Narcissism is often thought of as inflated sense of one’s self-importance. But how do you know if you are a dating a narcissist?

Just because your significant other has an inflated sense of one’s self-importance, doesn’t mean that person has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD. The DSM V or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders V, lists 9 traits of people with narcissism in its truest form.  If a person has 5 of the 9, psychologists and psychiatrists say that person likely has NPD. That said, what is the quickest way to know if you are dating a narcissist? Or, at the very least, how do you tell if your relationship is toxic? 

Here are three signs that your relationship isn’t healthy.

Your partner has no empathy.

One of the most common traits of narcissists is the lack of empathy. Narcissists don’t identify with the feelings or emotions of others, so they don’t care who they hurt to get what they need. 
Empathy cannot be taught. It is either there or it isn’t. Empathy can be modeled, much like you need to water a seed to have it grow into a plant. But if the seed for empathy isn’t there in the first place, then that person is apathetic about others.

Your partner is entitled.

Narcissists and other toxic personalities have a sense of entitlement when it comes to their needs always coming first. Whether is financially, emotionally, or sexually, their needs trump those of anyone else. 
For example, one person in the relationship may want to attend counseling as a couple. The toxic partner refuses, because that person is just too busy to commit to something that may not work. The narcissist doesn’t like to give time or energy to anything unless that person gets tenfold in return.

You walk on eggshells.

This is when your partner behaves often with traits that are simply toxic and erratic. You don’t know from day to day what your partner’s mood will be or what you will need to do to appease that person. One day you may think your relationship is healthy and happy. The next day your partner tells you that you are an idiot and worthless, when nothing has changed from the day before.
Words that people in toxic relationships have used to describe the narcissist are: angry, controlling, bitter, erratic, suffocating, chaotic, clingy, mean, tense, manipulative, denigrating, and the list goes on.

dating a narcissist. ways to protect yourself if you are dating a narcissist

1. Get yourself into counseling.

Find a therapist of counselor that can hep you navigate the pitfalls of your relationship. You can ask your partner to go, but many narcissists don’t see that they are doing anything wrong in the first place. A narcissist is more inclined to play the victim in therapy, leaving you in a more vulnerable position than when you started. While Dr. Carter does not conduct online counseling, he has vetted a group called BetterHelp who can assist. They are a trusted sponsor.

 2. Develop boundaries.

Work with a therapist or a counselor and develop boundaries. Boundaries, as Dr. henry Cloud says, “teach other people how to respect and love you.” This may not always work when dating a narcissist, but it will help you grow stronger and wiser about what you will and won’t tolerate.

 3. Realize this isn’t about you.

If you are truly with someone with NPD, the bad relationship isn’t your fault. You cannot fix that person. You must take care of you. Unfortunately, the responsibility to change lies on us.  We can decide to develop a thick skin and stay, or we can decide to go. There’s not one answer that is perfect for anyone. But the choice is yours.

If you are interested in online counseling, Dr. Carter has a sponsor who can assist.  As the need is there, please seek the help you deserve:
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Dating a Narcissist: Top 3 Signs You're in a Toxic Relationship