If you’ve been in the dating world, you know how difficult it can be to find the right person who listens to your feelings, validates you, and makes you feel like a good partner.
However, in your search for the perfect partner, you might find yourself a victim of narcissists.
Who are narcissists, and should you be scared of falling prey to these types of people?
Narcissistic people usually prey on people that are susceptible to being controlled and manipulated.
Narcissist people need validation, so offering tons of validation and compliments might make you more attractive to someone who is narcissistic.
Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid narcissistic people and to escape their grasp, such as being educated about narcissistic personality disorder and setting boundaries.
Almost all of us have some narcissistic personality traits. These include traits such as:
- Being exploitive of others
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Being a leader
- Having a sense of superiority
- Being self-absorbed
- Needing to be admired
The narcissistic personality index, or NPI, measures these traits on a scale of 0 to 40. Most people will score anywhere in the early to mid-teens, such as 13 to 17.
This means that most people you date will have some of these traits, with some people having more of an inflated sense of ego or superiority, for instance, than others.
This doesn’t mean that everyone is a narcissist. Even people that score a high score on the NPI aren’t necessarily deemed narcissists.
Because of how common narcissistic traits are in people, especially today with social media culture, it’s important to understand the signs that you’re with a narcissist.
This can help you walk away from an unhealthy and abusive relationship, as well as prevent dating people that carry these toxic traits in the future.
Before we move on to explaining who can be preyed on by a narcissist, it’s important to know what signs to look out for in someone with NPD.
These signs can be easy to miss, especially if you’re new to the dating world.
Look out for these signs when entering a relationship so you know how to stay safe and when to call it quits.
Remember, no matter what type of personality you have, you might still fall prey to a narcissist despite your best efforts.
People with narcissism are affected by a condition known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, also known as NPD.
It’s estimated that up to 5% of people are affected by NDP, which is considered one of 10 personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.
Those with NPD will show various signs that will alert you to their true personality. These include:
Not letting you speak. Talking over people is very common for narcissists. These are people that need to be heard above all others and have an extreme sense of entitlement. Even if someone with NPD allows you to talk, it might seem as if they aren’t listening to you or constantly trying to turn the attention toward themselves.
Invalidating your feelings. People with NPD might make you believe they are never wrong. Whether that’s needing to be right about a certain fact, needing to make plans when going out, or other issues in a relationship, all their conversations point to the narcissist always being right in a relationship. This is, of course, a false narrative, since no one person is ever 100% right all the time.
Making you feel guilty for wanting to leave. At some point, being with a narcissist gets exhausting, and you might want to end the relationship completely. Someone with NPD needs validation and will continue to make you feel guilty and might even pressure you to stay in an abusive relationship with promises of change. This is never the case unless the person with NPD gets serious therapy and help.
Constantly crossing boundaries. Whether you don’t want your partner to look at your phone or finances, want to maintain your privacy, or even don’t want your partner to step out of your relationship, someone with NPD will always find a way to make you feel as if you’re the wrong one in the relationship. They might invalidate your boundaries and constantly make excuses for it, such as, “If you loved, me you’d stay home more,” or “I cheated because you never want to have sex.” These excuses will become more and more common the fewer and fewer boundaries you develop.
Putting you down. If you feel as if your partner constantly tries to embarrass you in front of their friends and constantly insults you about your appearance, career choices, or even your family, know that these are all abusive behaviors that should not be tolerated. Unfortunately, many people might not realize that these comments, however harmless, have a big impact on their mental health. Lowered self-confidence, self-worth, and feelings of anxiety and resentment can all result from put-downs. If your partner refuses to see the harm in these insults and constantly needs to insult you to make themselves feel better, this is the surest sign you are dealing with a narcissist.
Now that you know who exactly a narcissist is, it’s important to understand what you can do to avoid falling prey to one of these types of people.
As we mentioned earlier, despite your best efforts, a narcissist might also be able to charm their way into your life.
If this is the case, never feel guilty for letting your guard down. Remember – it’s never your fault if you are in an abusive relationship.
And there is always help available to help you escape from an abusive relationship and get into a better, more loving relationship.
However, the best way to avoid becoming prey to a narcissist is to avoid being the type of person they would initially prey on. These include:
People with no boundaries. Setting boundaries is not an easy task. If you like your partner and are new to the dating game, for instance, it might be difficult for you to set boundaries and risk upsetting your partner. However, although it might seem difficult to do at first, setting boundaries is incredibly important to help you avoid falling prey to a narcissist and letting yourself become entangled in a co-dependent relationship. For people that have no boundaries, the narcissist might begin to initiate put-downs, try to date and even have sex outside the relationship, or begin to invade their personal space. Set your boundaries from the very beginning, and a narcissist will simply move on to someone who isn’t as set in their boundaries as you are.
People that constantly validate. Yes, validating your partner is a great way to boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. If your partner recently got a job promotion, graduated school, or completed another big accomplishment, then it’s completely normal to validate and celebrate them. However, people with NPD seek out this validation constantly. Everything from the way they dress, to the way they look, their job or schooling, or other parts of their life must be put on a pedestal. You don’t have to show validation constantly, as this can be tiring and even disingenuous. It can also lead to you validating things you don’t necessarily agree with.
People that don’t stand up for themselves. Many narcissists want to have a partner they can easily control and put down. This makes it easier for them to feel superior and validate their selves. Unfortunately, this can have negative consequences on their partners, and can even lead to thoughts of depression and low self-esteem. In extreme scenarios, people in a relationship with someone with NPD might begin to feel as if they cannot escape from the relationship or “do better.” Your partner might even tell you you’re nothing without them and you cannot succeed in life if it wasn’t for their input. These are all false allegations! And you can very much walk away from someone with narcissistic personality disorder and stand up for yourself, leading the narcissist to seek someone else to manipulate.
Trophy wives or husbands. On the opposite side of the spectrum, narcissistic people have also been known to use their partners as trophies, viewing them as extensions of themselves and their own accomplishments. For instance, if you’ve ever seen shows where mothers enroll their daughters in beauty pageants against their will, this could be seen as a sign of abuse and narcissism. Remember that you are worthy enough all on your own and don’t need validation from your partner. Statements such as “You can’t quit your job because you make too much money,” or “That career doesn’t suit you” are signs of narcissism. Be sure in your ways and know that your career choices are your own to make.
Finally, people with NPD will steer clear of someone who can recognize their flaws outright, are on a mission to improve themselves, and doesn’t need to be validated to feel cared for.
Many people looking for a relationship might make the mistake of assuming that they need a partner to be happy.
On the contrary, you must be able to be okay with yourself and be happy on your own before getting into a relationship.
Some things you can do include:
- Practice positive affirmations
- Avoid needing validation
- Consider therapy if you feel you have low self-esteem or have issues with trauma
- Avoid getting into a relationship right after a breakup
- Stay educated on narcissists and keep a watchful eye on your emotions
- Make sure you’re dating someone and are only serious after you’re comfortable with them
People with NPD will do everything they can to put their partners down to make themselves feel superior.
This might result in them seeking out people who are not confident in themselves and putting up with their behavior in an attempt to keep them satisfied or out of fear of losing the relationship.
Never feel afraid to stand up for yourself. Make sure you’re in a relationship with someone who makes you feel validated and encourages your career path.