10 Ways A Relationship Is Different When You're Dating A Narcissist, According To Experts
Relationships can be difficult in general, but you can only imagine the added challenge of dating someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There are a number of ways a relationship is different when you're dating a narcissist, and it can definitely require some extra work and energy on both partners' ends. Getting together with a narcissist might not be ideal, but for some people, working through those extra issues could be worth it in the end.
"Narcissism exists on a continuum, so depending on where one's significant other falls on that continuum, that will determine how likely it is one can have a good relationship with a narcissist," says psychotherapist Joanne Bagshaw over email. "Someone who is on the lower end of the continuum is more likely to be able to take responsibility their behavior and be more willing and able to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. But narcissists on the higher end of the continuum are very demanding in relationships. They expect and demand a lot from the people around them, but give very little in return."
Not every narcissist is the same, but they do follow certain patterns when it comes to dating. Here are 10 ways a relationship is different when you're dating a narcissist, according to experts.
1. You Learn To Ignore Certain Things
"The key to a successful relationship is to not directly challenge their narcissism, meaning you don't try to argue with them about something," says Scott Carroll, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and relationship expert over email. "The best thing is to ignore what they pontificate about and only argue about critical things like how you spend your money."
2. You Have To Help Them Relax More
"The other thing to be aware of is the link between stress and narcissism, namely that narcissism tend to go up and down with the narcissist's stress level," says Carroll. "So if someone is over the top, helping them relax and calm down can go a long way to decreasing their narcissism." This means spending a lot of time working on your partner's emotional wellbeing.
3. You Give Them A Lot More Acknowledgment
It's always important to show affection and compliment the person your dating, but a narcissist likely needs much more acknowledgment than the average person. "The truth is that they just want to be acknowledged and appreciated and consistent love, support and appreciation can heal them over the years," says Carroll.
4. You Work Hard To Maintain Your Own Reality
"We need a solid perception of our world, or we let our narcissist lovers drive us crazy," says Dee Wagner, MS, LPC, BC-DMT over email. "The solution is not to let the narcissist's ever-shifting view of the world confuse us into doubting our own reality."
5. You're Involved In More Spontaneous Situations
"Narcissist lovers can be more spontaneous and entertaining than a more mature lover because they are so child-like," says Wagner. "When we take good care of our kid-selves, we enjoy our narcissist lovers when they are fun, and we do not take it personally when they throw temper tantrums."
6. You Have To Be Extra Careful About What You Say
Many people who are dating narcissists have to constantly walk on egg shells. "You have to be very careful about what you say and how you say it," says Bagshaw. "Narcissists have a fragile ego; their presentation of over self-confidence masks feelings of emptiness. One wrong word, tone, or misstep will have the narcissist enraged."
7. You May Deal Differently With Rules
"Narcissists are rule breakers," says Baghsaw. "You'll notice that that your partner feels above the rules, examples of which could range from refusing to wait on line and skipping ahead of others to refusing to pay taxes, because the narcissist doesn't agree with the tax law."
8. You Often Get Manipulated
"Narcissistic relationships contain some type of manipulation," says Bagshaw. "The narcissistic partner, in an effort to control you or the environment, will manipulate you by using guilt, criticisms, rage, sarcasm or shaming to influence or exploit you."
9. They Can Make You Feel Like You're Crazy
"'Gaslighting' is a way that narcissists alter your sense of reality," says Bagshaw. "They may tell you they never said something that they did, or that you're overreacting when your not, or even on the extreme end, make you feel confused about what's real, like you're going crazy."
10. You Constantly Feel Exhausted
"The narcissistic relationship is exhausting," says Bagsahw. "Constantly tip-toeing around your partner to avoid their raging, confusion about what's real, managing preferential treatment, and the consequences of rule-breaking can all take its toll on you."
It's up to you if you want to date a narcissist, but it's good to be prepared ahead of time knowing how a relationship might differ.
Images: Pexels (11)