Healthy folks mostly stay in a good mood. They can ride life’s bumps in good humor. They also have open ears. When you say something to them, they seem to hear it and take it seriously. They succeed in watching out for themselves and, at the same time, respond with generosity and compassion.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for narcissists. What does “narcissistic” mean? Narcissism is a clinical term for what generally boils down to selfishness. Narcissistic men want their way, pay insufficient attention to what others want, and can be pretty tough to get along with. If you don’t do what they want, they are likely to get angry.
That’s the short explanation of the basics behind narcissistic personality disorder. If you’re dating someone who exhibits signs of narcissism, that might be a major red flag for your relationship. Here are some signs you should look for:
1. He doesn’t care about your feelings, thoughts or ideas.
“What I want, feel, think or believe is all that matters, so I don’t bother taking seriously what you say, especially when it differs from my thoughts or preferences.”
Narcissists think listening is like being a hockey goalie: They knock away what others say instead of letting the ideas of others enter a shared pool of information. If you say something that’s a good idea, don’t expect credit from a deeply entrenched narcissist. But he’s likely to say your idea later as if it was his own.
2. Everything is always all about him.
“Since I know more, I’m smarter and I’m always right, I do most of the talking and that talking is mostly about me. That’s why I take up most of the air time in conversations.”
Narcissistic people are sometimes, and even often, generous. The difficulty comes when what they want is contrary to what you want. Then, it’s all about them — their wants, their needs, and not yours.
3. He doesn’t live by anyone else’s rules.
“I can have affairs, cut into a line where others are waiting, cheat on my taxes and ignore rules that get in the way of my doing what I want.”
Narcissists suffer from what I call “Tall Man Syndrome.” They feel that they are special and above others, so rules don’t apply to them.
4. He doesn’t want to hear about your issues.
“I’m likely to get mad if you insist on telling me all of your concerns. Your concerns sound like criticism to me so I’ll want to hurt you back.”
Narcissists think everything is about them, so if you try to say something about a feeling like sadness or anxiety that you’ve been experiencing, they are likely to hear it as a criticisms of themselves. If they don’t take your feelings personally, they still are unlikely to respond with much sympathy or helpfulness. They are more likely to react with irritation than compassion because the focus is supposed to be on them, not on others.
5. When you argue, it’s always your fault.
“I can’t be expected to apologize or to admit blame. I’m above others and above reproach.”
Unwillingness to take responsibility for mistakes goes hand in hand with quickness to blame. Stay clear of blamers or ignore them. Otherwise, they can be very demoralizing. Also, be realistic about their capacity for change. They are often unlikely to make bad habits better because they don’t learn from their mistakes.
6. If he’s angry, it’s also your fault.
“You made me mad. I’m only mad because you ____!”
Again, blaming others is a narcissistic means of sustaining self-worth. But beware of getting mad back at a narcissist; they’ll respond with fury. They can get mad at you (because it’s your fault if they are mad), but all hell is likely to break loose if you dare to show even slight irritation toward them.