It’s common to hear the term narcissist and envision a Ted Bundy-Esque psychotic killer who is completely devoid of a moral compass. The reality on the other hand isn’t as black or white, but rather complex. Narcissism falls on a spectrum and it might be closer to you than you think. 

Exaggerated preconceived notions make it difficult to spot a narcissist, especially if the person is close to you – perhaps someone you are in love with. Dating a narcissist can take a significant toll on your mental health and trap you in a cycle of abuse and heartbreak. Their constant manipulation and gaslighting make it impossible to withdraw from the relationship. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs.

Here are 5 tell-tale signs your partner might be a narcisst:

1) They seem perfect… a little too perfect.

As you enter the early stages of the relationship, you’ll experience the highest of highs, an unmatched euphoria you’ve never encountered in any relationship before. Your partner will spoil you with the most extravagant gifts, shower you with over the top gestures and excessive flattery. They’ll love-bomb you into thinking “how did I get so lucky?” Rest assured, this period is short-lived. 

If someone comes on way too strong at the beginning, that’s a huge red flag. While the feeling of being lusted over is alluring, it’s an illusion of love that mirrors reality, but is not real.

2) Once the honeymoon period is over, they transform into a different person.

Narcissists turn on their charisma to get what they want. In a relationship, it’s usually absolute dominance over their partner. And once they establish the bond of trust, they turn into a completely different person. As soon as you do something to disappoint their image of a perfect relationship, they turn on you. They transform into a person you can barely recognize. The charming person you fell in love with becomes a horrifying sadist who attacks you at your most vulnerable points. 

After episodes of sudden rage, some narcissists attempt to ‘reward’ their partner with elaborate actions or sob stories that overshadow their abnormal behaviour. Often they resort to gaslighting their partners if they call out their actions.  

3) They constantly crave attention.

Narcissists have a constant need for attention, and if this need is not met, they throw a tantrum. They have a distorted sense of entitlement that puts their view above all else. This means every conversation, every decision, every opinion, every thought is just about them. 

4. They lack empathy.

Because of a narcissists desire to be wanted, they might shower you with affection at the stage of pursuit. But once you’re hooked, they begin to withdraw. That’s because it was all an act – and there’s only so long a person can put up a false reality. 

Narcissists lack the ability to process emotion when it pertains to others. They show little to no interest in their partner’s point of view, often belittling them for expressing it. If you feel like your feelings and emotions are disregarded in your relationship compared to when you started, chances are your partner is a narcissist.

5. They have no real friends.

Narcissists have inflated egos which prohibits them from having lasting friendships because they lack the ability to form mutual connections. If their desire to be in control is not satisfied in a friendship, they immediately lose interest. Take a deeper look into your partner’s personal connections – do they only have casual acquaintances they constantly trash talk? 

Since they do not understand the concept of friendships, they might lash out when you want to spend time with yours. This includes guilt-tripping, berating your choice of friends, claiming you don’t spend enough time with them, to name a few.

If this sounds like your relationship, it’s time to take a hard look.