11 Signs You Have A Narcissistic Wife

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In the discourse around narcissism—a personality type characterized by tendencies like selfishness, lack of empathy, and a high need for admiration — most people focus on men. However, this personality disorder isn’t gender-specific. Being married to a narcissistic wife can be an uphill climb during a storm, as NPD and relationships don’t really mix well.

While you may have been dealing with your spouse’s unrealistic demands and tantrums under the pretext of “I guess that’s just married life” all along, a part of you knows all too well that this is not what a healthy relationship feels like. It’s time to stop hushing that voice inside and acknowledge the problem. Only then will you be able to recognize narcissistic wife signs and take the first step toward defusing the inevitable tension that may arise in your marriage.

We’re here to help you understand what the signs of a narcissistic wife look like and how to deal with them effectively in consultation with emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney), who specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief, and loss.

Who Is A “Narcissistic Wife”?

Ever had that one friend who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with herself and a master’s degree in manipulation? Well, imagine being married to her! A narcissistic person takes self-absorption to a whole new level within the context of a controlling marriage. She’s all about herself, her needs, and her desires, and she expects everyone around her, especially her spouse, to cater to her every whim.

It’s like living in a constant one-woman show, where she’s the star and you’re just a prop. At their core, the three “E”s, as psychologists term, them, encompass narcissistic behavioral patterns: exhibiting an addiction to feeling superior, lacking in empathy, and being exploitative. Basically, all the signs your wife doesn’t respect you. That’s also why narcissistic wife cheating is quite a common occurrence.

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“One of the most frustrating aspects of being married to a narcissistic wife is that everything revolves around her. It’s always her needs, her problems, her need to feel loved, and her achievements that take center stage. You can’t have a conversation without it eventually turning into a monologue about her fabulous accomplishments or her never-ending list of grievances. Your opinions and feelings are often brushed aside or belittled as if they don’t matter at all. It’s like living with a perpetual spotlight shining solely on her, leaving you feeling invisible and unimportant”, says Pooja.

These issues get augmented manifold in an empath and narcissist marriage, which is often the case. Being in a relationship with a narcissist can drain the life out of you because,

  • You may find yourself constantly walking on eggshells, afraid to say or do anything that might upset her delicate ego
  • She thrives on attention and validation
  • Any perceived criticism or disagreement can set off a storm of rage and manipulation
  • A relationship with her is a constant battle between keeping the peace and maintaining your own sanity
  • Living with a self-obsessed wife often feels like being trapped in a never-ending game where the rules keep changing and you can never win

As a result, you may find yourself desperate for an answer to, “How do I survive a narcissistic wife?” The sooner you’re able to realize what it is you’re dealing with, the sooner you’ll be able to figure out how to have a relationship with a narcissist. The first step is to understand and recognize all the narcissistic wife traits, and we’re here to help you with that.

Related Reading: 8 Signs of Covert Narcissist Hoovering And How You Should Respond

What Are The Signs Of A Narcissistic Wife?

Understanding the signs of an egocentric personality might be useful simply because they can show up in the most unexpected of circumstances. The worst part is you may even try to shrug the irrational behavior off as something that happens in a marriage. The effects of being married to a narcissistic woman include coming to terms with hostile treatment that you shouldn’t be dealing with in the first place.

If you often find yourself questioning, “How do I survive a narcissistic wife abuse?” or “Can a narcissist feel love?”, understanding where her attitude and behavior stems from may give you much-needed perspective on how to navigate your marriage in a way that’s least damaging to you. Let’s take a look at some classic signs of narcissism:

1. She will be fiercely competitive

A healthy sense of competition is good, but a narcissistic partner will be constantly in competition mode, be it with her coworkers, friends, or other women. Everything turns into a competition, and the casual game nights on Friday don’t end up being the most “fun” experience ever because she’ll do anything to be one up against everyone else.

She wants to be the center of attention and may have an insatiable desire to be the prettiest and most successful woman in every gathering. One thing is for sure, she is definitely a woman with expensive tastes. What she views as special, she wants to be reserved only for her – be it the latest Birkin or Fenty beauty makeup kit.

A narcissist wife will be competitive
You might have recurring fights with a narcissist wife

2. She may compete with her daughters

When the mother struggles with a lack of empathy, grandiose ideas of self-importance, and a belief that they’re entitled to special treatment, building healthy family dynamics becomes an insurmountable challenge. It is especially distressing if the dynamics involve a narcissistic wife-codependent husband partnership. Sometimes female narcissists end up competing with their daughters as well. Especially when the daughter is coming of age, there can be subconscious, subtle jealousy that can turn into resentment over time.

Narcissism can lead to an extremely dysfunctional dynamics with the partner and the family, here are a few examples:

  • Disrupted family dynamics: A narcissistic woman’s self-centeredness and need for constant attention can disrupt the harmony and balance within the family, creating an atmosphere of tension and emotional volatility
  • Narcissist emotional manipulation: Such a woman often employs narcissist emotional manipulation tactics to control and manipulate family members, using guilt, gaslighting, and other techniques to maintain power and dominance within the family unit
  • Low self-esteem in family members: Living with a narcissistic woman can lead to diminished self-esteem and self-worth in family members, as their needs and emotions are consistently disregarded or belittled, fostering a sense of unworthiness and self-doubt

3. She is incredibly defensive

Each of us probably knows someone like that, a person who doesn’t take too kindly to any criticism about themselves but, at the same time, takes a no-holds-barred approach to doling out criticism and making their disdain evident. It is one of the most evident insecure narcissist traits.

“A narcissistic person would generally be defensive because they see themselves as perfect and don’t see or perceive that there could be something wrong with their behavior. They often blame their victim and, in their heads, consider themselves the perfect person who means well and is certainly not an emotional abuser,” says Pooja.

In a marriage, such a partner can be impossible to have a conversation with. If you are arguing with your narcissistic spouse, do not expect any honesty or willingness to listen from her. She can’t tolerate criticism, even if it’s constructive or kind. That’s why, being with a narcissist can have a negative impact on you. They may even resort to toxic ways to defend themselves. Narcissistic wife abuse stings like a thousand bees, we know!

Related Reading: 15 Signs You Had Toxic Parents And You Never Knew It

4. Classic sign of a narcissistic woman: She will be overly concerned with appearance

An obsession with looks and the desperate need to portray a fabulous image to the world is a classic narcissistic wife sign. They seek approval from the world though they may give off a vibe of being supremely confident with high self-esteem. But, deep down, she’s just an insecure woman who thrives on validation, and garnering it from all sources even through superficial means is one of the easiest ways to get their fix.

This is an underrated sign on the narcissist red flag checklist, especially as far as women are concerned because their vanity rarely invites scrutiny, thanks to societal stereotypes. However, once you start paying attention, you will notice how exaggerated the sense of vanity is in your woman. That’s because these traits have nothing to do with gender but are signs of a narcissist, notorious for extravagantly spending on themselves to fulfill their heightened self-importance.

Of course, this sign in itself doesn’t warrant you asking the question, “Is my partner a narcissist?” since your spouse can just have an interest in looking her best without necessarily being a narcissist. However, if she does, in fact, suffer from this disorder, this trait will inevitably be coupled with other narcissistic wife signs.

5. She loves materialistic things

Designer clothes, cars, handbags, and jewelry, she can never have enough of these. In pop culture, a penchant for the high life has often been glamorized (think Kim Kardashian and her fame-obsessed family), but in reality, it can be hard to sustain. The effects of being married to a narcissist wife can extend to your financial health as well. In its extreme form, it could even amount to financial abuse. Narcissism hidden in materialism could look like this:

  • Masking insecurity through materialism: She may attempt to conceal her insecurities by using extravagant purchases such as designer clothing or luxury accessories, to create a false sense of worthiness and validation
  • Temporary relief, not a cure: While material possessions may provide temporary relief, they do not address the underlying insecurities. The need for external validation persists, and the cycle of seeking validation through materialism continues
  • A desire for envy and attention: She seeks to be the center of attention and craves the envy of others. Acquiring expensive items becomes a way to assert her status and dominance, fueling her need for admiration and validation

6. A wife with vulnerable narcissist traits will be jealous

A self-centered wife is jealous of other women, your friends’ wives (especially if they are high achievers), your family (if they don’t give her enough importance), and the world in general. This happens because narcissist behavior stems from the assumption that they’re entitled to special treatment and attention no matter where they go. When the spotlight isn’t on them, they get jealous and may even want to leave the situation.

Even if she doesn’t leave in the middle of it, you can be sure she’s going to have a lot to say on the drive back. Do you see her having endless parties that inevitably turn into gossip sessions? Basically, she loves to get together with her posse of friends and talk about people behind their backs. It’s a way of proving she is superior to others.

Related Reading: 11 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship

7. A narcissistic woman loves drama

Since narcissists love hogging the limelight and feeding off the reactions of others, drama is one of the terrible effects of being married to a narcissistic woman. The female narcissist is known to indulge in dramatic histrionics. When she has to defend herself if called out, she will constantly hark back to the past, often adding more details to the memories than originally existed.

narcissist quiz

The drama she brings into your marriage is one of the strong signs of a narcissist. You will notice in her an incomprehensible ability to induce drama into even the banalest conversation. She may go from talking about her day to accusing you of berating her or causing her mental or even physical harm since narcissists also like to play the victim card.

8. She loves pitting people against one another

Ever wondered why your mother and your wife have always been at loggerheads with each other? Or why do your friends and relatives have problems with her? One trait of female narcissists is that they have a predisposition for animosity toward friends and family members. Why? Insecurity. Are narcissists insecure? Yes. The insatiable desire to control everything has insecurities at its root.

They may carry tales about one person to another, often embellishing their stories with drama and gossip, knowing fully well that it will trigger a problem. Apart from being one of the toxic wife signs, it could also be a sign that your wife is manipulative.

9. A narcissistic wife uses her sexuality to her advantage

As the title of the beautifully twisted novel by Nico Denoir suggests, Narcissists don’t make love. “They like to be in control and often derive pleasure from giving or withdrawing sex or affection. They may choose to use their sexual charm to manipulate people outside of their marriage. It is harrowing for husbands to deal with such situations because to a wife suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder gaslighting comes naturally and they will make them feel like a paranoid husband”, says Pooja.

If you notice your spouse indulging in inappropriate flirtatious behavior to get attention, watch out. Here are a few patterns you need to be aware of:

  • Manipulative seduction: She may use her sexuality as a tool for manipulation, leveraging her attractiveness to control and influence others to fulfill her desires or gain a sense of power and superiority
  • Emotional and sexual exploitation: She may exploit her partner’s emotional and sexual desires, using seduction as a means to extract validation, attention, or material benefits, often without genuine emotional or physical intimacy
  • Power play in relationships: She may employ her sexuality to assert dominance and maintain control within the relationship, using it as a weapon to manipulate and exert power over her partner, fostering an imbalanced and unhealthy dynamic

10. She has a disregard for boundaries

narcissistic wife traits: she will dismiss your boundaries
She will dismiss all your boundaries

A narcissistic woman is so obsessed with herself, her needs, and her space that she does not have any respect for others’ boundaries. She operates from a sense of ownership over everyone. Your phone won’t be your own, your personal time doesn’t exist and the things you need are mere suggestions to her, it’s always her way or the highway.

“Is my partner a narcissist?” Asked a reader from Wisconsin, adding, “Every time I suggest something, she scoffs at the idea of us not doing what she wants to. It’s like I’m not allowed to express my opinions or even exercise my wants, it’s always whatever she wants. In my head, I do everything right but it’s never good enough for her. My partner makes me feel like a bad person!”

Narcissist women can truly ace the selfish spouse test with flying colors. They’d do anything to please themselves. Basically, you’ll be taken for granted at every step of the way. One of the most heart-breaking effects of being married to a narcissist wife is that you start feeling lonely in your marriage.

11. Signs of a narcissistic woman: She will stonewall you to manipulate you

When you have a fight with your wife, a classic way to get back at you might be to give you the silent treatment. A male narcissist may blow up in anger or become verbally aggressive and abusive, but a woman may punish those she deems as having wronged her (including her husband) with the narcissist mean-nice cycle. She may also want to “teach her husband a lesson” by withholding sex. Both these actions can be forms of emotional abuse and may end up turning into physical abuse and significantly damaging the partner’s psyche.

What are the characteristics of a narcissistic woman? Now that you know the answer to this question, you may have realized that what you have on your hands isn’t just a generally selfish partner, but someone struggling with a personality disorder. However, it’s important to understand that you cannot accurately diagnose this – or any – mental health condition on your own.

Though you may have noticed signs of a wife with vulnerable narcissist traits, only a licensed professional has the capability of diagnosing her with NPD. Nonetheless, the existence of the signs of a narcissistic woman does imply that there’s trouble afoot. The next step then becomes trying to figure out how to deal with a narcissist wife.

Related Reading: How To Make A Narcissist Miserable – 13 Things To Do

How Do I Deal With A Narcissistic Wife?

If these signs were a selfish spouse test, do you see your wife getting straight As? It is surely going to be a hard pill to swallow. You may feel sorry for yourself, give in to anger, or even feel frustrated about the hand you’ve been dealt. A natural question would be, “How do I know if my wife still loves me?” and the answer to that would come down to how well you know your wife.

This answer will help you in your endeavor to figure out how to deal with a narcissist wife. “It is often seen that self-obsessed people end up with highly dependent ones, resulting in a classic empath-narcissist relationship,” says Pooja. And a narcissistic wife-codependent husband partnership makes for a toxic cocktail.

As you struggle to come to terms with the possibility that you have a narcissistic wife, it may seem like you’ll never be able to curb – or even get used to – your spouse’s behavior. But if walking away is not an option, what should you do to survive narcissistic oppression? How to talk to a narcissist about your feelings? Here are some useful tips:

1. Pick your battles wisely

A narcissistic woman is forever ready to shift the blame to others. If you feel insulted by every barb or taunt designed to make you feel small and unimportant, you will be wasting a lot of energy. “One can clearly state that any communication that happens has to be within the limits of decency and mutual respect.

“If they continue to be abusive, you could even withdraw physically or emotionally from the situation. Tell your self-obsessed wife clearly that if they want your attention, they’ll have to respect your rules and boundaries. Try to establish methods of conflict resolution,” says Pooja.

If you’re living with a narcissist wife, you can’t give into any fight she brings up. Sometimes, it’s okay to ignore the fight and walk out of it if the basis isn’t worth fighting over. However, if the subject is something important like your children or your well-being, make sure you hold your ground.

2. Draw boundaries early on

As you saw, one of the biggest narcissistic wife traits is that she’ll have no respect for boundaries. One effective way of dealing with her is to draw a line in the sand about what is acceptable to you and what’s not. “Setting boundaries in your relationship can help to a great extent. But this also depends on the nature of her narcissism, how acutely you feel the effects of being married to a narcissist wife, and how open she is to accept that she has been in the wrong and mend their ways,” says Pooja.

If she has a habit of putting you and your career down in an effort to praise her own, call her out. It might not always have an impact but constant reiteration of boundaries may lead to some course correction. Likewise, a toxic narcissist wife won’t have much regard for your personal space. She might go through your phone if she deems it fit and won’t care much about the space you asked for.

The narcissistic marriage problems may make you feel like you’re taken for granted and that you’re not respected. Make sure you let this person know that you’re not going to stand for disrespect, but it’s also important to not be hostile while standing up for yourself.

Related Reading: How Not To Fall For A Narcissist And Suffer In Silence

3. Practice self-care

Dealing with an egomaniac can be emotionally draining and it’s essential to prioritize self-care. Make a conscious effort to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. The key is to make a shift from thinking about what makes a narcissist happy to what would be healthy for you. Here are a few tips for you to cope with toxicity and keep your sanity:

  • Set aside dedicated “me” time: Carve out specific time in your schedule that is solely dedicated to self-care. Whether it’s a few minutes each day or a more extended period once a week, use this time to engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and rejuvenation
  • Prioritize your physical health: Take care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in regular exercise. Physical well-being is closely tied to emotional well-being, and by taking care of your body, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with dealing with a narcissistic spouse and build up your self-esteem
  • Engage in activities that nourish your soul: Identify activities that bring you peace, fulfillment, and happiness, and make them a regular part of your routine. It could be engaging in a creative hobby, spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or anything else that helps you feel centered and connected to yourself
  • Seek social support: Surround yourself with a support system of friends and family or support groups who understand your situation and can provide a listening ear, advice, and empathy. Spending time with people who genuinely care about you and uplift your spirits can offer a much-needed respite from the challenges of your marriage
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Recognize that you’re dealing with a difficult situation, and it’s normal to have a range of emotions. Treat yourself with the same kindness, understanding, and patience that you would extend to a close friend going through a challenging time
Toxic wife

4. Use “We” instead of “I”

A narcissistic woman is all about the I-me-and-myself, but when you are approaching her, try the “we” route. Perhaps you want to make up after an argument. Since expecting her to make the first move or apologize is futile, you take it upon yourself to mend fences. Involve her in the reconciliation process and remind her of the common goals of marriage and how it hurts when she makes it all about herself.

So, instead of saying things like, “I hate it when you don’t care about what I’m saying” try to say something like, “We don’t treat each other well, and it’s not doing us any favors.” A narcissist wife is only going to care about your marriage problems if she can see how they’re affecting her negatively too.

failing marriages

5. Do not give in to attention-seeking tactics

When your wife throws a tantrum or starts complaining, it might be an exaggeration resulting from her love for drama. Do not give in to her attention-seeking tactics all the time. Your self-worth is equally important, and it is her insecurity that is leading her to behave in an inappropriate and disrespectful way. Take time off and maybe even a break from the abusive relationship.

When you’re married to a female narcissist, it’s important to put yourself first. If you think you need a break from the relationship for a while, so be it. Here are a few reasons why putting yourself first is undeniably important:

  • Protect your mental and emotional well-being: Refusing to give in to the toxic tactics of a vain wife helps safeguard your mental and emotional health, preventing the erosion of your self-esteem and preserving your sense of self-worth
  • Maintain personal boundaries and autonomy: Resisting the manipulative tactics allows you to maintain your own boundaries, asserting your autonomy and preserving your individuality within the relationship
  • Foster healthy relationships: By not succumbing to toxic tactics, you create space for healthier and more balanced relationships in your life, promoting emotional well-being and allowing for genuine connections based on trust, respect, and mutual support

Related Reading: First Year Marriage Problems: 5 Things Newly-Wed Couples Fight About

6. Therapy is always an option

If you’ve established that you’re married to a toxic narcissist wife, meaning, someone whose self-involved ways harm your mental or physical health, it’s important to understand that this condition must require continued psychotherapy and medicine to control.

“My wife is a narcissist and the emotional abuse was harming my mental state,” John told us. “Every time she brushed off my concerns and belittled me, it ate away at my confidence and self esteem a little more. I started feeling like I don’t like being married. Eventually, once I started taking therapy for myself, I realized it was pertinent for her to go to therapy as well. It takes a lot of effort and, frankly, superhuman patience from me, but we’re managing to work through it.”

  • Professional help can provide you with valuable insights into narcissistic behavior, helping you better understand the dynamics of your relationship and how to navigate them
  • Therapists can teach you practical techniques and coping strategies to manage the challenges and emotional turmoil that come with dealing with a narcissistic spouse.
  • A mental health professional can validate your experiences and provide a safe space for you to express your emotions, helping you feel heard, understood, and supported
  • Working with a therapist can help you build resilience, boost your self-esteem, and regain a sense of self-worth that may have been eroded by the manipulative behavior

Instead of trying to tell her that there’s something wrong with her, frame it as a “we” sentence. “We will definitely benefit from a few sessions of couples therapy” instead of “you need therapy” can do wonders. If you’re married to a female narcissist and you’re looking for a professional mental health therapist to guide you through the road to recovery, Bonbology’s panel of experienced therapists will be glad to help you.

Key Pointers

  • Narcissism is a personality disorder marked by excessive need for admiration, lack of empathy, constant need for attention and validation, and a tendency to manipulate and exploit others
  • To deal with it clearly communicate your needs and expectations, and be firm in enforcing them to protect your own welfare
  • Reach out to trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can provide guidance and validation, and help you navigate the challenges of your relationship
  • Take care of yourself physically and emotionally, engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and prioritize your own well-being

Dealing with a narcissistic wife needs loads of patience and constant work on building your self-worth. This might clash with your own sense of ego and you need to preserve your own energies while surviving in such a marriage. But these personality traits can be such that they may lead you to a downward spiral if left unchecked. So, if you’ve found that your wife exhibits all (or most) signs of a narcissistic woman listed here, it’s imperative that you address the elephant in the room. We hope our expert-backed tips will help you along the way.

This article was updated in June 2023.

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