So. It feels like something's wrong with your relationship, doesn't it? Answering yes to even one of these questions may indicate there's some type of unhealthy narcissistic relationship going on. Even a handful of maybes is a reason to be concerned.
Here's what else I know:
1. When your partner's reactions to conflict feel unpredictable, that may be because sometimes the conflict triggers their fear of being "less than" and sometimes it doesn't. When a person has narcissistic traits, they are unable to tolerate being put down or told they're wrong.
2. If you've noticed that your partner can be charming and inviting when other people are around but not when it's just the two of you, that may indicate that your partner feeds their sense of self from the praise, engagement, or admiration they get from others. This is the "supply" narcissists need in order to feel superior to others.
3. When you find yourself wondering "Am I crazy?", that's a clear sign that your partner is gaslighting you into thinking you're wrong (when you know you're right) or that they're right (when you know they're most definitely wrong). Gaslighting is one of the best-known tactics of a narcissist and they use it to keep you from challenging them.
4. As an FYI, a severe push-pull cycle (like, lots of breaking up and getting back together) can also indicate borderline personality disorder traits. In narcissistic relationships, though, the push-pull pattern might indicate that sometimes you're meeting their ego needs and sometimes someone or something else is. That's why you'll feel disconnected even though you're doing everything just like you always have.
5. Narcissists often do things to you that feel crappy. Those might include cheating on you, criticizing you, ignoring you, or making you feel like you don't matter. When you call them out on their bad behavior (which, of course you should, right?), they find ways to turn the conflict back on you...and then expect you to be sorry for calling them out for treating you poorly. Insert eyeroll!
So, now what? If some of these descriptions match your experience, it's easy to go down the path of researching the heck out of personality disorders and how they show up in your relationships. And there's a ton of great information out there! You being your thoughtful, inquisitive self, though...you may also want to figure out how to get OUT of this pattern, feel better about yourself, and avoid these kinds of relationships in the future. If that sounds like you (and I assume it does!), let's stay connected.
If you think you're in a high conflict, toxic, or abusive relationship...
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Jenni McBride McNamara is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Author, Presenter, and High Conflict Relationship Specialist