10 Telling Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

Every relationship has its ups and downs, regardless of how mentally stable — or unstable — each person is. But one type of relationship, in particular, that can be more challenging than most is one that involves a narcissist. Before we dive right into the telltale signs, it’s important to understand what exactly narcissistic behavior looks like. The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines narcissistic personality disorder as “[a]n enduring pattern of grandiose beliefs and arrogant behavior together with an overwhelming need for admiration and a lack of empathy for (and even exploitation of) others.”

Does your partner continually need to be on a pedestal, seen in the best possible light, and have his or her ego stroked? If you’ve ever dealt with someone like this, you know just how exhausting it can be. So, before you get tangled in their deceitful web, see if any of these 10 signs sound familiar. If most of these sound like your partner, it’s likely you’re dating a narcissist.

1. They’re charming — at first

beautiful couple on glitter gold background

A narcissist is charming in the beginning stages of a relationship. | iStock.com/dima_sidelnikov

Any true narcissist can charm the pants off just about anyone. In the very beginning, they’ll make you feel like the center of their universe. They get you so interested, you’ll think this it’s the best relationship ever. Then there comes a point when they know you’re so invested, you won’t want to leave. In fact, they’ve laid the charm on so thick, you’re willing to stick around indefinitely.

Citing an excerpt taken from his book, How to Successfully Handle Narcissists, Preston Ni explains the charming qualities of a narcissist in Psychology Today. “A narcissist can be very engaging and sociable, as long as you’re fulfilling what she desires, and giving her all of your attention,” Ni said. And the next step in their process can be just as dangerous: A narcissist will soon shift the spotlight back onto themselves, leaving you in the dust.

2. The spotlight shifts from you to your partner

two people talking behind annoyed woman

A narcissist needs to be in the spotlight. | iStock.com

It can be difficult to leave your partner once you’ve gotten this far. After all, you’ve already seen the good in them, and in the beginning of the relationship, you felt loved, flattered, and adored. In The Huffington Post , psychologist Margaret Rutherford describes how one of her patients realized she was dating a narcissist.

There was a “special pool of light” her partner believed was on him, which also shined on her. She experienced an intoxicating sense of them as a couple, and in that moment, she felt like she was his everything. However, as soon as someone else stood by him in this light, his attention immediately shifted focus, and she was left to wait her turn.

3. They’re never wrong

a heterosexual couple lie on their stomachs in bed while they have a discussion

Your significant other should be able to admit their faults. | iStock.com

Relationships should have an equal balance of give and take. When there is no balance whatsoever, though, there’s no hope for compromise. Everyone can be stubborn at times, but a narcissist goes far beyond the typical meaning of the word. Denise Limongello, licensed master social worker, told Glamour, “Studies show that individuals who reportedly were involved with narcissists complained of never having received an apology for any mishaps during the relationship.” This makes sense, seeing as narcissists have no accountability for their wrongdoings.

4. They constantly shift blame

Couple fight hard

They can turn any situation back around on you. | iStock.com/oneinchpunch

Not only does your partner have an uncanny ability to take any bad situation and turn it back around on you, he or she is truly a sultan of spin. While there’s no doubt they like being the center of attention, they can’t handle it if the attention is negative or accusatory. So, what are they left to do? Put themselves in the victim’s seat by rewriting history completely. Combined with their love of being praised, it’s a recipe for disaster.

5. They need constant praise

Happy volunteer showing her t-shirt

A narcissist expects praise for everything they do. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

A true narcissist will jump at the chance to take credit for just about anything, so long as they’re seen in a good light. Regardless of whether they’re actually deserving of your praise, they’re all too quick to make sure you — along with everyone else — knows just how great a job they’ve done.

As Stephanie Newman, Ph.D., points out in Psychology Today, narcissists need constant affirmation and validation. What they’re doing, how they present themselves, and their demeanor are by far the best in the world — and you should admire them for it. If you don’t, they’ll tell you themselves.

6. They have no real friends

sad man sitting alone

A narcissist doesn’t have true friends. | iStock.com

Having a lot of friends and having real friends are two very different things. Like it or not, friendships are an essential part of a relationship with your significant other. And seeing as narcissists are only out for themselves, they’re not likely to have true friends. So, take notice of how your partner treats people from whom he or she has nothing to gain, clinical psychologist and author Albert Bernstein, Ph.D., told Women’s Health. Narcissists can’t hold onto solid friendships for too long (wonder why).

7. They love to name-drop

woman obnoxiously talking on the phone in front of coworkers

Narcissists want everyone to know they know people. | iStock.com

You know those people who love to name-drop? For some reason, they think it’ll impress others. And while it can be obnoxious, most people have some sort of self-awareness that what they’re doing is annoying. For narcissists, though, it’s not likely this type of behavior will let up anytime soon.

In addition to not having any true friends, a narcissist will commonly name-drop if they think it’ll benefit them or make them seem important. Keith Cambell, Ph.D. and author, told The Huffington Post this kind of behavior is nothing more than self-promotion at its finest. Beware a partner who slyly slips powerful names into each and every conversation.

8. They’re always putting others down

Yelling will just make things worse

A narcissist will put others down. | iStock.com

In most cases, putting other people down is a mere attempt at disguising one’s own insecurities, shortcomings, or personal flaws. In attacking others, whether it be passively or outright, a narcissist aims to boost their own good standing so others may perceive them as being the most attractive, the smartest, and most ambitious of the crowd.

According to Ni, “In order to put up a facade of superiority, and disguise hidden insecurity and inadequacy, some narcissists will constantly put other people down, to boost their own desirability and acceptability. Targets of their negative talk may include ‘inferior’ colleagues, ‘incompetent’ manager, ‘clueless’ friends, and ‘flawed’ former relations.” A total disregard for another person’s feelings should definitely be a relationship red flag.

9. They can’t deal with authority

Angry man pointing at woman

A narcissist can’t deal with authority. | iStock.com

While not everyone likes being told what to do, a narcissist has an inherent need to be the head honcho in every situation. Furthermore, narcissists resent authority, can’t stand being told what to do (even by their boss or a person in a position of power), and they truly believe no one has the right to command them to do anything. According to The Huffington Post, a narcissist is “reluctant to accept any blame or criticism and strongly prefers to be in control of things and those around him at all times.”

10. They’re entitled

Hungry woman holding knife and fork

A narcissist believes they should get everything they want right away. | iStock.com/beer5020

Bubbling below the surface of any narcissist is an undeniable, overwhelming sense of entitlement. Regardless of the situation, they feel as though they’re more important than everyone else and, therefore, deserve special treatment. “Whatever a narcissist’s needs are, they need to be met now,” Karyl McBride, Ph.D. and author, told Health. “They want automatic compliance because they are that important.” Not only is a narcissist above the law, but they wrote it, too.