Spotting red flags on dates is so important.
It can mean the difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive one, so being able to anticipate trouble early on is essential.
We all want to sugarcoat our partner’s flaws, especially if we find them physically attractive, but this can leave you vulnerable to being hurt or abused.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the hardest conditions to spot, which often leads to toxic and damaging relationships, which our very own Operations Manager,
has unfortunately experienced in the past.
Worryingly, unless you know how to spot a narcissist straight away, you can be quickly pulled into a situation that’s hard to get out of.
In this case, ignorance is certainly NOT bliss.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist - to give the term its medical definition - is an individual who is arrogant, devoid of empathy and is ruthlessly selfish.
The difficulty of ascertaining if your partner suffers from narcissistic personality disorder is two-fold.
Firstly, we are all on the narcissistic spectrum to some degree. It is an aspect of human nature we must all overcome - whether that is by being less self-absorbed, manipulative or self-aggrandising.
However, it is the extreme examples whom we are concerned with here. These individuals lack the ability to spot their flaws, and control them. It is a mental health disorder.
Secondly, narcissists are usually charismatic, which makes them deceiving at first. Their self-absorption often gives them an easy confidence that is addictive to be close to, and they are skilled at making those around them feel special - at least at first.
This has been described by experts as ‘love bombing’, a phase in which narcissists bombard you with compliments, attention and even physical gifts, creating a false sense of intimacy.
This disorder is particularly difficult to spot if you are lacking self-confidence, or seeking intimacy. You are more likely to succumb to their natural charm, and want more of it.
What are the red flags to watch out for?
There are a number of common symptoms associated with narcissistic personality disorder. Keep an eye-out for evidence of them:
A craving for constant attention
A desire for ego validation and compliments
An emotional coldness and lack of empathy towards other people
A deep-set belief that they are destined for greatness, otherwise referred to as the God-complex. This can be reflected in elitism, snobbishness and an irrational self-belief in their abilities despite evidence to the contrary.
They often exploit those around them for personal gain.
They are constantly distracted by allusions of grandeur: whether that is money, career success or world-beating talent.
They are categorically unable to listen to anybody speak without drifting off into thoughts about themselves.
An irrational demand for perfection from those around them, particularly in a relationship.
Often aloof and arrogant, appearing detached from those around them
An in-built belief that their faults or quirks can only be understood by other special people or ‘geniuses’.
If you confront them about these above qualities, they dismiss it as nonsense and won’t entertain the notion of changing.
Often, these traits are more obvious after a certain point in a relationship. At first, your partner will appear charming, but over time their personality will switch and they will begin openly displaying some or all of the qualities above. We can help you identify those red flags in the early days of dating.
This is the stage that is difficult to compute if you were not already anticipating it. You may feel like the spotlight has been switched off as their attention sinks inwards, and their gifts dry up.
What should you do if your partner shows these signs?
Every relationship is different, but if you are convinced your partner is suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder, the best course of action is to cut your losses, end the relationship quickly and without debate, then seek to distance yourself as much as possible from your former partner.
This may sound brutal, but there is no negotiating with a narcissist. Naturally, encourage them to seek professional help, because it is a mental health issue, but don’t attempt to reason with them or believe their promises of improvement or change.
Although there is a slim chance they are telling the truth, it is not worth the risk.
You should cut off contact from them immediately, because a common reaction from narcissists is to charm their way back into a relationship, this is often referred to as ‘hoovering’. They normally get their way, after all, so rejecting them will contrast horribly with their carefully constructed self-image.
This is a dangerous position to find yourself in, so remove contact and try to move on.
What happens next?
You need to make sure you take care of yourself. You should not feel stupid for entering a relationship with a narcissist, you should only reflect and learn from your mistake, then move on to a better tomorrow.
Concentrate on rebuilding strong relationships with your friends and family. Often, narcissists attempt to horde their partners, cutting them off from friends and family. If this is the case, reach out to them and explain what happened. Having a strong, supportive group of people around you is crucial at a time like this.
If you feel it helpful, seek therapy to better reflect on your relationship and pinpoint ways to prevent it from happening again.
Reflecting on your past relationships and working on yourself to improve your chances of a healthy and successful relationship is exactly what we teach at Wingman Dating Training. If this article was helpful for you, why not sign up with our resident dating coach, Robert Noakes, here: