Narcissism is a type of personality disorder where a person has an inflated opinion of himself. While self-love is a very important trait to practice, a narcissist takes this to an extreme. If you are dating a narcissist, then you might find yourself wondering on multiple occasions how to deal with a narcissist boyfriend.
Narcissus had never loved anyone until he saw himself and fell in love with his reflection. He died pinning for this love. While his self-obsession proved fatal for him, it is far less dire for those who are detected with this personality disorder. However, for those who have been in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s a whole different story.
Want to know if you are dating one? Psychologist Juhi Pandey (M.A, psychology), who specializes in dating, premarital and breakup counseling, will help you understand what are the traits of a narcissist, how their minds function and what you can do to deal with them without letting it take a toll on you.
What Are The Signs Of A Narcissistic Boyfriend?
We might assume a person who takes selfies all the time or checks himself out every time he goes past a reflective surface is a narcissist. But that’s not true. Narcissism is a personality disorder where a person loves themselves the most. It’s more than just admiring yourself in the mirror.
“Initially, when you date a narcissist, you may confuse their narcissism for confidence or self-love. It is only after spending some time with them that you might begin to feel that he is just too into himself. He keeps talking about himself, keeps boasting, and wants all the appreciation for just himself. This is a major warning sign that you might be dating a narcissist,” says Juhi Pandey.
Does this ring a bell? Are you beginning to wonder, “Am I dating a narcissist?” Then here are some characteristics of a person with a narcissistic personality disorder to take note of and assess whether you can associate them with your partner:
1. Sense of superiority and entitlement
The most common trait of a person with NPD is his superiority complex. A narcissist believes from the bottom of his heart that he is above the rest. If your boyfriend has a narcissistic personality disorder, then he will come off as being arrogant toward other people. His high self-esteem makes him feel he deserves the best and can act quite demanding and entitled about it.
2. Needs constant praise
You would think that a person with such high self-esteem would not need validation from others. But the fact of the matter is a narcissist’s self-image is dependent on other people’s opinions, and that’s why they need constant approval. They feed off the admiration to feel better about themselves. Their ego is quite fragile and it is easy to make a narcissist miserable by not giving them the appreciation they so desperately crave.
3. Can’t handle criticism
It comes as no surprise that a person with such a fragile ego is unable to take criticism. “Everyone wants love and attention, to be loved, cherished and understood. A narcissist doesn’t understand that,” explains Juhi Pandey, “A narcissist is more likely to react instead of responding when you tell him that you want to be admired and empathized with. And what we want is a response, not a reaction.”
While no one really likes to be criticized, most people can move past it or even take it constructively. A narcissist, on the other hand, abhors criticism. It brings out the worst in them. So, it can be a real struggle to deal with a vulnerable narcissist boyfriend, when you tell him that his pasta lacks garlic or worse if you tell him you make better pasta.
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4. Exaggerating and boastful
Does your boyfriend tend to brag a lot? Well, he can’t help it. As I mentioned before, a person with NPD validates himself through others. Due to his fragile self-esteem, he will do anything to be seen as perfection personified. As a result, he will embroider a lot of things just to appear in a better light in the eyes of others.
5. Taking advantage of people
It can be quite taxing to be in a relationship with a narcissist. While some things you will be able to deal with overtime, some behaviors, however, can be too toxic to handle. One such trait is, taking advantage of people.
When you love a narcissist, there will be times you will find yourself bending over backward to accommodate his wishes. He will charm you, twist your thoughts or just become downright scary to get what he wants.
6. Can’t recognize feelings and needs of others
It is very important to remember that a narcissist’s first love is themselves, not you. While at the beginning of the relationship, it might feel that he is very charming and caring, it is vital to remember that all of it is for his benefit.
It’s not that people with NPD don’t have empathy. It’s just that they prioritize their needs over anyone else’s, even if they trample all over your feelings in the process. As a result, a narcissist, in general, is not able to maintain intimate relationships or sustain long-term friendships.
How To Deal With A Narcissist Boyfriend – 11 Tips
Now that you know what are the traits of a narcissist, it’s equally (if not more) important to know how to deal with a narcissist boyfriend. No one really knows what exactly causes narcissistic personality disorder. However, what we do know is that, despite there being no cure for this condition, it is possible to improve the behavior of a narcissist through therapy.
To love someone, you need to accept them the way they are, warts and all. While all relationships have their problems, dating a narcissist is like a rollercoaster ride. When on a high they can be dashing and suave and can completely sweep you off your feet. On the other hand, it can be excruciatingly painful when they treat you like a doormat. Here are some ideas that will help you smoothen the road and retain your sanity.
1. Praise him
Since he is so hungry for appreciation, praising him seems to be a bit counterintuitive. But here’s the thing, there is nothing like criticism to make a narcissist miserable. And the moment you start disparaging, he is going to stonewall you. No matter how reasonable your argument or well-meaning your intentions, he will just not see it. And things will go downhill real fast.
I am not asking you to praise him for the smallest things and deeds. But when he does do something commendable, then appreciate him for it. He will be more open to suggestions that way.
2. When in a relationship with a narcissist, be empathetic but call him out too
I know, I know. I just asked you to praise him and now I am asking you to call him out. And I bet you feel confused as to what you should really be doing. Let me explain.
Like I said before, praise him when he does something good. When something goes wrong and he is frustrated, then do empathize with him as well. Validate his feelings. But if he starts acting unnecessarily arrogant or condescending because of it, then you need to call him out on it. You don’t have to be harsh, instead be polite and firm about it. It is very important to have healthy boundaries when you deal with a vulnerable narcissist boyfriend.
Related Reading: Exposing A Narcissist – What You Should Know
3. Don’t focus on him entirely, break free
Dating a narcissist changes you. And there is nothing worse than watching a person lose their identity to accommodate the needs of another person. Yet that is what exactly happened to Julia.
Julia had fallen for Eric hard. He was fun, interesting, intelligent, and could make her laugh. She couldn’t believe she had landed such an amazing guy and wondered how come no one had already scooped him up. Eric had told her that he was diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder. But Julia felt she could easily handle a narcissist. So what, if he likes to check himself out in the mirror every half hour? That is not a big deal. However, three months into the relationship, Julia couldn’t recognize herself anymore.
What had started as a wish to help him work through his problems had now turned into a snake strangling all her aspirations. It was as if he had changed right in front of her eyes. The intelligence and humor that had so charmed her had now become a tool to put her down in front of people in an attempt to glorify himself. Unable to take the humiliation any longer she stopped meeting up with people altogether. In the blink of an eye, she had been isolated.
Julia tried to be supportive of him. She celebrated his highs and let him lean on her when he was down and out. She truly felt for him. Yet day by day it became more about him and less about her, until one day she realized, from the coffee she drank to the movie they watched, to the bed they shared, all were his choices. She realized she had to break free of this vicious circle or she would completely lose herself.
Juhi Pandey says “Narcissists can be so self-absorbed that they will just forget that you too need love, admiration and appreciation. You would want these things, and if your needs are consistently unmet, the relationship becomes unhealthy. In such situations, it’s better to part ways.”
When you love a narcissist, there will come a time you will realize that your whole life has become about catering to his needs. When that happens, take a leaf from Julia’s book and break free.
4. He won’t take things lying down
If your boyfriend has a narcissistic personality disorder, then be prepared to face resistance every step of the way. If you think that you will call out his bad behavior and he will see reason and willingly accept his flaws with maturity and grace, then boy are you in for a big surprise.
He will fight you tooth and nail. Be prepared to get your words used against you. He will point out flaws in your theory, be sarcastic if not downright mean to you. He might even block you out altogether. The important thing to remember is not to lose your calm and persevere. Behavior correction is a slow process. If you really want to help him out, then you will have to hold your ground.
5. Stand strong when he projects on to you
Juhi Pandey says “Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be very traumatic. A person who has narcissistic personality disorder will have a lot of mood fluctuations which impact the relationship.” And this is exactly what Myra experienced first-hand.
Myra and Han had been together for two years now and it was getting increasingly difficult for Myra to hold herself together. Han and Myra worked in the same office. She met Han during a team dinner and by the end of the day she was harboring a huge crush on him. He seemed so charismatic and brilliant. All eyes were always on him. As a result, she was absolutely shocked when she realized Han had set his cap on her.
They dated, had fun, and were soon in a relationship. A few months later he asked her to move in with him, Myra was ecstatic. Yes, she felt things were going a bit too fast, but she told herself when a person is right for you then time doesn’t matter. She moved in and for a while, everything was beautiful, until one day Han informed her that he had quit his job. That’s when everything went for a toss.
Han expected Myra to maintain their extravagant lifestyle even though she was the only one earning and he had no savings because of which Myra had taken up a second job. When she talked to Han about this, he said he needed it to maintain his image in front of his peers and to get good job prospects.
Yet when it came down to getting a job, he barely got off the couch. If Myra on the other hand got a promotion, then he would accuse her of being unlucky for him and taking away all his luck. If he ever got rejected in the few interviews he’d go to, then he would blame Myra for not working hard enough to make him look good.
Fortunately, for Myra, she had a few good friends who understood her plight, did an intervention, and got her to break up with Han. But not everyone is that lucky.
It is you and only you who is responsible for your actions, no one else. If your boyfriend has a narcissistic personality disorder, then he will at one time or the other project his insecurities onto you. Stand up to him and say “I don’t think so” or “I disagree.” He needs to know he just can’t take you for a ride.
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6. Action speaks louder than words
The thing about narcissists is they lay it on thick. They are smooth talkers and will promise you the moon and the stars, but when it comes down to action, you will find them seriously lacking.
If your boyfriend has a tendency to overstate or inflate situations and you find yourself asking, “Am I dating a narcissist?”, then you most probably are right. Do yourself a favor, and don’t fall for his words. Let him prove it to you in action.
7. Don’t let him get to you
It can be heart-breaking to be in a relationship with a narcissist. A narcissist will hurt you in ways you never thought possible. Yet the biggest mistake you can make is to show your hurt. It’s not as if he is devoid of empathy, but he is more likely to use your weakness against you at a later day. In his spite, he will hurt you more, and there are some hurts there is no going back from.
8. If your boyfriend has a narcissistic personality disorder, get him help
A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder. And like any disorder, it should not be ignored. An undiagnosed narcissist can have certain self-sabotaging behaviors that end up harming those around him. And the worst part is, he won’t even realize it.
Encourage your boyfriend to seek therapy. Even though NPD is not curable, it is treatable. It just takes a lot of time and patience to hang in there until he learns to manage his narcissistic tendencies. Therapy will help him understand himself better and work on himself. And there is nothing more rewarding than that.
9. When you love a narcissist get help yourself
You are not a saint. You are a normal human being. And it’s human to be at your wit’s end when you deal with a vulnerable narcissist boyfriend regularly. Dating a narcissist changes you even without you realizing it at times. You could read all the books and do all the right things but you might still snap.
Before you burn out and hurt yourself, it is better to seek help yourself. After all, you are fighting a long battle, and you deserve all the help you can get.
10. Know when it’s time to get out
There are some battles in life you just can’t win. It is a good idea not to even pick up these battles. And if you are already in it, it is very important to recognize when it is time to leave a relationship.
Dating a narcissist is difficult as it is. They can be very hurtful at times. However, some narcissists tend to get verbally or even physically abusive. If you are in such a relationship, then you need to get out of it. It’s time you took care of yourself.
“It is possible to be in a relationship with a narcissist, but it’s extremely rare to be in a healthy relationship. A person who is in a relationship, will not find appreciation or understanding. You might love him a lot and are willing to overlook his traits, but you are a human being too and deserve to be loved as well,” says Juhi Pandey.
11. Know who you are
To be in a relationship with a narcissist you need a lot of patience, understanding and self-control. If you are a person who is generally trusting in nature and a sensitive soul, then dating a narcissist will destroy you.
I know you love him a lot and are willing to do what it takes. But he will just turn you into a doormat. And you don’t deserve that.
Juhi Pandey concludes “ When you love a narcissist there are a lot of upheavals, and it can affect your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, and it is best to distance yourself from him. But if you love him to the point that you can’t give up on him, then accepting him for who he is without any expectation. Acceptance is the only way.”
It is said love can move mountains. I think tectonic plate movement moves mountains. But no matter what we think, we can’t deny that loving a person with a narcissistic personality disorder is a herculean task. Yet, he too deserves love.
So, love him. Love him with all you got. But more than that, love yourself. Only your faith and love in yourself will help you cross this storm that is your narcissist boyfriend.
A narcissistic man will exude confidence and be charismatic. He will have an assortment of people around him who he will call his friends, but their relationship will be superficial. A narcissist will surround himself with people who feed his ego or make him look superior.
Narcissistic people have an inflated sense of their own importance, and a deep need for attention and admiration and abhor anything that can be remotely perceived as criticism. He will do whatever it takes to keep the ‘idea of himself’ intact in his head as well as in other people’s eyes. Even if that means he has to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him. He will have little to no concern for anyone else but him.
Dating a narcissist can be really challenging and if you are not careful, the relationship can become highly toxic very fast. A person with NPD will have very little thought for your wants and needs. Their sense of superiority can stem from an inferiority complex. As a result, there might be times when he will project his insecurities onto you. To date a narcissist, you need to have nerves of steel and the willpower of titanium.
A narcissist is good at manipulating the people around him to get them to fulfill his own agenda and as a result, they are also good at perceiving and expressing emotions they want to. That being said, it’s not that they are devoid of feeling. They are capable of loving you, it’s just who they are. They love themselves more.
With therapy, he will be able to identify his negative traits and work on them to manage them better. And eventually, be capable of having stable relationships.
In short. A narcissist will not take a bullet for you, but he will definitely take you to the hospital and nurse you back to health after being shot by the said bullet. Unless there is a constant barrage of bullets, in which case, I am sorry to say but, you are on your own.