Egotism is a bit like smoking — it’s a silent killer in relationships. Just think about the most insufferable person you know. They’re always going on and on about themselves and never asking how you are. Imagine that person who thinks the sun shines out of their own backside and that they never do anything wrong. Now, if you will, imagine that this person is your partner. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s how to get on the same page (or get out ASAP).
- Have a frank conversation about it. Open the channel and be honest. This isn’t the time to beat around the bush, it’s the time to light it on fire, so to speak. While your partner might think that the world revolves around them, it doesn’t. This is the time to communicate to them not only that you’ve been sidelined by their behavior, but also that it isn’t appropriate. You cannot expect people to accept this narcissism. You deserve better. Plus, it’s better that they know now rather than come as a shock later on. Everyone deserves the chance to change. This doesn’t mean that you have to take responsibility for the character evolution of your partner, but you can lead them in the right direction.
- Remain calm. I know it’s frustrating, but if you want to maintain your relationship with this person, you have to look past their flaws. As long as they’re willing to work on their personality, that’s what’s key. Relationships are all about growing up together and we have to be self-aware and ready to accept criticism. Try to ease your partner into these insights. I suggest that you have an open forum where you discuss aspects of each other’s personalities together, perhaps over a glass of wine to loosen tongues a little. That way, it won’t come across as an attack and you can actually learn things about yourself at the same time.
- Make yourself vulnerable first. It’s a give and take. This doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in the firing line or subject yourself to abuse! Remember, this is all about keeping our mental health above bar. That said, make sure that you phrase your comments in a way that you would be happy to hear yourself. If you can’t accept criticism either, then it’s likely that both of you need to take a step back from the relationship and think about your own identities.
- Express their flaws clearly. Say exactly what you mean. However, you have to be encouraging too. It might be a shock to your partner to hear these criticisms, so be there for them. Provide encouragement and actionable ways that you can grow together. Be honest but not mean. You have the moral high ground by being more self-aware, so don’t lose that by hurting someone you love. You should be able to have an open and balanced conversation that reflects an equal relationship. This can be achieved by putting goals in place so that you can track your progress, such as reporting back on your day, changing your language, and doing a bit of research.
- Don’t get frustrated. Sometimes things just don’t work out. No one is to blame if your personalities have changed over time and don’t mesh. Don’t waste time on a sinking ship if your partner isn’t willing or able to change. That’s on them if they can’t see the errors of their ways, and it’s their loss. Being frustrated and unhappy in a relationship helps no one, so you may need to have the courage to break things off and protect yourself. It’s a valuable skill to let him go when he doesn’t want you back.
- Involve a third party. This can be really helpful. Whether it be a friend or family member or a whole group party, it’s worth a try for new perspectives. Maybe even attempt formal therapy, individually or as a couple. Narcissism can be a genuine and worrying issue if left unaddressed. Your partner deserves all the time to course-correct, particularly if that means identifying the root cause of these narcissistic tendencies. It’s important to give time to heal and space to reflect on issues in the relationship at both ends. It may be that the individual is lashing out in response to aspects of your behavior. Keep an open mind.
- If you feel unsafe, stop. Don’t poke the bear. This is essential: no matter how you feel, don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position. Bring in the cavalry, a trusted friend, or a group if you need to confront the person. However, avoid this where possible. While some behaviors can be corrected or improved, oftentimes, there is nothing you can do. Furthermore, if your partner is a narcissist, it’s also possible that they’re capable of gaslighting and abusing you. Don’t overlook that possibility and protect yourself at all costs. Tell people around you what your plans are if you’re going to talk to a narcissist in your life, and no matter how much time and effort you have invested into the relationship, ignore the sunk cost.
There is no past effort or cost that is worth more than your present or future happiness. Remember that.