How to recognise a narcissist before it’s too late

What is a narcissist?
The psychological definition is “extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterising a personality type”. But what does this actually mean in reality?

At the start you may not quite believe that you have found someone who has fallen so quickly and deeply in love with you. The “love bombing” with gifts, flowers, and constant text messages just confirm how much they care. Who wouldn’t be caught up in the adoration? But to them you are a prize, not a person.

The relationship will not begin with any obvious displays of control; they will not start by telling you what you can and cannot do, and with whom. Instead, the narcissist will surprise you with a ‘romantic’ weekend, when they know you have made plans with friends. Or they will decide that a certain little Italian restaurant would be much nicer than the one you have always been to. They will somehow always seem to be trying to make things so much better for you. But this just allows them to run your life without you even noticing, and after a while you will forget that the choices made are not your own. Which is, after all, the point.

If you notice, they will tell you that they want you all to themselves, because they love you - and that is so tempting to believe - but real love allows people the freedom to choose.

When they talk about their exes, the relationships they tell you about all ended with them hurt and devastated. They tell you how terrible these people were to them, how all they did was to love them and want to take care of them, of course you believe them, why wouldn’t you? You feel for them and can’t understand why anyone would treat such a loving person so badly. But this is the version of reality that they need you to believe.

You wait to be introduced to their friends, but you will soon realise that they do not have any close friends, just people that are of use to them. They will be very good at hiding why, (they might claim that they move around with their job, or their ex alienated them from their friends) whatever the reason nothing will ever be their fault.

They may tell you about their childhood, a mother who was cold and unfeeling, a father who was abusive but then you see them together and it doesn’t seem to be like that - remember they are in control of the story they tell you. But if you question this, there will always be a plausible answer, a reason to support their version of their own history.

If you challenge any of their way of being, whether by deciding to go somewhere they don’t want you to or doing something they don’t want you to do, they will find a way to dissuade you. They will tell you that it is because they want to spend all their time with you and that you wishing to spend time with others is in someway disloyal or selfish, and that if you really loved them... You get the idea.

 And this is just the beginning.
So, now you know, and if you recognise this in your relationship, look in the mirror, turn around and walk out before you get in any deeper. You deserve better.

If, however, you recognise any of these behaviours in yourself, which are indicative of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then I urge you to seek help from a professional who deals with mental health issues.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bromley, Kent, BR1
Written by Debbie Fletcher, Individual & Relationship Counselling. Reg MBACP
Bromley, Kent, BR1

I hope you have found the article of help.

I have experience in working with a variety of issues including; depression, anxiety, panic, relationship, couples therapy and women's issues.

Debbie Fletcher at The Changing Room Reg MBACP, Dip Int Counselling Cert Int Supervision.

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