Signs Your Date Is a Narcissist

The majority of couples that split up do so because of problems communicating, or their values and lifestyle choices were irreconcilable, leading to a lack of intimacy and estrangement.  At the risk of sounding negative or paranoid, I would like to discuss the minority of couples with a serious problem — where one of them turns out to have some form of narcissistic personality disorder.

I know some now-singles who ask:  “How could I have avoided shacking up with that pathological liar/user/egomaniac/manipulator/sociopath in the first place?”

While there are various theories as to the cause of this type of behavior and why he or she feels the need to entrap someone in a relationship, I claim no expertise nor do I have space in this blog to discuss them.

However, I can offer you the following:

  1. Links to some interesting and relevant fictional works in the English language that you may enjoy:
  2. Some common behaviors exhibited by antagonists in fiction and also in real life that, when taken in some combination, may signal the wisdom of taking to your heels:
    • Starting from day one, your date oozes charm and puts a huge effort into sweeping you off your feet; including showering or overwhelming you with gifts, making significant gestures, and paying you obsessive in-person and electronic attention.
    • Your date wants you to go on a “romantic getaway” or exotic trip together soon after you meet, before you feel like you know her.
    • Your date wants to know everything about you, but is evasive or secretive, gives platitudes, or gives conflicting information when you ask probing questions or want to meet people in his life.
    • Your date has no close friends that she wants you to get to know in person, even after a couple of months.
    • Your date pressures you to commit to him soon after you meet; including saying things like I love you, I’m falling for you, let’s elope, I can see us starting a family together, and/or I can see us growing old together.
    • When you are hurt that he is shutting you out emotionally, he responds angrily, coldly, or apologizes that there are things he is not ready to talk about yet.
    • If you met online, she says a lot of great stuff and you seem to be on “the same wavelength,” but she always manages to avoid meeting in person.
  3. Additional behavioral alerts to watch out for once you’ve made a commitment to your date: he/she soon begins to make moves to isolate you from your family and circle of friends, and to doubt yourself:
    • She is charming in front of people you care about, but shows contempt for or speaks contemptuously about them when you are alone.
    • When you make plans to be with people you care about, he finds a variety of excuses to not go, makes only brief appearances, or is a no-show.
    • When you make plans to be with people you care about, she makes you feel guilty about preferring them to her, and is happy when you choose to not see them.
    • He plants seeds of doubt in your mind as to whether people you care about truly care about you.
    • She plants seeds of doubt about yourself by nitpicking or criticizing the way you are, look, and behave.
Some of the behaviors under #2 may seem like those of a love-struck person at the onset, especially if you are the recipient of the attention.  It is further helped along by the impulse to rationalize as discussed by Debra Weiner.  A narcissist’s modus operandi is much like a high-pressure salesperson’s pitch:  it relies on setting you up to perceive that what is offered is an unbelievably good deal, and that the limited-time offer will evaporate if you don’t immediately buy.  It’s the old bait and switch, with heartbreaking long-term consequences for the prey.

I can assure you that when someone truly cares about you, he or she is more likely to share openly, be patient, empathize, sees the best in you, and make effort to know those close to you.  You should always be suspicious of anyone who resorts to manipulative tactics such as pressuring, overwhelming, guilting, belittling, or other ways to make you doubt yourself.

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