A relationship with a narcissistic partner can only ever end in heartbreak, but getting out before it’s too late can be very difficult unless you’re familiar with the warning signs.
Emma Davey, a BACP counsellor and narcissistic abuse recovery coach at My Trauma Therapy, told FEMAIL that being in a relationship with a narcissist can be ‘extremely damaging to your mental and physical health’.
Sharing the red flags to look our for if you suspect your partner may have narcissistic personality disorder, she warned that no matter how much a partner may want to ‘save’ a narcissist, it’s highly unlikely they’ll change their behaviour.
The red flags include things that could initally seem positive, such as declaring love early on in the relationship, wanting to know every detail of your past as soon as possible, and decscribing an idealised future together.
It’s only when you’re hooked that the more obviously sinister signs emerge, such as trying to control you financially, never genuinely apologising and trying to isolate you from your friends and family so you rely on them completely.
Here Emma reveals the six red flags that everyone should be aware of.
Emma Davey, a counsellor and narcissistic abuse recovery coach, told FEMAIL the signs to look out for if you suspect your partner may have narcissistic personality disorder. Stock image
Lies and future faking
Narcissists lie continuously, even over the smallest of things. You will never get the truth from a narcissist. They have to lie about who they are so that they can create the allusion they’re better than everyone else.
When you first meet a narcissist, they will sell you the dream. Future faking is part of their scam of tricking you into believing you have met your soul mate and make you buy into the future they are creating for you. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
A narcissist wants to trap you as quickly as possible before their masks slips, and you start to see the harsh reality of their abuse. This is why victims of narcissistic abuse describe meeting, and falling in love, with a narcissist, as a whirlwind.
The ‘Love’ word gets used very quickly to make the victim feel that they are everything the narcissist has ever wanted. A narcissist will make their victim feel extremely special and that they’re ‘the one’.
How to tell if you’re a victim of gaslighting
A victim of gaslighting will experience some or all of the following:
• Difficulty in making decisions on their own, due to the constant fear they will get it wrong.
• Confused about their relationship. Victims don’tknow how to change themselves to make the abuser happy. They will start to lose their own identity.
• Constant arguments with the abuser, however hard they try to avoid them. They go round in circles and never get closure on a topic.
• Having to make excuses for the abuser’s behaviour to themselves or other people.
• Confused as to why they are not happy when the abuser says they love them. They know it doesn’tfeel right, but they try to convince themselves and others that everything is ok.
• Blaming themselves as they have been led to believe everything is their fault. Victims will find themselves constantly apologising, even when they’ve done nothing wrong.
• Confused as to what to feel or think, as they’re told that everything they do is wrong, so they lose their self-confidence.
The victim is actually falling in love with a ghost; the person the narcissist pretends to be at this point doesn’t exist and this is very hard for victims to accept, even when the words and the actions don’t match up.
It’s very common for a victim to put so much effort into trying to please and help the narcissist, that they cling onto the memory of the amazing and charming person who they met at the beginning. In the meantime, they neglect themselves and their own needs.
Manipulation and control
A narcissist needs to take control of you very quickly. They will look to see who you are associated with and who your outside influencers are and then isolate you from friends and family, so you become dependent on them. Your isolation increases their power, control and influence over you.
The narcissist will start by planting seeds in your mind to make you believe you don’t need anyone else apart from them. They will suggest that others are having a negative effect on your life or your relationship with them.
This manipulation often sees victims cutting the outside world off to make their abuser happy and getting brainwashed into believing everybody is against them.
It is also common for a narcissist to try and take control financially, as this is another way of making their victim depend on them for everything. Before a victim realises what’s happening, they have become a child again,having to ask for pocket money.
Many abusers will even install tracking devices on their victim’s phone or vehicles so they can see exactly where they are going and when.
This behaviour all helps to make the victim trapped and that they not able to walk away from the relationship, however bad it gets.
The need for validation
Narcissists need constant attention and validation. To get this they will often appear, to the outside world, as the most kind, caring, generous and charming people. The person the narcissist portrays to everyone else is often the opposite of who they really are.
Through this behaviour narcissists build a network of people that we call ‘flying monkeys’. These people are part of the Narcissist’s game. They make it very hard for victims to speak out about the abuse they suffer behind closed doors.
No-one believes the victim when they try to describe the real person and the ‘flying monkeys’ will actively support the abuser and their version of the truth.
Many victims suffer in silence because they have such a hard time proving the abuse they receive.
Lack of empathy or ability to apologise
A narcissist will never admit when they’re wrong. That’s because they genuinely don’t believe they are ever in the wrong. To them everybody else is the problem, and so they shift the blame onto others.
Narcissists have no empathy, it’s not part of their makeup. At times you might hear the odd fake apology, which will be said for a reaction to benefit themselves.
If a victim starts to break away from their abuser, the narcissist will try to hoover the victim back in. They will do this by giving the victim a false apology and will promise to go and get help. You shouldn’t be fooled by this ‘performance’ the likelihood of a narcissist going to get help is extremely slim because they think they’re perfect.
The red flags include telling lies about themselves to make themselves seem appealing, constantly needing validation and never respecting your personal boundaries. Stock image
Gaslighting is one of the most common techniques and forms of manipulation used by narcissists. Gaslighting is when a person tries to convince somebody else (the victim) that they are wrong about something, when in fact they are not. A Narcissist will use this tactic to brainwash their victims. Over time it causes the victim to question their own sanity and what is reality.
The perpetrator knows what they are doing, but they get enjoyment and a sense of power in seeing their victim ‘lose their mind’. When Gaslighting, the Narcissist will use the phases; ‘that never happened’, ‘you’re overreacting’, ‘you’re too sensitive’, ‘you need to see a doctor’, ‘I never said that’, ‘you’re wrong’, ‘are you feeling ok’?
A victim of gaslighting will experience some or all of the following:
The abuser will often leave the victim for short or long periods of time. This makes a victim accept any behaviour they receive; in the hope the abuser comes back to them.
Lack of respect for boundaries
A Narcissist will never respect a boundary. When you first meet a narcissist, they will see how far they can push your boundaries to determine if you are a potential victim.
A narcissist will look for your vulnerabilities, which is why they will want to know everything about you as quickly as possible. They will find out how much you are prepared to take and how much they can push you into accepting their behaviour.
A vulnerable person is easier to control and manipulate than someone who has very strong boundaries in place.
Being involved with a narcissist is extremely damaging to your mental and physical health. If you notice someone having a negative impact on your life, this is a red flag and should not be ignored. No matter how much you want to save them you will only be destroyed in the process.