Narcissists can be seductive and charismatic. In fact, a study showed that his pleasant appearance was only penetrable after seven meetings. But you don’t want to fall in love with one. Over time, you can end up feeling ignored, neglected, and unimportant. Typically, a narcissist’s criticism, demands, and emotional unavailability increase, while their confidence and self-esteem decrease. You will try harder, but despite your pleas and efforts, the narcissist seems to disregard your feelings and needs.
narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) occurs more in men than in women. As described in “Do You Love a Narcissist?” someone with NPD is grandiose (sometimes only in fantasy), lacks empathy, and seeks admiration from others, as indicated by five of these summary characteristics:
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance and exaggerates achievement and talent.
2. Dreams of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Requires excessive admiration
4. Believes that he or she is special and unique, and can only be understood or should be associated with other special or high-status people (or institutions).
5. Lacks empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
6. Unreasonably expects special and favorable treatment or performance from others
7. Exploits and takes advantage of others to achieve personal ends
8. Envies others or believes they are envious of him or her.
9. Has “an attitude” of arrogance or acts that way
How does a narcissist behave?
Basically, this looks and feels like someone who puts himself above everyone else. However, you may not notice it at first.
Narcissists often like to talk about themselves and their job is to be a good audience. They may never ask about you, and if you offer something about yourself, the conversation quickly returns to them. You may start to feel invisible, bored, annoyed, or drained. On the other hand, many narcissists are charming, beautiful, talented, or successful. Therefore, you can be fascinated by their good looks, seduction or fabulous stories. Keep in mind that some narcissists who excel at seduction can come across as very interested in you, but that fades over time. Flattery is also a means to seduce you.
GRAND AND SPECIAL FEELING
They not only want to be the center of attention, they also brag about their achievements and try to impress you. When you first meet, you may not know the extent of your hype, but it probably is. If they haven’t yet achieved their goals, they can brag about how they will, or how they should have more recognition or success than they do. They do it because they need constant validation, appreciation and recognition.
Because they like to associate themselves with high status, they may name celebrities or public figures and then meet them. Likewise, they may drive an expensive car and wear designer clothes, brag about their school, and want to go to the best restaurants. This can dazzle you, as can his charm, but it’s really a symptom of his need for an attractive façade to hide the emptiness beneath. A simple, intimate restaurant that you prefer will not meet your standards or give you the public visibility that you seek.
LACK OF EMPATHY
Although some people who are not narcissists lack empathy, this trait is a crucial and defining symptom when combined with a sense of entitlement and exploitation. Notice their expression when describing sad stories or reactions to yours. Do they lack empathy for the difficulties of others and, in particular, for their own needs? I once told a narcissist that I couldn’t travel to meet him due to a back injury. I was surprised by his callous response: “You wouldn’t let a little back pain stop you.”
Simple examples are being rude, not listening, walking in front of you, ordering what to eat, ignoring their boundaries, taking calls when you are talking to them. Admittedly, these are minor things, any one of them on its own may not be significant, but they add up to paint a picture of someone who doesn’t care about you and will behave that way on larger matters. They are not comfortable with vulnerability, their own or that of others, and are emotionally unavailable. Over time, you will notice that they keep you at a distance, because they fear that if you get too close, you will not like what you see.
A sense of entitlement reveals how narcissists believe they are the center of the universe. Not only are they special and superior, but they also deserve special treatment. The rules do not apply to them. They may not only want, but expect a plane or cruise ship waiting for them. If they are convicted, it is everyone else’s fault, or the law is wrong. It should also accommodate their needs: store their favorite treats in their car, like what they like, and meet at their convenience on their schedule. A relationship with this person will be painfully one-sided, not a two-way street. Narcissists are interested in getting what they want and making the relationship work for them. Its purpose is to serve your needs and desires.
OPERATE ON OTHERS
You may not notice this trait until you get to know a narcissist better, but if you start to feel used, it may be because you are being exploited. An example is someone who takes credit for his work. A woman (or a man) may feel used for sex, or as a treat if a narcissist shows no interest in her as a person. A man (or woman) may feel used if he gives a narcissist money or provides her services.
Manipulation is a form of covert aggression to influence you to do their bidding. Narcissists are masters at it. For many, dating is an art game. Whether or not it’s an “intimate relationship,” narcissists generally don’t care about the other person, their feelings, wants, or needs. (Read “How to Tell if a Narcissist Loves You.” When relationships feel one-sided, generous people feel exploited. They are exploited because they allow it and don’t set boundaries.
The most serious exploitation involves lying, lighting gas, cheating, and fraud in financial and business dealings. These may include legal violations. You may not see it coming, but a narcissist can brag about how he took advantage of someone he took advantage of. Someone who had an affair may not be a narcissist, but a pattern of lying can be a symptom of various narcissistic traits. Other more obvious signs will appear.
Narcissists want to be the first and the best, and they don’t like their competitors. They want what they have. Instead of rejoicing at the successes of others, they are envious. They can put down the person they envy and say that person does not deserve what they have. Narcissistic parents do this with their own children and partners! They project and believe that other people are envious of them. When someone has a good reason to criticize or dislike you, narcissists will dismiss their complaints as envy, because they’re cool and can’t take criticism.
Narcissists act superior because deep down they feel inferior. They may look down on other people, classes, ethnic groups, or races. Notice how they treat the people who serve them, like waiters and doormen, while fawning over influential people. Their critical comments are often tinged with disdain and are often rude, attacking the individual and not just complaining about the service. It can manifest in the form of sudden anger or covert hostility. This gives you an idea of how they will treat you when they get to know you better.
They generally believe that they are infallible and that they are always right in any conversation. It is possible that you feel questioned or overwhelmed in a debate or that your words are distorted. Narcissists never take responsibility (unless it’s for a success), rarely apologize, and often blame others for misunderstandings or when things go wrong. Their hostility can take various forms of narcissistic abuse. Listen as they talk about their past relationships. Do they act like the victim and still view you with resentment?
Beware of falling in love with a narcissist
Relationships with narcissists are often painful and can be emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. If you are the son or daughter of a narcissistic parent, you are more likely to fall in love with one, because it feels familiar, like family. Once attached and in love, it is not easy to leave. Divorcing a narcissist can be costly not only financially, but also emotionally frightening and draining. On the other hand, you may feel devastated if you are rejected or replaced.
© Darlene Lancer 2018