How To Know If The Person You Love Is A Narcissist

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narcissistic personality disorder

Do you know what to watch out for?

You may already be in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or you may want to know how to be sensitive to it in a new relationship. Either way, it is a good idea to have a sense of how to identify it.

The diagnostic features (a.k.a symptoms and signs) of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) include:

  • a grandiose sense of self-importance
  • a need for excessive admiration
  • a lack of empathy or identification with the feelings and needs of others
  • a sense of entitlement, i.e., an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment and compliance with one’s desires
  • a feeling of envy of others or sense that others are envious of him or her
  • showing arrogant, disdainful, exploitive or patronizing attitudes and behavior toward others.

NPD can also be associated with substance abuse disorders.


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You may notice that these traits are particularly common in adolescents, but they usually do not carry over into NPD in adulthood.

Individuals with NPD do not generally show a tendency toward aggression, though they may get extremely angry if they do not get what they want. Many successful people also display some of these narcissistic characteristics throughout their life without necessarily having NPD. They may appear to be confident, reassured and powerful. However, if these traits persist and cause functional or subjective distress, they are signs of NPD and will lead to problems for themselves and others.

Unfortunately, most individuals with NPD don’t have a desire to change. On the contrary, they often tend to blame others for their distress, making it difficult to confront or treat such persons. There really is no “cure” per se for NPD. So if you are in a relationship with such a person, what are you supposed to do?

First of all, it is important to encourage anyone who displays substance abuse to get treatment for that. It could be dangerous for the individual and those around them if this is not controlled. Check with your community mental health organizations and Alcohol or Narcotics Anonymous for resources in your area.

If you live with such a person and their symptoms persist or become extreme, it can adversely affect your physical and emotional well-being.

Your self-esteem my go down and you may feel helpless or hopeless. You have to be careful of having false hope when your partner apologizes and convinces you to stay in the relationship.

Make sure to have an exit plan so that you don’t allow yourself to get manipulated into staying in an emotionally abusive relationship with this person. Make sure you have people to call on for support, friends or professionals.

Fortunately, the condition of narcissistic disorder may not always be severe. If there is substance abuse and that is treated, there is more possibility for managing the condition.

Here are some things you can do to manage and improve a relationship with someone who has NPD:

  • Acknowledge the narcissistic person whenever you can for their positive behavior
  • Set boundaries on excessive demands or abusive language.
  • Do not respond at length to criticisms or argue back. It is sometimes better to ignore the abusive remarks than try to defend yourself.

Following these guidelines can really help a relationship with someone with NPD.

One woman who had lived with a person with NPD for several years finally got a place of her own and was able to control the relationship more from that place. One night when he invited her over for dinner, she arrived to find that he had not prepared anything and expected her to do it all. She was tired and reminded him that he had invited her to dinner, and she did not want to cook that night. He reluctantly agreed to make the dinner, and it was a breakthrough for both of them.

Above all, it is important to be persistent. If there are other good parts of the relationship, you and your partner can work together to make things better and more enjoyable. Also, don’t forget to look at yourself. Might you be a bit narcissistic as well?


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If you need support in managing NPD in your life or relationship, feel free to contact us at 434-971-4701. Check out our website CouplePower.com, or our book Lifelong Love: 4 Steps to Creating and Maintaining an Extraordinary Relationship.