If The Person You Love Has These 10 Poisonous Traits, You May Be A Victim Of Narcissistic Abuse

Photo: Getty Images
10 Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships With People Who Have Narcissistic Personality Traits
Self

People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) feel entitled to act however they want. Yet they often deny others that same freedom.

Those double standards can make it disturbing and exhausting to be around narcissists and people with narcissistic personality traits.

The first thing you need to know in order to protect yourself from potential abusive relationships with such people is what a clinical diagnosis of NPD means.

According the Mayo Clinic, "Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism."

While only licensed mental health professionals with the right training and expertise can or should diagnose anyone with NPD (or any other condition), knowing how to recognize certain traits and characteristic behaviors that are telling signs of emotional abuse can help you protect yourself in relationships.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Know If You're Dating A Man With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The following 10 manipulative behaviors are trademarks of men and women with narcissistic personality traits and warning signs that what you're experiencing may be emotional abuse.

1. Outwardly charming, but hellish at home.

Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, they may be magnanimous to outsiders.

But when they come home, they can become demeaning, bullying, and selfish in ways they don’t show in public.

2. Thin-skinned, but thick-headed.

People with narcissism may pout when they are not the center of attention or rage at the tiniest slight.

But when you have needs or hurt feelings, they may ignore your feelings or criticize you for being "needy" or "too sensitive".

3. Obsessed with their image, yet undermining of yours.

They may exaggerate their achievements and talents, telling whoppers that they appear to fully believe. But as much as they inflate their image, they undercut yours.

They may undermine your confidence by second-guessing your decisions.

When it is your turn to shine, they may ignore your success, spoil your big moment with a tantrum, or take credit for your accomplishments.

RELATED: 7 Traits That Make You A Prime Target For A Narcissist

4. Reputation-conscious, but superficial.

Some narcissists may be obsessed with traveling in the "right" social circles and fixated on others’ opinions of them.

Yet, their relationships are often superficial, lacking authenticity and reciprocity.

Many narcissists go through life without having a close friend.

If you depend on a narcissist to be there when you most need them, you are likely to be disappointed.

5. Grandiose, but fragile.

People with narcissism seek winning, praise, superiority, and power. Conversely, they fear the opposites: losing, ridicule, flaws, and weakness. Because of this, they rarely apologize or admit they are wrong.

When someone suggests that they aren’t all they are cracked up to be, their reaction can range from melting into self-pity to volcanic rage.

6. Entitled, but depriving.

They expect affection and approval, yet give it sparingly. Like a parent who, when his child comes home in tears from a painful relationship breakup, abruptly launches into a rant about the person who cut in front of him at the checkout line.

Narcissists’ love and affection are conditional, offered up when you are in their favor but vanishing for reasons that may be hard to fathom.

RELATED: Careful! If The Man You Love Does These 13 Things, You May Be In A Toxic Relationship With A 'Grandiose Narcissist'

7. Combative, but defensive.

Some people with narcissism seem defined by opposition. They pick fights, use sarcasm and personal insults, and always seem to have an enemy. Yet, they can become rapidly incensed if anyone dares to question or challenge them.

8. Righteous, but brittle.

Narcissists need to be right and in the know. They tend to view the world in right-or-wrong, black-and-white terms. They may be obsessed with cleanliness, order, details, rules, or schedules. But if their routine goes off the rails, or if they feel uncertain or humiliated, they may sink into despair or lash out with blame.

9. Attention-hungry, but stingy in sharing the spotlight.

Attention is a narcissist’s drug of choice. When others are talking, they may either zone out or become impatient until they can steer the conversation back to themselves.

Yet, while narcissists seek to stand out like a 5,000-watt bulb, they begrudge others a chance to shine.

If a loved one is in a good mood and a narcissist is not, the narcissist may delight in ruining the other’s mood, almost as though when anything positive happens to someone else, it is the narcissist’s loss.

RELATED: 20 Brutal Signs You're In Love With A Narcissist

10. Emotionally demanding, but clueless.

Narcissists give themselves full permission to rage, sulk, preen, and take up all the emotional air in a room.

Like a relative whose antagonistic behavior ruins a family holiday then acts blameless or clueless, narcissists seem unaware of the pain they cause others.

If you tend to expect compassion, reciprocity, and fairness from others, dealing with narcissists can be mystifying.

However, when you realize that people with narcissism are endlessly fighting to ward off threats to their shaky self-esteem, their behavior is less puzzling.

Knowing this can allow you to adjust your expectations and not take their actions so personally.

Subscribe to YourTango's newsletter to keep up with us for FREE

- Our best articles delivered straight to your inbox
- The latest in entertainment and news
- Daily horoscopes and love advice

Dan Neuharth a psychotherapist, couples counselor and author based in the San Francisco Bay area.​ His book, If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World is a national best-seller that can be helpful to anyone with narcissistic parents.

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.

This article was originally published at PsychCentral. Reprinted with permission from the author.