Am I or my partner a narcissist?

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Do you have a partner who was charming and pleasant when you first met, but now is increasingly selfish, dismissive of your needs, puts you down, manipulates you to get what they want, or is outright abusive? Or maybe does that sometimes sound like you?

If the answer to one or more of these is ‘yes’ then you need to ask yourself the question “am I in a relationship with a Narcissist?”

There are certain behaviours in relationships that must be dealt with or the relationship should be ended. Emotional abuse, physical abuse and other forms of aggression are simply wrong and should not be ‘swept under the carpet’.

Someone who exhibits these behaviours and gets away with it has no reason to stop – and may actually escalate. That’s why professional help is needed. Note in this time of coronavirus, it is OK for you to reach out via phone, Skype or Zoom. You don’t have to attend in person if you do not wish to.

Narcissism clinically referred to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, is a group of destructive personality characteristics that can be hard to spot at the start of a relationship.

These destructive characteristics might not register with you at first, either as they are often carefully and deliberately hidden, or they simply take time to come to the surface. Once someone with NPD has ‘hooked’ you, expect to one or more of the following: You might be mistreated, cheated upon, belittled, exploited stolen from, let down, insulted or – in some cases – physically abused.

Some people with NPD literally have a different brain structure to ‘normal’ people. They share this with Psychopaths and the two disorders can appear together in the same individual. Someone with NPD is generally a person who focuses very strongly on their own wants and needs and – although they may deceive themselves on this point as much as they deceive others – cares little about their partner’s real needs and feelings.

A relationship with a narcissist

NPD goes beyond simple selfishness. It is a deep-rooted and long-lasting disorder that appears to be created by multiple factors, including genetics but also severe childhood trauma, poor attachment to one or more parents, a cold and unloving upbringing, or physically abusive caregivers.

This causes severe damage to the child, who cannot process that the people who should be nurturing them, are hurting them. The child responds by growing up to be an adult who has built up a wall against empathy, against caring for others, or against deep emotional attachment.

When you are in a relationship with someone with NPD, breaking up can be extremely difficult. You might be aware of their childhood traumas and want to give them ‘one more chance’.

If you are useful to the person with NPD, they may go to great lengths to win you back by temporarily modifying their negative behaviors – but without proper treatment, those behaviours will resurface and a cycle of their abuse, apparent contrition and then renewed abuse will just continue.

If your partner has NPD, it is very difficult to get them to attend therapy or counselling – the person with NPD will probably not believe that they are “at fault”. Even when someone with NPD does engage with a therapist, it is sometimes very difficult for them to build a relationship with the therapist – as they are inherently reluctant to disclose their feelings.

The good news is, with the right counselling approach and a somewhat willing subject, NPD can be mitigated and relationships rebuilt. Note that NPD is on a spectrum and some individuals are much more responsive to treatment than others.

At Safe Place Therapy we do not judge. If you choose to break up with someone with NPD, we will help you do that safely. If you want to fix a relationship you are in with someone showing these traits – that can be done too.

Finally, if you yourself are reading this and asking yourself the question ‘am I a NPD sufferer?’ we are here for you too. The fact you have asked yourself that question is a huge step in the right direction. We’ll be happy to have initial conversations on the phone or by Skyp or Zoom and all out discussions are strictly confidential.

So, whatever the circumstances, contact us and we will provide advice, support and help.

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