SIGNS OF A NARCISSISTIC PARTNER AND HOW TO ESCAPE

Marriage can be challenging, but being married to a narcissist can be emotionally, spiritually, and financially draining. Plus, if your partner is dealing with other mental health or personality disorders, it can be very dangerous.  So how do you know if you are married to a narcissist? 

Here are the most common signs to consider that you are married to a narcissist:

  1. Lack of Empathy: Narcissists often struggle to empathize with others. Some do not exhibit genuine concern for your desires, feelings, or experiences. While others pretend to care, at least in the beginning of the relationship, until it’s not working for them any longer. The mask will come down, and it will be made clear that you only matter to prop up their masquerade.  It will be made clear that you and your needs do not matter.
  2. Constant Need for Attention: A narcissistic partner craves constant admiration and attention. They want to be the center of your world.  They put on their masks in public and strut around bragging about aspects of their life and achievements.  Look at me…I’m great because I have ….  You get the idea.  They often have this odd stare when gloating about themselves and their achievements. 
  3. Manipulation: Narcissists are skilled at manipulation, especially the female variety. They often use subtle threats, harassment, or coercion to get what they want.  They are relentless.  You tell them no and they come at you over and over again.  The narcissist refuses to lose.  If block them on your devices, they will mail you a letter repeating their same nonsense. 
  4. Feeling Inadequate: You might feel like you’re never good enough and everything you do is wrong. You are darned if you do, darned if you don’t.  In the least, narcissists tend to put their partners down and make negative comments.  Sometimes it goes far beyond words to the point of escalating where they use destruction of your property, your reputation, and your relationships with friends, family, and co-workers all in an effort to keep you down so you will not leave them. 
  5. Self-Centeredness: Everything revolves around them. They have a sense of entitlement.  They should or shouldn’t have to do things based on whatever excuse they make up.  They use any opportunity to justify why they should have their way at the expense of others.  Often, their happiness comes from external sources like work prestige or money. They will flash their success, contacts, spouse, etc. to draw other unsuspecting victims into their web of lies and deceit because it is all about them.
  6. Difficulty Accepting Criticism: Narcissists struggle with criticism. They do nothing wrong, so how dare you point out that they need therapy or to stop doing something that is harmful and disrespectful to you.  They may become defensive or lash out when confronted. Beware!  The claws come out!  If you feel like you are being attacked, you are!
  7. Exaggerated Achievements: They constantly brag about their accomplishments, often to the point of extreme exaggerating. And they play it up and put on a big show.  They will have this strange look on their face as they seem to light up as they brag.  They say things like, “Look at what I am doing…”  They brag even if it is something minute like changing a child’s diaper or picking up the dry cleaning.  When they do anything for someone else, they want massive attention, so they play it as if they found the cure for cancer.
  8. Entitlement: The narcissists believe they are special over everyone else.  They often feel entitled to special treatment and privileges.  The rules do not apply to them.  In fact, they often believe the rules are specifically meant to be broken.  They are a KING!  How dare anyone try to tell them what to do.  They will demand special treatment and you better give it to them or else.
  9. Arrogance and Conceit: They display haughty behaviors and attitudes without any rhyme or reason.  They think they are the boom!  Even if they do not verbalize their arrogance and conceit, it is known by their actions.  So, if you are shaking your head asking yourself why are they so arrogant, it’s because they are a narcissist, plain and simple.  They believe they are great, just because.
  10. Lack of Emotional Connection: A narcissist will leave you wonder if they are even capable of feeling romantic love or emotional connection.  The answer…they are not.  They have learned to pretend they love you.  Over their life, they watch TV and people and learn how to fake a connection.  But they cannot keep it up for long after the wedding day because it exhausts them.  Shortly after the wedding, they will do a 180 on you from loving and caring to rude, cruel, and cold behavior.  You are on their web now.  Do for them or else.
  11. Self-Control and Rage: To get what they want, they will resort to any tactic that renders their objective, including anger, control, and violence.  This is the last resort or ultimate tool that they use to force you into submission.  They want you to always be in fear.  It gets them what they want and gives them a feeling of power.  They get a rise out of having control and seeing the fear in your eyes.  Be careful!
  12. They’re Suspicious: The narcissist is likely hiding things from you, like cheating, drug use, finances, and more.  Since they are doing things secretly, they assume that you are, so they track your moves and limit where you go and who you see.  They want an account of your every move.  This is not normal behavior in a relationship; however, they are not normal. 

Dealing with a narcissistic partner (lover, parent, friend, co-worker) can be an incredible challenge, emotionally damaging, and very dangerous, but there are tactics you can employ to protect yourself and maintain your well-being.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Set Boundaries: If you haven’t already, as soon as you realize you are dealing with a narcissist, establish clear boundaries and communicate them assertively. You will have to draw the line in the sand quickly.  Let your partner know what behaviors are unacceptable and what consequences will follow if those boundaries are crossed.  Of course, the narcissist will ignore your boundaries and see them as a challenge to break.  Whatever you told them not to do, they will do it 100 times more and bigger!  If you block them on your cell phone, they will call your work, send an email, leave a note on your car, and so on.  You don’t tell them what to do!  They will show you who is in control!
  2. Self-Care: It may seem selfish, but you must make yourself your main priority and exercise self-care. Narcissists can drain your emotional energy, so make sure to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Spend as much time as possible away from them by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.  However, once the narcissist gets wind of why you’re away, they will use tactics to uproot your joy and/or relaxation.  They cannot stand to see you doing things for yourself.
  3. Seek Support: Create a support network for yourself.  Reach out to friends, family, clergy, and/or a therapist and inform them of your situation.  Having a support system is crucial when dealing with a narcissistic partner. Talking to someone who understands your situation can provide validation and guidance.
  4. Educate Yourself: Learn, learn, learn!  Take the time to learn about narcissism and its traits anyway that you can.  There are great books, videos, blogs, etc. to provide you with the information.  It is so important to understand the dynamics of narcissistic behavior in order to help you navigate the relationship more effectively and protect yourself and your children.
  5. Avoid Engaging in Power Struggles: Narcissists thrive on conflict and control.  They look for the opportunity to attack you based on their style and motive.  They attack you in public when they are trying to destroy your reputation and in private when they are trying to protect theirs.  Instead of engaging in arguments, focus on maintaining your own emotional stability. Their arguments never end until you cave in, which should not be an option, so choose your battles wisely.  When the argument (manipulation) starts cut it off with something like, “I am done with this discussion.  I agree not to agree.  Let’s move on to a different topic.”  Now the narcissist sees this as a challenge, so get ready.  They will think for a second (you’ll see it in their eyes) as they search their mind for the next tool in their arsenal.  Be ready because it’s coming.  They may use gossip, lies, violence, and so on. 
  6. Detach Emotionally: You MUST understand that you cannot change a narcissist. Therefore, the best recourse is to detach emotionally from their manipulative tactics. Always pay attention while practicing mindfulness and emotional distancing. Do your best to disengage. 
  7. Document Incidents: Document, document, document.  You must keep a record of incidents where your partner displays narcissistic behavior no matter how slight.  Keeping recordings, photos, calendars, logs, etc. can be helpful if you need evidence for the police or your attorney and/or if you decide to seek a mental health professional, doctor, and/or minister.
  8. Seek Professional Help: Even though narcissist never change, you may consider couples therapy or individual counseling to be certain that you are not going crazy.  A narcissist rarely agrees to going to therapy because they don’t want to be exposed and blamed for the problems.  Also, they don’t want their partner to be released from the brainwashing that they have worked so hard to perfect.  However, a therapist can guide you through coping strategies and help you decide the best course of action.
  9. Financial Independence: If possible, maintain financial independence. You must have a nest egg hidden somewhere that cannot be discovered by your partner.  A narcissist may (most likely will) use financial control to manipulate their partner.  If you can, WORK and SAVE your money, do it.  Open an account that your partner is unaware of and have the bank send statements to a trusted family member or a secret email account.  I know, it sounds sneaky.  But to escape from under the grips of a narcissist, you must learn to plan, prepare and be stealth.  Remember, you are their lifeline, so watch your back!
  10. Exit Plan: If (more likely when) the relationship becomes unbearable, have an exit plan. If you can, start by having a consult with a matrimonial lawyer, (especially if you’re married or have shared assets).  A good attorney can help you get out as safe as possible.  However, depending on the extreme nature of your narcissist, it could be more dangerous.  Contact your local domestic violence shelter.  Call the police and make reports each time your partner physically harms you.  Precure a protective order from your local court.  If needed, leave town, and stay somewhere your partner cannot find you.  Stay safe!

Remember that no one should have to deal with a narcissist.  But narcissists do exist, and they trick people into relationships.  It is not your fault.  They targeted you.  Your kind heart believed.  Don’t beat yourself up.  You deserve a healthy and respectful relationship. Learn as much as you can about this mental health disorder and prioritize your well-being.  You must seek professional advice from an attorney, law enforcement, and financial institutions, as well as, family and friends.  Good luck and stay safe.

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