How To Spot A Narcissist
Many of my clients over the years have asked me the same questions in regard to their love interests:
- Why did they stop speaking with me,
- Why is the honeymoon period over?
- Why is he so selfish and why does he only thinks of himself when there’s two of us in this marriage?
- Why do I feel like he enjoys messing with my mind?
- Why does my partner cheat and lie, coming and going as he likes, never mind how I feel?
- Why does he never give me a straight answer or an apology? Why is he so secretive?
- He’s ghosted me, but I have no closure, are we over?
If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, chances are you’ve been dealing with a Narcissist.
Whether they realize they are narcissists or not, they usually wouldn’t admit it because they don’t like to have their flaws highlighted. In fact, exposure can be a big trigger for them and they’ll fight to preserve their public profile, no matter what.
Perhaps you’ve dated a string of Narcissists lately or finished one relationship only to find yourself with yet another narcissist.
Why does this happen?
My cards and guides suggest that perhaps the Universe, in it’s Infinite Wisdom, keeps throwing narcissist at us until we learn the lesson of “How To Spot A Narcissist at 100 Paces.”
Once we truly learn this lesson, we’ve graduated and we will know the traits to avoid next time. So let’s take a look at this more in depth.
The psychological condition is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or Megalomania. There are varying degrees of narcissism too; you may have found yourself dating The Overt Type, known as Grandiose Narcissism, Some of the other types are:
- The Covert Type
- The Hypervigilant Type
- The Oblivious Type,
- The Exhibitionist Type
- The Sexual Type
- The Malignant Type
They can be the street angel/house devil type. They can be seen flexing their muscles on social media and dating sites. When we deal with them, you might notice that it’s always someone else’s fault or that they never apologize.
They can be detached, disassociated, easily bored, over-exaggerate or blatantly lie about their achievements. They can love-bomb you, declaring you to be soul-mates, then go totally cold with no empathic realization of how devastating that is to the partner who’s heart was opened, then discarded.
I wanted to include what I call my “Diagnostic Checklist,” so you can do a quick check up on your own relationship to try and work out why are they the way they are.
Narcissist Traits at 100 Paces
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the nine traits of a narcissist are;
- Grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Belief that they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- A need for excessive admiration sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally exploitative behaviour
- Lack of empathy
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- Demonstrations of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudes
Lack of Empathy
A lack of empathy may be the key defining characteristic of a narcissistic person. It is the inability to identify with, or recognise the experiences and feelings of other people. Everything is about them and belongs to them. They smoothly overstep the personal boundaries of others, mistreating, devaluing, and humiliating them in their attempts to bend others to their desires.
From a basic perspective, a narcissist does not care or understand how other people feel and rarely considers other people’s feelings in their actions or words. This can manifest itself in physical or verbal ways. For example, a narcissist will often say cruel things in an offhanded manner, remaining oblivious to the pain they cause with their words. It is not unusual for them to launch into a one-way discussion about what they are doing, without any regard for how the other person feels. They become highly impatient or even annoyed when other people share their problems. They lack the emotional capacity to hold space when their partner needs them the most.
Another weapon in the arsenal, manipulation is a major sign that you could be dating/married to a narcissist. The attempt to twist any situation to better suit their narrative is a clear personality trait that nearly all egotistical people possess. It can be exhausting for those in the relationship. When a person is so skilfully manipulative, you may find yourself falling into their trap and remaining relatively unaware it is happening. Years later you will connect the dots and the manipulation seems as clear as day, but we often miss it in the moment. Narcissists are masters at getting what they want, and because they have no empathy, they may not care what it costs to someone else. They deviously use manipulation as a tool to get their most essential needs met, which are typically attention, validation, and status.
A clear-cut sign you are dating someone with narcissistic traits is the psychological trick known as projection. A self-absorbed person will accuse someone else of doing what they are doing or will call out their flaws and fears in someone else; often, the person who is cheating accuses his partner of cheating. Projection is a defence or an unconscious pattern that occurs when the person feels psychologically threatened. The narcissistic ego is always monitoring the world for threats and often finds them. Then they quickly blame other people for their own deficits.
Projecting is frustrating because your partner is actually accusing you of doing things you aren’t actually doing. These projections are not just about cheating and betrayal, they can be about the narcissist’s own vulnerabilities and weaknesses. They are likely to be accusing you of what they are doing or feeling. TV Shows like Steve Wilkos have many segments where the one accusing turns out to be the one cheating.
It’s not a huge surprise, but narcissists are often very shallow with their emotions, meaning they don’t exhibit much emotion. To be with an emotionally cold partner often means not being comforted, sometimes during the most difficult days in our lives. The emotionally cold or distant trait rears its head during arguments, when one person is experiencing and expressing significant emotion and the narcissistic person just checks out and does not respond – or does respond, but in a cold manner. The emotional coldness can be confusing for you and may result in attempts to jump through hoops to generate warmth and connection with your partner.
This is a term that has been gathering pace over the past few years, and people are suddenly realising the link to narcissism. From a historical perspective, the term arose from the 1930’s play Gas Light, where a husband, in an attempt to drive his wife crazy, keeps turning down the gas-powered lights in the house. When the wife asks why he is dimming the lights, he denies it and says they are no dimmer. Over time, she finds herself going mad. Gaslighting qualifies as a form of emotional abuse that involves denying a person’s experience and making statements, such as ‘that never happened’ or ‘you are too sensitive’. The gaslighter uses techniques such as withholding or stonewalling, contradicting, or diverting you when you bring up something that concerns you. Your partner turns your valid concerns around and makes it about something you said years before, or deflects it and describes it as a conspiracy. They also minimise your feelings and denies events that definitely occurred. The damage of gaslighting is that it is confusing, isolating, and often results in you questioning your own reality. You may find yourself constantly apologising and no longer feeling as relaxed and joyful as you once were.
Never Takes Responsibility
Being in a relationship is a partnership. There should be give and take in every aspect. Part of this means accepting when you are wrong and taking things as they come, two things narcissists generally struggle with. They are master deflectors and try to avoid blame by lying, cheating, and everything in-between. They will make up complex excuses and rationalise anything.
When someone never takes responsibility for anything, words, actions, feelings – it is challenging, if not impossible, to maintain a relationship. Even pre-school aged children are asked to take responsibility for a broken crayon or toys left out. It is not too much to ask a person to take ownership. Since they are unable to distinguish the boundary between responsibility and blame, narcissists attempt to avoid both. Genuine acceptance of responsibility is very unlikely to be issued by narcissists and you can wear yourself out by waiting for it.
The term ‘control freak’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s a key trait. What makes the situation even more frustrating is that often the narcissist is controlling you while remaining completely disinterested in the other aspects of your life. Like many other traits, the other person in a relationship can mistake control for affection. It’s natural to want to be involved in your partner’s life, but it’s not healthy to dictate it.
Control is often a part of abuse dynamics in relationships, the control culminates to the point where a person feels like they cannot move without asking for permission, and the narcissist uses control to isolate the person. The most common manifestations of this relationship control are a partner monitoring your whereabouts at all times, checking your emails and text messages, criticising your appearance, and making nearly all of the important decisions, with little regard for your opinion.
Grandiosity is a pattern in which a person tends to exaggerate accomplishments, talents, connections, and experiences. They do not have to be real experiences, grandiose people tend to maintain over-the-top fantasy worlds. Grandiosity can also be recognised by a sense of self-importance – a belief that their existence is bigger and more important than anyone else’s and certainly more important than yours. I have seen this first hand in both former friendships and former relationships, before I learned to spot the signs.
In the case of famous narcissists like Stalin and Hitler, the person with delusions of grandeur may already be in a position of power. They may hold a leadership role, be famous, or have accumulated wealth. The grandiosity is a permanent fixture and they will repeatedly boast about their accomplishments, their possessions, and their experiences. Grandiosity is seductive and can turn your partner into something ‘larger than life,’ so that when things are going well, it can feel perfect.
Sadly, the culmination of the previous eight signs will inevitably lead to a final, or habitual act of betrayal; they will most likely cheat. Their need for admiration and novelty is so vast that they are wired to be unfaithful – affairs are typically characterised by excitement, flattery, and superficial grandiosity. They may keep a steady relationship with you, and cultivate other needs outside the relationship. I’ve seen narcissists have Plan A, B, C and D and never provide closure to anyone that can still fulfil a narcissistic need for them. They are tremendous opportunists and they will use every opportunity to get another person under their control.
At no time should you ever tolerate abuse, be that physical, emotional, financial or any other kind. In fact, my guides are always telling me to tell clients that the soul contract between two individuals ends at the first sign of abuse. Your ancestors and guides would want to save you from unnecessary and avoidable pain. To a narcissist, our forgiveness is permission to do it again.
Time to break up?
If this list has hit a little too close to home and you’re starting to realise your relationship might not be as perfect as you once thought, it’s time to have a discussion with your partner and with yourself. Often, a big reason people find themselves dating a narcissist is their own self-worth. Narcissists will find people who struggle with confidence, manipulating the situation to make you feel helpless and worthless without them. The first step in overcoming the issue is reminding yourself that you deserve better.
Just as narcissists move in familiar patterns, so too do victims. It pays to strengthen your relationships with empathetic friends, building a solid support network with your close relationships. Talk it out with your favourite psychic or counsellor and maybe even consider therapy. Most of all, you shouldn’t be wary of love. I am a true believer in the power of positive thinking and manifestation. But we also have to check ourselves. I remember the Dalai Lama differentiated between types of compassion; Wise compassion and Foolish Compassion. It may be time for self-reflection about the sort of compassion we find ourselves practising.
Can a narcissist love you?
Here’s the thing: A narcissist can disassociate from painful feelings and self-soothe to protect themselves from hurt. This may, in turn, push away feelings of love that they may feel for someone. After an experience with a narcissist, you may learn to look at the less charismatic, but far kinder people who may be less obvious choices for romance. Be aware of your vulnerabilities and start looking for the qualities that make for a better long-term partner – compassion, kindness, respect, and empathy – rather than the more superficial qualities of charisma and charm.
Can a narcissist change?
I am yet to see effective long-term healing of a narcissist. They usually have a destructive trail of addictions, restraining orders and broken relationships in their wake, or they call the ex “crazy” as a deterrent, so that new partners never get together to with the narcissists ex’s to compare notes. We may sense something is amiss and try and get in touch with them, but narcissists dread exposure more than anything, so a big red flag for me is any man that calls the ex “crazy”. What if “my crazy ex” is the smokescreen for “please don’t talk to the ex because then I’ll lose you.” What I have found is that she’s usually a gaslit, traumatised victim of the narcissist who has some stark truths about the person.
If prospective employers ask us for work references, why can’t we (looking at a prospective relationship) ask our love interest for some character references? I’d be asking for references from the recent ex-partner, his mother and his sister, because in my experience, they have the most to say about this situation. We can get some context about their old emotional wounds and what they still need to work on, as we are all magnificent works in progress. We have only scratched the surface of this issue about healing narcissists.
Relationships With Narcissists
Often the hardest thing is to convince a Narc that they have a problem. Therein lies the problem of denial. If you’re an Empath, you’ll probably stay to try and fix your narcissistic partner and there are many discussions I’ve had over the years on the phone lines about the toxic attraction between empaths and narcissists. The empath wants to fix and heal everyone, the narcissist feeds on an empath’s attention. Empaths can also enable narcissists, so it’s best to examine our own motivations when it comes to staying or going. Ask yourself the big question: Why?
My days of trying to fix broken men in my personal life are over. If they haven’t done the work, they forever remain in the friend-zone or professional client category. If I spot a narcissist at 100 paces, looking to bark up my tree, nowadays I run in the opposite direction.
So when we ask “When will he start caring about my feelings?” just realise that if he’s a narcissist, that day may simply never come. Therefore, for our own self-preservation, it’s up to us to educate ourselves about the personality types out there, who is able to grow and evolve, and who simply will not be capable of true empathy.
Sometimes the greatest lesson for us is to turn that compassion towards ourselves and arm ourselves with the right emotional tools, so that we can have safe boundaries when it comes to dealing with narcissists. If they haven’t called you for a while, they have no right just to turn up out of the blue and pick up where you left off, like three months haven’t gone past. They have to be accountable; it’s not enough that we love them and want to fix them. If we don’t state our healthy boundaries don’t expect them to instinctively know how we prefer to be treated unless we communicate those needs.
Thanks for reading,
Eilish - 600837