Some people may have narcissistic parents or are in romantic relationships or friendships with narcissists. If you recognize some of these signs, it is likely that this person will have very little self-awareness. Of course, I am in the business of believing that people can change, but remember- you can’t change others. They will likely NEVER be able to see your perspective or their role in it unless they truly begin to see how damaging their behavior is and decide themselves to address it. Here are some major red flags to look out for
1). Your partner offers no reassurance. We all feel insecure from time to time. If your partner uses that against you, makes fun of you, or just plain ignores you, that is not okay. Learning to offer reassurance when your partner is feeling sad, scared or insecure is an important part of keeping the connection between you vibrant. Your partner should be able to say something along the lines of “I got your back, I am on your team and I never want to hurt you.”
2). Gaslighting, gaslighting, gaslighting. This is a very popular buzz word these days. What is it? Gas lighting is a form of psychological manipulation that makes someone question their own reality or five sense perception. They will flat out deny something that you saw with your own eyes. Like a really bad version of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me,” they will tell you the sky is green without batting an eye. For example, if someone says something hurtful and you confront them and they say “I never said that.” Or perhaps they say that they reminded you to do something when you know that they did not. Even worse, perhaps they are violent or cruel with their words and then they deny that it ever happened.
3). Whose fault is it? ALWAYS YOURS. Narcissists have a very hard time taking real accountability for mistakes they make. Narcissists will be “wounded” by the truth. Even though they have done something hurtful, they will [play the victim. They tend to be overly sensitive when you offer feedback about something they did that hurt your feelings or any other form of criticism. They very rarely apologize for anything and if they do, it is often followed up by an excuse (usually your fault) for their behavior.
4). They call you too sensitive, despite throwing tantrums or giving you the silent treatment themselves. A narcissist will often say mean things or cut you down and when you have sad, mad or scared feelings, he will point at you and say, “See- she’s crazy. She’s so sensitive.” (Of course- switch gender pronouns as needed). Listen- if someone shits on you and you have a reaction- the reaction is not the problem.
5). They shame you about your body, your parenting and/or other sensitive topics. Narcissists get power by knowing how to push your buttons. For women, their bodies and their children/parenting are often very sensitive topics. Narcissists will use those sensitivities to gain control and power in the relationship.
6). They will knock you down and pretend to pick you back up. Narcissists are very skilled at chipping away at your confidence, self-esteem, and belief that you are capable of accomplishing your dreams. Only if it makes them look good, will they support you. If it threatens their power or control in the relationship, they will find a way to knock you down and then have you believe that THEY are the only ones that can make you feel better or that you NEED them in order to survive or live. They might say, “I’m the only person that could love someone like you.”
7). They believe themselves to be superior to most people, including you. They talk down to others, making them feel “less than” or stupid. They will try to humiliate people, often using shame to make you feel powerless.
8). They give a big “damn about their reputation!” (HEY! Two music references in one blog!) A narcissist cares deeply about the way other people see them. Their children and partners are seen only as extensions of them. They will often praise or brag about their children (especially in front of others), but rarely offer support in private. When children (or partners) start to differentiate or become individuals, they feel that they are losing control and will use shame or intimidation to try to regain power.
9). They have no empathy. Narcissists learn somewhere along the line that sadness, fear, shame or nay other vulnerable emotions were a sign of weakness. Narcissists are deeply wounded, but they cover that up with grandiosity, pride, a lack of self-awareness, and gaining the upper hand. When they see other people struggling with these emotions, they see them as weak and they will use those emotions to further shame and humiliate them.
10). “It was just a joke.” They will mask critical remarks and shaming language with humor. Perhaps they will also “play dumb” in order to get away with bad behavior. If there is “ribbing” or joking in your relationship, that’s great, but it shouldn’t hurt. There needs to be a certain amount of trust and love in order for us to be able to kid around- especially when it comes to sensitive subjects.
To sum up: I love the Narcissists prayer by Chris Shepherd:
That didn’t happen
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
And if it was, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did……
You deserved it.