Narcissists are very good at masking their narcissistic traits. They usually create a campaign where their victims are being gradually exposed to their traits.
What can be seen as a little nuisance or an occasional outburst turns into a systematic exposure, which isn’t recognized as such. The victim of the narcissist desensitizes to the nastiness and will come up with excuses for unacceptable behaviour.
I was exposed to narcissistic abuse from my mother and it took me nearly 6 decades to understand narcissism and the full implications on me and my life.
As I had no idea what healthy love looked like, I also attracted a number of narcissistic partners. I learned my lessons and I love sharing my knowledge with you.
If you suspect you are in a relationship with a narcissist, check out the points below.
1. You spend a lot of mental and emotional energy on your partner
Most of your time you are thinking about them and the two of you. You keep on asking yourself:
- Why would they react like this? Are they stressed? Tired?
- What can I do to make them better?
- Was it my fault that we had that argument?
You try to make sense of situations that don’t make sense. The narcissist reacts illogically.
They perceive the world differently from normal people. In other words, you try to apply logic to illogical situations, which of course, will leave you wondering.
And instead of thinking about your career, focusing on your studies, improving your physical health or developing your own business, you spend energy on agonizing over your partner.
2. You feel uncomfortable in their presence
They criticize you constantly. About your appearance, your behaviour, your thinking. Your discomfort is fed by confusion.
You are not sure what to do or how to behave to get the approval of your partner.
One time you talk about your work, they seem interested and engaging. The next time, when you talk about the ‘follow-up’ of the situation you discussed earlier, they seem to have lost total interest.
They might laugh at a joke you tell, next time they tell you off for telling the same type of joke. It feels as if you can’t relax when they are around, because you can’t predict their reactions.
3. Your confidence has gone down since you are with them
You were always bubbly and enthusiastic, you had no problem to do something spontaneously and you felt happy in your own skin.
Since you are in this relationship, your confidence has reduced to such a low level that you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
There seem to be problems and challenges that didn’t exist in the past. You are nervous about making choices now. But you used to have no issue with decisions.
4. You know something isn’t right but can’t put your finger on it
You feel that discomfort and try to find rational reasons for it. But your mind can’t come up with decent explanations. You tell yourself you are making things up and are overreacting. But who is telling you that? That might be your partner.
5. You make up excuses for their behaviour
They give you the cold shoulder and you tell yourself it is because they are tired.
They put you down and you tell yourself it is because they are stressed.
They blame you for something they did wrong and you tell yourself it doesn’t matter.
What you are doing is called ‘cognitive dissonance’.
It refers to situations involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours. You experience discomfort and in order to restore the balance, you change your attitude, belief or behaviour. In other words: you become untrue to yourself.
6. You sacrifice what is important to you to please them
As it happened you are less close to your friends and family.
Your partner keeps on throwing critical remarks about them. Or refuses to spend time with them so you have to go by yourself.
You start to feel a bit lonely and alone and where you had strong and close connections in the past, these have all subsided.
Who could you go to these days if you wanted to confide?
Not only are you alienated from people who were important to you, but you also compromise on some of your values. You might find yourself giving in regularly on important situations, just to keep the peace.
7. You blame yourself for what is happening
You constantly reflect on the relationship and ask yourself what you could do differently to make it better. And what would have happened if you hadn’t made those mistakes, done the wrong thing or said something ‘stupid’?
You approach the relationship from the perspective that it is all down to you and you take full responsibility. You start self-loathing (autophobia or self-hatred), being convinced that you are inferior, bad, worthless, unlovable, or incompetent.
A romantic relationship is always a creation of two people, who should both take 50% responsibility for how it develops.
It is never down to only one of the two. It is a dance where each person play their equally important part.
The relationship with a narcissist is a dance where the narcissist is leading. They decide on the steps, the rhythm, the moves and in order for their partner to follow them they apply interesting manipulation techniques.
Well-known principles are applied to create victim and perpetrator dynamics and according to recent research, the perpetrators, their victims, and the witnesses form together a complex and highly emotive relationship, bound in secrets and silence.
It is tough to break the silence.
But the first step is a recognition of what is happening by acknowledging your feelings and behaviour. If you recognise the above, it is time to look further.
Are you in a relationship with a narcissist? To find out more, just take this simple quiz and then take your next steps.
How about booking a free call with me to discuss your situation? Book here.