lives a narcissistic life 24/7. 

They are extremely self-absorbed, they think the world revolves around them and they’ll stop at nothing to make themselves look good. [Read: What causes narcissism? The facts & theories to read a narcissist]

They will manipulate those around them to get what they want and they lack empathy in their soul. Basically, they are incapable of loving or caring in the same way as someone who isn’t narcissistic.

Needless to say, narcissists are at the bottom of the list of people you want near you. We’re sure you’ve encountered a couple of them in your life, but what if you find out that your significant other displays this kind of personality?

Dealing with them would be a pain in the ass and would cause a lot of heartaches, so you should definitely break up with them. [Read: 42 red flags and signs it’s time to end your relationship]

Easier said than done, for sure, but by learning the signs of a narcissist, you’ll be able to feel more secure in your decision.

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 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. [Read: 25 signs of covert narcissism – a special kind of mind game]

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. 

What do narcissists look for in a partner?

Most narcissists may tend to go for people they think they can manipulate easily. That might not make for easy reading, but unfortunately, it’s the truth. [Read: How to stop being so sensitive about everything all the time]

Narcissists go for kind-hearted people, sensitive people, those lacking in self-confidence, and they’re also partial to empaths.

Put simply, they find people they feel they can suck the life out of because, to them, that’s half of the fun.

Can a narcissist ever be happy in a relationship?

As previously stated, narcissism is a spectrum, and some narcissists can maintain healthy relationships. [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

However, the lack of empathy and self-involvement that comes with narcissism makes forming and maintaining romantic relationships difficult. 

Once the narcissist gets 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. [Read: Signs of a narcissist and ways to break up with them]

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.

Can a narcissist be a good partner and why is it so hard to be in a narcissistic relationship?

No. They might seem like a dream partner at the beginning of the relationship, but they’ll soon show their true face. [Read: Confident or cocky? 16 subtle signs that split an arrogant and modest man]

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

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. [Confession: A relationship with a narcissist and what it really means to love one]

Can a relationship with a narcissist work? 

This depends entirely on the 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 desperate to try to bring back the person they fell in love with, only to find out that person never existed in the first place. [Read: Understanding what it means to be in a relationship with a narcissist]

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

The glaring signs to recognize narcissistic relationships

If you’re worried that you might be in some type of relationship with a narcissistic partner, here are all the signs to help you spot a narcissist, 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 circumstances. If you’re looking for the signs of narcissistic abuse, 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 relationships with narcissistic behaviors 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. [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 important and gave you that special treatment? 

Then after a while, did the intimacy change? Did they start to treat you like they were doing you a favor by being with you?

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-entitlement. It makes you believe them wholeheartedly.

Many narcissists are masters at manipulating you and knowing your weaknesses, so this is one of the signs you’re dating a narcissist. [Read: What is a toxic relationship?]

4. Do they take hourly selfies of themselves?

There’s a huge difference between confidence and arrogance, but narcissists 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! [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

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 to feed their need for admiration.

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.

Narcissistic people don’t go to the gym to keep fit, they go to make sure they look better than everybody else. [Read: Annoying social media users that make you wanna scream]

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 about something, they’ll go to great lengths to make sure everyone can see it.

6. Do they always turn the conversation onto themselves?

Everyone likes to talk about themselves occasionally but a narcissist takes it to another level. [Read: Signs to recognize a selfish person and steps to cut yourself off from them]

It doesn’t matter what you are talking about, they will always manage to turn the conversation onto themselves, and their own personal and relationship 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 and their exaggerated self-worth and grandiosity.

7. Do you feel like you never receive empathy from them?

Empathy and consideration are both things narcissists lack and don’t 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*. [Read: Lessons to deal with judgmental people with no empathy]

If you’ve never felt supported, understood, or even acknowledged in your relationship, it might be because your partner is a narcissist.

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. [Read: Helpful ways to stop being a self-centered person]

Narcissistic partners usually have difficulty loving someone else because 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. They only truly love no one but themselves.

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. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships, what causes them, and how to get out]

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 also might find 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 high-status people to maintain their grandiose image.

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 egos.

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?

People with narcissistic tendencies 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 dysfunctional 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. 

If they don’t feel like you are doing that, then they will believe there is no choice for them but to leave you. And they will leave you after making you feel like no one else will ever love 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 through silent treatment or verbal abuse. [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?

Another sign that you’re in a narcissistic relationship is that your partner can never accept responsibility for their actions. Accountability is a strong word that can make or break relationships.

Unfortunately, narcissists feel like they don’t need to be accountable for their mistakes, nor do they know how to take responsibility and own up to it.

Often, you will find that narcissists 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. [Read: 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 with 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 try to make sure everyone else feels their wrath or anger, that’s how you know you’re in a narcissistic relationship. [Read: The best ways to handle dating someone with anger issues]

15. Does your partner always play the victim?

Does your partner always play the victim, no matter what? This is another really common sign of narcissism. Narcissists will never 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 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. [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 personality traits of a narcissistic relationship is your partner’s behavior being controlling and even manipulative.

They’ll try to make you do what they want without even considering your own feelings and needs. They’ll control you, and they’re masters at passing it off as love and affection. [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 were 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 or 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. [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 overdramatic 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. [Read: How to help a narcissist change for the better]

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. [Read: How to deal with jealousy in a relationship & learn to overcome it]

20. Have they played the sad card?

Ah, yes. This is another sign that you’re in a narcissistic relationship. 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 result is you’re the one who ends up comforting them instead of the other way around. [Read: How do narcissists control you so subtly? And why do all of us allow them!]

21. Do they have their head in the clouds?

Because they think they’re king or queen of the world, a narcissist lives in a fantasy world of their own creation. This world is obviously built around their belief that they’re the most important person in the world.

You might hear stories that place them as the hero or that explain why their actions and achievements were top-class. Whether these stories are proven to be true or not, remains to be seen. [Read: Relationship with a true narcissist – what it really means to love one]

22. They have to have the best of everything, even if it costs you too

You will never catch a narcissist with an out-of-date phone model or a cracked screen. Narcissists are all about how they appear to others, so they have to have the very best of everything. Material goods at their go-to.

A narcissist wants the best car, job, house, phone, or any other technological gadget you can think of. If you’re at the point where you share expenses, this could affect your financial well-being too.

23. Do they always want you to tell them how great they are? 

Despite having self-importance levels off the scale, narcissists are actually lacking in confidence where it matters. Of course, they’ll never show that to you.

As such, they need a constant supply of validation from those around them. [Read: How to deal with a narcissist in the best way you possibly can]

When they don’t get it, someone who has narcissistic traits may become aggressive, passive-aggressive, or give the cold shoulder. This appetite for ego-rubbing is often obsessive.

24. Do they often belittle you or pull you down?

The lack of empathy also means that narcissists have no issue with bullying, making fun of others, or belittling them. They’ll happily do this in front of others to amplify the effect too. The reason they do this is to make themselves look good.

They’ll often target those who they deem to be a threat and then try to drag them down. By doing this, they’re eliminating that threat and assuming that it makes them shine brighter.

This is a huge sign that you’re in a narcissistic relationship. [Read: 20 biggest narcissistic traits to recognize the narc in your life]

25. Do they accuse you of things out of jealousy?

We know that one of the signs of narcissism is a need to have the very best of everything. That can often lead a narcissist to huge bouts of jealousy if they see someone with something that they want.

If a person is deemed to look or be better than them, the green-eyed monster will come out in huge amounts and the fall-out can be epic. 

Has your partner ever accused you of cheating on them or lying to them? It’s down to their low confidence levels *albeit well hidden* and because they can’t handle having their ego bruised. [Read: Jealousy in a relationship – how to accept, deal, and overcome it in love]

26. Does their personality change?

When you first meet a narcissist, they’ll be on their best behavior. They’ll show you a side of themselves that’s as close to perfect as possible. You’ll think you’ve met your ideal match and you’ll quickly become attached.

However, that’s part of the plan. That side of them isn’t real, it’s all a disguise. When they think that they’ve got you under their spell, a narcissist will simply relax and be themselves.

But, if they notice that you’re starting to figure them out, they’ll quickly revert back to the perfect behavior they showed at the start. [Read: Am I a narcissist? 17 narcissistic Personality Disorder signs to ask yourself]

This is why so many people who have been in real relationships with narcissists end up experiencing emotional abuse and then trauma once the relationship ends. 

They’re having their minds messed with. Basically, a narcissist can be anything they want to be, and they wear many different metaphorical hats.

27. Do they need constant praise?

The need for constant praise is another sign that you’re in a narcissistic relationship. A narcissist is someone, who, deep down, suffers from extremely low self-esteem. This is why they behave the way they do. [Read: 16 clear signs you’re in a narcissistic relationship]

And once you know this all stems from self-esteem, you understand their behavior. So, they require constant praise and compliments, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it.

28. Are they extremely charismatic?

Why do you think you *possibly* fell in love with one? Narcissistic people aren’t boring, they’re extremely charismatic and attractive. 

Initially, they load you up with tons of attention and compliments, slowly pulling you in. And by that time, well, it’s too late, and you’ve fallen for them. [Read: Dark triad personality – what it is and 25 signs and ways to deal with them]

29. Are they overly competitive?

The only catch is they compete for everything and anything. A narcissist needs to be the best at everything they do. 

Their feelings of envy are pathological. When other people lose and become angry, this brings satisfaction to them as they know they won.

30. Do they love to complain?

Their middle name should be “complain” because when it comes to narcissists, that’s what they do best. [Read: What causes narcissism? The facts and theories to recognize these people]

Their expectations are extremely high when it concerns other people, so naturally, they’re constantly let down by others as no one can achieve their expectations.

31. Do their actions never match their words?

They’re not people who follow through with what they say. They have poor communication skills and never match their words with their actions. 

If you believe you’re with a narcissist, always focus on their actions rather than their words. The truth will show itself quickly. [Read: The biggest and most obvious signs of a controlling person] 

32. Are the rules based on their comfort level?

They will never do something that is outside of their comfort level, as it makes them look weak. A narcissist will always stay within their personal boundaries, regardless of how you feel. 

This is why they control the situations around them.

33. Are they overly entitled?

If there’s one person who feels they should have it all, it’s a narcissist. Even when they haven’t done much to deserve anything, they expect the world to be delivered to them on a silver platter. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do]

They’re always right, they always think they’re smarter than everyone else. This is another obvious sign that you’re in a narcissistic relationship.

34. Do they love a good catfight?

If there’s one thing narcissists love, it’s their drama. But they don’t want the drama around them. Instead, they enjoy pitting people against each other and admiring the fight go down. 

They’ll spread rumors and turn people against each other, making sure it ignites a fight. [Read: How to tell if someone is a narcissist and recognize them instantly] 

35. Do they have grandiose ideas about 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 is only interested in themselves

36. Do they 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. [Read: Emotional manipulation – ways people mess with your mind]

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.

Dealing with narcissistic personality disorder relationships

It’s easy to say that you should leave the relationship, but we all know that’s not so easy in practice. [Read: Why people fall for narcissists & secrets that make them so addictive]

If you want to try and give your narcissistic relationship a go *inadvisable, but your choice* then there is some point you should remember to try and make it easier on yourself.

However, in the end, it will come down to a choice – you or the relationship. You should always choose yourself.

1. Manage your expectations about the relationship

Know that a narcissistic relationship will always hurt you and will always cause major problems. Don’t start to dream of wonderful a happily ever after because it’s just not realistic.[Read: How to recognize and stop selfish people from hurting you]

It’s important that you manage your expectations and allow yourself to naturally reach the point where you leave of your own accord.

2. Practice self-care

You matter. No matter what the narcissist in your life tries to make you believe, you matter too. Self-care can help keep that point in your mind. [Read: What does it mean to date someone in reality?]

Take time out for yourself and focus on what you love to do instead of waiting for a narcissist to change. Spend time with people who make you feel good and perhaps give meditation a try.

3. Shift your time and energy away from them and toward healthier relationships

Are there people in your life that make you end up feeling good? Spend more time with them. 

Gradually shift your time and your energy away from the narcissist and you’ll start to see the major difference between how you feel with them and away from them. [Read: Relationship rules – 30 must-know tips to live your best love life]

4. Educate yourself about narcissistic traits and behaviors

If you’re in a relationship with someone who displays the characteristics of a narcissist, your best weapon would be awareness.

By reading this feature you already know a good amount about narcissism, but there is a lot more to learn. There are different types of narcissism you can learn about.

By educating yourself about traits and behaviors, you can identify them and know that none of this is down to you. [Read: 24 signs of people who lack empathy to know they don’t care what you think]

5. Set boundaries and stick to them

Under no circumstances should you set a boundary and allow your partner to break it without consequence. You must respect your boundaries too.

So, if you set a boundary that you will walk away when your partner starts shouting, you must do so. It’s the only way to make them learn – if they indeed ever do. [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries – how to talk about them and set them]

6. Be aware of your own vulnerabilities

A narcissist will prey on any weak point you have, so it’s important to be aware of these and minimize them as much as possible. Only then can you maintain the strength you need when you’re in their presence.

7. Don’t rely on promises made by a narcissist

Nothing they say can be trusted. They’ll tell you that they love you and they didn’t mean what they said, but they’re lying. They’re manipulating you.

Ignore any promises they made. Being with a narcissist means having a life of ups and downs, none of which can be trusted. [Read: Toxic love – ways it can harm you permanently and how to get away]

8. Don’t take their criticisms to heart

If they lash out at you, they’re doing so because they want to hurt you. Under no circumstances should you believe what they say.

If you’re in a narcissistic relationship, know you can’t change them 

It’s important to remember that a narcissist can display all of the signs above or just some of them. Narcissism also exists in varying degrees. You can have a mild narcissist or you can have a raging narcissist who is extremely difficult to be around.

There are also different types of narcissists on the spectrum too. [Read: Should I give up on him? 17 things that aren’t going to change]

Regardless of any of that, it’s vital to know that you cannot change a narcissist. You might be totally in love but you can’t make them different. It’s part of who they are.

Far too many people stick with a narcissist because they believe they can change. The truth is that you can’t fix a narcissist.

They have a personality disorder and the only way that can be changed is by the narcissist admitting they have a problem. [Read: How to change your life]

That’s highly unlikely to start with. Then they have to undergo therapy to right the issue. Very few narcissists ever go through this therapy and it isn’t guaranteed to work anyway. 

The best advice is to get out of there before your heart and your mind are damaged to a degree you struggle with for a long time afterward.

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. [Read: 17 symptoms of narcissism that make someone mean, aloof & detached]

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: The reasons why empathy is so important in a relationship] 

Can a narcissist make you feel like a narcissist?

A commonly employed manipulation tactic used by abusive partners is gaslighting. 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 that they are the victim. 

Reversing the victim and the offender puts you off kilter, keeping you confused and under the narcissist’s spell. [Read: Signs a Narcissist is playing mind games with you & gaslighting you]

How to prepare yourself to end a narcissistic relationship

It’s not easy to walk on out of any relationship, but a narcissistic love is possibly even harder to end. It’s not because you don’t know it’s toxic, it’s because the narcissist is very likely to manipulate you and make you change your mind.

You mustn’t let them.

Here’s how to prepare yourself to end a narcissistic relationship and look toward a brighter future.

1. Constantly remind yourself that you deserve better

Because you do. It’s as simple as that. [Read: 18 ways to have high self-esteem and start winning at life]

2. Strengthen your relationships with empathetic friends

Find friends who understand what you’re going through and can help you work on extracting yourself from the relationship.

3. Build a support network of family and friends

You need a network to rely upon when the narcissist starts trying to twist everything. Your network will remind you of reality and keep you away from the toxic relationship and help you stick to your decision.

4. Urge your partner to get help from a therapist

As a last-ditch attempt to save the relationship, you could urge your partner to get professional help and talk to a therapist. It’s very likely they will ignore your suggestion, but you can try. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

5. See a therapist yourself

Before, during, and after the breakup, you should certainly seek help from a therapist if you feel you’re struggling.

Therapists can help you recover from the trauma as they understand the pain and lasting emotional effects that occur as a result of having an intimate relationship with someone with NPD.

Breaking up with a narcissist

Needless to say, the only reasonable way to end the sheer madness that is keeping up with a narcissistic partner is to end the obviously unhealthy relationship. [Read: How to say goodbye to someone you love and find closure and happiness]

While you are doing this for your own sanity, there are many ways that you are helping the other person, too.

Here are the reasons why ending the union is best for you and everyone else.

1. 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. [Read: Single for life – enjoy the ride and find the one along the way]

2. Breaking up means freeing you from the burden

Narcissists are high-maintenance partners. They require more patience, understanding, and oftentimes a lot of enabling in order to float a boat that’s bound to sink in the end.

Consider yourself a martyr if you’ve made it this far, but the bottom line is: you don’t deserve to be treated like crap. Going back to our earlier analogy, a healthy relationship must be in balance.

That balance is give and take, not the narcissist taking the best of you and leaving you in ruin. [Read: How to leave a narcissist and free yourself from their web of control]

3. Breaking up with a narcissist allows breathing space for other people

One of the consequences of having a relationship with a narcissist is the possibility of alienating other people. Friends, co-workers, and family will certainly have developed apprehension about your choice of partner.

Most likely, they have distanced themselves from you. Breaking up with your narcissist allows you to go back and mend your relationships with other people.

4. Because having a relationship with a narcissist is self-defeating in its own right

A narcissist only maintains a relationship with you because of the rewards they can get from it. If you think that putting up with their behavior is the ultimate form of love, you are very wrong. [Read: How do narcissists end a relationship – can you predict the end?]

It will be good riddance to curtail this cycle by ending the relationship. Because if they really don’t care for you, the least you can do is to love yourself and not stay in the relationship.

5. By breaking up, both of you can learn

Despite all the unpleasant emotional baggage that break ups bring, the ultimate consolation prize is the life lessons you can glean from the experience. As the saying goes, when things fall apart, all that’s left to do is to pick up the pieces.

Breakups don’t only shatter the relationship, but the people involved. You are a different person before and after.

While it may not bring change automatically, a breakup will certainly leave a mark on a narcissist. [Read: What is the worst thing you can do to a narcissist to hurt them?]

As for you, you’ll learn that self-respect is more valuable than selflessness.

6. Build strong foundations

Take this time to focus on yourself 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. 

7. Practice boundaries 

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

8. 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. 

9. 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. [Read: Reasons to love yourself first before falling in love]

10. Don’t 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. 

11. 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. 

How to handle a narcissist ex

If you got out of a narcissistic relationship, you might still be dealing with your narcissist ex. Here are a few tips for how to deal with them.

1. 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]

2. 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. 

3. 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 in doubt, just leave the conversation. [Read: How to stand up for yourself – get what you want and deserve]

What not to do with a narcissist ex 

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

1. 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. 

2. 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. [Read: Toxic people – 48 warning signs and the best way to deal with them]

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. 

3. 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. Your ex will never truly understand how their narcissistic actions impacted your relationship. 

4. 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. [Read: Sneaky people – 20 subtle signs and what defines sneaky behavior in someone]

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. 

You simply deserve real love

If you can nod along to these signs of a narcissist in your partner, it’s time to wave goodbye and walk away. [Read: What is true love? 58 signs and ways to tell if what you’re feeling is real]

Yes, it’s going to be hard, and you might question your actions ten times over. However, that’s just because the narcissist has played you so carefully that you doubt your actions in relation to them.

Know that you deserve better.

There’s someone out there who wants to love you and will offer nothing but respect. You can’t get to that person until you wave goodbye to the narcissist in your life.

[Read: The crucial tips to help you know how to live with a narcissist]

It’s crucial to spot the signs of a narcissistic relationship so you can walk away or complete the necessary steps needed for your relationship and sanity. 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...