Narcissists are often guilty of gaslighting their partners into believing that they’re the problem in the relationship. Really, though, the relationship’s issues come down to the insecure, toxic, selfish, and deluded behavior of the narcissist. Here are 11 signs you’re dating a gaslighting narcissist who’s trying to make you feel like you’re the one with the problem.
- They’re never wrong. A narcissist is never wrong. While all humans are wrong sometimes, narcissists believe they are always right. Even when they mess up, they won’t own up to it. If you wait around for an apology from a gaslighting narcissist, you’ll be waiting forever. Rather, everything that goes wrong in the relationship will be your fault. The closest a narcissist comes to acknowledging their bad behavior is saying, “Look what you made me do.”
- You tiptoe around their feelings. Being with a gaslighting narcissist can feel a little like walking on a minefield. Because they’re ultra-sensitive about themself, they are easily offended by the smallest of comments and actions. So you never know when you’re going to unleash a tirade of rage because you’ve insulted the ego of a narcissist. Narcissists also believe their feelings are more important than everyone else’s. They’ll let you know that you’ve upset them and warn you not to do it again, hence the tip-toeing.
- Once, they were charming. How do narcissists end up in relationships in the first place? They’re super charming in the beginning. They know exactly what to say to make someone melt at the knees and they know how to create the illusion that they’re genuine and trustworthy even though they’re not. !Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones who can appreciate them fully,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, the founder of Kaleidoscope Counseling. They’re not good at empathizing, but they are good at understanding what people want to hear and saying it. Usually, though, the charming powers of a narcissist wear off as time goes on.
- They’re obsessed with their reputation. A hallmark sign of a narcissist is an unreasonable obsession with their reputation. This usually stems from deep insecurity. They are so insecure that they become driven to portray themself in a positive, godly light to the world. For example, if you have a fight with your narcissistic partner in public, they’ll be more concerned with how they look in front of others, rather than with the state of your relationship after the fight. “Narcissists love to constantly talk about their own accomplishments and achievements with grandiose,” explains psychotherapist Jacklyn Krol, LCSW, of Mind Rejuvenation Therapy. “They do this because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it helps them create an appearance of being self-assured.”
- You feel guilty for voicing your opinion. This is where the gaslighting comes in. A narcissist has a way of making you feel guilty for voicing your opinion. They’ll make comments that make you feel like you’re overreacting or being annoying for simply communicating your feelings, which is your right. They will find ways to make you feel like you’re a burden when really you’re just being honest about how you feel. Somehow, your feelings will become about the effect they have on the narcissist.
- They love looking at themself. A gaslighting narcissist loves to look at themself. Sure, in a culture of selfies and social media, it can be hard to find people who don’t sit on their phones and scroll through photos of themself. But narcissists take the obsession to a new level, often gazing into mirrors at themself and becoming irate if unflattering pictures surface.
More signs you’re dating a gaslighting narcissist
- They only talk about themself. In a narcissist’s head, they are the most important person on the planet. So naturally, in conversation, they usually revert to talking about themself. They might ask you a question to sound as though they care, but they won’t genuinely become invested in what you talk about. Rather, they will see every conversation as a vehicle for them to talk about themself and for other people to hear about them.
- All their exes are nuts. Definitely be wary of the person who calls all their exes nuts. Remember, a gaslighting narcissist can’t take responsibility for their own mistakes. Everything that went wrong in a previous relationship is their ex’s fault. Calling their ex nuts also shows that they vilify people who don’t agree with them or serve them the way they want to be served.
- They are either a hero or a victim. Because a gaslighting narcissist is bound to have an inflated view of themself, they see themself in extreme and dramatic ways. No matter the situation, they are either the hero or the victim. They can never be a bystander or someone who’s not really involved/powerful/important to the scenario. Everything is about them, even things that aren’t.
- They don’t have many long-term friends. Given the problematic behaviors of narcissists, they don’t tend to have a lot of long-term friends. Instead, they have lots of new friends who take off when they realize what the narcissist is really like. There are a few reasons why someone might not have a lot of friends, so this doesn’t automatically mean they’re a narcissist. But it’s a telling sign when compared with other signs on this list.
- They don’t understand your feelings. If you’re dating a gaslighting narcissist, you’ll know that they’re devoid of empathy. They are unable to put themself in your shoes or understand your feelings and point of view. So don’t expect compassion, patience, or tolerance from a narcissist. They can’t understand the world from any other perspective than their own.
- You can’t compliment them enough. No matter how much you compliment a gaslighting narcissist, it’s never enough. Their insecurity requires an infinite amount of validation. And it’s never enough to placate them. That’s why it’s so exhausting being in a relationship with a narcissist. You hurl praise their way but it doesn’t make any difference to how they feel about themself.