Remember the mythological story of Narcissus?
Narcissus loved no one except himself. He wanted love, attention, and praise from everyone. He shunned the love of the beautiful wood nymph Echo and by doing so angered Nemesis, the goddess of revenge.
Nemesis attracted Narcissus to a pool of water, whereupon seeing his own image in the water, fell in love. Narcissus could not tear himself away from his own visage and therefore died drowning.
A mythological story of warning to those who fixate on themselves, and where the words “narcissist” and “narcissism” come from.
We are living in an “it’s all about me” day and age. To an extent, this is healthy, because you should always have you and your best interests at mind first and foremost. Some people, however, take this behavior to extremes. Narcissists of today have been bred and groomed by modern conveniences and external stimuli such as social media.
Are you dating a narcissist? Here are 6 tell-tale signs your mate just might be one.
1. Very charismatic and charming
The narcissist is one of the most charming people you will ever meet.
He (or she) will dazzle you with his smile, impress you with his knowledge, and tell you wonderful stories all about himself to pull you in. You are almost immediately attracted to him and his whirlwind of self-importance.
You might even feel privileged that he is giving you this attention, which will make you work for more of his attention.
The narcissist will also chase after you with a passionate fire unlike no other. Once he has you, however, that’s a different story. The attention soon shifts all onto him and you find yourself working to keep him around.
2. Jumping through hoops
Once the narcissist has you in a relationship, then the unwritten and unspoken rules start to surface.
It’s almost like a game of sorts, and unfortunately, you are his unaware and willing participant. You will find yourself jumping through imaginary hoops for him. In his mind, it is all about pleasing him.
His feelings and ego are easily bruised, but he has no concern for you or your feelings. He will grow impatient and angry if you show sensitivity to his words and actions. You soon learn to hide or shut them off.
3. The world revolves around him
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you may notice everything in the relationship revolves around him. They desire and crave that spotlight in every area of their lives. It helps to build up the ego of self-importance.
Did you get a promotion at work? Thank him, because without him in your life you would have never gotten it.
Even if you have something you want to do, he will twist it around to make it sound as if it were his idea or make the activity all about him.
Celebrating your birthday? He will take you out where he wants to go to celebrate. Your gift might even be something he can benefit from.
4. Cannot handle criticism – King of the twist
Any and all slights, real and imaginary, on the narcissist are viewed and dealt with as an attack on them personally. A narcissist is never wrong.
Criticism undermines the false shell of perfection he has built up around him.
He will twist your words, the situation and your perception of what happened, and soon have you believing whatever happened is yours or even someone else’s fault. He is perfection personified, in his mind.
5. One way listening
When you both are in a discussion (or argument), the narcissist will only listen to you so he can either negate or minimize what you’ve just said, argue with you, or just like above, turn it around on you. This is commonly referred to as unilateral listening.
When he does start to talk, his sentences in the conversation will most likely start with “But”, “Wait a minute” or “However”. You will also most likely feel defeated and exhausted by his tactics.
6. Controlling boundaries and outrageous sense of entitlement – he can do things but you can’t
One thing to always remember if you are involved with a narcissist is that you can never, ever treat him the same way as he treats you. Everything he does is for his own personal pleasure and ego.
For example, if you find out he cheated, he will come back with a twisted (refer to #4) justification as to why he is allowed to do this, but you cannot. You would completely bruise his fragile ego (refer to #2) going outside of the relationship to have your needs met, even though he is not capable of truly fulfilling any needs but his own.
His relationship, his rules. He might even tell you if you don’t like it, you can end the relationship. By this time though, you’re so invested in the relationship, you give into the narcissist and his twisted ways.
If you get in too deep with a narcissist, you can find yourself feeding off of and filling yourself with false hopes and dreams of someday earning and deserving his love and affection.
You might even start thinking in your mind that maybe one day you will do and/or say the right things to make this roller coaster stop. You start to live in a fantasy world. He may even pull a few of your friends into his whirlwind of bullshit and elevated self-importance.
This is when you know it’s not love anymore, but almost like an obsessive game of cat and mouse.
Warning: A true narcissist will not think or believe anything is wrong with him (refer to #4) so chances of him changing or getting help are slim to non-existent. You cannot change him, but you can change how you react to him and his behavior. This might ultimately lead to you saying enough is enough and ending the relationship.
My best advice would be to check out the following books, as they helped me when I found myself in love with a narcissist. If that doesn’t help, then please seek professional help.
Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist – Steven Carter & Julia Sokol
Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed – Wendy Terrie Behary LCSW