Do you suspect that a partner or person you’ve just met has a narcissistic personality? If so, the narcissistic behaviors listed below will help you to decide. Typically, we’ve been with our partner for quite a while before we begin to investigate the behaviors that have been giving us that nagging, uncomfortable feeling that something isn’t quite right. For many (myself included), it’s this length of time that becomes our biggest regret as well as the biggest obstacle to our acceptance of the fact that this person that we love has a narcissistic personality disorder. I mean, who wants to believe that?
As we’re all aware, this person could be a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, mother, father, sibling, child, friend, or co-worker. Narcissism covers the gamut of human pathological relationship possibilities and has no geographic or demographic boundaries. In other words, they’re fucking everywhere.
Recognizing Narcissistic Traits (Red Flags) in Someone New
Now, if you’re people-savvy enough to be reading this article before or during the initial stages of a relationship, then good for you. I didn’t begin my investigations until the eight-year mark of my involvement with a narcissistic boyfriend and this fact boggles my mind even today [See my book When Love Is a Lie for details].
Beware of the following Red Flags that indicate narcissistic traits or tendencies:
- You met him ONLINE or it appears that all of his exes were women that he met online OR he has several active online dating/social media profiles. The anonymous world of online dating and/or social media (particularly, FaceBook!) is a safe-haven and notorious stomping ground for textbook narcissists and sociopaths. I would go so far as to guess that 7 out of 10 males that you might meet anywhere online are narcissists and sociopaths.
- A infamous narcissist tactic is that he/she will come on very strong right away, wanting or showing the willingness to spend 24 hours/day together. This is often referred to as love-bombing. Within days of meeting, you may even hear the words “I love you” or “You’re my soul mate” or “…we finish each other’s sentences” or “You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met”. And sex with a narcissist is usually deliberately wonderful. When you’re not together, he’ll send lots of texts “just checking in”.
- He/she refers to at least one ex as a psycho or as someone “who just can’t/couldn’t let go”. You may even be told that the relationship became sexually incompatible or that the ex was a selfish person. You may even hear that this ex still bugs him and that he’s had to ignore calls or change his phone number because of it (this is a HUGE Red Flag because you’re next!). The ex who “still” bugs him is the usually the one he is cheating on with you.
- Even though he has his own place, he seems to like to spend a lot of time at your residence and somehow it always ends up that way (even if the date starts out at his house). There’s a reason why he prefers you two not be at his place right now.
- He/she showers you with gifts from the start (part of love-bombing) OR you find that you are paying for everything. Either way, it’s a Red Flag. If you have to pay for things, the excuse usually is something like “I didn’t get a chance to cash my check” or “I’ll make it up to you this weekend” or “I’m kinda short on cash but I’d really like to see you” OR (as my ex actually stated) “Wow…I’m sure glad you’re not one of those girls who expects me to pay for everything. I hate that.” (I should have excused myself to the ladies room and snuck out the front door!)
- The time you spend together is, for the most part, just the two of you. Although he may mention the names of friends in passing, you haven’t met any yet and he hasn’t expressed any interest in introducing you to them OR he’ll say, “I kinda like it being just me and you right now.”
- When a narcissist shares a story about himself, it’s usually a story describing something someone else did to him. If he talks about past jobs, the reason he was let go or fired was NEVER his fault and he sees nothing unusual about having many past jobs that he can say this about.
- It’s AMAZING how many things you have in common with this person you’ve just met. Trust me, no one has that many things in common with an absolute stranger. Beware of hearing too many responses that being with “You’re kidding! Me too!”
Recognizing Narcissistic Traits in a Long-Time Partner
- There are times his cell phone is off for long periods of time or he’s seems to always be out of cell minutes or he has a tendency to leave his phone in his car “to charge” or on vibrate when he’s with you or your calls seem to always have to go to his voice mail first before he calls back or when he does call, the background is unusually dead silent or hollow-sounding (indicators he has had to go elsewhere to call you). In addition, if you question any of this, he quickly brushes it off as no big deal and states that you’re making a big deal out of nothing.
- If YOU, for whatever reason, don’t answer your phone or respond to a text, a narcissist will become greatly offended or accusatory and may even subject you to a silent treatment as a punishment for not being available.
- He will change his cell phone number for no reason at all. With a narcissist, this typically means he is trying to avoid the calls of someone else he’s been seeing and is now blowing off.
- There will be unexplained disappearances and unexpected reappearances and he will become highly annoyed if there are repercussions or questions about any of it. If you think about it, it’s as if he pushes a relationship reset button whenever he feels like it, fully expecting to continue on as if he’d never been gone.
- He gives illogical and even ridiculous excuses when questioned about anything and nothing about any of it rings true. After awhile, it appears that he may even lie when the truth is a better story just for the sake of lying in general and this is exactly what a narcissist does to confuse you about what’s true and what isn’t so that you’ll eventually stop questioning everything! If pushed, a narcissist will use the tactic of plausible denial, twisting the truth and/or denying everything and admitting to absolutely nothing (even with evidence front and center) until he is blue in the face.
- He becomes highly accusatory for no reason and nothing you can say will dissuade him from his rant. This Red Flag can be used to your advantage because whatever the narcissist is accusing you of is usually precisely what he’s up to at any given time.
- He keeps a distance between you and his family and even if this isn’t openly apparent, you can simply sense it.
- He seems to have a completely different persona in the out side world and others may see him as a really funny guy. If he does have friends and co-workers, he spends a good amount of time talking badly about them to you behind their back. This Red Flag is also a give-away. Is there a girl at work that he talks a lot to you about but in derogatory tones…how annoying she is, how he can’t stand working with her? That’s the one he’s probably interested in.
- A narcissist will create chaos about nothing just to start trouble. This is particularly apparent on any occasion that is celebratory for you (i.e. birthdays) and also on holidays. He/she may even disappear at the same time every year. I call this tactic the Narcissist’s Seasonal Discard. If this happens regularly for any amount of time (my ex disappeared every October until after New Years for 13 years!), you can be fairly certain that he’s spending this time at his other place of residence with the person that he discards to be with you during the rest of the year!
- You’re starting to feel manipulated into asking no questions about anything this person says or does no matter how illogical it sounds. Manipulation is the key here because a narcissist can be very passive-aggressive. You’re reality is being created by a Narcissist Puppeteer and he’s very good at what he does! Executing this manipulation successfully is how a narcissist manages down your expectations of the relationship until he is able to do just about anything he wants and still return to your open arms.
Trust your intuition! Trust your gut feeling! The above are only a handful of the narcissistic ploys and tactics that a potential partner or a long-time partner or spouse can display to give themselves away – but don’t let too much time pass trying to figure it all out. If you suspect that something is up or if stories suddenly don’t make sense or sound even the slightest bit logical, confront! If the answers given aren’t good enough or if, more than likely, this person refuses to answer you at all or if you’re subjected to punishments simply for asking the question, it’s time to get out of this relationship or nip in in the bud before you get hooked.
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Lingering in the confusion and continually giving this person the benefit of the doubt leads to the type of codependency to hope that gets us nowhere. Narcissists are everywhere and they are the most patient of demons. A victim’s unhappiness is how the narcissist measures his control and he has all the time in the world to watch you suffer.