We don’t always get to choose who we fall for, nor do we always see the people we love for who they are. It’s easy to fall for toxic people, because they often show us exactly what we want to see. The narcissist is one such person, who crawls into our lives using charm and covert manipulation that centers control before we even realize what’s happening.
Have you fallen for a narcissist? Have you woken up and realized that the person next to you is more in love with themselves than they are with you? It’s not easy to admit when we’ve got it wrong in love and romance. Admitting is the first step to embracing this reality, though, so we can come up with practical solutions to protect ourselves. You don’t have to settle for the manipulation of someone else. You are worthy of love and you deserve to thrive.
It’s not always easy to see the cracks.
Relationships are important to us as social creatures, and our intimate relationships often form a substantial portion of our happiness. We love to be loved, and we love to fall in love — but this passion can often lead us blindly into relationships that are toxic and unrewarding. We have to see the cracks in our relationships for what they are and admit when we’ve connected with someone who doesn’t fit our true needs and wants.
It’s not always easy to admit that we’ve chosen someone who is less than ideal. When our egos are still in play, it can feel like a personal failure. But there’s no personal failure when it comes to the narcissist. No matter how trained and how seasoned you may be, someone with a narcissistic personality disorder could still convince you to see them only as they wish to be seen.
You have to take your time uncovering the narcissist in your life. Little-by-little, you need to pull back the layers and see them for who they truly are.Only when you admit to the truth will reality reveal itself to you. Then, you can rebuild your self-esteem and discover how to bring life back into your support systems. The help of others is crucial when it comes to waking up to the narcissists who are all around. Stop running from the truth and start admitting to it. You’re dating a narcissist and these are the signs.
Subtle signs you’re dating a narcissist.
Are you dating a narcissist? The signs aren’t always as easy to spot as a big ego and an even bigger anger problem. Some narcissists are subtle in the way they work, and even more subtle in the way they take control and take over our lives. Have you spotted these signs of a potential narcissist in your life?
Zero follow through
Narcissists only care about themselves. They don’t know how to comprehend and process the feelings and perspectives of other people. For this reason, you can often find that they are not reliable. If you need them to do something, but it serves them no benefit, then they may not bother to show up at all. They are not there when you need them, but they’ll always expect you to show up when they call.
Putting others down
Does your significant other put the people around them down? Do they talk down to friends and family alike? Do they put you down when you “step out of line”? Usually, this is a shallow act meant to cover insecurity and inflate the narcissists sense of importance. They tear other people down and diminish (or dismiss) their needs and emotions in order to make themselves feel better or look better.
Manipulating loved ones
Manipulation is one of the standard tools in the narcissist’s tool chest and one of the subtle ways in which they take control over us. They may pull at your heartstrings using targeted micromanipulations, or they may rely on lies and half-truths in order to take advantage of your various emotional states. Because the narcissists is focused only on getting what they want, they will engage in almost any behavior to get it.
Behaving like a brat
What happens when your partner or spouse gets rejected by you or anyone else? What happens when they get told “no” or don’t get their way in life? Do they blow up? Do they shut down? Behaving like a brat can be a sign of someone who is self-obsessed. We all have to make compromises in life and we all have to learn to walk with rejection from time to time. Being alive means facing setbacks with grace and taking on the lessons with empathy and understanding. It doesn’t mean lashing out and punishing others for our disappointments.
A certain self-obsession
Classic to almost every narcissist is a sense of self-obsession. They love themselves far above anyone else, but this love is shallow, and is often used to mask a deeper sense of insecurity. The narcissist only knows how to understand their own emotions, and they only care to see things from their own perspective. They aren’t concerned with how you’re feeling or what you want, unless those things touch on the aims they’re already working toward themselves.
Do you set boundaries with your partner? What happens when you do? Do they blow right past them — disrespecting you at every turn? Or do they slowly nudge you over the edge until you’re uncomfortable? Our partners should always strive to understand and safeguard our boundaries as closely as their own. Boundaries are the lines which define what is acceptable and unacceptable in our lives. Partners who blow past them disrespect us and show that they don’t hold us in high value.
Demand for gratification
With narcissists, there is a sense of entitlement that comes with a demand for instant gratification. They have grand egos. They want what they want when they want it, and there isn’t any throwing them off-track. The narcissist is someone who demands to have their way, and they want to have the people they “like” available to them at all times. Feeding this need only causes it (and their demands) to grow.
What you need to do next.
So what’s to be done when you discover you’ve been taken by a narcissist? Whether you decide to remove yourself or stay, there are some steps you first have to take in order to safeguard your wellbeing. Boost your self-esteem and establish better boundary lines. Then figure out how to make yourself a priority and cultivate stronger support systems.
1. Build up your self-esteem
The first barrier of defense we should always develop when it comes to a narcissist is a wall of self-esteem. This self-esteem is our armor, and it protects us from the emotional manipulations and endless hostilities that come at the hands of a disappointed narcissist. When you believe in yourself and know exactly what you’re worth, you’ll stop settling for behavior and people who make you unhappy (or pull you away from the things you need).
Break away from your relationship for a minute and focus on yourself. Do you believe that you’re worthy of being treated as an equal? Of being prioritized and valued? You need to know what you are worth so that other people can value you the way that they’re supposed to.
Each day, focus on 3 things that you love about yourself. They should be a mix of both physical features and internal strengths, and should help you to love your body as a whole. Every morning look at yourself in the mirror and voice these strengths out loud. At night, write down 3 more things you did well (or 3 ways in which you surprised yourself). Once you are able to celebrate the good things about yourself, look to your insecurities and embrace who you are as a complete person.
2. Establish better boundary lines
Narcissists — more often than not — are effective because they are able to pinpoint weakened boundary lines and then blow past them. They push us in our weakest places, and that allows them to bully us into the behaviors or actions they want us to take. In order to protect ourselves from them, we have to build bigger, stronger boundary lines and then work hard to enforce them every day.
The battle to protect your boundaries is one that will never stop with the narcissist. You need to take some time and reaffirm what really matters to you. What are you unwilling to accept from them as far as behavior? How do you want them to speak to you? How do you want them to connect with you?
You have to spend some time figuring out what lines you’re no longer willing to push. Once you’re sure you need to communicate these limits with the narcissist and make it clear that they are no longer allowed to push those limits. This doesn’t mean they won’t try. And it certainly doesn’t mean they will respect your wishes. That’s why you have to remain strong, lean into your self-esteem and establish some consequences when they fail to respect you.
3. Don’t engage in the goading
The narcissists in our lives use a number of tactics in order to get their way with us. They may bully us or aggressively push us openly toward their own aims, or they may use more covert methods. Goading is one such method that a narcissist might use to push our boundaries and gain emotional control over us. They look for weaknesses and buttons to push and when we lose control, they are able to manipulate us.
You have to stop giving your narcissist power over you. Don’t let them push you around, irritate you, or lose control of your emotions. You are the only person who has control over your reactions. You choose to give in to them and you choose to get angry and blow up, playing right into their hands.
When you tell them no or turn them down, have enough decency to walk away after you explain yourself. Don’t even give them the opportunity to taunt you, dismiss you, or diminish the points or the emotions you have to share. If they make fun of you, don’t fight back. Don’t give them any more justification to walk all over you or act superior. Rise above their games.
4. Cultivate stronger support systems
There is no denying the power of our support systems when it comes to dealing with the narcissists in our lives. These are not people who can always be reasoned with, and they aren’t people who are concerned about our perspective or our emotions. In order to keep your own point-of-view centered, you need to have people who want the best for you to use as a reference point. Reach out to friends and family and open up.
Build a network of people you can trust and use them as a sounding board when things get tough. Dealing with a narcissist isn’t always as easy as leaving the relationship (and at this stage it may not be something that you want to do). Be honest with a handful of people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy and full of integrity.
Avoid overlooking the power of a professional when building this support network. Relationship and abuse experts can be an invaluable starting place when it comes to develop customized techniques that allow us to detach and protect ourselves from the narcissists in our lives. Allow their expertise to guide you. Find someone who specializes in situations like yours and trust the information that helps you find peace.
5. Make yourself a priority
Are you feeling broken down? Feeling like you’re a second-class citizen in your own relationship? These are classic symptoms of narcissistic abuse and can cause serious confusion and disconnection from self. Eventually, you’re going to have to confront more permanent solutions, but in order to protect yourself right now, you need to make yourself a priority. Stop putting their thoughts, feelings, and needs over your own. You are just as deserving of time, compassion, and love as they are.
Learn to see yourself as an equal again and do it by leaning into a weekly (or even daily) self-care routine. Take care of your mental, physical, and emotional needs. Nourish your body and your soul. Stop putting everything that you want on the back-burner in order to satiate the endless demands of someone who is only capable of caring about themselves.
Make yourself a priority. Get back into the flow with your friends and loved ones. Take an online course, or find new ways to get involved in special interest projects at work or in a local community group. Re-engage with the world around you, and through that realize that you have a right to be fulfilled, happy, and appreciated alongside everyone else. The only person who can make you settle for less is you. You have to make the decision when enough is enough.
Putting it all together…
Are you dating someone who always makes it about them? Do they expect control in all things? Or do they constantly manipulate and downplay the emotions of others? Many of these signs point to a potential narcissist in your life, but you have to see the truth before you can embrace reality. Once you see them for who they are, you’ll be able to take action to protect yourself.
Boost your self-esteem and establish a firm foundation of self-belief and undeniable confidence that can’t be taken from you by anyone else. This self knowledge to hand, you’ll then be able to create better boundaries for yourself, which you feel stronger about enforcing and affirming. Don’t allow someone else to push you around or take you places you don’t want to go.Avoid their goading and stop giving them the conflict they desire to maintain control. Reach out to your support systems and anchor yourself firmly in their positivity and their motivation. Make yourself a priority and know that you deserve to be loved and respected by every person you bring into your life.