Dear Kim – I Can’t Determine if My Partner is a Narcissist!
I’ve been in a relationship for a year and a half with a guy I’m now engaged to. Everything is good for the most part, but he can get pretty mean when we argue. He sometimes tells me I’m selfish and/or vain/conceited. Do you think he’s a Narcissist? I can’t figure it out with all the info out there on the topic!
Thanks for any info you can give me.
First off, thank you for following my blog and for reaching out.
You’re right. There seems to be a “Narcissism Craze” happening around the world right now. Part of that is due to increased awareness, and the other part is due to more people giving a voice to their experiences with this form of abuse.
Without knowing more about your background with your fiancé, I will give a general response about behaviors of a non-disordered person vs. a disordered person, such as one who might have NPD.
I have been in a few relationships in my time. No relationship is perfect. People sometimes get angry and say things they don’t really mean. In the heat of the moment, they want to project their insecurities and/or pain onto their partner. This is all part of being human. Generally, only people who have excellent control of their emotions are able to avoid saying hurtful things when they are upset at another.
For example, a man who’s just found out his partner is talking to another man might say something like, “That’s okay. I never really loved you, anyway”. This is a statement that he normally wouldn’t say, but because he’s feeling insecure, his only way to avoid feeling “less than” is to say he doesn’t care about her as he doesn’t want to give the impression that he’s needy. It could be that his partner was feeling insecure herself and allowed another man to flirt with her, but doesn’t really have feelings for anyone else. These types of interactions can usually be overcome in a “normal” relationship through mutual communication.
I’m not sure why your fiancé would call you selfish or conceited. I don’t know what happened prior to him saying those things, but if he doesn’t normally call you those names, he was probably feeling hurt or angry about something and temporarily lost control of himself. Maybe there is an issue the two of you need to work on together. If everything else in the relationship is good, it’s doubtful that he is a Narcissist.
A Narcissist, on the other hand, will not let a moment go by without making you feel inferior. Normally, in a relationship with a Narcissist, the only time they feign nicety is when you threaten to leave or they want something from you. There is a definite imbalance in the relationship.
Narcissists almost always call their partners names. In fact, if they aren’t, that would be the unusual event. They are also very sadistic in their interactions. For example, I once confessed to my Ex that I wished to be closer to my mom and sister. He later used that against me by saying, “See, you are such a loser, even your own family doesn’t want you.”
See the contrast?
There are different levels of Narcissism, and we all have a touch of it, but it’s typically not pathological, i.e., we can all be a little selfish at times and lose control of our emotions. The important thing to focus on is whether his negative behaviors have become a pattern. Whether or not he’s a narcissist has more to do with how you feel being with him.
Hope that helps!
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© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2016