How Can I Be Sure He’s a Narcissist?

You’ve read every online article you can find on Narcissism.  You’ve printed them out and made your own binder-Bible, complete with chapters and subtitles.  You know so much about the disorder, you could probably pass the Field Test for Abnormal Psychology.

All the quizzes, checklists, and worksheets you’ve completed indicate he’s a Narcissist.  Your therapist says he’s a Narcissist.  Your instinct tells you he’s a Narcissist.  Yet, you are not fully convinced.

Add to that the fact that he has cheated on you numerous times, is gone for long stretches with no explanation, calls you names and refuses to acknowledge how much of a jerk he is.

Or worse — he’s found a new girlfriend, yet keeps you on the side for the occasional romp in the sack.

Maybe, in spite of his horrible childhood and sadistic mistreatment by all twenty-seven of his Exes, you can love him enough to help him.  Maybe, just maybe, he will soon realize the error of his ways, see how much he loves you, and vow to spend the rest of his life making up for the pain he’s caused you.

Is he a Narcissist?  Probably.  Can he change?  Almost certainly not (and does it really matter, given all the relationship crimes he’s committed?)  He may give the appearance of having changed, but those incidents are simply hoovering attempts to hook you back into the relationship.

At this point, the label “Narcissist” doesn’t matter.  What really matters is that in spite of the mounting evidence, despite all he’s done to desecrate the relationship you have with him, you are willing to give him another chance.

How many times must you be betrayed before finally realizing the relationship will not improve and that the person you’re sharing your life with won’t step up?

Typically, when people ask if their partner is a narcissist, they are seeking answers and/or loopholes, as follows:

  • If they reach out to an expert to see if their partner might be a narcissist and the expert says “yes”, then it means the victim isn’t “bad” after all and the relationship problems are largely the narcissist’s fault.    This is a normal part of the discovery and healing process.
  • Others want to know if their partner is a narcissist because if the source or person they’re asking gives any indication that the abusive person MIGHT not be a narcissist (which the victim often wants to hear), then they erroneously believe there might be hope for the relationship.

Here’s the deal – It doesn’t require the labeling of your abusive partner as a “narcissist” to navigate your situation.  Analyze why you feel the urge to hang onto the relationship in spite of his blatant mistreatment of you – and also explore the possibility of your being codependent.

Why Does it Matter if I’m Codependent?

Most people with codependent traits get by in life rather well and are often very successful.  However, if not treated, codependent traits and behaviors worsen over time.  It causes perpetual feelings of sadness that never quite go away, with most sufferers living in quiet desperation without ever really knowing why.

Curiously, many codependents aren’t aware of having these traits, often believing themselves to be strong-willed, independent, ambitious, and unwilling to take anyone’s crap. And they often DO have those traits in their professional and social relationships, but when it comes to romance, it’s often a different story.

If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, and feel a confusing compulsion to remain in that relationship, you may have codependent traits.

According to Robert Burney, author of The Dance of the Wounded Souls:

Codependence is a deadly and fatal disease because of emotional dishonesty and suppression. It breaks our hearts, scrambles our minds, and eventually kills our physical body vehicles because of the Spiritual dis-ease, because of our wounded souls.

The key to healing our wounds is to get clear and honest in our emotional process. Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth. We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.”

It Doesn’t Matter Whether or Not He’s a Narcissist

What matters is that you are not being treated the way you deserve.  What matters is that your love and patience will never be appreciated…but instead, exploited repeatedly.

He will never regret what he’s done, nor will he ever compensate you for your pain  In fact, he will continue to blame you for all of his indiscretions and rage attacks, making you feel even worse about yourself, and turning your codependency into a sickness that will eventually ruin you (and your children, if any are involved).

If you suspect your partner is a narcissist based on their cruel and abusive mistreatment, then it’s best to acknowledge the abuse and the necessity to leave .  Try to cease researching narcissism in hopes of finding some loophole that points to his possible recovery.

Acknowledge the abuse for what it is.

Then, make a plan to go No Contact  or Modified Contact in the case of shared custody.  If you do share children, start planning your escape and visit a divorce attorney.  And whatever you do, don’t agree to remain “friends”.  That’s Narc-speak for keeping you in his queue of bedroom buddies.

Your new life is waiting for you.  All it takes is the decision to honor your right to happiness.

**I use the pronoun “he” for ease of reading.  However, female Narcissists can be every bit as sadistic as the male ones (often more so) , and look prettier doing it.  

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  1. SamGabor

    One sure sign of narcissism is that you sense too much inconsistency in his behaviour. People are usually more or less consistent in their ways of behaving. When you blame yourself so much emotionally but there are only very twisted explanations about why it all should be your fault.

    When you start to feel that the whole world is a cold place.without love and you even have an idea that someone around you is a narcissist, you are probably right.

  2. Surayya

    hello Kim I have sent many posts but I don’t see mine . I would like to participate too but I want make sure my response is posted

  3. Kim, your posts are always so right on!! Love this, “And whatever you do, don’t agree to remain “friends”. That’s Narc-speak for keeping you in his queue of bedroom buddies.” I had to laugh… I fell for that one too. God bless you for all that you do to help others.

      1. Kim Saeed

        Hi Tammy,

        I was married to one. I ended up filing for divorce and getting my own apartment…


  4. Donna

    OK I see it shows up. I am waiting for a court date for a hearing on my divorce from a narcissist. I am 72 and was married for 6 years to a man I thought was going to be my partner for life. I got custody of my 13 year old grandson 7 years ago. My daughter has mental issues and couldn’t take care of him. I saw my husband at a high school reunion and he came on like gang busters. He was going to be the father and grandfather my grandson never had. He was the answer to all my dreams. The sex was fantastic. He had been living with a girlfriend for 5 years and they had recently broken up. He had divorced his wife because she drank–only later did I find out the divorce was because of the affair he was having with the girlfriend. As strange as this sounds, he kept in contact with said girlfriend and she now was the last straw for me. He spent 3 days with her, lying about where he was. So this same women has played a part in his two divorces. They have a particularly weird relationship, one is as sick as the other. She is an alcoholic, but she also isn’t the real problem–he is. I would tell him the emails etc. to her made me feel bad. He said I was paranoid and jealous.

    What I find so amazing is the PATTERN of behavior of all of the men the women here are writing about. Here is what my narcissist does: 1. He lies about everything. His experiences are bigger and better then anyone else.. 2. He goes into fits about minor things. A sponge left in the sink would bring on screaming. 3. He has to control everything. 4. He swears constantly 5. He changed gradually, and I couldn’t explain it. I just knew he didn’t have my back as time went on. The man he was at the ending wasn’t anything like the man i started out with. 6. He always had other women to parade around to me. Even if he wasn’t sleeping with them he knew how to make me feel insecure. 7. It was always about money. He took money from me and set up some secret accounts. He had all the financial accounts on his computer and I didn’t know his password. He would yell and pound the desk if i even glanced at the screen when he was working. He was stealing from me. 8. When he left it was without a bit of remorse. My daughter has cancer and I’m taking care of her, plus my grandson. He said he would make me sell the house and give him half the money. She is living with me now too, and it would be a terrible time for me to have to move. He just doesn’t care. 9. He puts on a wonderful face to the public, people think he is a great guy. I did too.

    For the first two months after the breakup I was a mess. Just terrible pain, can’t even describe it. Now I am mad, and gradually getting better. I dread going to court. He will lie and I am just hoping my attorney will be able to get the judge to see that i shouldn’t have to give him any money, even though I am getting the house.

    I guess I should look at this disorder as the same as other mental disorders. The problem with this one is that it just looks like mean evil behavior–cheating lying etc. That’s what makes it hard for me to get my head around what happened to me. Thanks for listening

  5. Donna

    Hello–before I start to write very much, I’ll send this little note to see if it actually posts. Thank you, Donna

  6. My only thought to this statement…”Can he change? Almost certainly not.” is that God can change the heart of any person. With man, it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible… Matthew 19:26… But Jesus looked at them and said to them,
    “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (NKJV)

    For those couples struggling with any major problems in their life, I would suggest going to a Christian counselor before getting a divorce.

    The apostle Paul was killing Christians before Christ struck him down on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), and chose Paul (then Saul) to become His most effective disciple to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to those in need. The apostle Paul went on to write half of the New Testament in the Bible.

    All of us are sinners from birth, and must understand that we can in no way save ourselves from eternal damnation… The gospel of Christ must be heard, understood, and obeyed before a person becomes a Christian in God’s eyes… God’s grace is His gift to Christians through saving faith alone in His Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9)… I pray that you will allow this post to be seen…

    Blessings in Christ, bruce

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for commenting, Bruce, but I work with women and men who have stayed with an abuser because they thought that’s what God wanted, only for their spouse to continue abusing them, and sometimes send them to the hospital or worse. Narcissists have no interest in what God wants. Sadly, there are people who’ve wasted decades of their life waiting for their abuser to see the light, all to no avail.

      Thank you very much for trying to spread the Word, but honestly, if a woman or man stays with an abuser, they are essentially enabling their partner to sin, and that’s against God’s wishes. Better that they leave a sinning abuser and find a person who will love them the way God wants us to love one another. I don’t promote turning the other cheek when it comes to this type of abuse.

      1. Anita Jacques

        The bible clearly states that infidelity is a deal breaker and to leave the marriage, end of story…. I stayed another 5 years, just to have him financially, emotionally, verbally abuse me and earned next to nothing last year, meaning i don’t even get spousal support, my reward for trying to make it work for 5 years!! I feel like a complete chump, and will work hard to love myself enough to cut him out of my life.

  7. Carrie Reimer

    Oh so true Kim. I say it all the time to people who want my opinion on whether he is a narcissist or not because they think if they know for sure he is an N they will be able to move on. I always tell them, if I tell you he is an N you will feel better tonight, maybe even a day or two but then you will be filled with doubt again. It doesn’t matter how many times the victim hears he is a narcissist they can always find another, “But, what if?”
    It does not matter what label you put on him; he treated you like dirt under his feet and he has moved on to his “soul mate, love of his life” . You have no choice but to start putting your life back together key word; you,
    So what if the new woman seems so happy and he seems to treat her so much better than he treated you. He treated you horribly and you want him back, time to figure out why you are willing to sacrifice your happiness and safety to be with a man who has treated you worse than your worst enemy would treat you.
    Work on yourself and learn to set boundaries and accept yourself for who you are and you won’t care what anyone thinks of you. If you believe you are valuable and a treasure and that your feelings matter then no one can ever take that away from you.
    It took me 10 years in the relationship and 3 years out of it to realize that I have control and do not have to be a victim.

  8. If I may pose a question? I am a co-dependent. With an alcoholic. The type of abuse sounds similar to that of a narcissist. I’ve left him. Divorced him after 15yrs of marriage, no kids. Now I’m in my early 40’s, alone, with this ‘new life’. I don’t know how to live this new life. I’m out of my depth. If you could point me in the right direction, give any advice? I’d really appreciate it

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi, PoB, I apologize for the late reply. I’ve just seen the question you posted last October.

      The dynamic is very similar. Codependent behaviors can manifest whether with an alcoholic, narcissist, or anyone partner who has addictions and/or a personality disorder.

      Living one’s new life can be somewhat intimidating because we typically don’t know who we are anymore. It’s truly a journey, but I highly recommend extreme self-care, adopting healing activities into your daily routine, and joining a group in your area to meet new people.

      How have things been for you since you commented?

      1. Things are going great, Kim! I’m learning everyday. Identifying patterns and able to stop them. It really is quite amazing how a person can turn their life around with a bit of self empowerment, insight and a willingness to work on change. I love myself for the first time 😀

  9. 5 years post-narcissist, I recognize that I absolutely was codependent. I’ve reached a point where he/we almost didn’t exist in MY mind. I don’t have any desire to ever be with him again (which is wonderful). The “challenge”, if I can call it that at this point, is still just a disbelief/shock that our 8 year relationship was all a facade and a fraud. So, I just keep in mind the words of Maya Angelou: “Once you know better, you do better”. I’m ready for the real, genuine love that I know is ready for me…somewhere out there. All things in time!

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you for using your own painful experience, to help the rest of us struggling to escape the
    Spell of the narcissist
    .As a Christian it has been especially traumatic being the wife of a so-called Christian man, but I am finally ready to divorce and doing no contact-my three grown children are very supportive, and
    I,m thanking God for opening my eyes and
    Healing my wounded soul.Started reading your posts on Grace for my heart, which has been a lifeline to me and countless others. God bless you

  11. I love the change of focus, and the note at the end! 😀 I am in awe of your insight and your skills, thank you for everything <3

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for your encouraging and friendly words, Auren! 🙂

  12. Debby

    Thank you for the info. This fits me to a tee. A very hard process to walk away from.

  13. Samantha

    I feel as if you read my comments from your Oct. 21 post and wrote this as a direct response to me. (I know you likely didn’t, but it truly hit home for me.) Thank you for all your advice and inspiration!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Samantha, thank you so much for reading and commenting. It’s good to know my articles have been helpful for you.

      I’m glad this one hit home 🙂 This is an extremely common question that I get from the people I consult with when they reach out for coaching. And we all have the “Bible” from tons of research, though I’m very glad to know it feels I wrote it in response to your recent comment because I truly hope one day you will find the ability to leave and find happiness <3

  14. moira

    Thank you for your tremendous insight, your posts have brought both information and hope to those of us struggling to get free from a narcissist relationship.After 23 years in an emotionally abusive marriage, the lightbulb has finally come on for me, with a lot of prayer and soul searching. I feel vindicated after being gaslighted by my narc husband, and have ended up with ms, after my immune system failed, but God is stronger and He has given me the desire and hope to be free from my lifelong co-dependency issues. This blog and Grace for my heart have been a spiritual lifeline to me and I’m sure to many others. God bless.

  15. Only Me

    Well, you certainly provide a lot to think about! Off hand I don’t think I’m co-dependent. I didn’t ask to be abused, and there were many times I fought back, especially at the D&D. Psycho Dude asked to remain friends. I expressed my doubts about it even being possible…then I went on the attack! I was ready to kick butt starting with his! Posted him on cheater sites, exposed him on a blog! I NEVER, EVER asked for him back or agreed to be a sex buddy! I can’t imagine ever doing that! Told him to go straight to Hell in fact! Not only did I never take him back, but if I could have, I’d have hired a hit man to take him out permanently! I did (joking) suggest to one person that they burn his house down. Yes, I can laugh about it all now, but I still wouldn’t take him back! Pleasing him is nowhere on my agenda! I wouldn’t mind reading his obit someday, but that’s far as it goes! Be well everybody!

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