It can be difficult to determine whether you are in a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists can be very charming and manipulative, and when they make an effort they can make you feel like you are the centre of their world. However, there are certain warning signs that can indicate whether your partner is a narcissist and that you are experiencing narcissistic abuse.
Warning signs of narcissistic abuse:
You always feel like you are walking on eggshells around your partner. You never know what will trigger their anger or abuse. The slightest thing can set them off, so you find yourself second guessing yourself about every little decision you make.
Your partner is excessively critical. Nothing you do is ever good enough and they find fault with everything you do, no matter how small. As a result you feel you can never please them, and they use your mistakes as ammunition against you.
They are extremely jealous and possessive. This means that they may try to control who you talk to and what you do. You also may suspect that they have been checking your phone and your email without your permission.
You heard on the grapevine that they have a history of abusive behaviour. Rumours are that they were physically, emotionally or sexually abusive to their exes or to other people in their life.
They often threaten or openly bully you, saying things like, “I’ll leave you if you don’t do what I want,” or, “I’ll hurt myself if you leave me.”
They try to control your behaviour and choices. For example, they may tell you what to wear or who to spend time with. They use guilt or shame to manipulate you to do whatever they want you to do.
Your partner will never accept that they are wrong, and if you ever try to suggest that they are, they will punish you in some way or another. They always find a way to justify their behaviour, even if it is clearly abusive. Inevitably, they must always have the last word, and will belittle or invalidate your feelings and experiences.
They are extremely entitled. Consequently, they expect you to do everything for them and to always meet their needs, while they never return the favour.
Wherever you go, your partner must always be the centre of attention. They may be excessively charming or flirtatious with others.
You are often surprised at their lack of empathy. They never seem to care about anyone else’s feelings or concerns.
Your partner always tries to control the conversation. They may interrupt you or change the subject when you try to talk about your feelings. Clearly, their favourite subject is talking about themselves.
You have lost touch with your friends and family. Your partner may have alienated you from the people who care about you.
You no longer feel like yourself. Your sense of self has been eroded by the constant put-downs and criticisms.
Do not ignore these red flags
If you are in a relationship with someone who exhibits any of these warning signs of narcissistic abuse, it is important to get help. Narcissistic abuse can be extremely damaging to your mental and physical health. It erodes your confidence and sense of self. The narcissist can brainwash you and psychologically take up residence in your brain, making you feel like you are going crazy or that you are to blame for the abuse.
There are many resources available to help you deal with narcissistic abuse and get the support you need – you can start with the Narcissistic Abuse & Recovery section of this blog and the narcissism glossary. You could also talk to a therapist or counsellor about what you are experiencing. You deserve to be in a healthy and safe relationship, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise