158 Signs You’re the Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

158 Signs You’re the Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

Could you be the victim of narcissistic abuse? If so, what can you do and how can you tell? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today  – signs that you’re the victim of narcissistic abuse (see video on YouTube).


What is narcissistic abuse?

Let’s begin today by briefly defining narcissistic abuse. In a nutshell, narcissistic abuse is officially defined as the intentional construction of a false perception of someone else’s reality by an abuser for the purposes of controlling them. It involves a sort of constructed reality in which the narcissist manipulates you emotionally and psychologically over a long period of time.

It can be difficult to figure out that you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse because it can be very subtle and pervasive. It took me personally 35 years to recognize it. So how do you know if it’s happening to you? Well, I’m here to help you with that. Please grab a pen and a piece of paper, or open up a note on your phone. As you read through the signs that you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, go ahead and make a tick mark for each one that resonates with you.

Signs You’re Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse

Find out if you are being emotionally abused by a narcissist by asking yourself the following questions.

Does someone in your life:

  1. Act like you don’t matter to them?
  2. Act like you’re faking it if you’re sick, or even say it out loud?
  3. Act really jealous and possessive sometimes?
  4. Always expect you to take care of their feelings, but never concern themselves with yours?
  5. Always heart or love photos and videos of people of the same or opposite sex (whatever they’re into) on social media?
  6. Always hide their phone from you?
  7. Always make you wonder if you’re crazy?
  8. Always push and cross your boundaries?
  9. Always seem to kick you when you’re down?
  10. Always threaten to end your relationship?
  11. Become angry or sullen if you don’t go along with their demands?
  12. Become excessively pushy or forceful about sex, or even hurt you during sex?
  13. Become overly critical of everything about you when you don’t do what they want?
  14. Behave in ways that cause you to make excuses to others for them?
  15. Belittle your accomplishments?
  16. Blatantly lie to you about yourself and expect you to go along with it?
  17. Call you lazy when you’re not feeling well and can’t keep up with your usual schedule?
  18. Cause damage and/or give away/steal your personal property?
  19. Cause you to apologize for things you shouldn’t apologize for?
  20. Cause you to become anxious about confronting them about literally anything?
  21. Cause you to lose interest in life?
  22. Cause you to not want to do things you used to enjoy?
  23. Compare you to others?
  24. Compete with you over silly things?
  25. Completely ignore you when it’s convenient for them?
  26. Consider themselves the “boss” and insist on making all the decisions in your relationship/family/life?
  27. Constantly threaten to abandon you?
  28. Disappear for hours, days or longer without explaining why?
  29. Dismiss your pain if you’re hurting (emotional or physical)?
  30. Do things they know make you uncomfortable?
  31. Drink excessively or take drugs, and then blame their awful behavior on alcohol, drugs or their own history of abuse or tragedy earlier in their life?
  32. Embarrass you in front of friends or extended family?
  33. Expect more of people than is appropriate? (For example, getting upset if the mailman forgets their birthday?)
  34. Expect you to ask for permission to do stuff, as though you’re a child?
  35. Expect you to get over it when any tragedy happens in your life?
  36. Feel entitled to spending your money?
  37. Feel entitled to your attention and UNCONDITIONAL respect, regardless of how they treat you?
  38. Feel like they have the right to control your money?
  39. Forbid you from doing things?
  40. Force you to account for your time when apart from them?
  41. Get angry at you for things you can’t control, such as someone liking your photo on social media?
  42. Get excessively angry without warning or over tiny things?
  43. Get upset if you need to spend money on things for yourself, your kids or the house when they want to spend it on themselves or their own needs?
  44. Ghost you sometimes?
  45. Give you the “silent treatment” when you don’t do what they want?
  46. Go “dark” and not answer you or return your texts when they’re away from home?
  47. Go into your social media accounts and question everything?
  48. Go through your mail, hack your email or Facebook account or go through your personal belongings?
  49. Harass you when you’re away from them because you have to be somewhere (such as work or school)?
  50. Have a lot of so-called friends on social media they seem to flirt with?
  51. Have rules that you’re required to follow, even though they never told you this and you’re an adult?
  52. Have secret dating profiles or social media profiles you’re not supposed to know about?
  53. Have the whole “Jekyll and Hyde” deal happening – where one side of them seems charming or even sweet and loving, while the other is mean, spiteful and downright hurtful?
  54. Have weird sexual issues?
  55. Humiliate you in public or in groups of people?
  56. Isolate you and prevent you from spending time with friends or family members?
  57. Leave you hanging when you’re counting on them?
  58. Lie about you to others?
  59. Look through your phone at will?
  60. Make a point of telling you how unattractive you are or of pointing out your flaws?
  61. Make everything “all about them?”
  62. Make excessive and unreasonable demands for your attention, even to the detriment of your other responsibilities?
  63. Make threats about how they will “ruin you” or otherwise cause trouble for you at work, to your family or to others?
  64. Make you afraid or unwilling to talk about yourself?
  65. Make you afraid to make a decision without getting their approval?
  66. Make you afraid to tell them your feelings, or to express your feelings at all?
  67. Make you do things that you feel are unethical or morally wrong?
  68. Make you do things you don’t want to do?
  69. Make you doubt your sanity?
  70. Make you dread spending time with them?
  71. Make you feel completely worthless?
  72. Make you feel guilty for anything and everything?
  73. Make you feel jealous by complimenting and flirting with others in front of you?
  74. Make you feel like hurting yourself sometimes?
  75. Make you feel like you need to always prioritize them above yourself?
  76. Make you feel like you need to earn their love or loyalty?
  77. Make you feel like your opinions are not worth hearing or expressing?
  78. Make you feel like your reality is twisted?
  79. Make you feel like you’re always sort of “on guard” and hypervigilant of their moods?
  80. Make you feel like you’re constantly on edge?
  81. Make you feel like you’re living in limbo?
  82. Make you feel like you’re not allowed to say no?
  83. Make you feel terrible every time you spend time together?
  84. Make you feel ugly, stupid, or otherwise unsavory?
  85. Make you feel uncomfortable about spending time with friends, other family members or anyone else?
  86. Make you feel unheard?
  87. Make you forget who you are?
  88. Make you go without things you actually need, like food and personal care items?
  89. Make you hate going on vacation?
  90. Make you regret your accomplishments instead of lifting you up when you do something good?
  91. Make you responsible for maintaining the relationship while also making it feel impossible?
  92. Make you the scapegoat for all the arguments or problems in the relationship?
  93. Make you wish you were dead?
  94. Make you wonder if you’re even a real person?
  95. Make you feel like you’re always “walking on eggshells” or living with constant stress, anxiety or generally in fear?
  96. Manipulate you with the constant threat of mood changes and impending rage?
  97. Minimize your feelings or act like your feelings aren’t important or don’t matter?
  98. Never apologize to you unless they’re trying to get something from you?
  99. Not concern themselves with your needs, ever?
  100. Pick you apart?
  101. Play games with your head? Tell lies in order to confuse you or blame you for something you didn’t do?
  102. Play the “poor me” game anytime they don’t get what they want?
  103. Pressure you to use alcohol or other drugs, even when you say no?
  104. Refuse to admit wrongdoing, or if they do, it’s only if they can blame it on someone else?
  105. Refuse to allow any privacy?
  106. Refuse to allow you to access your money or family money?
  107. Refuse to allow you to work, if you want to?
  108. Refuse to be nice to you?
  109. Refuse to get a job and require you to pay for everything while they do nothing?
  110. Refuse to make plans with you or if they do, cancel them at the last minute?
  111. Refuse to post photos of you together on social media?
  112. Require you to do things for them, such as housework, laundry or other kinds of support without reciprocation of any kind?
  113. Ruin all the holidays for you?
  114. Ruin your birthday every year?
  115. Ruin your day when they’ve had a negative experience outside of you?
  116. Ruin your plans every time?
  117. Say overly critical things about your body and appearance?
  118. Say really mean things to you and when you get upset, claim they were joking?
  119. Say they know what you’re thinking, even when they clearly do not?
  120. Say things that don’t make sense and get angry when you point this out?
  121. Say things to intentionally confuse you?
  122. Say you’re mad at them when you’ve shown no indication of this and then get mad at you for not admitting you’re mad?
  123. Seem to find reasons to rage at you even when you do everything right?
  124. Seem to have double standards – as in, they’re allowed to do what they want, but you aren’t allowed to do what you want?
  125. Start arguments with you and others in your life through gossip or other forms of manipulation?
  126. Steal or hide money from you and/or your family accounts?
  127. Take control of everything in your life?
  128. Take credit for anything you do that’s good or that’s recognized by someone else?
  129. Take out their anger about other things on you?
  130. Take your paycheck?
  131. Tear down your friends?
  132. Tell or imply to others that they are interested in them when they are in a relationship with you?
  133. Tell or imply to others that they are sexy or otherwise attractive?
  134. Tell you how to dress, directly or indirectly?
  135. Tell you no one else will love you or that you’re unlovable?
  136. Tell you that you’d be nothing without them?
  137. Tell you they know you better than you know yourself?
  138. Tell you you’re too sensitive all the time?
  139. Threaten to hurt themselves or YOU if you threaten to leave?
  140. Threaten to hurt themselves when they don’t get their way?
  141. Threaten to take your children away from you, if you have them?
  142. Threaten you with physical harm or make you feel afraid of how they will react when you speak or act in general?
  143. Triangulate you with other people in your life, pitting you against one another?
  144. Try to control every second of your day?
  145. Try to get revenge on you if you make them angry?
  146. Try to pit your kids or other family members against you or each other?
  147. Try to steal your thunder (as in steal your spotlight anytime the attention is on you)?
  148. Use religion to belittle and/or control you?
  149. Use your insecurities against you?
  150. Withhold affection in order to punish you?

Question of the Day: How many of these signs resonated for you? What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it. 

More Resources for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse


How to Tell the Difference Between Narcissistic Love Bombing and Healthy Romantic Interest

How to Tell the Difference Between Narcissistic Love Bombing and Healthy Romantic Interest

If you’re recovering from narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship and you’re thinking about dating again, you might want to know what to look for so you can avoid getting involved with a narcissist again in the future. In this video, I’ll explain exactly what you need to know in order to avoid getting sucked in by another narcissist and how to narc-proof all of your future relationships – plus, I’ll share my personal secrets for surviving and thriving in new relationships after narcissistic abuse.

What is love bombing?

Love bombing is also called idealization. This is one phase of the narcissist’s typical abuse cycle. Love bombing usually happens during the initial stages of a relationship with a narcissist. Officially, “love bombing” is a perception of the narcissist in which they attribute exaggeratedly positive qualities to themselves and, in this case, specifically to the person with whom they’re in a relationship. Since love bombing/idealization is part of the narcissistic abuse cycle, it can happen intermittently throughout the relationship as part of the intermittent reinforcement pattern narcissists use to keep their victims hooked.

How can you tell the difference between narcissistic love bombing and healthy romantic interest?

You might not be surprised to know that one of the biggest questions I hear from both readers and narcissistic abuse recovery coaching clients is how to know the difference between a narcissist who is love bombing and a normal person who is just genuinely interested in you.

Want to find out if the new person you’re dating might be love bombing you?

Take this love bombing vs. romantic healthy interest quiz.

What is Love Bombing?

Love bombing might also be called idealization. It happens in the early parts of the relationship for the most part,and can be intermittently sprinkled throughout the years (usually decreasing in frequency as time goes on) as part of a cycle of intermittent reinforcement that almost seems designed to keep you hooked. This usually happens during the initial stages of a relationship with a narcissist, this is a perception in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others. During this phase, the narcissist idealizes you and places you on the highest of pedestals, making you feel like you’ve met your soulmate. They seem to like everything you like, want everything you want, and care about all the same things as you. You might keep pinching yourself and asking yourself where this person has been all your life. For a brief time, everything feels perfect. This is why you are so shocked when you later hit the devalue phase during which the narcissist will start to manipulate, insult and attack you,

What is Healthy Romantic Interest? 

Early on in a healthy relationship (with a neurotypical non-narcissist), even when the relationship is healthy, you might feel like spending every moment together – and for a short time, you might actually even do that. But for the most part, you’re going to be still living your life, seeing your friends and family, and generally, this person will be added to your existing world, at least at first.

Over time, this healthy relationship will smooth out into a more comfortable rhythm that feels natural and good to both parties. Both parties keep their friends and family, and both maintain their hobbies and interests. Sometimes they do things together, and other times, they do things apart. In a healthy relationship, you start to feel comfortable sort of letting it all hang out around each other, and while you might on occasion argue, it never ends in someone being punished, belittled, or otherwise dehumanized.

Related – Take the Test: Are you involved with a toxic narcissist?

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Love Bombing and Healthy Romantic Interest?

And why is it so hard to tell the difference between a love bomber and someone who is really interested in you on a healthy level? The fact is that on the outside, a love bomber and a healthy person who has fallen in love might appear to be pretty similar. But there are some subtle differences that are often overlooked when we are under the spell of new love.

You probably already know that statistically speaking, nearly EVERYONE is more willing to overlook little flaws at the beginning of a relationship – and nearly everyone is a little more careful with how they treat their partners early in the relationship. And even in so-called “normal” relationships, as time goes on, nearly everyone finds something that used to be cute or at least tolerable about their partners to be at least remotely irritating. Nearly everyone argues, and nearly everyone admits to being mean to their partner when they didn’t need to be at one time or another.

What’s the difference between healthy relationship interest and love bombing from a narcissist?

So what differentiates a normal, healthy relationship from a narcissistic one? Here are a few key differences to watch for next time you’re considering getting involved with someone new after you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse in a relationship.

1. The Insta-Love Factor

A narcissist will almost always proclaim love or soulmate status very early in the relationship, and this will almost always lead to insta-commitment on his/her part – as in, immediate and too-familiar-too-fast, and not really sustainable in the long run since neither of you really knows the other one yet.

A healthy person will take his/her time and get to know you before rushing into things. To be fair, there are a few real-life cases of “love at first sight” that are totally legit – but if we’re being honest with ourselves, those are few and far between. And if this person is really your “One,” they won’t mind taking things slowly.

2. The TIME factor

“I just want to spend every second of every day with you!” ~The Narcissist, rolling over and stroking your face as you wake up together for the third time, 76 hours into your first date.

“I can’t stop thinking about you…hope you’re having a good day.” ~A Healthy Person, texting you at lunchtime the day after you had an amazing third date.

When you meet a narcissist, you can find yourself just completely and absolutely bowled over and just WOWed by his/her level of awesome – so much so that all you feel like doing is being near him/her. And, truth is, the very same thing can happen with a new healthy love interest, too.

The difference here is that while a healthy relationship can and often does have an infatuation phase, it also still allows you to stay involved with the other important parts of your life – family, work, spirituality, etc. It does NOT require or beg you to dump your life and your people in order to avoid missing anything.

A narcissist will want you to become dependent on him because this will allow him to become dependent on YOU – as his regular source of narcissistic supply.

A “healthy” person MIGHT want to spend every moment with you but will understand and support your need to continue with your regular life while you get to know one another – even if it means he tags along for your family events and on outings with your friends sometimes. It does NOT require you to stop living your own life – that’s a red flag of narcissistic behavior.

3. The Drama Factor

When you’re dealing with a narcissist, there are lots of red flag signs early in the relationship – and one of them is often a drama factor. Narcissists often shock you early in the relationship with some strangely placed little outburst or fit – and one that’ll quickly be righted and for which he/she will often apologize.

For example, maybe she will blow up at a waiter a little too aggressively when the food shows up cold, or maybe he will be super-bitchy to a friend or relative on the phone.

And if you question him or mention the behavior to him, he will explain it away by explaining why he is justified in his treatment of that person – such as “oh, he has owed me money for like 15 years – he deserves what he gets,” or ” she has always had it out for me!” – it’s never the narcissist’s fault.

While a “normal” person may have a drama moment here and there, they’re more understandable and aren’t so world-stopping as those experienced under the reign of a narcissist.

They might break down if something major happens – they lose their job, a friend dies, their dog dies or something else that YOU might also feel like breaking down about. But they won’t freak out if they ask you for some money to buy a soda and you don’t have any change. See what I mean?

4. The Empathy Factor

If you’re in an early relationship with a narcissist, there are little subtle things that will happen in your conversations that can tip you off if you watch for them. Simple patterns that will be evident if you know what to notice.

One of the biggest is how empathetic the narcissist is capable of being. Watch what happens when someone in your or the narc’s life experiences pain or tragedy in their lives – see how the narcissist behaves. You can tell when someone is genuinely concerned versus when someone’s sort of “being polite,” right?

A narcissist can be a really good actor, and he might even be really good at follow up questions when he’s in the love-bombing phase. But when things are “back to normal,” a narc will change the subject if the topic varies from something that interests him – often rudely or by creating a big scene to get the attention back on himself.

If you’re the one dealing with the trouble, a healthy person who’s “really into you” will show genuine concern when someone you care about is hurt or goes through hard times, and he/she will never make the pain or tragedy ABOUT THEM at all.

Instead, they’ll stand by you in whatever way is appropriate at that phase in your relationship – whether that means stepping back to allow you time to deal with the issue or to grieve with your family, or it means to literally stand by you while you go through it.

If your love interest is the one dealing with the trouble, he will be concerned as much as you might be about a similar situation, and he will want you to stand by him in whatever way is appropriate at that level in your relationship – while a narc will want you to feel sorry for him/her while you baby and spoil him/her to help end the pain (whether it’s their personal pain or not). It’ll be all about the narc, not the person actually experiencing the issue.

Love Bombing or Healthy Romantic Interest?

What are the best ways to avoid narcissists in relationships?

So, here are three easy steps you can take to avoid becoming involved with a narcissist in the future.

It’s so simple, you won’t believe it – but it works.

Are you ready for this? Here’s what you need to do to avoid getting involved with a narcissist again in the future.

1. You have to TAKE YOUR TIME in the relationship.

Make a rule for yourself that you won’t go too fast and commit too soon. For example, after I left my ex husband, I made a rule for myself that I would not allow anyone to propose to me until we had been monogamously dating for at least one year – and then I decided that I’d make it a long engagement just to be safe.

You can set your own rules based on your own perception of how long it took you to recognize that you were dealing with a narcissist in the first place.

This can apply to literally any personal relationship, and even to professional ones on certain levels – that is, you sort of maintain your guard in each type of relationship for an appropriate length of time before you assume you can trust them.

2. You have to STAY CONNECTED to other people!

In order to keep your life in balance and protect yourself from getting enmeshed with another narcissistic abuser, you really need to be careful to still actively cultivate relationships with a variety of people in your life, even and especially when you’re in the beginning phases of new relationships and friendships.

Remember how bad it felt when you were isolated from everyone by the narcissist? This is the time that you need to be especially vigilant of staying connected. And, seriously, I don’t care how in love you are, and I don’t care how much you think it’s YOUR idea to stay in bed for 17 days straight and ignore your phones – DO NOT DO IT!

Promise yourself that you’ll have regular contact with the other important people in your life, even if you need to schedule it.

Get yourself connected to a good support network and stick with them – and consider having a recovery buddy who will check in with you on a regular basis and help you remember to remain connected to your network of support and love – this will help to ensure that you don’t inadvertently fall into your old patterns.

This can happen before we realize it!

3. Listen to your gut.

Remember when you got involved with your narcissist and you felt a little “off” but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it? Or maybe you never felt quite comfortable in the relationship, like you might lose it at any moment? Maybe you lived in fear of being alone or of falling flat without him/her.

This is another very important part of protecting yourself from getting involved with another narcissist – you have to listen to your “gut” – your heart – those feelings that creep up inside you when you don’t want to listen to them.

If something doesn’t feel right, there is a reason! If you’re not sure, go back to #1 – just take your time. There’s really no reason you need to rush, right?

If it’s truly a healthy and mutually good relationship and the person you’ve been waiting for all of your life, time will be of no concern – just take your time getting to know each other and enjoy the process. It can be deliciously satisfying.

What do you think? What would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Helpful Tools & Resources for Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse After Love-Bombing

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