“Alright, enough about me. Let’s hear you talk about me.” – Narcissist Anonymous
Leonard was in love with a beautiful but troubled woman named Jennifer.
He was in a close relationship with her for 15 years.
There’s only one problem – there’s something dysfunctional about their relationship.
Because Jennifer is a narcissist and Leonard did not know about it.
Leonard was her everything except being acknowledged as her boyfriend.
He was her ATM machine, her chauffeur, her food delivery man, her emotional support, her personal assistant and even her ticket for a better life.
Even though Jennifer didn’t find him desirable to be her boyfriend, she took advantage of his fascination of her and couldn’t see the ways he was being mistreated.
Although Leonard’s heart skipped a beat whenever he saw her, he had no idea that being in a relationship with a narcissist can be really damaging as the illusion he was under was barely unnoticeable.
Later on, when people asked Jennifer about her status of her relationship with Leonard, she denied that they were ever a couple.
She gaslighted him – telling all their friends and family that Leonard was lonely and had no friends, that’s why he clung on to her like bees to honey.
She subtly abused him by telling him that the problems they are facing was because it was his fault.
“It’s your fault I didn’t remember because you didn’t remind me”, she said.
Poor Leonard even started doubting himself if he loved her enough.
After a long time, he finally woken up and realized that he was in a relationship with a narcissist, he painfully mustered up the courage to let her go.
Even though Jennifer finally had to come face to face with her financial situation and to pick up the pieces of her life without Leonard’s support, she still couldn’t understand her fault in all of this.
Do you know someone who is like Jennifer?
Do you have a parent, friend, boss or even a lover who constantly talk about themselves and nothing you say seem to get to them?
If you’re nodding your head, then you probably have a narcissist or two in your life.
What Is Narcissism?
Narcissism comes from a Greek mythology about a man named Narcissus who was known for his great beauty.
He was a proud man who disdained people who didn’t love him.
One day, he went to a pool and saw his own reflection.
He fell deeply in love with himself to the point that he was not able to remove himself from the beauty of that reflection.
He eventually lost the will to live and stared at his reflection in the pool until the day he died.
Today, narcissism is personified as a fixation with one’s self.
In psychological terms, a narcissist has buried their true self in response to any form of injury during childhood, or unmet needs by replacing it with a highly developed, compensatory false self in their minds.
This kind of personality perceived by the narcissist is often a grandiose, self-absorbed, conceited and meticulously constructed external image that they are not aware of as their false self to hide the wounded child with unmet needs.
Like the story about Leonard and Jennifer, it can be hard to recognize that you’ might be in love with a narcissist without knowing it.
Narcissism can appear in various degrees in people and some, much more subtle than others.
Even an ‘intuitive narcissist’ can manipulate you in ways that seem like they are not that narcissistic, only for you to feel it’s sting once they have no use for you.
Here are 10 signs that might reveal that you are in love with a narcissist:
1. They horde every conversation
A narcissist constantly talk about themselves.
Even when the narcissist allow you to talk, they would prefer you to talk about them or something that relates to them that will inflate their sense of self worth.
Talking with them is hardly a 2-way conversation.
Talking to them is exhausting because they don’t ‘hear’ you.
When you express views that are not in alignment with a narcissist, they might even cut you off or dismiss you. Sometimes they might outrightly ignore you.
So besides hoarding the conversation, they will also do the next thing in conversations…
2. They interrupt conversations
Some narcissist will outrightly interrupt your conversation.
Some will find cues to jump in at a pause.
A more subtle narcissist will speak but subtly turn the conversation around and switching the focus back to themselves.
A good example is this following conversation.
Best friend: “My dad is struggling with cancer.” (Hoping to find a listening ear.)
Narcissist: “I know how that feels. My dad too struggled with cancer and when he was in the hospital, I was there for him every single day until the day he died and his last words were about how much he loved me and what a great daughter I was. I totally understand how you feel as I have the same feeling too.”
Former Best friend: “I only wanted a listening ear and now you have stolen the conversation away. Sorry, but I gotta go.”
Narcissist: “Hey, you’re being too emotional here. You’re not the only one who has problems, okay?”
At the end of the day, a narcissist shows little genuine interest in you because you can tell from how the conversation is steered.
3. They love preferential treatments when it comes to rules
If you have a rule, they love getting preferential treatment and expects you to bend or break the rule for their sake.
They can do the following things like:
- Wanting to be first
- Breaking traffic laws if there are no law enforcers around
- Coming to an appointment late (or really late and blaming others)
- Stealing supplies from their work place
- Getting extra chips or onion rings from a restaurant
- Under-tipping (or tipping more in front of friends and family to show off)
- Cutting in line and pretending not to see it
- Asking to be the most important person (like best man or maid of honor)
4. They don’t respect boundaries
They generally don’t connect well with other people’s feelings and hence, do not notice it when they violate other people’s boundaries.
They may constantly call on you for help.
They may do small favors for others only to expect you to reciprocate. And if you don’t, they will call you ‘ungrateful’.
They may borrow things from you and ‘forget’ to return them.
They may say insensitive things without knowing it.
They may even chronically break promises.
They generally show little respect for others unless they are someone important that they need something from.
“You didn’t remind me again – it’s your fault that I forgot my appointment!”
― Narcissist who doesn’t respect boundaries
5. External successful image projection
They may do things that inflate their sense of self worth.
They like impressing others through makeup or expensive clothing.
They might even drive a bigger car or invite them over to their big houses (playing a great host but in a subtle attempt to impress others with their wealth).
These external projections can come in any form – physical beauty, romantic relationships, sexual expression, social climbing, public displays of religiosity, showing off financially, showing an abundance of material possessions, professional accomplishments, cultural knowledge and even showing off their higher education.
The narcissist basically uses anything or anyone – people, status, objects or anything as a status symbol and merit badges to show others that they are ‘better than you’.
They think they are more special than others in general because they have essentially replaced the real self with a projected false image of success, but deep down, they are empty inside.
6. Entitlement enforcer.
Their sense of entitlement is through the roof.
They will rail against waiters if their food comes too slowly.
They may shout at hotel service staff because they know they can get away by being an A-hole.
They generally try and get away with as much as they can emotionally or physically.
They can be a spoilt child expecting things from parents.
They can even be a spoilt parent expecting the child to ‘pay them back’ for raising them.
In essence, everything revolves around them and they expect people to orbit around their every need like a diva.
7. Masters of charming others
This is one of the most powerful acts of a narcissist.
They project unto others what they want the most – hence they can be very charismatic and charming.
They are the masters of persuasion to get what they want especially if entitlement ranks high among their values.
They can make you feel very special – on top of the world with praise and flattery.
They can make you feel like the most important person in their life – until they have no use for you.
They can drop you without thinking twice.
Once they have ravaged your storehouses and your ego, you will have nothing left but a shattered pride.
8. Delusion of grandeur
They have an extremely inflated sense of their accomplishments or self-importance.
They can feel as though others cannot survive without their grandiose accomplishments.
The little they do, they make a mountain out of a molehill.
They can even see themselves as saviors of sorts.
Some philanthropists may even be closeted narcissists too, hiding their need for acknowledgements behind carefully crafted gratitudes they expect from the people they are ‘generously’ donating to.
9. Creating tensions or arguments
There are many narcissists who like to pick fights in order to get attention.
They are masters at it because ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’.
Experts at starting fights, they gain attention by picking apart your weaknesses – telling others how much they have neglected them or ignored them.
Constantly reminding others of their shortcomings and telling them how they failed in their expectations.
Notice how they can be really pissed of if you disagree with their views or fail to meet their needs.
They are also masters of fight or flight because these are powerful fighting tactics that they can use against you.
In fight mode, they are very good at criticizing, judging, ridiculing and blaming you like the emotional abusers that they are.
If they can’t beat you, they will withdraw and withhold from you.
Their egos are very fragile and they will feel taller by cutting your legs.
10. Masters of manipulation and identity extensions
Last but not least, a narcissist is a master to using other people as extensions of their ego or inflating their sense of self.
They can use everyone related to them to accomplish this.
If you are their romantic partner, they might ‘boast’ on Facebook about how great a partner they have and how well they are being taken cared of.
If you are their father or mother, they will tell others how much they are lavished with gifts and being told what a great son/daughter they are.
If they are in a great company, they might boast about how great their working culture is and how much their boss praises them.
If they run a great company, they will let others know how successful they are. (Even when they humble brag, they will do it through telling them ‘how far they have come’).
If they have a great group of friends, they will tell others how great their friends are compared to your friends (my friends are better than your friends).
If they have children, they will treat them as trophies (“Son, if you don’t become a movie star, I will disown you.” or “look at you, you’re so pretty. You’re as pretty as mommy!”)
How many of these points do you resonate with?
Now here’s some good news.
Narcissism is not an absolute thing.
There are various degrees of narcissism and some areas are more narcissistic than others (some might hoard accomplishments but may be kinder when it comes to giving resources).
The key is to recognize what their specific needs are through this quiz.
Once you find that ultimately everyone is just trying to fulfill their needs, it becomes easier once you know what those needs are.