Yes; you can love a man who loves himself too much. But should you?
Yes, you can love a man who loves himself too much. But should you?
Lucky girl! You scored a partner who is self-assured, confident, and focused. But at some point, you noticed that he’s more selfish than self-assured, and that confidence is actually cockiness. He’s certainly focused—but on himself. In fact, you’ve come to realize that the main thing you have in common is that you both love him.
Narcissism is more than just an irritating quality—it’s a bona fide personality disorder. “Everyone wants to be admired and loved,” says Stephanie Buehler, a psychologist and sex therapist who practices in Orange County, California. “But narcissists are grandiose, overly selfish, and exploitive. They have to be in the spotlight and don’t notice when their partners are in distress.”
So ask yourself: Is it worth maintaining a relationship with such a person? Experts say narcissists are unlikely to change, so the answer depends on how deep his self-love is. “Think of this as a continuum, from having a couple of selfish attributes to being a full-blown narcissist,” says Stacy Kaiser, a Los Angeles–based marriage and family therapist. “The latter are the hardest to have a relationship with, because they are so ‘me’ focused.”
Your partner may preen and primp and adore compliments—but if he also shows empathy, concern about your welfare, and compassion, his positive traits may override his narcissistic tendencies. Just be sure to watch out for extreme behavior that could endanger your relationship—or you.
Not sure where your partner stands? (Besides in front of the mirror, of course!) Take this quiz and find out.
Is Your Partner a Narcissist?
Answer True or False
- He loves accolades, compliments, and recognition.
- He exaggerates his achievements.
- He brags about his prowess as a lover and expects you to lavish praise on his performance.
- Nothing is ever his fault; he can justify just about anything he does.
- Anything you can do, he can do better.
- Anything you know, he knows more.
- He’s charming and attentive with people in positions of power.
- He likes to associate with popular or important people.
- He doesn’t have much time for you because he puts so much energy into his job or a hobby.
- He takes pride in his appearance and is well-groomed.
- His eyes scan the room when you’re talking.
- He can be cold and dismissive to those he thinks are less important or of no use to him.
- He doesn’t notice if you aren’t satisfied after sex.
- If you disagree with him, he disregards your opinions.
- He expects you to always look good.
- If he doesn’t like what you’re wearing, he criticizes you.
- He plays mind games, alternately acting committed and distant.
- He demands what he wants, whether it’s the corner office or the best table at a restaurant.
- He expects people to cater to his whims, wants, and needs.
- He twists all of your arguments to make you seem like the guilty one.
- Even if he is in the wrong, he’ll act like he’s the victim.
- If things are going wrong in his life, he blames anything and anyone but himself.
- He can be mean and insulting.
- He’s a bit of a flirt, or you’ve heard others refer to him as a “player.”
- If he feels someone has put him down, he’s likely to lash out.
Count the number of true statements.
8 or fewer:
He’s a regular guy whose ego lies within normal limits. Yes, he may sometimes be boastful, especially if you answered true to items 1 to 6. And true answers from 7 to 10 mean he might be vain—or simply an ambitious man on his way up the corporate ladder. “A person can display a few narcissistic traits, but not have a full-on personality disorder,” Buehler says. “Our culture breeds these qualities. Think of the audacity of some American Idol contestants!”
9 to 19:
“This is a person who is moderately full of himself,” says W. Keith Campbell, PhD, associate psychology professor at the University of Georgia and author of the book When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself. The key is, he explains, to evaluate how your guy is narcissistic in the context of his overall character. For example, true answers to items 11 to 16 indicate a disturbing lack of empathy and compassion. But false answers to those statements indicate that his positive traits override his grandiose tendencies.
20 or more:
Watch out! Your partner might be a full-blown narcissist—especially if you answered true to many questions from 17 to 25. These statements point to a sense of entitlement or aggression—the nastiest components of narcissism. “In that case, you have cause for real concern, and he could get worse,” says Campbell. “If it were me, I would run like hell, especially if you see signs of violence, infidelity, abuse, controlling behavior, or anger.”