“A Narcissist is someone who after taking the trash out gives the impression he just cleaned the whole house”

Have you ever got the sense that your partner thinks he/she is generally superior to you, or more entitled to things than you are? Does he/she find a host of ways to devalue you or ignore you? Does he/she try to control you? If so, you may be living with a Narcissist.

If you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, it will be a one-way relationship, as he/she is particularly self- absorbed.

Narcissism is considered a spectrum Disorder, which means that there are degrees of manifestation of the characteristics, so a person could have a couple of Narcissistic traits, or have many and be considered to have a full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as defined in the DSMIV, or sit anywhere in between.

The 9 Characteristics of Narcissism

1.
An exaggerated or grandiose sense of self importance that isn’t supported by reality. He/she believes that his/her priorities, interests, opinions and beliefs are better than or more important than others and as a result, they feel entitled to dominate and control those around them. He/she can even seem quite modest in public about these views, but usually at home these are evident.
2.
A preoccupation with fantasies of extraordinary success, power, beauty or love. He/she lives more in a fantasy world of their own making than in reality of both successes and recognised failures.
3.
A belief that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people. He/she sees himself/herself as more special than others, whether it be more accomplished, more feeling, more giving, more ethical, more long suffering, more insightful, etc.
4.
An intense need for admiration. When in conversation, he/she can’t listen attentively and will bring the conversation back around to him/her. Often partners of a Narcissist will refer to the one thing they have in common with their Narcissist partner is that they both love him/her.
5.
A delusional sense of entitlement. He/she feels that rules, regulations and normal standards don’t apply to them, and also may find hard work, working toward a goal, illness and injury difficult to cope with, as they believe themselves to be above these kind of common things.
6.
A tendency to exploit others without guilt and remorse. He/she is a “user” who may manipulate situations such that others end up doing all the work (and the Narcissist often gets the glory), or may end up losing their money. He/she will also promise things that they never deliver on.
7.
An absence of meaningful empathy for others. This is almost a universal trait with all Narcissists. He/she is so caught up in their own grandiose fantasy life that they pay no real attention to others in any genuine way. In the courting stage, he/she will use “fake empathy”, but beyond this stage, partners of Narcissists feel completely unsupported and not understood.
8.
A tendency to be envious or to assume that he/she is the object of others envy. He/she will be very envious if others close by have more than him/her, and will usually express this as contempt, distain and belittling towards them.
9.
An arrogant attitude. He/she will often be judgemental and condescending toward anyone who they feel is not up to their high standards and will regularly “put down” others to bolster their own self esteem.

The more of these qualities you find in your partner (or yourself) the closer they (or you) are to a Narcissistic Personality Disorder end of the spectrum, which means the more difficult (or impossible) they will be to live with, or to maintain a healthy relationship with.

Research has shown that approximately 75% of those with Narcissistic traits are male and 25% are female.

How do partners feel when they are attempting to have a relationship with a Narcissist?

In a way that you often can’t exactly identify clearly you can feel:

- Very disappointed and disillusioned about who he/she seems to be now, compared with who he/she was in the beginning stages of the relationship

- Confused because of the lies and half truths he/she continually feeds you

- Hurt and shell shocked because of the myriad of ways he/she belittles, criticises and blames you

- The relationship feels unrewarding because it never feels that he/she is really there, and it is not possible to share any real intimacy with him/her

- Unhappy because he/she always tries to undermine the happiness you create for yourself

- Untrusting of yourself because you don’t know what to trust anymore, wanting a real and happy relationship but always feeling that it is not available to you

- Intensely frustrating when he/she can’t be reasonable or honour agreements or work with you for a win-win solution

- Utter perplexity at how he/she can be so sweet and nice one minute, and so mean and callous the next

- Despair at the dawning realisation that he/she doesn’t really care about you or how you feel.

Trying to relate in a healthy way with someone who has many Narcissistic characteristics in like walking through a minefield.
You will need to develop boundaries and assertive skills and depending on the degree of Narcissism, you may need to leave them. Often counselling with a Psychologist who understand about the specifics of Narcissism can be most helpful.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Hart is an Australian Relationship Psychologist who heads the Hart Centre, a team of 70 Psychologists in centres around Australia who specialise in Relationship and Marriage counselling, Anger management and Sex therapy. You can contact the Hart Centre on Phone 1300830552 www.thehartcentre.com.au.