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Is my partner a narcissist?

June 27, 2024
Reviewed by: Rajnandini Rathod

Relationships can be incredibly fulfilling, offering support, love, and companionship. However, they can also become sources of significant stress and emotional turmoil, especially when your partner exhibits behaviours that make you question their empathy and regard for others. Have you ever felt like your partner is more concerned with their own needs and desires than with yours? Do they seem to crave constant admiration but seldom show genuine concern for your feelings?

These questions often surface when you’re dealing with someone who might have narcissistic traits. Narcissism, characterised by an inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, can be challenging to identify and even more challenging to live with. Understanding narcissism is crucial, not just for labelling behaviour, but for making informed decisions about your relationship and mental well-being.

In this blog, we will explore the key traits of narcissism and help you identify the signs that your partner may be a narcissist. We will delve into the impact such a relationship can have on your mental health and offer practical advice on how to cope, set boundaries, and decide whether to stay or leave. By the end of this article, you will have a clearer understanding of narcissistic behaviour and the tools to navigate your relationship more effectively.

Common Traits of Narcissists

Understanding the common traits associated with narcissism can help you recognise patterns in your partner’s behaviour. Here are some key characteristics to watch for:

  • Grandiosity and Self-Importance: Narcissists often have an exaggerated sense of their own importance and achievements. They may believe they are superior to others and deserve special treatment.
  • Need for Excessive Admiration: A hallmark of narcissism is the insatiable need for admiration and validation. Narcissists thrive on compliments and praise and may become upset or angry if they do not receive the attention they crave.
  • Lack of Empathy: One of the most damaging traits of a narcissist is their inability to empathise with others. They often disregard or fail to recognise the feelings and needs of those around them.
  • Manipulative Behavior: Narcissists can be highly manipulative, using tactics like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and emotional blackmail to control and dominate others. They are skilled at twisting situations to their advantage and making others feel responsible for their problems.
  • Sense of Entitlement: Narcissists often have an unrealistic sense of entitlement, expecting others to cater to their needs without reciprocation. They may become enraged when their expectations are not met.

It’s important to note that exhibiting some narcissistic traits occasionally, or in specific situations, is normal and doesn’t necessarily mean someone has NPD. For instance, many people may crave admiration or act selfishly during stressful times. It becomes a concern when these behaviours are chronic and pervasive and significantly impact relationships and daily functioning. Recognising these traits in your partner doesn’t necessarily mean they have NPD, but it can be a red flag indicating that their behaviour may be problematic.

Signs Your Partner Might Be a Narcissist

Recognising the signs of narcissism in your partner can be challenging, especially since many narcissistic behaviours can be subtle or masked by charm. Here are some key indicators that your partner might exhibit narcissistic traits:

Red Flags in Early Stages of Relationship

  • Love Bombing: At the beginning of the relationship, narcissists often engage in “love bombing,” where they shower you with excessive attention, flattery, and affection. This intense focus can feel exhilarating but may be a tactic to quickly establish control and dependency.
  • Excessive Charm and Charisma: Narcissists can be incredibly charming and charismatic. They may initially present themselves as perfect partners, but this facade can eventually give way to more self-centred behaviours.

Behavioural Patterns

  • Gaslighting and Manipulation: Narcissists often use gaslighting to make you doubt your own perceptions and reality. They may deny things they said or did, twist the truth, and make you feel like you’re overreacting or being unreasonable.
  • Disregard for Your Feelings and Needs: A lack of empathy is a hallmark of narcissism. Your partner may regularly dismiss or minimise your feelings, showing little genuine concern for your emotional well-being.
  • Constant Need for Validation and Attention: Narcissists crave admiration and validation from others. They may constantly seek compliments and attention and become upset or angry if they feel ignored or unappreciated.
  • Jealousy and Possessiveness: Narcissists can be extremely jealous and possessive. They may become suspicious of your interactions with others and attempt to control who you spend time with.

Communication Issues

  • Frequent Arguments Where They Play the Victim: Narcissists often position themselves as the victim in conflicts. They may twist situations to make you feel guilty or responsible for their problems, deflecting blame from themselves.
  • Inability to Take Responsibility for Mistakes: Admitting fault is difficult for narcissists. They are likely to blame others for their mistakes and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Dismissive or Condescending Communication: Narcissists may frequently talk down to you, dismiss your opinions, and belittle your achievements. This condescending behaviour can erode your self-esteem over time.

Impact on Your Mental Health

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can have profound and lasting effects on your mental health. The constant manipulation, lack of empathy, and emotional abuse can lead to significant psychological and emotional challenges. Here are some of the key impacts:

  • Anxiety and Depression: The unpredictable behaviour of a narcissistic partner can lead to chronic anxiety and depression. You may find yourself constantly on edge, worrying about their reactions, and feeling helpless in the face of their manipulative tactics.
  • Low Self-Esteem and Self-Worth: Narcissists often belittle and devalue their partners, leading to a gradual erosion of self-esteem and self-worth. You might start to believe the negative things they say about you, internalising their criticism and feeling inadequate.
  • Feeling Isolated and Unsupported: Narcissists tend to isolate their partners from friends and family to maintain control. This isolation can leave you feeling alone and unsupported, making it harder to reach out for help or perspective.
  • Stress-Related Health Issues: The constant stress of dealing with a narcissistic partner can manifest physically. You might experience headaches, fatigue, digestive issues, and other stress-related health problems. Chronic stress can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses.
  • Confusion and Self-Doubt: Narcissists are skilled at gaslighting, a manipulation tactic that makes you question your own reality and perceptions. This can lead to chronic confusion and self-doubt, making it difficult to trust your judgment or make decisions confidently.
  • Codependency: Over time, you may develop codependent behaviours, where your sense of identity and self-worth becomes overly reliant on the narcissist’s approval and validation. This can create a cycle of seeking their approval despite their abusive behaviour.
  • Strained Relationships with Others: The isolating tactics of a narcissistic partner can strain your relationships with friends and family. You might withdraw from social interactions, fearing criticism or judgment, or because the narcissist has manipulated you into believing that others are against you.
  • Difficulty Trusting Others: After experiencing manipulation and betrayal from a narcissistic partner, you may find it challenging to trust others in future relationships. This can hinder your ability to form healthy, supportive connections.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Partner is a Narcissist

If you suspect that your partner is a narcissist, taking proactive steps to protect your well-being and regain control over your life is essential. Here are some practical measures you can take:

Self-Reflection and Assessment

Begin by reflecting on your relationship and your partner’s behaviour. Journaling can be a helpful tool to document your feelings and experiences. Write down instances where you felt manipulated, belittled, or ignored. This process can help you gain clarity and recognise patterns in your partner’s behaviour. Additionally, talking to trusted friends or a therapist can provide valuable perspectives and support as you navigate your feelings and concerns.

Setting Boundaries

Establishing and maintaining personal boundaries is crucial when dealing with a narcissistic partner. Clearly define what behaviours are unacceptable and communicate these boundaries firmly and calmly. Be prepared for pushback, as narcissists often resist boundaries. Consistently enforcing these limits is vital to protecting your emotional health. For example, if your partner frequently belittles you, set a boundary that you will not engage in conversations where this behaviour occurs and leave the situation if it continues.

Seeking Professional Help

Consider seeking professional help to navigate your relationship with a narcissist. Individual therapy can provide you with strategies to cope with the emotional challenges and reinforce your self-esteem. A therapist can also help you develop effective communication skills and reinforce your boundaries. If your partner is willing, couples therapy can be an option, although it is important to choose a therapist experienced in dealing with narcissistic behaviour. Additionally, support groups and online communities can offer a sense of solidarity and understanding to those who have faced similar situations.

Deciding to Stay or Leave

Evaluating whether to stay in the relationship or leave is a deeply personal decision. Consider factors such as the severity of the narcissistic behaviour, your partner’s willingness to seek help, and the impact on your mental health and well-being. If the relationship is causing significant harm and your partner shows no signs of change, it may be necessary to create an exit plan. Ensure you have a support system in place, including friends, family, and possibly legal advice, to help you transition safely out of the relationship.

Moving Forward

If you decide to leave the relationship, focus on healing and recovery. Rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence will take time. Engage in self-care activities that nourish your mind and body, and practice self-compassion. Connecting with supportive friends and family and seeking therapy can help you process your experiences and move forward healthily. If you choose to stay, ongoing self-care and boundary-setting are essential. Continue to seek support and resources to help you manage the relationship dynamics effectively.


It’s important to remember that occasional narcissistic behaviours in a partner do not necessarily mean they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. However, if these behaviours are persistent and significantly impact your emotional health, it’s vital to take them seriously. Deciding whether to stay in or leave the relationship is a deeply personal decision that should be made with careful consideration of your mental health and safety.

Whether you choose to stay and work on the relationship or to leave and focus on your own healing, prioritising your well-being is essential. Seek support from trusted friends, family, and professionals who can offer guidance and understanding. Remember, you deserve to be in a relationship where you feel valued, respected, and emotionally supported.


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