Developing a relationship with someone special can be a very exciting time in life. If a relationship is healthy, it can also be an emotionally rewarding experience. Characteristics of a healthy relationship include mutual respect and care for one another, avoiding self-serving behaviors, and nurturing healthy communication.
Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy. Have you noticed your boyfriend has become more self-centered, that he doesn’t appear to have any empathy for your thoughts or feelings, or seems to be cutting you off from family and friends? These could be warning signs that you are in a relationship with a boyfriend that is narcissistic, meaning he has narcissistic personality traits or a possible narcissistic personality disorder. A trained mental health professional can assess your loved one and diagnose them as having narcissistic personality disorder. Identifying your partner with this disorder should only come after a trained professional has given that diagnosis.
What Is A Narcissistic Personality?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is one of several types of personality disorders. NPD is characterized by an individual having an inflated sense of self-importance, lack of empathy for others, and a need for excessive attention and/or admiration.
Because those with NPD tend to have an air of superiority about them, they often have troubled relationships. Being in a relationship with a person with narcissism can feel very disheartening as it is almost impossible to deal with them or make them understand your feelings. In fact, it is not uncommon for a narcissistic person to dismiss their partner’s feelings altogether, especially if those feelings do not serve their own purpose.
People with a narcissistic personality disorder often exhibit some of the following character traits:
Causes Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
While the specific causes of narcissistic personality disorder are not completely understood, NPD is believed to be linked to genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Some researchers believe that NPD forms when infants and young children fail to experience normal bonding with caregivers, especially maternal figures. There is also some belief that there is a breakdown in the structure and function of the brain that predisposes some people to develop a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic people rarely develop meaningful relationships with others that last for any significant length of time.
Wondering How To Deal With Your Narcissistic Boyfriend?
Being in an intimate relationship with a narcissistic person can be difficult. When considering different ways to interact with a narcissistic boyfriend (or significant other), it’s important to understand how a narcissistic person thinks. Narcissistic people are generally very manipulative and cunning. Coupled with their strong drive to have things their way, they will use manipulation to make situations and relationships remain on their terms. Below are twelve ways to help deal with a narcissistic boyfriend.
1. Don’t Trick Yourself Into Thinking He Genuinely Cares.
Narcissistic people rarely have genuine feelings for others. It can be difficult to accept this, especially if you have strong feelings for your boyfriend. However, acknowledging his emotional detachment is the first step in learning to live your life free of narcissistic control or abuse.
2. Establish Boundaries That You Are Comfortable With And Stick With Them.
Narcissistic people tend to want things their way—every time. If you don’t learn how to establish boundaries and be clear about what behavior you will or will not tolerate, it will be easy to feel overwhelmed by your narcissistic boyfriend’s never-ending battle for power. If a narcissistic person wants to take up your time or keep your mind so busy with things that are about him, it can be difficult to say no. Nevertheless, for your own emotional well-being, learning to say no to things that take up too much of your time or that cause you to feel frustrated is an important step in gaining control over your life.
3. If You Don’t Want Something Used Against You, Don’t Share With Your Narcissist Boyfriend.
Narcissists generally use belittling as a form of manipulation to get their way. If you share something personal, even embarrassing, with your narcissistic boyfriend, there is a chance that he will use it against you if he thinks it can further his own agenda.
4. Don’t Argue…You Likely Won’t Win.
Narcissists generally love to argue just to prove that they are right. Winning an argument against you is just one way a narcissist can show his mental superiority. The more you argue, the more a narcissist will find reasons to belittle you and make you question your own sanity and/or self-worth. By the way, the old “agree to disagree” method is not something a narcissist is going to buy. Remember, narcissists often see things in black and white, negatives and positives. You either agree with him or you don’t. Either way, arguing generally is not going to work.
5. Accept Who You Are, Even When He Won’t.
People with narcissistic personality disorder usually have no empathy toward others. Your boyfriend may exhibit some superficial charm or even engage in love bombing, but in reality, he may not care about your desires or any personal motives you have. You must be able to accept yourself for who you are and to know that, whether he appreciates you need to take care of yourself and protect your own emotional health.
6. Don’t Take Things Personally Because He Won’t.
A narcissist may make you feel like things are personal and can often leave you feeling emotionally attacked. As frustrating as this can be, it’s important to remember that this is all part of the game for a narcissist. If you are willing to put up with the emotional turmoil that a relationship with a narcissistic boyfriend brings, you can play the game. However, when you decide that you don’t want to put up with this behavior anymore, he may find someone else who will.
7. You Don’t Need To Justify Every Action.
Narcissistic people tend to love to make you question your own thoughts and feelings. If you begin to doubt the things that you perceive as right or wrong, he will likely begin to play the victim, which will cause you further frustration and doubt. You don’t owe your narcissistic boyfriend an explanation for why you believe any of your actions or behaviors are right or within reason.
A narcissistic boyfriend usually thrives on getting reactions from you. By causing you to lose control, he gains control. One of the most effective ways to deal with this behavior is to ignore him. Don’t be fooled, though, a narcissistic person tend to be cunning and knows how to say and do whatever it takes to frustrate you. If you must leave the room or even go for a walk to get away and clear your head, ignore his tantrums when it is possible.
9. Question Things That Don’t Seem Right.
Because narcissistic people don’t feel shame or regret like other people do, they have no problem lying, manipulating, and playing on your guilt or shame. If your narcissistic boyfriend tells you something that upsets you, take the time to find out if it is true or not. One way a person with NPD can control you is to make you question what others think about you or to sow seeds of doubt in your mind about your abilities. Don’t fall for it!
10. Know When It’s Time To Get Away From Your Narcissistic Boyfriend.
As difficult as it may seem to think about, sometimes the best solution is to get away from your narcissistic boyfriend. Getting away may be a short-term separation so that you can evaluate your own emotional and mental well-being, and give yourself a chance to decide if continuing to pursue the relationship is a healthy option for you. On the other hand, if you know that your physical and/or emotional safety is at risk, a permanent separation and ending the relationship could be the best course of action.
Begin to partake in activities that are geared towards caring for your mental, physical or emotional health. Your narcissistic partner may tell you that you are acting selfishly by tending to your own needs; however, it is crucial in maintaining relationships. Caring for yourself helps recharge you to give back to the relationship. Your self-care may include getting enough sleep, eating well, and meeting with an individual therapist weekly to help process ongoing relationship issues and find support.
A narcissistic partner may misguide you from time to time as they get caught up in their own personal fantasies or a strong need for admiration. The ability to reality test, an essential skill taught in therapy, can help you overcome this and avoid being side-swept by your partner emotionally. Reality testing is the ability to distinguish our inner world from the outer. It allows us to better judge situations and improves the way we react. When your partner gets upset with you because you didn’t fulfill their needs as their perception suggested, being able to challenge this by looking at the situation from different angles can help give you space to reflect. Otherwise, you might begin to think negatively of yourself or begin to blame yourself for actions that were truly created by your partner.
Navigating Narcissism With BetterHelp
Additionally, connecting with a counselor or other mental health professional can give you a safe outlet to discuss your concerns and create a plan of action to gain control in your life. If you think you would like to talk to someone, but you are unsure of talking in-person, there are a number of resources available.
There are a number of studies suggesting that online therapy is a beneficial form of treatment for those experiencing a number of mental health issues, such as narcissistic personality disorder. In one comprehensive report, researchers examined the efficacy of online therapy when helping manage symptoms form a number of mental health disorders. The review included over 90 studies, with almost 10,000 participants, and found that online therapy is as effective as in-person counseling. Researchers also note that online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was especially useful. CBT is a widely used method of online therapy that helps individuals—such as those in a relationship with a person with narcissistic personality disorder—better understand their thoughts and behaviors, so that they can foster healthier interactions.
As discussed above, online therapy is there for you when you or someone you love is living with narcissistic personality disorder. Without having to deal with traffic, sit in a waiting room, or miss your lunch break, you’ll be able to remotely attend therapy sessions. With BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy from the comfort of your home. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp know how to help you better understand and interact with someone with NPD. Read below for counselor reviews, from those who have sought help in the past.
“Jeffrey Owen has a wealth of knowledge and experience. He is clearly skilled in his guidance, enabling me to understand the complexities of narcissism and the impact of such lifelong abuse; that I had not fully understood. Reading on the subject matter is useful, but having counseling to explore in a different way is empowering for a survivor like myself. So thank you Jeff.”
“Jennifer Taylor is an amazing councillor, she listens and understands my issues I have with my daughter and mums condition being narcissistic. She remembers everything from all of the previous sessions that has been discussed and the people in my life. Just after 3 sessions with Jennifer I have noticed a big shift how I am dealing with my daughter and in order to have a close relationship with my grandchildren despite my daughters narcissistic ways. Looking forward to experiencing more weekly sessions with Jennifer.”
Deciding whether to continue a relationship with a narcissistic boyfriend has to be up to you. As previously mentioned, setting boundaries means setting limits for what you are comfortable with and are not and expecting those boundaries to be respected, even if he doesn’t like it. If establishing boundaries and following through with them feels frightening or makes you feel uneasy, consider talking to a friend, a loved one, or a professional.
Your safety and well-being are important, even if you’ve been made to feel like it is not. If you need help, reach out today.