Want To Know If The Man You’re Dating Is A Narcissist? Look For These Subtle Signs!

Stephen Hussey

(Photo: Josh Pesavento)

Enter Stephen

Narcissists fall in love every day. It’s just always with the wrong person.

Many disturbing statistics have shown just how easy it is for narcissists, sociopaths, and the dangerously self-obsessed to thrive in the modern world.

Whether in business, fashion, or the movie industry, a delusional belief in one’s own talents and superiority can be just the quality one needs to bloom in professions that rely on selling an image of confidence and self-assuredness.

It doesn’t help that narcissists are great seducers too.

Narcissists can be rich, powerful, talented, clever, charming and keen to please.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Here’s the downside of dating a narcissist: It can take a really long time for you to notice the enormous downside (namely his complete lack of empathy with other people)!

What will likely happen is you’ll be with a guy who seems to have his life together, takes care himself, is highly successful, and even wants to take you out and treat you well. But you’ll notice something missing. Some form of caring and human generosity that he doesn’t show.

You might not even be able to put your finger on it, because a narcissist, being someone who is eager to be loved, will tell you everything you want to hear.

11 Behaviours Of The Self-Obssessed Asshole Your Mother Warned You About

How do you spot these creatures then?

The signs are subtle, and it’s not usually just one behaviour. You need to look for repeated patterns of the following kinds:

[*] Needing too much attention for minor accomplishments. He does most activities for people to cheer and tell him how great he is, and acts like a child if people don’t give him the attention he craves. He is extremely sensitive about the slightest criticism. Most guys want their girlfriend to be their greatest cheerleader, but only a narcissist wants her to be as blindly devotional as a Justin Bieber fan.

[*] Selfishness with giving praise. He rarely, if ever, will give you praise for your own achievements or parts of your character he admires. In fact, he’s likely threatened by your success, and will become colder when he sees you rise up the ladder.

[*] Every story you tell becomes a story about him. You’re in the middle of telling him about an argument with your parents, and before you know it you’re talking about his relationship issues with his Dad. Somehow every conversation turns to his own grand internal struggle because, frankly, yours just isn’t that interesting to him.

[*] Envy. He is insanely jealous of other people’s achievements, and tries to belittle their success. If he can’t bring himself up, he’ll show why others are worse than he is.

[*] Lack of curiosity about you. Your inner world and thoughts are of practically zero interest to him. He is never truly interested in getting to know you as a person. He tends to ask superficial questions and only takes an interest when he’s told to.

[*] Takes credit, avoids blame. He takes credit for everything good, and rarely apologises for anything bad. He is awful at sharing his wins with anyone else, and will need to regularly prove how others played no role in his successes.

[*] Thinks he is never the problem – it’s just that you “have issues”. He assumes all faults in the relationship must be because you’re erratic, needy and unreasonable, not because he’s acting badly. If you’re upset, he blames you for being emotional, and makes you somehow feel bad for unfairly putting pressure on him.

[*] Ignores your plans. Your dreams are disposable and do not feature on his radar when he makes plans. His dreams, on the other hand, are of life and death importance and are a daily obsession.

[*] Does things to fuel his image of himself as a ‘great guy’. He only does things for you because he thinks they make you like him more or make him look better, rather than because he is interested in making you feel happy and fulfilled. The same goes for his friends and people around him. Anyone that threatens this identity he will swiftly disposed of, or instinctively avoid.

[*] Won’t assist with your projects. If your path to fulfillment somehow conflicts with his happiness and feelings of superiority, he’ll convince you to not to follow it. After all, what are your meagre projects compared to his epic quest for glory and domination?

[*] Unable to apologise. He just cannot say sorry. No matter what he’s done or how obvious it is, he finds a way to justify and explain why in this instance it wasn’t his fault, or finds a way to excuse himself for having done something bad. Or he’ll just pounce and attack your character as a means to defend himself.

I know nobody’s perfect. Even great people may have one or two elements of narcissism lying within them, ready to come out unexpectedly.

But stack enough of these behaviours on top of one another, and you’ve got a man who will sooner or later leave you desperately wanting for affection, love, and kindness that you just won’t get.

He’ll say all the right things when you’re upset. Of course he will.

That’s because he’s seeing your view of him for the first time. And he’s scared that it doesn’t match what he sees in the mirror.

And the mirror always comes first.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

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35 Responses to Want To Know If The Man You’re Dating Is A Narcissist? Look For These Subtle Signs!

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  1. Linda says:

    I’ve dated a couple narcissistic men, it’s not unusual for people to have one or two of these characteristics. Truly dangerous narcissistic people are toxic and can cause lasting damage in your life. Be careful, the narcissist will reel you in, every step of the way he’ll have you giving away a little more of your self for his self, until finally your entire identity is tied to this person and you’ve lost your self, your self esteem, maybe even your mind, mental health and physical health down the drain. The cement is that the narcissist will do serious damage to your self esteem so that you find it impossible to leave or imagine life without this asshole! Run, for your life, run!! You are worthy of the love you desire.

  2. Susan says:

    WOW, I could have used this 30 years ago, before I met my ex husband and had 4 children with him.

    You described him perfectly, all 11 traits. Make no mistake, what happened in the end is exactly what you describe.

  3. Stefanie says:

    Hey Stephen :)

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive piece!
    This is so good.
    If you have any thoughts on how to better deal with narcissistic people at work (including bosses and superiors)
    I’d be so glad if you could share them.
    Have a great day :)
    Besitos de Andalucia!

    Stefanie

  4. Alisha says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Thank you so much for the informative and very relevant article!
    I have to deal with so many Narcissists everyday. I know in the beginning stage of a relationship with a narcissist it is always nice because they want to prove to us how great they are. And once we give them our complete trust and depend on them emotionally or/and financially, their coercive controlling attitude starts to come out and it keeps escalating.
    I would like to know what exactly do you mean by the mirror. Is it his illusion of himself?

  5. Mhadz says:

    Wow now I know that the guy I fell in love with was a narcissist!!! Thank you Stephen I did gain a lot of information about guys who are narcissistic. I should be more careful so I can guard myself And not to be broken hearted with a wrong guy.

  6. Syd says:

    The mirror always comes first.

  7. Amy says:

    This is a brilliantly written, concise and (to me) a highly amusing article. I finished with a guy at the end of August because he was every single one of these things mentioned above and left me feeling hollow, dejected and empty every time I was with him. 2 months later he gets in touch and says I am on his ‘agenda’ to get back and assumes I will go running back. When I say no, he gets upset and deletes me off FB and never replied to the fact I declined him. He is utterly gorgeous to look at but his personality made him the ugliest guy I ever met. Thank you Stephen. :) x

  8. Sarah says:

    TRUMP! … ahem … *cough*

  9. Helena says:

    I knew it! I know this guy, who is really nice and really is boyfriend potential in the way that he is someone that you can go out and experience something fun and different with, but also just relax with with a movie. But he is just that God dam cocky!! (sorry my language) And that is just so sad, I think.

    I just ended a long term relationship (that ended fine) and besides that I’am used to go in and out of relationships, so I just wanted a little uncommitted fun for a chance, so I slept with him (the guy) twice, who work as a bartender in a bar that i have visited much lately, and everything was fine with us before and after we slept together, we were just friends – but it has only been 2 and a half month since i got single and I’m already tired of him.
    It’s unbelievable how unattractive a so self-satisfied guy can be, that you don’t even want a one-nightstand.

  10. Evelynn says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Good description. Very well explained. I myself have been the hopeless girlfriend of a narcisist (read: sociopath) for 2,5 years.. When I finally flipped the switch and left him (I even went to live in another country), I soon enough met someone else who I now have a relationship with. Although we’ve been together for 1,5year and I’ve left my ex more than 3years ago; it is still difficult for me. I seem to be looking for any little flaw my now-boyfriend has and analyse it untill I lose my mind. Every now and then he’ll do a little thing such aa leaving crumbs all over the table and inside it will kill me. I’ll freak out thinking oh no here we go again. My boyfriend doesn’t know this but I was wondering if you could give me any tips on how to make it stop. I’m sure that a lot of us who have been in a relationship with a narcisist can relate. And I also know that my current relationship isn’t the same as my last one, because it’s not the same guy. This one is fantastic really, but my alarmbells keep going off for no reason..

  11. Erica says:

    To anyone who has suffered narcissistic abuse; know that you are not alone! Those who have never had the experience first hand can’t understand what it takes to come out of such a toxic relationship. The emotional roller coaster I was on had me thinking I was crazy. Until I started doing research. I read everything I could on narcissistic personality disorder, followed blogs, fb pages, pod casts and spoke to others who were experiencing the deep depression I went through. These resources along with CUTTING ALL CONTACT with my Narc really helped me heal. This is the only way to move on; they will do anything to keep you, bc they feed on your attention . They call it narcissistic supply. Don’t give it to them! Don’t give your power away! Instead look for ways to rediscover yourself! We get caught up in longing for the love we once felt from our Narc and in that we lose so much of oursleves. Its a long journey back to self love but totally worth it! Making the choice for yourself will help you avoid falling into the same pattern of attracting narcissistic men/woman. You are worthy of a healthy, loving relationship!!

  12. fabian says:

    I thought so, when I’m laughing when he calls he has hung up simply because I was laughing when I answered the phone. When I beat him at a game he wanted me to get good at he won’t say I did a good job. we can’t have a conversation because he says, shut I’m talking, I have to listen to his stories about some woman he did a good deed for and not be suspicious or jealous although he will state her age and good looks, but let me say that about a man he says nothing or gets in a mood, when he calls its always a story about some woman or cute young girl but he never says, hello dear how are you today; did you miss me; I miss you, nothing about me at all and talks until hes ready to hangup… thanks for bringing what I felt was not right to my attention; sad point – I really really do care for him…. it has been 2 years of this – no wonder I’m looking older and can’t get it right with fasttrack to mr right :(

  13. Rosy says:

    I’m learning to no attract narcissistic or unavailable men.

  14. S says:

    Hey Stephen. Think it’s important to warn against these type of people (often men in power), but have to be very careful and responsible, because narcissism is a disease. It is not the usual “obsessed with self” and egotistical, selfish, or envy – these are pretty common (see how many people comment and think they’ve been with narcissists), but rather a diagnosable personality disorder which ruins lives in every way possible. Victims have PTSD, have to recover from various forms of abuse, lose jobs and kids, and are left isolated – often because others thinks it’s just a bad but typical breakup one can just get over. It’s not comparable. Narcissists are truly dangerous and indeed somewhat difficult to detect because they know exactly what to say…but from time to time you’ll realize they have severe insecurities and that they really don’t trust you at all. Watch out for these people!

  15. Peggy says:

    That article about narcissism is so right on I married one without knowing it it took me about 20 years to figure it out so I am trying to teach my daughter what not to look for in a man and to what to look for in a man.

  16. coco says:

    I’m starting to think you get your material from reading our tweeter feeds ;-) I actually love it, a man’s perspective. x x

  17. lan says:

    omg.. I feel like I’m a little narcissistic, self-obssessed at least.

  18. Melissa says:

    Thank you, thank you. I was married to one for 13 years. This is the best article I have read on the subject.

  19. Yvonne says:

    Thank you Stephen for educating women and men on what to look for and hopefully avoid. I was married to a narcissist for 18 years and our relationship was toxic. It literally caused me to develop physical and emotional health problems. Also thank for all the work you put into helping to teach us what healthy relationships and self esteem look like.God bless.

  20. Maria says:

    Hi Stephen!
    Great and perfectly timed article. Thank you! If you are in such a onesided, unbalanced relationship you can leave but is leaving also the best solution when you have to deal with narcissists in other areas of life, for example at work? To realize these traits in a persons’ behaviour is the first big step but how can you use this information?
    Any suggestions?

    Narcissists shouldn’t get in positions of power and leadership. They know how to stick to their power but they don’t take any responsibility for other people.

    Salve, maria

  21. Jay says:

    In simple words he’s a self centered asshole!

  22. Nettie says:

    This is my actual father. As a result, I try my best to avoid men like him. A narcissist makes everyone around them feel unloved and lonely. Steer clear!

  23. Heather says:

    “Here’s the downside of dating a narcissist: It can take a really long time for you to notice the enormous downside.”

    You have no idea how much better I feel since you have said that. I dated a narcissist for 2 years before I realized how he didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. (He is a pastor.) And after I broke it off I’ve been kicking myself for staying that long.

    I feel so much relief that I’m not a complete idiot, and that maybe other people would miss that as well. Thank you.

    • Lore says:

      The same for me Heather, I also dated a narcissist for 2 years before I realized it. And I’m a nurse, so i feel even more stupid because I should have recognized his behavior.

  24. Alex says:

    Thank you Stephen for writing this. My sister is such a person. With ease I checked off 6 of the points listed. Luckily I can spot such people having over 20 years experience living with one. Everything is about them. Mole hills quickly turn into mountains, and they’ll do anything to win your sympathies or, if unsuccessful, belittle and disregard you as if you’re hardly human.

    Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate to learn from a young age how to distinguish such toxic qualities. Huge help for all.

  25. ccw says:

    Narcissist

  26. Darla says:

    Stephen,
    Thank you for your hard work putting this together-I really needed your wisdom today! Perfect timing… Plus, you made it funny which is always a sexy nice bonus. xx

  27. Amber says:

    Stephen,

    I haven’t finished reading this post yet and am already laughing to myself…and truly enjoying the content of this article. Mainly because I nearly emailed the Get the Guy team this weekend as to how I can stop attracting the narcissistic personality type!

    Thank you for writing this one Stephen, couldn’t have come at a better time ;)

  28. Sol says:

    OMG, how do i stop finding atractive these kind of guys?

  29. Jane says:

    Yeaaahhh…so what do I do now that I’ve realized for awhile that I married one? I had a warning sign early on when he told me that he’s never cried in real life, only on screen (he’s an actor–and a very good one). Then every time he’d make a joke about my appearance I was just “too sensitive” and he was “just joking.” Now his career has taken him overseas for the past 9 months, and the fact that we were newlyweds and separated almost immediately left me incredibly depressed, and he didn’t want to hear about my feelings, because I “wasn’t supporting him.” I’ve realized he’s just not capable of empathy. And I have no idea what to do now.

    • Karel says:

      Collect evidence and prepare yourself to win in divorce court.Abondonment of affections upon marriage. Also a narcissistic is very likely cheating. Collect and make your case but never let him know that you are on to him. I’m dead serious so get yourself out of there.

    • Darla says:

      Jane, I’m so sorry for your hard times. I’ve been there and its sucks big time. I value marriage and choose to believe there is hope in working on every single issue together. I think it can be a beautiful relationship. Who wouldn’t miss there newly married husband if he left you so early to work away for 9 months. I so get it! Hugs xx

  30. David says:

    I knew a guy who was like this. It’s not just about dating women, the male narcissist also has problems with regular guys, like maintaining relationships.

    The absolute biggest thing I’ve seen is a sheer lack of empathy. He might say a few things because he’s smart and knows what he ‘should’ say, but it’s without empathy.

    And when he’s lacking in empathy, it means he can take advantage of those around him.

    • Jane says:

      This is very true. My husband has no male friends, and his closest friends are women he had flings with when he was a teenager. He also doesn’t have close friendships in the way I or anyone I know does–when I told him I wanted a divorce this summer, he didn’t tell anyone, meanwhile I couldn’t stop crying. His friends still have no idea that I almost left him (and still might). I guess it would have made him look too bad.

  31. Dee says:

    You forgot one: Keeps photos of himself all over his home… ;-)

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