How many times have you heard someone say “I don’t mean to be narcissistic but …” or “She is kind of a narcissist but …” ? The term Narcissist is widely used today in our society yet lacks enough understanding. Generally speaking, it is often used to describe a person who is full of him or herself. While that is true to some extent, the actual definition in clinical terms of psychology goes way beyond that. Until I learned about its true meanings and the danger of dealing with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I was absolutely clueless and most importantly, defenseless. Even though I knew the word for all these years, it never occurred to me that understanding it could literally save someone’s life. Because let’s be honest, we don’t think of any immediate threat or harm when we hear the word narcissism. We simply dismiss it because we think that the worst thing that could happen would be somebody being overly annoying because she is being so full of herself. This is exactly where it raises concerns because a narcissistic person can cause way more damage than one could ever imagine.
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist is someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Yes, it is an actual personality disorder in which a person displays an inflated sense of importance, entitlement, grandiosity, superficiality, rage, arrogance, and shallow emotions as a manifestation of their severe insecurity. Narcissists tend to lack empathy, therefore, they are often not made for close intimacy with loved ones. Because of their chronic insecurity and emptiness, their main drive is always validation from others. By now, I’m pretty sure we all know at least one person who is a narcissist by understanding these personality traits. Stick around because it gets much worse as we begin to understand this personality disorder in depth.
Spine-chilling truths about narcissists
Narcissists are very easy to spot once we have the knowledge. However, most of us don’t, and even the most intelligent individuals fall in the trap of a narcissist because of their charismatic attitude and charm. Narcissists thrive on superficiality, and they are very great at socializing and manipulating the crowds. They are the ones that most of us find charming, funny, friendly, and even attractive. Because the validations from others are their main concern, their social media is probably filled with many followers and pictures of themselves doing great things in life, which include not just the flashy things in life but also the charitable things like helping others. They are superficial but very smart in knowing exactly how to manipulate others. Encounters with them might feel a little too perfect because they know what to say to make you feel comfortable very quickly. It seems harmless so far, right? If you could spot a narcissist and you could keep your distance at this stage, you might have just saved yourself from a risky situation.
Because narcissists are very charming, a lot of people fall in their trap and end up in a relationship. The scary part about this is that they remain clueless for years and decades not knowing that their partners have this personality disorder and often times they find themselves stuck in a very toxic relationship. How do they remain clueless? This is exactly where it gets serious and scary. Because narcissists are so great at manipulating others, their partners remain confused and at times even lose a sense of themselves. This results in questioning their own reality, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, despair, isolation, and all the other things that keep them stuck in the relationship. Narcissists oftentimes use gaslighting, which is emotional abuse to confuse and isolate their partners. This is another dangerous aspect of dealing with a narcissist because victims are not only vulnerable with no support from others, but they are also in danger because they no longer trust themselves and have their narcissistic partners as means of validating what is true, which we now know is deadly.
Signs that you may be dealing with a narcissist
- Feeling like you are never enough
- You feel like you need to videotape everything in order to find out what really happened
- Self-doubt and second-guessing
- Feeling as though you are losing your mind
- Despair and helplessness
- Depression and anxiety
- Isolation from friends and family
It might be a time to question whether the relationship with your partner is worth your well-being if you checked off most of those listed above. If you are still unsure, ask yourself whether your partner has the ability to be emotionally intimate with you and show empathy. Another easy way to find out is to evaluate whether your partner is engaging in gaslighting. If your relationship with your partner meets all these criteria, it might be time to start accepting that there is an actual problem you can no longer ignore.
Plan your escape
I want to emphasize and remind you that you do not have to make a move right away just because you just found out that you’re with a narcissist. That is actually dangerous because you are underestimating what narcissists could do in those breakup moments. If you find that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, chances are you’re already isolated and have no support from friends and family. What’s worse, you’ve already lost a sense of self and confidence in knowing what is true at this point from constantly being gaslighted and might even suffer depression and other psychological symptoms.
Although it is overwhelming and scary, this checklist can help prepare you mentally and financially to end a toxic relationship with your narcissistic partner.
- Start documenting everything
- Build a good support system
- Keep your friends and family in the loop with detailed information
- Seek help from a licensed therapist for your depression and anxiety if needed
- Safeguard your finances and bills (Making sure your partner has no access to any of these)
- Educate yourself on Domestic Violence and narcissistic personality disorder
The most important thing
If you have been in a relationship with a narcissist, chances are that you will go through a phase of denial. Your reality was shaken multiple times a day, criticized, and have been isolated from your friends and family. It is normal to fall back into the same pattern of self-doubt thinking that you are making this up and you are losing your mind. I encourage you to be very patient and gentle with yourself if you are feeling this way. Write things out in a safe place because this will help you engage your logical thinking. No one should endure any suffering or abuse under any circumstances. Please note that narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder, and the hard truth is that there really is no hope. A licensed clinical psychologist and professor, gaslighting, who is an expert in treating this mental disorder states that there is a very slim chance that a person with this disorder may show improvement with consistent treatments with a highly skilled therapist, diligence, and managed expectation. With this in mind, I highly suggest you spend a good time evaluating your situation and how you would like to spend the rest of your life if you are currently in a relationship with a narcissist. I also recommend checking out some of Dr. Ramani’s work on YouTube because she explains narcissism in such ways nobody else can. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below if you are or know someone who is dealing with a narcissist. Finally, please share the knowledge as this could really save someone from enduring unnecessary suffering and abuse.