When you can spot the top 7 signs you’re dating a narcissist you can save yourself from lots of confusion and heartache.
Spotting the 7 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist
When you’re dating a narcissist, there may be a lot of signs of their narcissism. Some of these may be obvious like someone who is obsessed with themselves. However, most of the signs of narcissism are not so obvious. Many of the signs of narcissism are sneaky or hidden such as gaslighting or emotional abuse.
Learning how to spot the top 7 signs you’re dating a narcissist will help protect you.
#1 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: You Usually Feel Confused in the Relationship
When you’re dating a narcissist, it’s natural to feel confused. The rest of these seven signs or narcissism will naturally make you feel uncertain.
Narcissists can confuse your reality with their gaslighting and inconsistency. This will make you struggle to know what the “truth” in your relationship is. You may frequently wonder if you’re asking for too much or if you’re being too sensitive. And the narcissist in your life will likely be willing to reinforce your self-doubt. They will often dismiss you or minimize your needs or concerns leading to more confusion around reality.
#2 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: It Feels Like You’re Dating Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about a kind man, Dr. Jekyll, and his cruel alter ego, Mr. Hyde.
When you are dating a narcissist, you may feel like you are dating two separate people. You may think that there’s the “good” and “bad” version of your partner. Sometimes, your partner may be loving and shower you with kindness and attention. Yet in the very next moment, they may become critical, cold, or distant.
Dating a partner who is inconsistent with their words and actions, especially if they alternate between kindness and cruelty, is a top sign you may be dating a narcissist. This will naturally leave you feeling confused as well.
#3 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: Everyone Else is the Problem
When you first start dating a narcissist, it’s not uncommon for them to tell you that all their exes were “crazy.” When they describe previous relationships, a narcissist’s narrative is that they are completely without fault. They will blame everyone else for all the relationship problems.
Over time, this narrative will include you. Whenever the narcissist does something wrong or hurtful, it will be your fault. They were only hurtful because you upset them. Or you are being too sensitive, and they were only “joking.” They may say you’re too emotional or dramatic. Whatever their reasons, they will not take accountability. The relationship problems will be all your fault. Of course, this isn’t the way relationships work.
Relationship issues are co-created and the narcissist’s narrative that it’s all your fault is never true.
#4 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: Your Partner Makes Empty Promises to Change
When you’re dating a narcissist, you may find yourself stuck in a painful and exhausting cycle. At times, you may feel hopeful that the narcissist in your life is finally getting it. After a lot of conversations and tears, your partner finally apologized and made promises to change.
You feel hopeful and relieved that perhaps, finally, your relationship is getting back on track. However, these changes never last long and they start hurting you in the same way all over again.
This is because for narcissists, words are cheap. It’s easy for them to charm you with their words but they struggle to follow through with real change. This is precisely because they struggle to take accountability and often blame others for all the relationship issues.
#5 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: You Keep Wanting to Go Back to the “Real” Version of Your Partner
When you first start dating a narcissist, they are often amazing. You probably felt incredibly connected to them and wanted. A narcissist will often make you feel like the most desirable and interesting person early on. It’s common when dating a narcissist to think that the early days of dating were “perfect.” This is because you felt truly wanted and connected to them. However, this is part of the love bombing stage.
Love bombing is a form of manipulation. It acts to confuse you about who the narcissist is when they begin to mistreat you. Over time, a narcissist will begin to say hurtful comments or act disrespectfully. However, when this happens, it’s easy to buy into the narcissist’s excuses that it was your fault, or they were just tired or busy. This is because you may believe that the “real” version of your partner is the one you met early on. If so, you will be driven to get back to this “real” version of your partner who was amazing.
#6 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: You Do All the Giving
The longer you’re with the narcissist, the worse their treatment of you becomes. However, due to their manipulation and gaslighting, you may start picking up the blame for their mistreatment. A common sign you’re dating a narcissist is if you believe that your partner will be nicer if you change.
This can lead you to obsess about how to make them happier and how to be better for them. You may also feel afraid to speak up or set boundaries with them because you don’t want to “add more stress” to their lives.
You may also feel guilty if you think about leaving the narcissist out of love and a desire to not “abandon” them. This leads to a cycle in which you do all the giving (and silence yourself) to try to keep the narcissist happy. Unfortunately, the cycle of mistreatment will continue by the narcissist because their mistreatment of you regardless of what they say isn’t your fault.
#7 Sign You’re Dating a Narcissist: You Don’t Know Who You Are
Narcissistic abuse is never your fault. However, a clear sign you may be dating a narcissist, is how you feel about yourself. If you struggle to know who you are, this is a sign you may have codependency. In The Codependency Workbook, I explain, “A key symptom of codependency that I hear time and again is people feeling like they’ve lost themselves, or never knew who they were in the first place.”
If you are experiencing codependency, please know it’s not your fault. Typically, codependency develops because of trauma growing up and sometimes, in adulthood.
Unfortunately, as Ross Rosenberg explains, codependents and narcissists act like “human magnets” for one another. The symptoms of codependency which include self-doubt, poor boundaries, and people pleasing are attractive to a narcissist who wants to manipulate others. Again, this is not your fault. But if you find yourself with a narcissist, you will benefit from exploring if you have codependency. If so, the best path forward if you’re dating a narcissist is to focus on yourself and your recovery from codependency.
It’s Not Your Fault if You’re with a Narcissist
If you have found that you are in a relationship with a narcissist, please know their abuse is not your fault. No matter what they say.
Please know you can recover from narcissistic abuse. For many, this may mean eventually leaving. However, if the narcissist in your life authentically wants to change, you may be able to recover together. But it’s necessary that the narcissist wants to change because you cannot force or control their healing. It’s also important that they seek therapy as recovery from narcissism is a complex process.
You may also support your healing journey whether with the narcissist, or alone, by recovering from any codependent symptoms. When you know, and love, yourself more the relationship with the narcissist will inevitably have to change.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
She is currently working on her book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. To submit your relationship questions, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Instagram.
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