How to Determine Whether You’re in a Narcissistic Relationship

5 min readJan 13, 2022

By Dr. Ryan C. Warner

Both Partners Struggle with a Narcissistic Personality (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Nobody’s perfect, and we all act selfishly from time to time. The term narcissist is often thrown around when someone appears self-absorbed or too confident. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly, and it shouldn’t be joked about either. If you think you are in a narcissistic relationship with someone, developing a better understanding of what NPD is can help.

Selfishness and self-absorbed behavior are pretty common. Most everyone acts these ways from time to time. When these behaviors rise to the point of having a toxic effect on others, though, it can be a sign of NPD. For people living in a narcissistic relationship, this toxic effect can be extraordinarily damaging.

It is important to remember that a legitimate diagnosis of NPD should only be done by a licensed mental health professional. If you learn the warning signs, then you can take the appropriate steps to build healthy boundaries to emotionally protect yourself.

Having a positive attitude is essential to getting to the bottom of relationship problems. It’s easy to blame others and hard to take responsibility for your own actions, but sometimes, it really isn’t you. Learning the signs that you’re in a narcissistic relationship is important. Sometimes, even though you have room to improve too, you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

Keep reading to learn more about how to spot the signs of a narcissistic relationship.

What is a Narcissist?

Occasional feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth are normal. When they get too strong, some people compensate by becoming selfish or developing an exaggerated sense of superiority. These two traits are warning signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Understanding the Narcissist: Why Do They Treat You This Way? │ MedCircle

Relationships can be rich and rewarding, but even the best couple will have their ups and downs. If you are in a relationship that has turned sour and you can’t find a way to fix it, a professional evaluation might help. If you think you are in a narcissistic relationship, you need to take it seriously and get help.

At the beginning of a relationship, people behave their best. As time goes on and we get to know each other, we are sometimes surprised by the things we discover. A covert narcissist is especially difficult to spot because they work so hard to hide their condition. Being in a healthy relationship means accepting the good and bad qualities in our partners. This can make it harder to spot dangerous clues.

Some problems just can’t be overcome on your own. If you have ever asked “What are the traits of a narcissist?” be on the lookout for these common signs:

Narcissists often lack empathy for others and feel a need to continually be in control. They have a sense of superiority and are more likely to behave aggressively toward others. A narcissist is quite often manipulative, and if you try to give them feedback, they do not respond well.

We don’t know what causes narcissism, but childhood trauma and an exaggerated sensitivity to light and sound often accompany people with NPD. Other clues that can indicate someone is a narcissist can be found in their early relationships with parents, siblings, family members, and friends. Genetics, personality, and temperament can also play a part.

Setting Boundaries is Healthy

Most people learn how to maintain a healthy relationship as children. Our parents, family, friends, and associates help us learn how to create healthy boundaries that make it easier to get along with others.

If you didn’t learn how to do this when you were young, knowing how to find the right therapist can help. I use conflict resolution when I need to set new boundaries. When you tell someone they can’t do something they’ve been doing, they will often push back and sometimes start an argument. Knowing how to manage conflict effectively is essential to making sure your new boundaries are respected. These skills will help you communicate effectively with your partner so you can avoid fights and heal disagreements.

Understanding the Narcissist: Why Do They Treat You This Way? │ MedCircle

Once you have improved your ability to take these steps, you’ll be in a better position to assess the health of your relationship. A good therapist is more valuable than gold in this regard. Not only are they a professional with experience with these kinds of problems, but they’re also separated from the conflict. They can give you a neutral, third-person view into what is going on. If your partner goes to therapy with you, then the therapist can give them a formal diagnosis. If no mental disorder is present, having a professional rule it out can help you feel safe and give you peace of mind.

Sometimes, nothing you do seems to work. Once you’ve put in a good faith effort and consulted with professionals, you may find it necessary to leave. In extreme cases, you may need to get out right away. This is why professional mental health specialists are so valuable. They can help you navigate the complicated, difficult, and painful decisions that may be necessary.

Healing After a Narcissistic Relationship

Breaking up is hard to do, and if you’ve been in a relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder, healing will take time. It’s also common for you to think that you might be the problem. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself. Just because your relationship didn’t work doesn’t mean you don’t deserve happiness. You are still a good person, and you are capable of making good choices.

Keeping a positive affirmations journal helps me make better choices and maintain good mental health. This is especially important if you’ve been around someone who criticized you a lot.

Journaling Enhance Your Sense of Well-Being (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Therapy is not just for people who need help. If you want to be happier, healthier, or more successful in life, regular sessions with psychological professionals can help you on your way.

Therapy can provide benefits to everyone, regardless of their mental health status. If after careful consideration you think your partner is a narcissist, it is important to remember that a diagnosis of NPD can only be made by a competent and licensed health care provider.

When was the last time you sat down with a therapist or mental health coach? I recommend regular visits and follow-ups with a licensed professional, even if you don’t need them. I guarantee that it can help.

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