Narcissists often initially come across as extremely confident, attractive people. Because they see themselves as special and fantastic, they want others to share their view of themselves. It’s certainly not always immediately obvious that there is anything wrong with them.
Unfortunately, having a relationship with a narcissist can be very damaging, and as narcissists will never change, the only way to fix the situation is to leave the relationship.
So, why do people get involved with narcissists in the first place? There are various reasons. For example:
- People who have experienced emotional abuse before, perhaps as children growing up, can become involved in cycles of abuse in which they bond with the abuser, because their behaviour is familiar. This is known as “trauma bonding” and it is behind many damaging relationships.
- People with a tendency to be co-dependent, or to need or crave constant validation from others, are often drawn to narcissists, whose constant demands for attention seem to offer the environment that they want.
- Sex and intimacy can be very addictive. In the early stages of a relationship, having sex, and feeling close to and vulnerable, with someone can give rise to your body creating high levels of oxytocin and dopamine, and a craving – both physical and psychological – to come back for more.
If you are concerned that the person you are intimately involved with might be a narcissist, look out for the following thirteen signs:
1. Narcissists don’t have sex because they want to feel intimate and vulnerable with someone, but because they want to be admired and seen as the best lover that you’ve ever had. It’s never about you – it’s all about how they think you see them.
2. Narcissists want to be idealised and need you to show them that you think that they are best person and the best lover in the world, regardless of how they actually perform in bed. They will do whatever it takes to make you think that they are incredible because they need your validation. If you do not validate them continuously, eventually they will start to withdraw or even to become abusive.
3. A narcissist will be so self-centred that they will be sure that they are always right. Even when it comes to discussing what feels good during sex, they will be sure that they know better than you do what your body feels like. If things don’t go well, they will convince you that it is your fault. They will never try to reach a compromise or resolve a difficult situation through conversation.
4. A narcissist will be so convinced that they know you better than you know yourself that they will often talk down to you and belittle your opinion if it is not consistent with what they want it to be. If you try to assert yourself, they will put you in your place, often in a sarcastic and unpleasant manner.
5. Because they are sure that they already know all there is to know about sex, a narcissist will rarely want to talk about it or hear anything about your point of view. They are not interested in anything that might challenge their self-image as the best lover you’ve ever had.
6. A narcissist doesn’t really care about you at all, except insofar as you can bolster his or her self-image. They will put in some effort in the early stages of a relationship, but as soon as they feel that they’ve got you hooked, your emotions and needs will be completely irrelevant to them.
7. A narcissist always believes that they are right and that their views are the most important, so when you differ, they will try to convince that you are wrong and that your views and priorities, and even you yourself, are flawed.
8. When their relationship is no longer new and has ceased to provide the narcissist with the affirmation and excitement that they crave, they will start showing you, through their words and actions, that you mean absolutely nothing to them.
9. Narcissists use sex and the pretence of emotion to control others. They like to be in control, and often derive pleasure from giving or withdrawing sex or affection to this end.
10. Narcissists are not really capable of feeling guilty, and feel no shame about lying if they think that it will get them what they want.
11. A narcissist may appear generous at times, but they are never truly interested in being kind to others. They may buy generous gifts for the person they are in a relationship with, but only with a view to getting what they want. In bed, even if they take an interest in your pleasure, it is only so that they can feel good about themselves and their sexual performance, and not because they actually care about you in any way.
12. When they do something wrong or hurtful, a narcissist is unlikely to apologise or admit that they were at fault – and even if they do, it’s only because they want to get something out of it.
13. While your relationship may feel exciting at times, especially near the beginning, you will realise that there is no true emotional connection. Often, you will notice that the narcissist you are involved with won’t even look you in the eye, such is the extent of their self-involvement.