How To Spot A Narcissist In The Dating Pool

How To Spot A Narcissist In The Dating Pool

Dating is a bit like a game of hide-and-seek, and let’s be honest, sometimes the people we meet are hiding some pretty big red flags. One of those flags could be narcissism. While it’s a term thrown around a lot, spotting a narcissist in the dating pool can save you a whole lot of heartache down the line. Here are some red flags to keep your eyes peeled for.

1. It’s always about them.

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Every conversation seems to circle back to their accomplishments, experiences, and interests. They might interrupt you mid-sentence to talk about themselves or show little interest in your life. It’s like they’re the main character in a movie, and you’re just an extra.

2. They crave constant admiration.

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Narcissists have an insatiable need for compliments and praise, and they’ll go to great lengths to make it happen. “Narcissists lie and manipulate to create a false reality where they admired, adored, and always the center of attention. They will insist you join them in their reality, and will split on you when this is challenged,” explains therapist Sara Sloan, LMFT, CST, of Austin Concierge Therapy. They fish for compliments, brag about their achievements (or even lie about them!), or surround themselves with people who constantly shower them with admiration. If you find yourself feeling like their personal cheerleader, it might be a red flag.

3. They lack empathy.

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Narcissists struggle to understand or care about your feelings. They dismiss your concerns, minimize your problems, or seem completely indifferent to your emotional state. This lack of empathy inevitably leaves you feeling unheard and unsupported.

4. They’re entitled and demanding.

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Narcissists often believe they deserve special treatment and expect everyone to cater to their needs. They might make unreasonable demands, throw tantrums when they don’t get their way, or act like the world owes them something. This sense of entitlement can be exhausting to deal with.

5. They’re master manipulators.

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They can be incredibly charming and charismatic, using their charm to manipulate you into doing what they want. They might play on your emotions, guilt-trip you, or use subtle tactics to get their way. This manipulation can leave you feeling confused and off-balance.

6. They have a fragile ego.

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While they might appear confident on the surface, narcissists often have a fragile ego that’s easily bruised. They might become defensive or lash out if you criticize them, even if it’s constructive feedback. This fragility can make it difficult to have honest conversations with them.

7. They’re jealous and competitive.

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They often feel threatened by other people’s success or happiness. They might belittle your accomplishments, try to one-up you, or express envy towards other people. This competitiveness can create a toxic dynamic in the relationship.

8. They lack genuine interest in your life.

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They might ask you questions about yourself, but they don’t really seem to listen or care about the answers. They might forget important details about your life, dismiss your interests, or seem bored when you talk about your day. This lack of interest can leave you feeling unimportant and unvalued.

9. They play the victim.

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When things go wrong, they often blame other people or external circumstances. They might portray themselves as the victim of unfair treatment or bad luck, even when they’re clearly responsible for their own actions. This victim mentality can be frustrating and make it difficult to hold them accountable.

10. They have a history of short-lived relationships.

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If you delve into their dating past, you might find a pattern of brief relationships that ended abruptly or dramatically. They might jump from one relationship to another, quickly becoming infatuated and then losing interest just as quickly. This instability can be a sign of deeper emotional issues.

11. They’re overly concerned with their image.

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They might spend hours grooming themselves, obsess over their appearance, or constantly seek validation on social media. They might also surround themselves with people they perceive as “cool” or “high-status” to boost their own image. This preoccupation with image can be shallow and superficial.

12. They find it hard to maintain friendships.

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While they might have a wide circle of acquaintances, they might struggle to maintain close friendships. Their self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and manipulative tendencies can make it hard for them to form genuine connections with people. After all, no one wants to be pals with someone who really couldn’t care less about them.

13. They get angry quickly and hold grudges forever.

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They might have a short temper and lash out easily, especially when their ego is threatened. As psychotherapist Emma Azzopardi of Physis Consultancy explains, this is known as the shame rage cycle. “It is when a narcissist becomes activated by something that someone says, or if someone does better than them, has something that they want or simply refuses to be used, the narcissist experiences two emotions; shame and then rage,” Azzopardi notes. “The rage manifests as vindictiveness, retaliation and punishment because they want their perceived perpetrator to feel as bad as them.”

14. They gaslight you.

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As Medical News Today explains, this is a subtle form of manipulation where they make you doubt your own perception of reality. They might deny things they said or did, twist your words, or accuse you of being overly sensitive or crazy. This gaslighting can leave you feeling confused and unsure of yourself.

15. Your gut feeling is telling you something’s off.

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Sometimes, the most reliable indicator is your own intuition. If you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, or like something isn’t quite right, trust your gut feeling. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to matters of the heart. Remember, you deserve to be with someone who values and respects you, not someone who uses and manipulates you.

Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.