I once ended up dating a narcissist, although I didn’t realise he was a narcissist until a concerned friend told me to look it up. After trawling through articles on the Internet, it seemed that narcissism could explain every single incident throughout our relationship.
If you know you’re dating a narcissist, then I warn you to get out quickly. A true narcissist cannot love you, or anyone else for that matter. You will become trapped a game of cat and mouse. They will discard you, then just when you’re finally getting over it they will come back. And you will go back to them. There is nothing healthy about this and you deserve so much more.
If you’re having trouble determining whether they are actually a narcissist or not, here are 10 tell-tale signs, told through my own experience:
1. A narcissist will sweep you off your feet…
After I first met the narcissist in question, he pursued me relentlessly, texting non-stop. He told me how incredible I was, filled me with praise and told me he envisaged many more dates to come. We went on lots of dates within a short space of time and he was keen to meet up with me whenever he could. Narcissists are often very eager to be liked in the beginning, so don’t be surprised if they shower you with gifts and compliments then use persuasion to get what they want.
With hindsight I can see exactly what he was doing but at the time I just thought it was refreshing to have someone who was so interested in me.
2. …then start the devaluing phase
Very soon after the idealisation phase, something switched. Gradually he started picking on me little by little. He didn’t like my hair parted a certain way and he didn’t like certain things I wore. He would try to make little jibes here and there, but in the beginning I just didn’t react to it. Except narcissists don’t like being ignored.
He aired his criticisms about me constantly, but these weren’t actually valid criticisms, they were false. He told me I am an awful writer I am and that I am a terrible dancer. “You can’t dance” he said, as I sat on a chair, swaying my upper body to the music. “You have no rhythm.” These words were being uttered from a man who stands by the bar in a club but won’t actually dance for fear of being embarrassed.
His comments wouldn’t have actually bothered me so much if they were true, but they weren’t. Throughout my life people have told me I am a good dancer. I love to dance. Of course when I tried to fight my corner, he told me I was lying and that all these people were wrong because I definitely couldn’t dance.
If I ever voiced criticisms about him, he simply dismissed them as ‘absolute rubbish’.
This stage is called the devaluing phase. After they have lured you in with all the romantic gestures and built you up, they will tear you back down again. It’s not very nice, it’s just what they do. It was at this point that I found myself typing ‘Am I dating a narcissist?’ into Google.
Of course you’re probably wondering why I didn’t get the hell out right then and there, but he had a way of making me feel like he was just being honest and that I should listen more. Plus he was gorgeous and I couldn’t say no.
3. They think they’re better than everyone else
In general said narcissist was very tall, groomed, and had a general, haughty air of superiority about him. As I got to know him, he would bitch about other people all the time, yet he was a darling to their faces. He would whinge about how a friend was ‘so incredibly dull’ but then the next minute he’d be having coffee with her. In his mind, people were always incompetent, boring, useless, unattractive etc etc. I would hear his complaints every day, then watch him turn on the charm. He would always keep people around him that he could exploit for free meals, drinks or work, even if he detested them.
He would often hang out in social circles where he felt like he was above everyone else and wouldn’t dream of straying from his usual bars/restaurants/hangouts. However, he had lofty ambitions and as soon as he came into contact with someone who he perceived to have a higher social status, his whole demeanour would change. He believed that he could only be understood by other ‘special’ people and was so concerned about making them his new best friend that it was almost cringeworthy to watch.
5. A narcissist will often love social media
Narcissists will often be prolific social media users, which makes sense, since it’s all about cultivating the perfect image. My narcissist loved to use Tinder, even when we were dating. When I expressed that it wasn’t really cool to see his Tinder flashing up, he told me he just liked to use it for networking and “for someone to talk to.” There was always a justification for everything.
He also loved Twitter and would Tweet maybe 30 times or more per day. He shared absolutely everything about his life as it happened but created a very distorted image of what it was really like.
6. Nothing is their fault and they lack empathy
The narcissist I was dating could say incredibly cruel things to me but according to him he was ‘just telling the truth’ and I was the one who was too sensitive. Everything was always my fault because I was being unreasonable. After he dumped me and I cried, he viewed my feelings as ‘pathetic’.
Narcissists also have a very clever way of lying, covering things up and then when you get suspicious, they’ll tell you you’re imagining things. Don’t be surprised if they cheat on you, then say it’s your fault because you drove them to do it.
7. It’s all about them
Narcissists are only thinking about one person: themselves. They often have grandiose ideas about their own self-worth, believing they are extremely talented, even if they are not. They are also completely unconcerned about the feelings of others, only viewing them as a source of narcissistic supply.
One morning I left the narcissist’s apartment and got home to receive a text saying that he’d found my earrings on the bedside table. The first thing he did was suggest that I had left them there on purpose so I could see him again. I attested that this is something I would never do, yet he wouldn’t believe me. He was so self absorbed, that he thought I would resort to tactics just to see him.
8. They are often loners
Narcissists are often loners. They may be admired for their successes and they may have lots of acquaintances, but they have very few real friends because they don’t like to let anyone in too close. Every person has a ‘use’ to them and if they can’t gain anything from that person then they’ll barely acknowledge that person. My narcissist had lived on his own for several years, had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and spent most of his time at home alone. I don’t remember him having any childhood or long-term friends, instead he would find a new friend who was flavour of the month, suddenly wanting to spend every waking moment with them. After I stopped dating him, one of these ‘friends’ said he felt like he had acquired a stalker.
9. Expect them to keep coming back
Narcissists will quickly discard you but that will not be the end. They may start pursuing someone else but once it doesn’t work out with that person (because it rarely ever works out for a narcissist), they will start to get their claws into you once again. Just as you’re finally getting over it and moving on with your life, they’ll often come back as if nothing ever happened, trying to woo you once again. They may seem like they’ve changed, but once they have you back the process will start all over again.
Eventually, after the narcissist dumped me (on New Years Eve) I went full no contact. But within a few days he started Tweeting me all the time, sending me text messages and trying to work his way back in like nothing had ever happened. He seemed to have absolutely no regard for my feelings whatsoever. Even years later, he told me how sorry he was and how he was dying to see me. Luckily, I developed boundaries and never let that person back in my life.
Looking back on the whole experience I can’t believe how much I was sucked in, so desperate for one man’s affection. I knew there was something really wrong, but despite knowing that, I had become so desperate to win the game, to prove that I was worthy of his affection. I may have been successful and outgoing person, but I now know that I had very little boundaries and little self-worth, which is something I’ve worked hard to build over the last few years. Most secure people with a high self-esteem will realise something is wrong and dump the narcissist in the very early stages, whereas a highly sensitive person with low self-esteem will cling onto the narcissist for longer than necessary.
If you’ve read this article and can identify with these stories, leave a comment below!