Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

“Since narcissism is fueled by a greater need to be admired than to be liked, psychologists might use that fact as a therapeutic lever – stressing to patients that being known as a narcissist will actually cause them to lose the respect and social status they crave.” ~Jeffrey Klugertop 17 red flags you are dating a narcissist

So, you’ve found a new love, and something just doesn’t seem quite right. Maybe you’re beginning to wonder: is he/she a narcissist? 

Top 17 Early Warning Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

Here are the top 17 early warning signs that you’re dating a narcissist. Don’t let yourself fall in love with the person the narcissist claims to be. 

Note: I will refer to the narcissist as male for the remainder of this article, but please note that the narc could just as easily be female (though, to be fair, the largest percentage are reportedly male). 

Read my book on narcissism: Take Back Your Life: 103 Highly-Effective Strategies to Snuff Out a Narcissist’s Gaslighting and Enjoy the Happy Life You Really Deserve

RED FLAG #1: He Throws Out the “L” Word Too Fast

It’s easy to get caught up into the manipulative web of a narcissist, especially when they’re on their best behavior, putting you on a pedestal and idealizing you. That’s almost certainly where they’re going to be early in the relationship. 

They’ll say “I love you” very soon, or they’ll tell you it was love at first sight. This is often also the time they’ll employ the “love bombing” technique, in which you start to get that soulmate vibe. He’ll start to seem like the person you’ve been searching for your whole life. It’ll seem too good to be true (because, sadly, it is, in this case). 

Read more: Narcissist’s Soulmate Scam: The Love Bomber

RED FLAG #2: He’s Too Concerned for Your Well-Being

Many narcissists are prone to making their romantic partners dependent on them. They accomplish this by doing things for you (such as cooking, cleaning or other little chores), or through controlling your daily activities and monitoring your activities. 

Early in a relationship, this could seem like genuine concern, but if you stick around, it’ll turn into something very sinister. 

See, they want to put you in this place where they become so important in your life that you can’t let go of them, even if you want to. Then, they control you with threats of abandonment and fear. 

RED FLAG #4: He Wants Every Second of Your Time

He’s so in love with you, so fast, and he wants so much of your time! He just can’t get enough of you, and he’s not afraid to say it. 

It starts with constant texts or phone calls, and pretty soon, he can’t stand to be away from you. He starts to expect to spend time with you when he wants it, and he gets moody or distant if you can’t be with him when he demands it. 

This leads to another red flag to watch for. 

RED FLAG #5: He Gets Mad When You Can’t See Him

You start to feel worried about how you’re going to avoid upsetting him when you have other plans, so you might even stop making plans without talking to him first. This is another way he starts to weave that web of control very early in the relationship; what first appears to be the loving desire to be together is really just his need to control every aspect of your life. 

It’s healthy to have friends and connections outside of your relationship with your significant other. If you give in to the need to please him and you go ahead and “wait” for him to tell you what you’re doing, you’re handing him more control. He uses his anger and your fear of being alone as a way to control your time. 

This can lead to him isolating you entirely from others in the future. Be careful. 

Read more: Inside the Twisted Mind of a Narrcissist

RED FLAG #6: He is Extremely or Excessively Critical of Others in His Life

He shocks you sometimes with his extreme criticisms of the people in his life – whether it’s his parents or his siblings or friends, neighbors or co-workers, he’s got strong opinions about people and how “worthy” they are. 

If he has kids or is involved with kids, you’ll see him become very controlling and critical of them, alternating with seeing them as perfect reflections of themselves. He might also be critical of others’ parenting choices, whether or not he’s actually a parent. 

This can also lend a glimpse into the future. Do you want to have kids with this guy? If you already have kids, do you want him to be parenting them? How would you feel if he criticized your mother or your best friend this way? Things to consider – they will happen if you stick around with a narcissist. 

Read more: Understanding Narcissistic Rage

RED FLAG #7: He Treats His Mom Like Shit – Or She Can Do No Wrong

If you happen to meet a narcissist’s mom (or mom-figure), you might notice that he treats her rudely or with little respect. She might not even bat an eyelash at it, or she might playfully jab him back. 

This can alternate with periods of his putting his mother on a pedestal, idealizing her and imagining that their relationship’s perfect, and she can do no wrong. 

But while you initially dismiss this as “just how their relationship is” and start to consider it almost endearing, if you look a little closer (or in hindsight), you might just catch a glimpse of how your future could sound, if you stick around. Speaking of which, on to the next point. 

RED FLAG #8: He Says His ‘Ex’ Was a Certified Nutjob/a Horrible Bitch/Otherwise Insane

We’ve all met a guy or girl who has a crazy ex. But when you’ve got a narc on your hands, you’ll see early in the relationship that he almost always tells you some horror stories about his ex. 

He might say she cheated or that she verbally abused him. He might say she hit him or she emotionally tormented him. Or that she was very, very stupid. Or any number of things – you’ll end up feeling sorry for him, and that’s his goal. 

RED FLAG #9: He Points Out All the Things About You That Are Better Than His Ex

Now that you know how awful his ex was, he’s ready to start idealizing you and putting you on a pedestal. So he’s going to spend some time identifying the things about you that he loves because they’re so different than the ex. 

And, you’ll go out of your way to prove that you’re NOTHING like that crazy, horrible person. So he wins – he sets you up to try to start conforming yourself to his desires. This is another way he begins to take control of you. 

Read more: Top 10 Warning Signs You’re Being Gaslighted

RED FLAG #10: He’s Got a Great Sob Story, and He Ain’t Afraid to Tell It!

A narcissist often has a great sob story to tell, or several. Maybe his parents died when he was young, or his ex cheated on him. Maybe he’s lost everything and overcome it, or maybe he survived an abusive childhood, or some big tragedy. 

Whatever the story is, you probably heard it on or around your first date. He pretended to open up to you, to share his deep, dark feelings, and then to draw you in and make you WANT TO TAKE CARE OF HIM – and you know what that is, right? 

Yet another way he wants to control you. This brings me to my next point. 

RED FLAG #11: He Remains Blameless in All Situations

A narcissist is unable to accept blame, ever, for his behaviors and the effect of these behaviors. Early in a relationship, they will often tell stories in which they are the innocent victim being used/abused/screwed over by someone. 

He likes the “poor me” game. 

Since he is a victim, you want to protect or take care of him by assuring him of you loyalty/honesty/dedication/devotion. And he gets a little more control of your world. 

As the relationship moves forward, he’ll start blaming you, if you stick around. Be warned. 

Read more abut how narrcissist play the “Poor Me Game”

RED FLAG #13: He Seems to Have a Lot of Special Accomplishments, and He Wants Praise 

When he’s not whining about his poor little self and heralding his ability to survive such terrible odds, he’s probably telling you stories about himself and his friends. 

At first, you enjoy the stories, not realizing that they’re so well-rehearsed and probably only half true. Over time, you’ll hear the same stories, again and again, and potentially in various iterations. And if you don’t listen, act super interested and praise appropriately? He might just throw a little narcissistic rage and/or narcissistic injury your way. 

This never ends. So if you’re going to stick it out, be prepared to heap the praise on him, unconditionally. 

RED FLAG #15: He Might Have Substance Abuse or Porn Addiction Issues

Not all narcissists are substance abusers and not all substance abusers are narcissists. Same deal with porn addicts. But if you’re dating a substance abuser or a porn addict, you might want to take a second look and peer a little deeper. 

A lot of narcissists do carry around drug and alcohol problems. And a large percentage have issues with porn addiction. Maybe it’s due to their need for attention or excess, or maybe it’s just because most narcissists secretly hate themselves and need to numb out on the regular. 

Either way, it’s a red flag. 

RED FLAG #16: He Somehow Always Brings the Subject Back to Him

ME, ME, ME, It’s all about ME! This guy won’t shut up about himself. At first you thought it was cute, but now it’s getting annoying.

You might’ve read some dating advice that told you to make it all about him in the beginning, and sometimes, this does work. Who doesn’t like to talk about him or her self? 

But when he doesn’t try to learn about you, too, or when he simply interrupts every story you tell with a story of his own, it’s a red flag. 

Narcissists are well-known for their listening problems. They tend to wait while you speak, rather than listen. They’re waiting for their turn to say what they want to say – and often, it won’t follow in the conversation. 

If they don’t have the opportunity to say what they want, they may interject or even just get upset and pout. 

RED FLAG #17: He seems oddly and easily upset by small things. 

Even though he tries to keep his childish ways under wraps during your courtship, if you look closely, you’ll see little signs that he’s a narcissist – and one of the most obvious is that he is quickly, easily and overly upset about things that don’t really matter to most people. 

For example, he may be overly rude to waiters or salespeople, or he may treat the lawn guy with contempt. He takes things very personally and often enacts unreasonably harsh reactions. 

At first, you figure it’s righteous anger, and you go about trying to support him emotionally and provide him the love he’s been missing. You think you can fix him. But you can’t. He’s a narcissist. 

Do you see any of yourself or the person you’re currently dating? What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments, below. Let’s discuss it. 

 

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7 Responses to RED FLAGS: Top 17 Early Warning Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

  1. My ex is 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8…a definite narcissist. He started love bombing me less than a month after meeting me off Facebook last Spring. Things got very bad quickly. He’d get upset because I didn’t call him everyday, accusing me of cheating almost every time we talked on the phone. He has mental health issues like I do, but his was so bad I had no choice but to back away and leave him alone.

    When I ended up homeless this year for several months, my ex told me that I truly didn’t want to improve my situation, that I must like being miserable and that if I had’ve stayed with him I wouldn’t be homeless. Needless to say, I cut him loose for good. Other things happened but they’re not appropriate for me to mention publicly.

    • Wow, Kimba, so glad you were smart enough to get out when you did. I’m so sorry you were homeless but I think that proves that sometimes anything is a better alternative than being emotionally and mentally abused. Happy to hear you’re doing better! Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope it will help someone avoid or more quickly end a relationship with a toxic narc.

  2. “Note: I will refer to the narcissist as male for the remainder of this article, but please note that the narc could just as easily be female (though, to be fair, the largest percentage are reportedly male).”

    It always amazes me that women have such a hard time seeing it in their own, much less calling them on it. Narcissistic women are rampant in 2016.

  3. recently figured it out. I dated a guy for 2 months he was leaving his wife and needed my help it was great in the beginning but only after a few weeks I felt there was something off about the whole thing. after reading this he is every single number. it only took me 2 months to figure it out he tried so hard to break me and bring me down below his level. I did believe him in the beginning. I didn’t even realize that I was dating someone who is narcissist until I told my story to my friends. Thank you for this it will certainly help for future use. Needless to say he never left his wife and never had any intentions to.

  4. I always had a crush on this woman from work for years, all of a sudden she started to pursue me and I fell for it… the love bombing was there and after a couple of months she moved in with her daughter because her sob story and separated husband would beat her (oh yes, she was “separated” plus she had an ex BF which ended only 2 weeks after she started to pursue me)… after a couple of months I always felt something was “off” but because she was so beautiful and the sex was amazing I just kept thinking to myself I was just insecure and that sometimes things can be true even though it may seem too good. Finally something in me snapped after she left for a last minute “get together” she was taking her daughter to I asked her to leave that night… she did and we stayed together for a few months even though she would disappear on most weekends. It broke my heart knowing exactly what was really going on and I stuck around until she finally stated she did not want any commitment but her feeling for me would never change (she said that perhaps for future supply). I have been in many relationships that didn’t work out but this really took a toll on me and I have been NC for 2 weeks but I still feel like my head is spinning and even sometimes blame myself for it ending… I have been in a marriage for 7 years years ago and this now feels like that even though my relationship with the narc lasted only about 6 months!

  5. Yep my ex was all this and more only once I was trapped all the blame landed on me. I was the cause of his drug problems, I was the reason for his anger because I would not submit to him physically the way he deserved, he would keep me awake til all hours of the morning telling all I had done wrong the scream at me for being tired the next day. He lowered my self esteem and told me I was worthless one minute then wrote me love poems of admiration the next. I had to leave my job because of his jealousy and I didn’t trust him alone with our kids, then he would tell me I’m too lazy and worthless to get a job and I’m leaching off him, so I would start looking for work then he would say I’m trying to work so I can cheat on him. When he worked night shift he would come home and check me, if my sock fell off on my sleep he would question what I’d been up to and examine my private areas for proof of infidelity. 7 years of hell. One of my children has finally left him but another is still stuck in his power and the police don’t listen so I just have to wait til she leaves too.

  6. I was married for over 15 years and she slowly turned into one. At first it was small stuff but by the end of our marriage she had made me feel terrible about myself, family, even my 120k+/yr professional career. All was good at first but once her career took off she treated me and the kids like crap. Actually laughed at me when I tried to talk about stuff. Sad thing is that she knew exactly how to push the right buttons and make react to her so I looked nuts half the time too. Kids cant stand her now and she’s always lying to them about something to try and maintain some level of control over them. Just sad.

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