Are you dating a narcissist?

By David Joel Miller.

Can you spot the narcissist in your life?

dating a narcissist

Is he a narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can result in long-term emotional damage. Much has been written about the consequences of relationships with narcissists. There are books about healing from the damage narcissists can do. Some people report having had multiple relationships with narcissistic others.

How do narcissists manage to appear so wonderful at the beginning of relationships? Do you know the signs to watch for to spot a narcissist? How long does it take for a narcissist to reveal they’re true nature?

People in recovery from relationships with narcissists have reported that in the early stages of dating, the narcissist is a great deal of fun to be with. On average, it took seven dates for the narcissist’s true nature to appear. Unfortunately, many people had begun sexual relations with the narcissist before the troubling aspects appeared. They often did not realize what they have gotten into in time.

It’s important to know that there are several kinds of narcissism. In psychology, sometimes the term narcissism describes people who are high in self-confidence. In mental health, pathological narcissism is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There’s a world of difference between being in a relationship with a strong, assertive person and having a partner who only thinks about themselves.

First date with a narcissist.

People who sought treatment for the consequences of being in a relationship with a narcissist reported that in the beginning, the narcissist appeared agreeable, competent, intelligent, confident and entertaining. The narcissist is often a very good dresser. They’re likely to surround themselves with expensive things, fancy cars, extravagant homes, luxury possessions, rather than practical items.

When the narcissistic problems appear.

By the seventh date, the problems were apparent. The narcissist began acting arrogant, overestimating their abilities, bragging and hostile. Pathological narcissists consider themselves successful with the opposite sex because of having had many serious relationships. Often they were dating and sleeping with, multiple people at the same time.

Highly narcissistic people experience more extreme emotions. While emphasizing how strongly they were attracted sexually, they had high levels of jealousy and obsessed over their partner.

Relationships with narcissists are characterized by being full of turmoil and are high in instability.

Most narcissists are men.

The characteristics that define narcissism are traits that have traditionally been valued in men. The narcissist is all about being important. The have a high need for admiration. Grandiosity and self-centeredness are other defining characteristics of narcissism. Narcissists are competitive, but for them, competition is all about winning. Some high self-esteem is a good thing, but having too high an opinion of yourself results in toxic relationships.

Women who score high narcissistic traits.

Some women score high on personality tests for some narcissistic characteristics. Rather than being important, women tend to emphasize being close. They’re likely to be overly invested in others. As a result, women are more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder.

It’s common to find dependent people, those with low self-esteem, attracted to narcissists. In the early stages of the relationship being with this fabulous other makes them feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, they rarely realize they have begun a relationship with a narcissist until they are so deeply involved they find it impossible to leave.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (F60.81.)

By David Joel Miller.

Pathological Narcissism.

Proud peacock.

Narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

When certain patterns of behavior, or your inner experience, become continuing, pervasive, and inflexible and deviates from what your culture expects, you may have a personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder involves an extreme need for admiration, delusions of grandeur or grandiosity, and a lack of empathy.

This particular disorder is rarely diagnosed because those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder do not believe there is anything wrong with them. Lacking empathy, the narcissist blames their problems on others. What brings the narcissist to therapy is most likely extreme impairment in social relationships or a deteriorating job functioning.

One great paradox of narcissists is that despite their beliefs in their superiority, they often are very vulnerable to challenges to their self-esteem. Narcissists need to feel they are better than others in order to feel okay about themselves. This dichotomy results in a high sensitivity to criticism. They often meet perceived attacks with rage.

Even when forced into counseling, the narcissist likely will continue to insist that the problems are caused by others. The DSM lists nine characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. Having five or more of the characteristics is required to receive the diagnosis. I have paraphrased these from the APA DSM-5.

1. Excessive self-importance, grandiosity.

They expect that everyone will recognize their superiority to others. The narcissist boasts, brags, and exaggerates their accomplishments and are shocked when other people do not recognize their superiority. There is an exception to this if they actually are superior. As the saying goes, it’s not bragging if you can do it.

2. They live in a fantasy world of power and success.

They are preoccupied with fantasies of limitless excesses, absolute power, unrivaled beauty, and brilliance, or ideal love. Narcissists are prone to compare themselves favorably with famous people.

3. The narcissist has a firm belief that they are better than others.

He believes that he should only associate with other superior beings. They expect to attend the best schools, drive the best car, and live in the best neighborhood. Believing they are better than others, they are quick to find fault with the accomplishments of others.

4. The narcissist can’t live without the worship or admiration of others.

Narcissists are often desperate for recognition from others. They expect to be the center of attention and are shocked when others don’t notice them. Narcissists will fish for compliments and be insulted when they feel underappreciated.

5. The narcissist believes they deserve special treatment.

Because they believe they are superior to others, they expect their needs to receive the highest priority. They have a sense of entitlement and a belief that the rules should not apply to them. They see themselves as too important to have to wait for their turn or to stand in line.

6. Give the narcissist a chance he will use you to meet his needs.

Given his sense of entitlement, it’s not surprising; narcissists have no qualms about using others. Sometimes this is a lack of sensitivity, but it may also be rooted in their belief that they are more important and deserving than others. Don’t expect a narcissist to feel guilty for taking advantage of others.

7. Empathy is foreign to narcissists.

The narcissist is incapable of seeing things from others point of view. He can’t see why the feelings or needs of others should matter and expects others to be fully committed to meeting his needs. While they will talk at great lengths about their concerns, they will have no patience to listen to the problems of lesser beings.

8. Narcissists feel entitled to the most and the best.

The narcissist believes others hate him and are jealous. He believes he is entitled to the biggest and best. If someone else has something of value, the narcissist believes it should belong to them.

9. The narcissist excels at arrogance.

The narcissist criticizes everyone. They are quick to use derogatory labels such as stupid, lazy, fat, and rude.

Having read those nine characteristics, you probably have a pretty good mental picture of a narcissist. While I referred to the narcissist as he, it is possible to encounter a narcissistic she also. Some of the characteristics of this and other personality disorders sound like immaturity. To use the personality disorder label, we require that this disorder first begins in early adulthood.

In adolescents, these characteristics may not be fixed and would be described as narcissistic traits. In the adult population, it is estimated that up to 6% of the population have severe enough narcissistic traits to receive the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. About 75% of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are men. One possible explanation for the high rate of narcissism in men is our culture’s emphasis on competition and winning. More on that in an upcoming post.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder overlaps and co-occurs with depression, especially Persistent Depressive Disorder, and hypomania in bipolar disorder. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often also have Histrionic, Borderline, Antisocial, and Paranoid Personality Disorders.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until those future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Questions about Narcissists?

By David Joel Miller.

Has a Narcissist caused you pain?

Proud peacock.

Narcissist.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you have experienced a narcissist in your life, you know the pain they can cause. Growing up with a narcissistic parent can affect the rest of your life. Dating a narcissist can undermine your self-esteem. Narcissists make very poor relationship partners. Narcissism was once a very rare diagnosis, over the last couple of decades, the problems of narcissism have been on the rise. Narcissists are often attracted to people with low self-esteem. This increase in the number of narcissists and the way the words narcissist and narcissism are used is creating more questions than it has answered. In this blog post, and some future ones, let’s take a look at the challenge of narcissists.

This increase in the number of narcissists and the way the words narcissist and narcissism are used is creating more questions than it has answered. In this blog post, and some future ones, let’s take a look at the challenge of narcissists.

What’s with all this talk about narcissism?

You may have noticed the word narcissist and discussions of narcissism has been coming up a lot lately. It shows up in news reports, blog posts, comments, and increasingly in the literature about relationships. From the way, the word narcissist is being used; it is clear that various people have very different ideas about narcissists. Because of the things I have read recently about narcissism I’ve been looking at the research into narcissism. The research is very inconsistent, and clearly, the authors are talking about different things.

The word narcissism appears to be the victim of both overused and imprecise use. In future posts, I want to explore what narcissism is and why it looks differently in different circumstances. Our exploration of narcissism will require a series of posts. I will work these posts in as time and space permit.

First the questions about narcissism, with a brief explanation, and then some links to help you find the variety of narcissism you would like information about.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a recognized mental illness with a very specific set of criteria. This diagnosis is one of extreme, pathological levels of narcissistic characteristics. Most therapists rarely use this diagnosis. It is most likely to come up in criminal justice work where the client is also a prisoner, accused of or convicted of a serious crime. Narcissistic Personality Disorder frequently co-occurs with several other diagnosable mental illness. Other kinds of narcissistic behavior are frequently described and sometimes treated by therapists, despite not meeting the criteria Narcissistic Personality Disorder. More on this condition will be in an upcoming blog post.

What is a narcissistic relationship partner?

Some relationship or couple’s therapists use the term narcissistic partner to describe the way one person may act in a relationship. If you been in the relation with the narcissistic person, you know how painful it can be. When relationships break up, many people describe their ex as narcissistic and uncaring. The term narcissist is sometimes used as a synonym for selfish and self-centered behavior. Your partner’s behavior may range anywhere from mild narcissistic thoughts and actions to extremely high levels of narcissism. Both people in the relationship may become more narcissistic with time as they teach each other these thoughts and behaviors.

Why are people with low self-esteem attracted to narcissists?

Therapists see a lot of clients who have been in abusive relationships. Many of these people grew up in homes with a caregiver who was emotionally unavailable or abusive. As adults, these individuals often find themselves attracted to people they later described as narcissists. Many people would describe themselves as having low self-esteem and have been in multiple relationships with partners who they would describe as narcissists.

What is the connection between charisma and narcissism?

Several research studies have described the phenomena of charisma. While not all charismatic people are narcissists, when you first meet them, narcissists are often very charismatic. It can take a long time to see through the charisma and recognize the narcissism.

Why are so many middle and upper managers high in narcissism?

Narcissism in one form or another is common in managers. In the short run, narcissistic managers can produce some amazing result. Some are successful over the long haul. Very narcissistic managers can also create human wreckage, high turnover, and some spectacular failures.

What is trait narcissism?

In the field of psychology, there’s been a lot of research on a thing called trait narcissism. This trait connects to a lot of other personality characteristics. People who are low in self-esteem are low in trait narcissism. When we treat people with low self-esteem, as their self-esteem rises, so does their level of trait narcissism. What the psychology field means by trait narcissism and what mental health means by Narcissistic Personality Disorder are very different concepts.

Can narcissism be a good thing?

People who are high in trait narcissism have more self-esteem and self-confidence. Some of this research suggests that too little narcissism may be causing emotional and mental disorders. If some narcissism is a good thing, we need to know when narcissism is useful and which narcissistic characteristics are good ones.

How can you spot a narcissist?

When you’re initiating a new relationship, you can expect people to put their best foot and best face forward. Before you get into a new romantic relationship, it could be useful to spot the signs that this person is a narcissist. If you’re doing the hiring, you might want to take another look at a narcissistic job candidate before you hire them and they demolished your organization.

Can you think of any other questions about narcissists and narcissism we should ask?

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                       Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books