Narcissism is one of the thousand and one mental disorders that exist in the world, and it ranks high up there with sociopathy and psychopathy. Narcissistic people are very dangerous people simply because they are unable to feel anything for anyone. A man who cannot summon up any feeling for his fellow man would carry out numerous atrocious things. They are very good at pretending too because they know that the society would not condone such a total lack of empathy and so they change their exterior colors to suit the environment just like chameleons. Anyone who has been in a narcissistic relationship and survived would have a horrific story to tell. One you might even think she was making up. A narcissistic person would drain his partner of everything they have, and if they ever leave, they would leave a dried up shell of themselves. People who have survived and walked away from a narcissistic relationship hardly ever leave with their sanity. They lose their self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. They become conditioned to the abuse that they received from their partner. They accept many things that they should not have to. For instance, they get used to not being the first, second or third priority in their partner’s lives. They leave with deep scars and fresh wounds from the abuse they received while in that relationship. Most narcissistic people are very intelligent and hardly ever resort to physical abuse. They are very careful to leave their scars where it cannot be seen. They are quite possibly the worst set of people after sociopaths and psychopaths. It does not matter who you are to them; you are expendable because they are the only important ones. All forms of abuse are wrong but abuse gotten from a narcissist is the worst of them all because narcissists are usually very subtle in their abuse that you might not even notice it going on. They thrive on control, mental and emotional abuse. If you suspect that your partner is narcissistic, then read this article to confirm those fears you have and to help you figure out when they are trying to control and abuse you. In this article, we would be explaining in great detail 16 signs that say your narcissistic partner is abusing you.
It was just of recent that narcissism and narcissistic personalities began to garner a lot of attention due to the increase on the rate of people calling out and trying to understand the behaviors of their partners or family members. But narcissism was not noticed today. It might shock you to know that narcissism was first noted in 1980 when a Swiss psychoanalyst named Alice Miller first made mention of it from her observation.
Alice Miller was the first psychologist to notice that trauma victims did not always suffer trauma as a result of physical or sexual abuse. From her observations, she proposed that children could be abused by their parent’s actions or inactions.
She thought that many of the mental illness noticed then such as criminal action, easy addiction to substances and other vices were as a result of another form of long-term abuse that must have lasted through the victim’s childhood and not trauma from physically violent and sexual abuse.
Other psychologists who later studied what Miller saw now clearly outlined the numerous ways in which narcissistic people abused those who depended on them. Although their definition was more in tune with a parent-child relationship, narcissistic abuse does exist in adult relationships, but narcissistic adult relationships could be even worse.
What is narcissism? Who is a narcissist and what are the characteristics of a narcissistic person?
Narcissism according to the Mayo Clinic is defined as “Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
Now that we know what the narcissistic personality disorder is, how do we know people who are narcissistic? There are certain characteristics that narcissistic personalities portray. The basic sign of a narcissist is self-love. Narcissistic people only love themselves. If they claim to love someone else, it is because they want something from that person to aid their goals. For them, everything in life revolves around them. Just like the Greek myth character, Narcissus for whom they are named, they love themselves to the exclusion of everything and everyone. The only thing that they might love more than themselves is their public image. Narcissists would do anything to have perfect public images. They come across as nice, caring people who should be held in high esteem and respected. They carefully groom their images to look like that. They are angels in public but demons at home. Their partners usually get whiplash from the change in personality. It goes without saying that narcissists are very selfish people and do not care about who gets hurt in their pursuit of ambition. Like I earlier said, they are masters in the game of pretense. No one can beat a narcissist at pretense. After all, their whole life is one big ball game of pretense. You might wonder what will induce a person to stay with such toxic people. If you are wondering about this, then you clearly haven’t tasted a bit of a narcissists manipulation. They are masterminds of manipulating people to suit their own needs. They have an overblown sense of themselves and see themselves as elite people whom others should live for and treat specially. They take care to only associate with people they think are also superior. They crave attention and would usually get it by always talking about themselves and their achievements. They would hardly ever let you talk. One thing they hate most is criticism. It is like acid poured on their skin. Their reactions can range from rage to condescension. Just know that if you are in a relationship with a narcissist or he usually treats you as if you are important, it is because he needs you to serve a purpose for him and not because he values you or cares about you. Most often than not their need for power leads them to occupy elevated positions such as a preacher.
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse encompasses the different ways by which a narcissist emotionally manipulates and hurts people and the effects of those abusive actions on the victim’s self-worth, self-value, and self-esteem. What is terrible about a narcissists’ abuse is that it is done on the emotions, where scars and bruised can’t show. It is the horror of knowing that someone has been messing with your mind without your knowledge and destroying everything you have ever known about yourself and it is done so discretely that you never see it coming. One day, you are whole, the next day, you are broken.
Victims of narcissistic abuse come out from those relationships with hangups. They genuinely believe that they are not deserving of love and care because they have been conditioned to think so for months and months of not being loved. This is where the power of the narcissist comes from. From the insecurity of other people.
Having known what the narcissistic personality disorder is and you can identify a narcissistic person, how do you then know if you are being abused by your narcissistic partner especially since their brand of abuse is subtle. Here are 16 signs that show that you are being abused by your narcissistic partner.
1. YOU DEVELOP A LOW SELF-ESTEEM
One of the first things a narcissistic person would do to their victim is to steal their self-esteem. They would strip you of everything that has ever been a source of pride to you. Your self-esteem is a threat to them, and so they will systematically destroy it. They would take everything you have ever thought about yourself and destroy it convincing you along the way that those things were not true. They go subtle. They will never compliment you on anything that you do. Instead, they will find a way to criticize it. Constant criticism has a way of chipping at someone’s self-esteem until nothing remains. They would constantly downplay your achievements even if those achievements were bigger than theirs. They may say something like “that is really good, but you should have worked harder,” or “but Sarah got that promotion two years before you.” It is all a ploy to strip you of your pride in your achievement and make you feel inadequate. After a long time of being criticized at every turn with little to no praises, you lose your self-esteem. It is so subtle that you do not notice the backsliding if your self-esteem until you wake up one day to realize that you have all those feelings of inadequacy and shame. This is when the narcissist is happy. When you lose your self-esteem, you become easier to manipulate and control, and the narcissist feels even more superior than you.
2. YOU BEGIN TO THINK YOU ARE GOING INSANE
Narcissistic people are very devious. They manipulate their partners into feeling as if they were going insane. They do this using a mind game called Gaslighting, and it is their stock in trade. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which a narcissistic person would through actions and words discredit their partner. They are so adept at this that they will keep you very dependent on them or discredit you before your friend and family leaving you isolated so that you will find it difficult to walk away from them. For example, they resort to tricks like moving your things and claiming not to know where they are and later convincing you that you must have left them somewhere else. They can also deny entire conversations and events so well that you begin to believe that you imagined them. They would not only make you question yourself, but they would also make your friends and family to doubt you so that you would have no place to run to. At the end of the day, you live your life afraid that you are literally running mad.
3. YOU SUDDENLY SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY.
A narcissistic person is not someone who you want to have any relationship with. They can cause you to develop issues you did not have before. They would pursue so romantically and be perfect until they have grown you to fall in love with them. Then and only then will they introduce you to their real characters. They would not mind so much that you now know who they are because they know that you love them and you will not be able to walk away so easily. Then they will ignore you totally. Of course, this is easy for them to do because they only love themselves. For you who is in love with a narcissistic partner, it would not be easy for you to cope with the change in your partner. You would easily sink into great depression and anxiety which would only be worsened when they constantly criticize you. You who used to be so self-confident would find yourself battling with the feeling of inadequacy, self-loathing, and low self-esteem.
4. YOU FEEL AS IF YOU ARE DOING ALL YOU CAN TO MAKE THINGS WORK BUT NOTHING YOU DO SEEMS TO BE APPRECIATED
Have you ever tried so hard to do something for someone and then have your efforts spit on? It is a terrible feeling. One you might not be able to get over. Narcissistic people usually use this tool to emotionally abuse their partners and keeping them unbalanced. They hardly compliment their partner’s looks or actions, and when they do, it often comes with a but. For instance, you dressed up and made up for an event and then asked your partner what he thought of your outfit. A narcissistic partner’s typical response would go something like this. “Your dress looks good, but you should have picked one in another color, this color does not suit you” With that one statement, he has ruined the pleasure of the dress and also made a crack at your inability to get good clothes. They constantly make sure that their comments tear you down because the more their words tear you down, the bigger and more superior they become. Imagine cooking their favorite dish for dinner, and instead of complimenting you or appreciating your effort they say something like “This pasta is nice, but I wanted to eat steak, not pasta” With such a statement, any pleasure you derived from preparing that meal is gone because they did not like it. Sometimes they go really subtle by giving you little negative comments meant to criticize and debase you.
5. THEY WILL NEVER LET YOU WALK AWAY
You see, narcissistic people are not only smart but also very aware of what you are going through at their hands and at the first sign of you throwing in the towel they turn up the charm. They are highly manipulative people. They would treat you like shit day after day, week after week. Ignore you, hurt you with their words, constantly criticize you and generally treat you badly but the second you have made up your mind to leave, there he is. The man you met. They will serenade you. Take you out on romantic dinners, pay so much attention to you, do everything for you, constantly seem to worry about your well being. They would compliment you even for breathing, and before long you will be back in their web. Narcissistic people are very afraid of being left alone, and so they would do anything to avoid being left alone.
6. THEY CHANGE FROM PRINCE CHARMING TO THE TROLL
A narcissistic person can be very charming especially when they meet you at first. They would be so charming, sweet and romantic. They would be everything you want in a partner. You would honestly feel like you are the most important thing in their lives. They would compliment you more than any other person ever has. You would feel like a queen. They would sweep you off your feet, and it would not be long before you fall in love with them, and that is what they want. Once you fall in love with them, they would find it easy to manipulate you because they know that you would not find it easy to walk away. After you have gotten attached to them, they would change and show you who they truly are which is a highly manipulative and abuse people. If you have been unable to understand why your once charming partner now hardly ever noticed you, it could be because he has a narcissistic personality disorder.
7. THEY ARE VERY CHARMING TO OTHER PEOPLE
One thing about every narcissistic person is their smartness. They are aware that they are not normal people and so they perfect the art of pretense to cloak who they truly are from society, but that film of deceit comes off when they have gotten you into a relationship with them or when they have gotten you attached to them. Then they show their true selves through emotional abuse and manipulative moves. To you, they are the monster, but to others outside, these chameleons are very charming. Their charm is the stuff of legends, and that is how they got in the first place. They use their chances in people to shift the focus of those people to their wonderful personalities and to also discredit you if you ever have the guts to stand up to them in public. So you find your partner being a very nice and charming man outside to other people but a cold, unfeeling and manipulative man to you in private. On some occasions, you would be so shocked at the change of personalities that you would not be able to believe that this same charming person in public is the same indifferent person you have been with. Do not feel bad that they act nice to strangers. It is not because you are inadequate, or that their interest has shifted. No, it’s just that they do not see the point in being all nice and charming to you when they have already gotten you.
8. YOU CONSTANTLY BATTLE FEELING INVISIBLE AND IGNORED.
Well, why would you not battle with feelings of invisibility and emotional neglect when you obviously are being ignored and neglected by your narcissistic significant other. Ignoring you is part of their ploy to do emotionally abuse you that you would not be able to walk away. Because by not showing you attention after months of being charming, they leave you wondering if this change in attitude might be because of something you might have done or said. It isn’t the reason. Rather they ignore you because it is a way for them to retain control over your emotions and happiness. They occasionally pay you some attention to keep you very attached and dependent on them, but most of the time, they ignore you as a means of keeping you off balance emotionally and mentally.
9. YOUR NARCISSISTIC PARTNER ENJOYS TEARING YOU DOWN.
This is textbook behavior for a narcissist. They can’t bear not to be the smartest and the best in any relationship they have with other people. Everything is a competition to them. They just have to one-up you in everything that you both do, and they never let you forget that they won. This is why in a family where the mother is a narcissistic woman, she constantly feels like she is in competition with her daughters. She might resort to using demeaning tactics to erode their daughter’s self-esteem. The same goes for narcissistic partners. They always have to be on top, no matter what. Another way to ensure that their partner never gets better than for them to remove their self-confidence and self-esteem. They do this by acting casually to your achievements and deliberately downplay your achievements.
10. THEY CAN’T DEAL WITH CRITICISM; IT MAKES THEM MAD.
While living that life of grandeur and importance, narcissistic people know that they are living a lie. Their public image is equivalent to a deck of cards. Once one goes down, all others come crashing down. One of the things that they hate and fear more than anything is someone finding out who they truly are. By someone I mean, someone that who is more superior to them. It indicates that their true insecure selves would be on display for the whole world. They fear getting caught in their lie. So what happens when they get criticized. A narcissistic person facing criticism is a scary sight to behold. They usually fly into a rage and verbally attack you. They would purposely seek to tear you down and demean you making you feel inferior. They would attack you at your most vulnerable points making you feel inferior and they superior. Their façades are everything to them and losing it is not an option. They would rather destroy your self-esteem and render you a shell of yourself.
11. YOUR NARCISSISTIC PARTNER CAN NEVER DO ANYTHING WRONG.
One of the first things you will notice about a narcissistic person is his sense of grandeur. In their minds, they believe that they are the best at everything. This can even cause most of them to be perfectionists. At the high pedestal on which they mount themselves, they can do no wrong, and if something goes wrong in the relationship, it can’t be their fault. They are infallible after all. They are very good at the blame game, and it never falls on them. Nothing is more off-putting to a partner than one who will not only make mistakes but will also not take responsibility for their mistakes. Even more annoying is that they would try to pin their mistakes on their partners. They will always find a way to twist things so that they would not be the one to blame for their wrong. Instead, over a long time of conditioning you to emotional abuse you begin to believe that his wrong actions are somehow your fault. One other thing you need to know about is that a narcissistic person hardly ever says sorry on the rare occasions that they cannot pin their wrongs on you. If they ever apologize to you, then it can only mean that they need something. If you understand this point only too well and can see it in your relationship, then you are definitely being emotionally abused by your narcissistic partner.
12. THEY ENJOY EMPLOYING EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL
Narcissistic people are good at discovering other people’s weaknesses. This is why they are very good at manipulating people. They know what buttons to press to get you to do what they want. They enjoy employing emotional blackmail such as doing double time on ignoring you and withholding any form of affection from you. At the end of the day, you find yourself doing that thing just so that you can have peace of mind.
13. YOUR SUCCESS IS NEVER ACKNOWLEDGED BY THEM.
What narcissistic people love more than anything is to one-up the people around them because they feel that they are the best and should never be moved from that position no matter what happens; which is why any achievements and success you might have recorded was met with nonchalance or demeaning. This is not because your achievement was not good enough, it is simply because their disproportionate jealousy and ego cannot bear the fact that someone else is doing well. You can do well, that does not concern them but they draw the line at you achieving any of your goals when they have not done it before. So, when you come up to them with your latest achievement, they do one of two things. One thing they might do is to quickly point out how one of their own achievements is bigger than yours and then go on and on about it. Another thing that might do is to devalue your achievement by making some uncomplimentary comments about it while insinuating that you could have done better. All of this is just a systematic way of stripping you of all your self-esteem by making you feel worthless and making sure that you never achieve more things so that they would always be better than you.
14. NARCISSISTIC PEOPLE NEVER TELL THE TRUTH. EVERYTHING IS AN ORCHESTRATED LIE.
It might seem a bit far-fetched for you to believe that people even if they are narcissists find it difficult to tell the truth. But of course, it is true. A narcissists’ whole life is a lie already. The awesome, charming young man who is ever ready to do things for you is a lie. It is simply a mask to cover the cold, indifferent and calculating man behind the screen. Besides that, narcissistic people are just plain liars. They lie about everything and anything as far as it suits their needs to doctor the truth, then it would be doctored. This may seem a bit surprising, but lying is a form of abuse used by narcissistic people in the very famous gaslighting technique where they lie about events, or even whole conversations making their partner wonder if they are beginning to run mad.
15. THEY WITHDRAW AFFECTION AS A MEANS OF CHECKING YOU.
In normal relationships, when one partner has hurt the other, the partner who has been wronged would talk things through with his partner, letting them know that their actions have hurt them. But in a toxic relationship caused by a narcissistic person, things don’t happen that way. Narcissistic people do not talk things through with their partners if they feel wronged. They just retaliate sometimes even without speaking about that thing again. They would get even by withholding attention from you especially when they have fully succeeded in isolating you from your friends and family. Not that they really showed you affection before but now, it is almost as if they are single and not in a relationship. This tactic is very effective because, without any close bond with your friends and family, you would be fully starved of attention, and only that can seriously fuck up someone’s mind.
16. PHYSICAL ABUSE
Although it has been clearly shown that most people suffering from Narcissistic personality disorder are good at emotional abuse using techniques like gaslighting, systematically ignoring you, and manipulative moves, narcissistic people may not only stop at the emotional.
Most narcissists prefer playing mid-games to any other form of abuse because as smart as they are, they prefer to inflict their wounds and bruises where they can’t be seen by other people and they just plain enjoy those mind games summarily meant to break a person’s psyche down. So while most of them prefer the emotional abuse, it does not mean that there aren’t other narcissistic people who don’t also enjoy inflicting physical violence on their partners as an added means of subduing and controlling them.
What makes a narcissist very dangerous is two things. One, they feel absolutely no sympathy. This means that they do not even see their actions as wrong. They just don’t care, and they will never apologize for putting you through hell. The other one is that their abuse is so subtle, you will not recognize it when it is going on. If you ever do recognize it, it would be when they must have broken everything inside of you, and there is almost nothing left of you to fight for. Walking away from a narcissist is one of the most difficult things a person can do because narcissistic people make it so hard to walk away from them. Anyone who has walked away from a narcissistic relationship is a special brand of strong, and it is even worse when that narcissist was a parent. It is so much harder to turn your back on your parents. But they don’t leave unscarred. Narcissistic abuse victims come out with so many hangups and emotional trauma that it will take a lot of therapy, hard work and time to resolve.
If you have just recently found the strength to walk away from a narcissistic relationship, kudos. The next step is healing, and before you can do that, you have to accept that none of the things that happened to you was your fault. It happened to you because you were unfortunate to be in a relationship with someone who was warped upstairs. You have to shed that conditioning he has put on you. It is his fault and not yours. Once you understand this, then you can finally work through your issues. You have to realize that your narcissistic ex did not love you not because of something you did or did not do, or because of something you lacked like they made you feel. They did not love you because they, not you, are incapable of loving anyone apart from themselves.