dating

'I dated a narcissist for years. These are the 5 red flags to look out for.'

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist or have dated one before, you most likely sensed early on that something seemed to be missing from your relationship.

When I was dating my ex who turned out to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder things were perfect in the beginning stages of our relationship.

Although in my head the “amazing phase” felt like a year, things actually went downhill after around eight weeks of the love-bombing phase.

Watch: Mamamia Confessions: Relationship deal-breakers.


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Although it has been quite a few years since that relationship I am often asked what it was like dating a narcissist and what I experienced that was different than other relationships.

If I had to pick five specific things that I believe anyone would experience whilst dating a narcissist these would be my top guesses.

1. Someone who won’t follow through/sabotages plans

The narcissist will often hesitate to make concrete plans when you ask. However, if they want to do something they will expect you to put them first and drop any of your plans that interfere with theirs.

They will also try to sabotage important life events. For example, when my friend got married my narcissistic ex decided to get extremely intoxicated and pick a fight with my father whom he already knew didn’t like him.

"They might prepare a birthday celebration for their victims, only to stir up arguments the entire time. They could offer to treat you to a date, just to abandon you on the day of. Usually during an abuse cycle, there are multiple incidents of these covert sabotage attempts.” — Thought Catalog

I realised very quickly that I couldn’t count on my ex to come through on plans and when he did I ended up wishing that he hadn’t.

2. A lack of true intimacy

At first, it will feel like you have the deepest connection you have ever felt because the narcissist is mirroring you in every way... even sexually.

But after the love-bombing phase is over you will realise that things no longer feel the same. The affection will wane and then disappear and there are no more morning cuddles or goodnight kisses.

They no longer make you a priority nor will they bother to make a real effort because they already have you.

You will begin to realise that things feel hollow and on the rare occasion that you are intimate it will be out of their physical necessity not out of a desire for you.

3. Feeling insecure about yourself

Something that I love about my current and healthy relationship is that I always feel calm because there isn’t a constant underlying current of aggression.

I felt completely opposite in my relationship with a narcissist.

Later I realised that lack of security stems from having to constantly walk on eggshells and feeling uncertain about where you stand with the narcissist because they are so up and down.

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They will also go out of their way to make you feel insecure. For example, I remember being told that I could never be a model.

Never in my life have I wanted to be a model but my ex made strange and unnecessary comments about my physical appearance to make me feel unconfident and insecure about my looks.

4. Someone who constantly invalidates you

When we enter into a relationship with someone it is because we trust them with our secrets and deepest feelings. Normally that wouldn’t be something to fear, but with a narcissist it is their greatest weapon.

Invalidation is the product of an absence of empathy, hence being a natural space for the pathological narcissist to operate from. — NarcWise

At the beginning of my relationship, I didn’t realise I was being gaslighted even though my ex continued to deny my experiences and minimised my feelings. Whenever possible.

Instead of listening he would tell me why I shouldn’t feel the way I felt and that my feelings were not valid. Eventually, I began to believe him.

Mamamia's daily news podcast The Quicky explains Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Post continues after. 

5. They will try to stand in the way of your goals

When I was dating the narcissist I had a big Spartan race coming up. Several nights before he coerced me into partying with our mutual boss saying that if I wanted a promotion I needed to be able to “hang with the boys.”

I ended up not feeling well the day of my race and he didn’t come nor did he ask how it went.

Professionally he would constantly put me down and tell me that I wasn’t good enough even though I was a rep at the company we both worked for and he couldn’t make one sale.

Later I realised that he was threatened and that by putting down my goals and successes he felt good about himself.

In a healthy relationship you will experience, love, support, and someone who wants to see you succeed and will help you in any way they can.

That didn’t exist when I was dating the narcissist.

Instead I experienced constant insecurity, invalidation, no intimacy, and someone that I loved attempting to sabotage both my personal and professional life.

I have learned that being able to count on someone isn’t asking for too much.

Desiring a partner that complements and supports you isn’t asking for too much.

I promise that these qualities exist but in order to experience them you need to walk away from a relationship that does not contain them.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. 

Carrie Wynn writes to provide education on what emotional and narcissistic abuse looks like, how to cultivate a healthy relationship, and how you can work to realise your self-worth. You can find her on  Instagram, or her blog here.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature image: Getty 

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