Our relationship with other people is an essential part of our life. It increases our emotional well-being, makes us feel valued and allows us to grow and become a better version of ourselves. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is a completely different story. It does the opposite. It is toxic and can be traumatizing.
What is narcissism?
Narcissism goes beyond self-confidence and being self-absorbed. A person who has a narcissistic personality lacks empathy for others, an inflated sense of importance to oneself, and craves for excessive attention and admiration.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, someone only needs to meet 5 of the following 9 criteria to clinically qualify as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):
Extreme and imposing sense of self-importance
Always preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, greatness, and beauty
Believe that they’re one of a kind and can only be understood by people belonging to the upper class and have the higher intellectual capacity
Need for constant and excessive admiration
Sense of entitlement
Lack of empathy
Exploitative behavior towards other people
Envious or a belief that others are envious of them
Because of these extreme selfish traits, a narcissist often has relationship issues.
Are you in a relationship with a narcissist?
When you’re related, friends, or romantically involved with someone, you tend to come up with excuses why they behave a certain way. Knowing the official diagnostic criteria doesn’t necessarily make it easier to detect you are in a relationship with a narcissist. You are also not in the right position (unless you’re a qualified expert) to diagnose a person with NPD, but there are red flags to look out for. Here are some of them:
Control and Manipulation
Do you often find yourself being manipulated through threats, belittling, or flattery by a person? Are you often being gaslighted? When you try to tell how you feel, instead of listening to you, they shut you off saying you are overreacting. Chances are you are engaging with a narcissist. This person often puts their needs first and doesn’t admit their mistakes.
At first, they can be charming and do anything to win you over but once they do. They will exercise their control over you. They won’t compromise. They won’t try to understand you and be accountable for a problem. They won’t apologize but instead, make you feel that it’s all your fault for feeling that way in the first place.
Regardless of who is to blame for the problem, a person should always acknowledge the feelings of the other. Invalidating someone’s feelings is one of the things that a narcissist does when being confronted with their mistake.
Self-Centeredness and Lack of Empathy
Narcissists believe they are special and superior to others. They expect special treatment and can be rude when they don’t get the treatment they want. They treat poorly people who they think are below their status. And they like to be associated and surrounded with high-status people. If you are in a relationship with one, they also expect you to live up to this image.
Since a narcissist thinks the world revolves around them, they cannot empathize with other people. They won’t make you feel seen, validated, or understood. They typically don’t care if you are having problems at work or with your family. They will get bored listening to your problems.
More Signs You Know A Narcissistic Person
They keep on blaming you or other people when something goes wrong with their lives.
They are always the victims.
They compete with you.
They don’t respect boundaries.
They take advantage of people or use them for their own gain.
They lash out when they are criticized.
They always want to be validated, recognized, and appreciated. So they brag about themselves, even lie or exaggerate. They love to be the center of attention.
Coping With and Healing from A Toxic Relationship With A Narcissist
Ideally, you need to cut ties with a narcissist. You need to get out of the toxic relationship for your own well being but if it’s a close family member or a co-worker who you can’t cut out of your life, what you can do is:
Set clear boundaries. A narcissist feels entitled to snoop through your personal things, give unsolicited advice, and they have little to no sense of personal space. They may even not see any boundaries so you need to make it clear to them the boundaries that matter to you.
Speak up. In a calm and gentle manner, tell them how their words and actions affect your life. Be specific about how you expect to be treated and tell them what they are doing that is not acceptable to you.
Remember that it’s not all your fault. They may try to blame you and not listen to you despite speaking up and setting clear boundaries, but don’t let their words get through you. You know the truth and staying grounded with it helps massively.
If you have the option to remove the narcissistic person from your life, then better do it. It may be difficult, after all, you chose to be in that relationship because you care about the person. At the end of the relationship, you may feel confused and even scared.
Here are tips in recovering and healing from the emotional abuse you’ve experienced from a narcissist:
Reclaim your identity and practice self-care. A narcissist belittles people if they fail to meet their standards. You might feel less of yourself being with one or trying to change for them. Now it’s time to rebuild your relationship with yourself. Do things that make you happy. Pamper yourself. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
Seek support. You don’t have to deal with the pain alone. Talk to people you can trust. If you want or feel that you need it, you can get professional support or join support groups.
Intuitive Energy Healing with a focus on Emotional Healing. One of my first regular clients when I started working as an Intuitive Healer and Reiki Master Teacher was someone who had the strength to end her years of relationship with a classic narcissist. On and off we met for sessions regularly for a year, focusing on healing her emotional wounds, addressing her lack of self-esteem, and supporting her as she rebuilt her life and started anew. She’s now thriving at work with promotions and constant opportunities for more, embracing life and self-love, in a well-deserved healthy relationship with a lovely man, and lives happily on her own with her adorable dog. Over the years, I can’t count how many people I’ve worked with who were related to or in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, and all of them were very empathetic people which made it even harder on them. 99% of the people who walk through our studio’s doors are empaths.
A toxic relationship with a narcissist often leaves emotional wounds that aren’t easily healed. Through Intuitive Healing, negative emotions stuck in the body are identified, located, and released so you’ll be freed from them. It helps emotional wounds to heal faster and helps shift thoughts in your subconscious for the better, promoting a healthier way of thinking. Ultimately, it’s an effective way to improve your holistic well-being.
This is the best time to practice self-compassion and invest in yourself. You’ve given a lot of yourself when you were still with a narcissist. It’s time to put yourself first.