What It’s Like To Date Someone With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

More often than not your gut instincts are right on but you make excuses for the other person’s behavior because you want to see the best in them—we all do it. Still, if the person you’re dating sucks right from the get-go, take it as a big red flag. Usually, people are on their best behavior when they first start a new relationship, so if they’re not, chances are there’s more bad stuff to come. Here are some signs you might be dating someone with narcissistic personality disorder and need to get out now:

  1. You’re on the receiving end of countless mixed signals. Chances are you’ve been sent some pretty confusing signals and you’re still trying to interpret them. When it comes to healthy relationships, most people aren’t going to send you mixed signals—that is, unless you’re still in middle school. In healthy relationships, verbal cues match behavioral cues. If this isn’t happening, there’s a problem.
  2. You Often Feel Confused By Their Behavior. Time after time a girlfriend will spill the details of her dates, noting that they came home feeling confused by a few key behaviors. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that their date didn’t seem too interested in learning much about them. For people who have narcissistic traits, conversations tend to center around themselves, their accomplishments and the overall self-perceived perfection.
  3. They Have A Hard Time Understanding Your Perspective. A common piece of narcissistic personality disorder is that those who suffer from it tend to have a very childish perspective. If you’ve ever watched two toddlers play, you know that they have an extremely hard time grasping the concept of empathy. They’re centered around getting their needs met. Fast forward to adulthood and people who’ve developed this personality disorder are still stuck in this phase, incapable of fully understanding what it means to be empathetic. It’s quite common for narcissists to be very successful in business because they appear extremely confident and they may not mind stepping on a few people to get to the top, as they feel they deserve to be there.
  4. They Come Across As Childish. Most personality disorders develop out of trauma and/or attachment issues. Those with narcissistic traits tend to have trouble with connection, which could indicate childhood issues with attachment. Ever been with someone who literally had a temper tantrum when they were feeling angry? Although challenging to be with, you’re probably witnessing a very triggered child in the body of an adult.
  5. They Always Put Their Needs First. Folks with narcissistic personality disorder tend to have an incredibly challenging time understanding how to be in an equal partnership. Because of their high insecurity within themselves, it is quite a feat for them to do something for their partner without it having some sort of direct benefit for them. This highly self-serving behavior typically gets old after a few months, and maybe even after a few dates.
  6. They’re Easily Offended. If you’ve ever felt like literally everything you’re saying pisses your partner off and you don’t understand why, you may be in the company of someone with narcissistic personality disorder. Due to their fragile ego, comments that seem neutral or positive to you can be mistaken as highly offensive.
  7. They’re Highly Manipulative. Because of their history, people with this disorder typically had to manipulate others in order to get their needs met as youngsters. This behavior sticks around into adulthood but doesn’t translate so well in relationships. You may find yourself feeling used and confused more often than not when thinking about how they treat you.
  8. They Value Appearance Above All. For someone with narcissistic traits, looks mean everything. This means that anything they see as connected to them—objects, pets, housing, cars, jobs, and partners—must be in line with what they deem as acceptable or a tantrum may ensue. You may often hear them commenting about why or how something or someone isn’t good enough for them and why they deserve more.
  9. They Have Very Little Insight. When trying to resolve any sort of issue or mishap in life, typically some insight is necessary. This means that as you problem solve, you’re thinking about how your behavior influenced and impacted the situation at hand. Now imagine you don’t have the capacity to do so, where would that leave you? People with NPD have a really hard time understanding how their behavior impacts others unless it involves getting what they need from you. Even still, they’re more focused on accommodating themselves versus understanding your perspective.
  10. They Have A Hard Time Owning Up To Their Behavior. Without insight, empathy is going to feel almost non-existent. Often times people with NPD know what to say to get you to feel like they understand, yet their behavior doesn’t match their words. You may be left feeling confused by their show of empathy but not quite sure why it still feels lacking in the authenticity department.
  11. Your Relationship Feels Shallow. If your relationship feels lacking depth-wise, it probably is. Narcissistic folks have a tendency to keep people at a distance as a means of protecting themselves from getting hurt emotionally. If you’re looking for a deeper relationship, chances are you’re not going to find it with someone who already has trouble figuring out their own needs.
Gabrielle Applebury is a Marriage and Family Therapist intern, with a specialty in working with those who have experienced trauma. Along with her husband, she has adopted three dogs, two cats and two horses. She is a blog contributor for Oh Tiny Heart, BlogPaws, and The OC PTSD Center.