10 red flags of a narcissistic partner – and how to identify them early on

A new relationship is an ultimate adventure: thrilling and terrifying!

But as you journey into a potential romance, be sure to pay attention to any red flags that suggest your partner may have narcissistic tendencies.

Think you might be getting involved with a narcissist? Here are 10 red flags that could clue you into their toxic traits.

So no matter where Cupid takes you, there’s always something interesting around every romantic corner…and if it looks sketchy? Proceed with caution or step away entirely.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is an often misunderstood personality disorder characterized by extreme self-confidence that can sometimes border on arrogance.

Characterized through a mix of grandiosity and entitlement, it’s become the popular definition for people who may have difficulty navigating social situations with humility.

Here’s the catch: narcissists can be hard to recognize without careful consideration. The emotional abuse they bring may go unnoticed by those unaware of specific signs.

So arm yourself with knowledge and protect your mental health!

Read on for the key indicators that someone doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

10 warning signs of narcissistic partners

Truth be told, narcissistic characteristics can be a real deal breaker in a relationship. So it’s always safer to watch out for them early on.

1) You always hear them talking about themselves

A telltale sign of self-focused behavior is someone who talks rigorously about themselves—their achievements, experiences, and even their looks.

They constantly monopolize the conversation without bothering to ask questions about you.

Heck, even if they did, their interest isn’t genuine.

Similarly, narcissists make grand statements without ever backing them up. For example, they may come up with an elaborate plan or idea of putting up a business but end up not doing anything about it.

This ultimately serves the purpose of building up their own worth and power over conversations so they never feel inferior towards another person around them.

2) Narcissists have a controlling behavior

We all have a little bit of a control freak in us, right? We can’t help wanting to maintain some level of command over what transpires around our lives. 

Now, if we’re talking about narcissists, it’s a whole new level of unrivaled ability to control and manipulate without any bounds!

They often seek power and domination in their relationships, taking control of all the decisions to feel superior. Moreover, they may prevent you from seeing certain people or going places they don’t approve of – a truly toxic behavior that can ruin your life!

As you know, relationships can be a tricky game. 

And when your partner has narcissistic tendencies, no amount of compromise will matter. They’ll always want to have their way and expect it over everything else.

This will leave you feeling emotionally drained with absolutely nowhere left to turn.

3) They have a serious lack of empathy

Are you in a relationship where your feelings and boundaries are constantly under attack? Someone who takes advantage of the ones they love without concern for consequences?

Now is your moment to pause and reset.

Because it’s likely that you’re currently dealing with narcissistic tendencies.

Let me explain.

Narcissists have trouble understanding empathy. They aren’t willing or capable to consider how their words and actions could hurt another person.

Say, you had an argument. Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing, they’ll make excuses or claim it’s all in your head.

This isn’t just a sign of disrespect, but an inability to show genuine consideration for how you feel – a key narcissistic trait.

Even if they apologize afterward there is usually no real emotional connection between what they said or did wrong.

Furthermore, making amends becomes inconsequential as far as they’re concerned.

Of course, this doesn’t make them sociopaths per se, but rather makes narcissism their Achilles heel.

4) Unwillingness to compromise

Relationships are all about compromises. More often than not, you and your partner have to meet each other halfway in order to make it work.

However, narcissistic partners are so stuck on their self-image that they don’t understand the concept of compromise.

In their minds, it’s not about compromising the relationship.

Rather, it’s taking an all-or-nothing approach to relationships. Their needs and wants are placed above another person’s, leaving no room for any kind of negotiation and flexibility.

And of top of that, narcissistic partners may expect others to submit to their desires. Folks should be willing to bend over backward for them with little effort on their end in return.

I could go on and on about this, but the main takeaway here is that narcissistic partners are often unwilling to make sacrifices or even compromises in a relationship.

If you’re seeing this behavior, it’s time to reevaluate the dynamic of your relationship.

5) They have poor communication skills

When it comes to great relationships, effective communication is key! But if you think you’re dating a narcissist, they could struggle with conversations that go beyond the surface level.

That’s because of their need to focus on themselves.

Narcissists can be sensitive to criticism and challenging conversations, which could lead to negative interactions.

To create a more meaningful connection, try engaging them in topics they’re passionate about. Ask questions that will help you gain insight into their values and interests.

Doing so shows your understanding and appreciation for the person behind the narcissism.

So if it feels like you and your partner are stuck in a cycle of conflict, take the time to check for narcissistic signs. They can be sensitive to challenges or criticism – so much so that they may respond aggressively rather than resolve things peacefully.

Communication should always come first: make sure both sides understand each other and nurture open dialogue with one another.

6) A narcissist has unrealistic expectations

Has your partner been making demands on you and expecting the world to revolve around them? And when things do go exactly according to plan, do they feel very disappointed to the point of rage or do they become very anxious?

It could indicate a deeper issue than just wanting to call the shots.

You could be caught in an exhausting cycle with someone who’s exhibiting signs of narcissism

You see, narcissists tend to have incredibly high expectations that they place upon themselves – as well as their partners! 

They often expect unconditional love, perfect service, and immediate attention at any moment.

These very unrealistic demands can leave you feeling drained and unfulfilled.

It adds up to this: excessive amounts of stress within your relationship, both mentally & physically draining its strength…and yours too!

Look, if your relationship’s already stained due to this kind of narcissistic tendency, having an honest conversation may be worth your time.

While broaching that kind of topic may not come naturally or easily, this dialogue will help ensure both you and them understand why their behavior needs to change in order for a healthier connection between the two of you.

7) You’re constantly criticized by them

Are your conversations with your partner looking more like one-way lectures lately? 

If you often find yourself facing a barrage of criticism, it could be a good indication that they’re narcissists.

But isn’t that a normal part of any relationship?

Well, yes and no. 

While gentle feedback in relationships can help you grow and become your best self, most narcissistic partners use criticism as a weapon.

They usually aim to tear you down rather than build you up. It’s relentless negativity that takes its toll on your sense of worthiness.

This is a clear red flag because narcissistic partners are usually more focused on how you make them look rather than the actual criticism itself. 

So, if your partner is always pointing out your flaws and expecting perfection from you, it could be a sign of narcissistic behavior. 

8) Narcissists show extreme envy and jealousy

Envy is a natural emotion. But when it comes to narcissists, they take things to an extreme.

They continuously display suspicious behavior or become overly possessive. Moreover, they’re threatened by any type of success or achievement you have.

Here’s the thing: most narcissists will go to extreme lengths to make sure that their own needs and perspectives are met.

This could mean manipulating situations in such a way that your own goals are hindered, or even sabotaging the progress you’ve made.

This type of jealousy is both unfounded and often irrational – so much so that small things can trigger their insecurities.

If your partner is on the lookout for opportunities to compare you with others, or try and control how much attention you pay someone else – chances are they’re displaying narcissistic behavior.

Unfortunately, this means that their focus has shifted from considering your feelings completely towards looking out only for themselves.

9) They use gaslighting as a form of manipulation to get their way

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation used by narcissists to intimidate and control their partners. This tactic involves playing psychological games such as denying reality, manipulating information by denying any real facts exist, and trying to create doubt in the victim’s mind.

For example, your partner may deny making a particular comment or doing something that you know happened.

Or they might be so convincing in their denials that you start to doubt yourself, making it harder for you to trust your own instincts and memory.

Are you left feeling confused, uncertain, and helpless?

This is often an attempt by narcissistic people to get what they want—which is often power and control over the situation.

It all boils down to this: if gaslighting is used in your relationship, it’s a sure sign that narcissistic behavior exists and should not be ignored.

10) They have a lack of accountability

Do you ever wonder why your partner never takes ownership of their mistakes? 

This could be a sign of narcissistic behavior. 

Narcissistic people often have the inability to account for their actions and put blame on anyone but themselves. 

When it comes to facing scrutiny, these people use an arsenal of tricks ranging from the classic blame game all the way down to simply pretending like nothing ever happened.

This kind of behavior may feel exhausting and futile in a relationship setting. They’re prone to placing blame elsewhere. And where else will they channel their efforts? 

Straight to you.

When your partner avoids taking responsibility, it can really put a dent in your romance. You feel like all of your hard work goes to waste when they’re unable or unwilling to put in their part.

So if your partner can never accept any fault or wrongdoing, that’s an undeniable red flag. 

What to do if you’re dating a narcissist?

Dating a narcissist can be deceptively tricky. From their alluring charm of confidence to later signs such as controlling and belittling behavior, it’s hard to tell what you may be getting yourself into until the red flags start showing up. If this rings true for your current partner, here are three strategies that could help turn the tide:

Set clear and healthy boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries is key to having a fulfilling relationship, especially with more difficult people. 

This can help create strong bonds that don’t require sacrificing who you are.

Plus, it can be an effective way to get you to take yourself seriously and respect your needs. 

Speak up for yourself

Navigating a relationship with someone displaying narcissistic tendencies can be an emotionally challenging experience. It takes strength and resilience to overcome such turmoil, but it’s not impossible!

And building your courage is key when it comes to maintaining mental well-being in challenging situations.

Of course, voicing concerns may feel intimidating. That’s because sometimes, you feel you may be shot down.

Just be honest.

Ultimately, talking through any issues can help prevent any potential misunderstandings from escalating into more destructive disputes.

By speaking up and standing strong, you send the message that you’re not someone they can control or manipulate. 

Seek help and talk to someone you trust

Dating someone who is battling with narcissistic tendencies can be a hard road to travel. 

You need not struggle alone. Use the power of your support network! 

As you know, it can be helpful to discuss relationship issues with a trusted family member or friend. But remember, if your partner seems to be a narcissist, the underlying cause could very well stem from some sort of trauma rather than simply selfishness. 

To help both you and them on the path toward healthy relationships, why not get advice from an unbiased outsider?

Besides, it’s important to have someone to talk to and vent your feelings without fear of judgment. 

Final thoughts

Healthy self-love is a crucial part of any relationship, but how can you tell if your partner’s behavior crosses the line into narcissism?

It might be hard to spot at first – until it starts taking control of your life. With these signs, you can start to recognize narcissistic traits early on and take appropriate action.

If they exhibit narcissistic behavior, make sure to set clear boundaries and speak up for yourself. Don’t struggle alone – rely on your support network and seek help if needed!

Remember, the key is to practice self-love in order to create healthy relationships. 

Narcissistic behavior won’t get better on its own – it’s up to you and your partner to take action.

At the end of the day, both of you deserve to be respected and appreciated, no matter what.  

Frankie Pascua-dela Pasion

Frankie was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. She is a graduate of Humanities from the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Frankie is a seasoned Customer Success and Human Resources professional. She is also a certified Life Coach and Career Strategist. She helps people young and young at heart to simplify their lives by creating emotional awareness. She also loves working with people who have a genuine interest in breaking their inner limits through their journey of self-discovery and authenticity in their personal and professional lives.

Frankie’s recent venture into writing is fueled by her passion for human connection and meaningful relationships at home, at work, and basically everywhere. She enjoys the research, discovery, and reflection that go into each article as much as she writes about them, in the hopes that her words resonate with, and give perspective to her audience.

Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn: Frankie Pascua-dela Pasion

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