5 Early Warning Signs You’re With a Narcissist
article by Dr. Craig Malkin - helpful guide to catching the signs of NPD early on in a relationship.
At the beginning of April this year, I was tapped by the Huffington Post Live team for a discussion on narcissism. I happily agreed to appear, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that narcissism happens to be one of my favorite subjects. Early in my training, I had the pleasure of working with one of the foremost authorities on narcissism in our field, and in part because of that experience, I went on to work with quite a few clients who’d been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. That’s where I learned that the formal diagnostic label hardly does justice to the richness and complexity of this condition. The most glaring problems are easy to spot — the apparent absence of even a shred of empathy, the grandiose plans and posturing, the rage at being called out on the slightest of imperfections or normal human missteps — but if you get too hung up on the obvious traits, you can easily miss the subtle (and often more common) features that allow a narcissist to sneak into your life and wreak havoc.
Just ask Tina Swithin, who went on to write a book about surviving her experience with a man who clearly meets criteria for NPD (and very likely, a few other diagnoses). To her lovestruck eyes, her soon-to-be husband seemed more like a prince charming than the callous, deceitful spendthrift he later proved to be. Looking back, Tina explains, there were signs of trouble from the start, but they were far from obvious at the time. In real life, the most dangerous villains rarely advertise their malevolence.
So what are we to do? How do we protect ourselves from narcissists if they’re so adept at slipping into our lives unnoticed?
I shared some of my answers to that question in our conversation, and I encourage you to watch it. But there were a few I didn’t get to, and others I didn’t have the chance to describe in depth, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to revisit the topic here. Tread carefully if you catch a glimpse of any of these subtler signs:
1) Projected Feelings of Insecurity: I don’t mean that narcissists see insecurity everywhere. I’m talking about a different kind of projection altogether, akin to playing hot potato with a sense of smallness and deficiency. Narcissists say and do things, subtle or obvious, that make you feel less smart, less accomplished, less competent. It’s as if they’re saying, “I don’t want to feel this insecure and small; here, you take the feelings.” Picture the boss who questions your methods after their own decision derails an important project, the date who frequently claims not to understand what you’ve said, even when you’ve been perfectly clear, or the friend who always damns you with faint praise (“Pretty good job this time!”). Remember the saying: “Don’t knock your neighbor’s porch light out to make yours shine brighter.” Well, the narcissist loves to knock out your lights to seem brighter by comparison.
2) Emotion-phobia: Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it’s often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they’ve reached the boiling point — even when they’re in the midst of the most terrifying tirade.
3) A Fragmented Family Story: Narcissism seems to be born of neglect and abuse, both of which are notorious for creating an insecure attachment style (for more on attachment, see here and here). But the very fact that narcissists, for all their posturing, are deeply insecure, also gives us an easy way to spot them. Insecurely attached people can’t talk coherently about their family and childhood; their early memories are confused, contradictory, and riddled with gaps. Narcissists often give themselves away precisely because their childhood story makes no sense, and the most common myth they carry around is the perfect family story. If your date sings their praises for their exalted family but the reasons for their panegyric seem vague or discursive, look out. The devil is in the details, as they say — and very likely, that’s why you’re not hearing them.
4) Idol Worship: Another common narcissistic tendency you might be less familiar with is the habit of putting people on pedestals. The logic goes a bit like this: “If I find someone perfect to be close to, maybe some of their perfection will rub off on me, and I’ll become perfect by association.” The fact that no one can be perfect is usually lost on the idol-worshipping narcissist — at least until they discover, as they inevitably do, that their idol has clay feet. And stand back once that happens. Few experiences can prepare you for the vitriol of a suddenly disappointed narcissist. Look out for any pressure to conform to an image of perfection, no matter how lovely or magical the compulsive flattery might feel.
5) A High Need for Control: For the same reason narcissists often loathe the subject of feelings, they can’t stand to be at the mercy of other people’s preferences; it reminds them that they aren’t invulnerable or completely independent — that, in fact, they might have to ask for what they want — and even worse, people may not feel like meeting the request. Rather than express needs or preferences themselves, they often arrange events (and maneuver people) to orchestrate the outcomes they desire. In the extreme form, this can manifest as abusive, controlling behaviors. (Think of the man who berates his wife when dinner isn’t ready as soon as he comes home. He lashes out precisely because at that very moment, he’s forced to acknowledge that he depends on his wife, something he’d rather avoid.) But as with most of these red flags, the efforts at control are often far subtler than outright abuse. Be on the look out for anyone who leaves you feeling nervous about approaching certain topics or sharing your own preferences. Narcissists have a way of making choices feel off-limits without expressing any anger at all — a disapproving wince, a last-minute call to preempt the plans, chronic lateness whenever you’re in charge of arranging a night together. It’s more like a war of attrition on your will than an outright assault on your freedom.
None of these signs, in isolation, proves that you’re with a narcissist. But if you see a lot of them, it’s best to sit up and take notice. They’re all way of dodging vulnerability, and that’s a narcissist’s favorite tactic.
Originally appeared at The Huffington Post
these next two articles were good, but blatantly sexist, "10 ways to know shes a keeper and 10 ways to if you're dating a real man" by james michael sama. give me a break, men and women should not have 2 different sets of standards. people are people and they do what ever is easy unless they've cultivated some type of character, so just so you know i'm going to edit these some)
10 WAYS TO KNOW YOU'VE GOT A KEEPER
We’ve all heard “oh, there are plenty of fish in the sea” when it comes to dating. But, when was the last time you walked into someone’s house to find hundreds of tiny minnows proudly hung along their mantle?
No. You want the catch. You want the one you couldn’t possibly let go. The one you’d do anything to reel in.
So, how do you know you have found a keeper? Here are 10 signs to look out for.
They don’t look for [superficial] attention.
Those who don’t look for attention, are precisely the ones we should be giving our attention to. Those who are always looking for compliments or to be noticed, are often insecure and looking to overcompensate. What’s more likely is that they are ONLY concerned about their own happiness, they only act like they would be able to even consider yours.
People who are content with their own self confidence and don’t look elsewhere for validation, shine from within and will add to your life. The last thing you need is to be a placeholder for anyone who is just seeking something anyone else can give. This doesn’t provide any sort of foundation for a solid relationship.
They can hold [and contribute thoughtful, intelligent] conversation.
Believe me - I know how important physical attraction is to a relationship. But, believe me when I say that I also know that it’s not the most important thing, when you’re talking long term.
Anyone who truly keeps your attention, makes you excited to see them, or just talk to – every day – is one worth holding onto. An intelligent, well-spoken, witty, funny person with killer looks, granted is hard to come by – but, who are you to settle for less than you deserve? Nobody, that’s who.
They can be comfortable in any situation.
Let’s face it, when you’re dating somebody, you’re not alone with them all the time. It’s important to be able to live a full life with them by your side. This means family events, outings with friends, double dates, movie nights on the couch…Not to mention, the activities brought forth by similar interests – which you both should have!
I’ve always used the rule of thumb that if you truly like a someone and feel comfortable bringing them to any social event and leaving them alone if you need to go talk to someone or grab a drink – then they gets major bonus points.
They don’t start petty arguments or feed off jealousy.
In a healthy relationship, two people should be able to work out their differences via mature conversation and discussion. This does not mean bringing up nonsensical past issues or dwelling on small events that they have been emotionally harboring, waiting for the right time to unleash.
A mature person won’t throw the past in your face or use it as ammunition.
They encourage you to be your best.
Even the best accomplishments in life seem to lose their luster when there is nobody to share them with. Your significant other should be one of, if not THE first, people you want to tell exciting news to.
Does your significant other get excited about things in your life, even if they don’t have any personal interest in them? Do they make you feel as if they stand behind you, and encourage you to chase your goals and dreams? If so, you have found a teammate worth holding onto.
Do they encourage you to look for your sunshine on a gloomy day (and every day).
Do you wake up every morning excited to talk to them? Or to kiss them on the forehead if you’re there together? Does seeing them name pop up on your phone during a rough day make you forget about all of your worries? Does being with them take you into your own world where nothing else matters? If you said yes to any of the above, hold on....
Do they take care of themselves?
I am all about giving in relationships. Personally, I love to give and do things. I believe if two people both feel that way in a relationship, it will be a success.
Putting in extra effort does not have to be much. It can be something as simple as keeping your hair or nails done to look good. It’s no secret that sometimes the romance wears off of longer term relationships, but you should not let it.
You both know what attracted you in the first place, even after a long time, taking care of yourself shows you care about keeping them around.
You can laugh together.
Seriously, how big is this one? Simple, but so important. Life can get you down. Work, bills, obligations – your relationship should not be something on that list. Your significant other should be one of your best friends who you can do anything with, and have fun doing it.
You can cry together.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Times get tough, things get hard, and we all need a support system.
Do you feel your support is reciprocated? If not then you need to find someone who understands that.
You have similar views for the future.
I know the future is way off. It’s a scary place, but it’s still there. If you’re in a solid, committed relationship, it’s important to understand where both of you see yourselves, and the relationship – going.
If you do not talk about the future, what makes you think that you will will forget all about it and that your relationship will coast through time without it being an issue?
The future of your life cannot be dictated by someone else, but it can be affected by them – and working together to find what makes you both happy in the long run, is key.
10 WAYS TO KNOW YOU’RE DATING A REAL PERSON
I’ve made posts in the past about qualities of a gentleman, as well as the differences between a ‘bad boy’ and a jerk. But, how does this all translate into how somebody acts while in a relationship? Anyone can lie to put across a great image, but it could simply be a cover for hidden shortcomings, or they could just be totally faking it to ‘get one up.’
A real person values more than just your looks.
Is every compliment about a different body part? It does not matter how creative they can be, if the sole focus is on how you look, or ‘talking dirty,’ see it as a red flag. A real person will value your personality, your kindness, your intelligence, and who you are as a person, in general. The things he makes you feel good about will be things that you control, not just results of getting lucky in the gene pool.
A real person will never be intimidated by your motivation.
Anyone who has goals, will want to be with a person who has goals for their own life too. They will never feel intimidated or threatened by anyone who goes after what they want. They will want to be part of a power couple, rather than a dictatorship. Be mindful of anyone who tries to keep you from pursuing your dreams.
A real person will have more interests than just you.
I don’t mean this in a negative way. You should, of course, be a priority in life – but everyone needs to have a private life as well. Interests, friends, hobbies, aspirations. If anyone works their entire life around you, it’s another red flag – relationships should be a great part of your life, but not encompass your whole life.
A real person will give you answers. (not the run around)
No matter how awkward or uncomfortable a situation is, a real person will approach it, and you, with respect. I have always felt that a mark of maturity is how you handle conflict, criticism, and less-than-ideal situations. A mature person will not dance around answers or make excuses. If there is something you two need to talk about, they will address it.
A real person is direct.
In addition to the last point – there will be no mind games or manipulation in your relationship. A mature person will be direct, to the point, and honest with you, and themselves and with kindness.
A real person will trust you.
As long as you haven’t betrayed their trust, a mature person will NOT be paranoid, or snoop around invading your privacy to make sure you’re not doing anything bad. They will have confidence in your relationship. Children project their own insecurities onto others, and like termites in a house, eat away at the foundation of what you have built.
A real person is cool, calm, and collected.
It should be understood that part of what comes with the territory of having a relationship, is dealing with them getting hit on. If you’re at the bar together, or if you are out with her friends, it goes without saying that either of you will get hit on every once in awhile.
Instead of letting primal instincts prevail and behaving like an angry gorilla to scare off competition, a confident person will calmly make their position known, and understand that you’re still going home with him at the end of the night.
A real person will show you respect.
Nothing signifies an empty shell of a person more than someone who is disrespectful towards animals or children. A real person will treat you with the respect that you deserve, never force you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and never mistreat you. Be honest enough with yourself to walk away from any situation that is dangerous to you, physically or emotionally.
A real person will put effort into your relationship.
Children are generally apathetic and just look for one thing from a relationship. Mature people will do what it takes to cultivate happiness, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Mutual happiness the reward.
A real person will make you want to be the best version of yourself, without changing who you really are.
A mature person will naturally empower those around them. They will strive for greatness and therefore inspire others to strive for it as well. This not only includes friends and co-workers, but also significant others.
As Mark Twain said - Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
If you do have one of these people in your life, make sure they know they are appreciated.