If you’re dating someone and they exhibit any of the following behaviors, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself whether this is someone you want to be with long term. Narcissists can be charming, but they’re also often selfish, manipulative, and devoid of empathy. If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, these 12 signs can help you spot them before it’s too late.
1. They’re charming at first
Narcissists are excellent at manipulating and charming their way into your life. They can sweep you off your feet in the beginning of a relationship, showering you with flattery and affection until you’re so captivated that you don’t notice red flags in the early stages of dating.
2. It’s all about them
Narcissists are into themselves, so much so that they often don’t care about how it makes you feel when they constantly talk about themselves. They rarely ask questions because everything in their life is perfect and there’s nothing to improve upon. And any attention they do give you is only to make them look better or try to boost your admiration and adoration.
3. They take but never give
Narcissists are often takers, not givers. If you find that your partner is constantly asking for favors or doing nice things only because they want to see you put in effort, it’s a sign that your needs aren’t as important as theirs. They don’t care about your feelings, only what you can do for them.
4. They’re extremely competitive
Because narcissists are all about themselves, they want to be the best at everything. If you come second in anything or don’t seem like you can measure up to their success and achievements, you’ll quickly become a target of jealousy and anger.
5. They play the victim
Narcissists never take responsibility for their actions so they always blame someone else. If you call them out on something they’ve done, or confront them with facts about what’s going on in the relationship, they’ll say it’s your fault instead. The more you push back, the angrier and more manipulative they’ll get until you’re left questioning your sanity and feel like the problem is all in your head.
6. They expect special treatment
Narcissists think they’re better than others and that any rules do not apply to them. If you catch them doing things that would normally be considered unacceptable, such as borrowing money without asking, lying, cheating on someone, or breaking the law, they’ll tell you that since they’re superior to other people, rules don’t apply to them.
7. They have a Jekyll and Hyde personality
Narcissists are very good at putting on a front when they need something from others. If you’re not close with your partner, you might not see their Jekyll side, but if they’re important to you and get involved in your life, you’ll see the mean and abusive side of them when they feel threatened or don’t get what they want.
8. They gaslight you
Narcissists often tell blatant lies about others and give you false information so that you begin to question your own reality. They’ll convince you that a problem in the relationship is all in your head, or that something that’s obvious isn’t true. This causes you to doubt your perceptions and become more dependent on the narcissist for “correct” information about how things really are.
9. They have a persecution complex
Narcissists often expect you to apologize when they’ve mistreated you, but if you try to apologize for anything in return, they’ll punish you until you learn your lesson. They won’t tolerate the idea that someone else could be in the right and blame everything on others until they submit and admit that it’s their fault. Constant criticism is a way for them to keep you feeling like you can never measure up and that they’re always superior.
10. They keep you in the dark
Narcissists do not like to be challenged or questioned about their motives, so they’ll make it clear that you don’t have access to certain information. By withholding facts or details, they trap you in a sea of uncertainty with no idea what’s really going on until they’re ready to tell you. You’ll feel like you’re walking on eggshells and never know what might upset them, or worse, what they’ve done behind your back.
11. They try to control you
Narcissists enjoy the sense of power that comes from dominating and manipulating others, so they’ll do whatever it takes to be in charge. If they’re not your boss at work, they’ll be your “superior” at home, by pretending to know more than you, having more money, or being more popular. You’ll feel like you’re always playing catch-up, so no matter how hard you try, they get the upper hand.
12. They never ask about your needs
Narcissists are so self-involved that they can’t be bothered to think about anyone else’s feelings or needs unless it benefits them. They’ll act like everything you say is stupid, silly, or annoying, and they don’t care about anything except getting their way. If you spend time with them or depend on them for something, they’ll make it clear that you can’t talk to them unless it’s about your needs in some way.
What to do if you’re dating a narcissist
If you recognize these signs, you know you’re dealing with a narcissist, and it’s time to take away their power over you. It’s not easy to cut them out of your life, so taking one small baby-step at a time will help you gain back your independence. Taking action early is important, as dating a narcissist changes you for the worse and leads you to a place where you lose trust in your own judgment.