5 Signs Of Narcissistic Abuse In A Relationship

Nobody ever expects to get involved with a narcissist. When pondering one’s romantic life, countless scenarios may play out in your head but again, narcissistic abuse does not make that list. But the numbers tell a potentially different story. Some 12 million American adults may be struggling with a personality disorder. If each of them has roughly five relationships in their life, that means as many as 60 million people being impacted by a narcissist.

Further complicating things is the reality that narcissists are quite adept at charming their way into anyone’s life. All of this is to say that it would behoove all of us to be well-acquainted with the signs of narcissistic abuse.

5 Signs Of Narcissistic Abuse In A Relationship

1. Love Bombing 

Things will move quickly with a narcissist. They are generous with their compliments and gifts. Saying “I love you” happens very early and before you know it, they’ll suggest moving in together. All this attention and affection is a manipulative tool to gain control. The faster they move to gain your trust and commitment, the less chance of them being exposed for their devious intentions. 

2. The Honeymoon Phase Ends Just As Quickly

One day, you feel like you’ve met your soul mate. In a flash, you feel disrespected, invalidated, and not even worthy to be with them. At first, they hung on your every word. Suddenly, they don’t even listen. When they do deign to acknowledge what you say, it is typically to downplay it and engage in gaslighting. 

3. Gaslighting 

You probably know this term, but, to make sure, it’s a method of making a person question their own thoughts and experiences. Gaslighting is emotional abuse and will leave you:

  • Believing you are “too sensitive.”
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Unsure of your ability to accurately relay the truth.
  • Apologizing all the time.
  • Unable to confidently make decisions.
  • Justifying your partner’s words and actions.
  • Depressed.
  • Hyper-vigilant as you wait for the next round of confusion.


4. Meanwhile, Your Compliments and Support Are Their Fuel

A narcissist is a great actor. They present themselves as confident and dominant but they are utterly dependent on your praise. They feed off your empathy and are not shy about asking for compliments. A narcissist wants to be adored and will ramp up the manipulation tactics to make that happen. 

It should come as no surprise that they will not tolerate any deviation from this dynamic. They will not admit they’re wrong and will blame you for anything even remotely negative. If you dare to argue with them, facts will twisted into a pretzel to keep you off-balance and exhausted. At some point, it may feel easier to acquiesce than to fight.

5. They Lack Empathy

All the early love bombing was a show. Once their true colors come out, you will see a mean-spirited human without empathy. They cannot relate to what you’re feeling and will get cruel if they feel the need to undermine any confidence you display.

You Can Get Help And You Can Heal

Once you are able to identify and accept what is happening, you are in a good position to make the essential changes you desperately need. There are some self-help steps you can take (affirmations, self-care, and more). Ideally, you will be able to connect with a therapist with experience in this area. Your therapy sessions will be a safe space where you can work through the experiences in question and create new approaches.

It’s not easy to admit you’ve been manipulated and it can be very difficult to leave. So, let’s just start with a free consultation to get things started with couples therapy or relationship counseling.

Creative Arts Therapy Source offers in-person therapy on Long Island. Online therapy is available across New York & New Jersey.