Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be emotionally and mentally draining. Narcissists are often highly manipulative and use malicious techniques like gaslighting and shaming to control their partners. After being trapped in a narcissistic relationship pattern myself, I’m examining all the signs in this article so at least you’ll know where the bad feelings you experience come from.

download the red flags of gaslighting checklist

Narcissists play on their partner’s insecurities to make them feel dependent on the relationship, which can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and anxiety on your side. Such feelings can cause the onset of a wide array of chronic mental disorders, so you need to be aware of your emotional world before it drains you.

If you’re in a narcissistic relationship, it’s essential to seek professional help or find a support group to help you to learn how to deal with your narcissistic partner and protect your mental health.

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What is a narcissistic personality disorder?

most narcissists have these traits

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a disorder that is characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a desire for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for other people.

Individuals with NPD often have a grandiose view of themselves and believe they are superior to others. They may also take advantage of others to get what they want and feel little remorse for their actions.

It’s one of the ten personality disorders recognized by mental health professionals and cited in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Experts estimate that about 5% of the general population has Narcissistic Personality disorder.

Getting someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder to seek professional advice or attend couples therapy to address their feelings and fix things is challenging, as most people with NPD deny their issue.

Unlike mood disorders like depression or anxiety, personality disorders are ‘ego-syntonic.’ This means that their dysfunctional behavior is part of their actual personality, and they often don’t believe they have a problem.

Related: Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse: The 5 Best Affordable Alternatives

How do narcissists treat their partners?

In the context of a romantic relationship, narcissistic love patterns follow the same route. The first few weeks are generally full of love bombing and extravagant dates. You may feel as though you’ve entered into a fairy tale relationship and all you want to do is spend time with them.

Since this honeymoon love-bombing period gives you a sense of infatuation and well-being, people never suspect that they’re entering a narcissistic relationship.

They may exude self-confidence (narcissism in disguise), name-drop their associations with high-status people, and shower you with special treatment to lure you into a close relationship.

When the love bombing and special treatment stop, the narcissist warning signs slowly creep in. You might get the first glimpse of the extreme anger and self-aggrandizing feelings they’re capable of.

Many narcissists have an interesting dichotomy of appearing to have high self-esteem when they hide their delicate and fragile egos beneath the crooked surface.

For this reason, narcissists require constant admiration, and when they don’t get it, their angry feelings spiral out of control, and they prey on their partner’s emotions.

Read more: 12 top strategies on how to let go of someone you almost had

What type of relationships do narcissistic partners want?

What type of relationships do narcissistic partners want?

Narcissists are often portrayed as self-absorbed egoists who are only interested in their own needs. However, not all narcissists are the same, and narcissism can actually take many different forms.

While some narcissists may be selfish and uninterested in close relationships, others may crave close connections.

Unfortunately, their long relationships tend to gravitate towards emotional abuse. So what kind of relationships do narcissists want? And what kind of people do they tend to seek out?

One study found that narcissists prefer short-term relationships and casual hookups rather than long-term, committed ones. This is likely because narcissists need constant validation and attention from their partners, and they may feel that they can only get this in a short-term relationship.

Narcissists also seek relationships with people with low self-esteem, as they’re likelier to put up with the narcissist’s demands for attention and admiration.

By contrast, people with healthy self-esteem, self-love, and confidence are more likely to see the narcissist for who they are and to stay away from them.

So if you’re wondering whether you should get into a relationship with a narcissist, it’s essential to consider your self-esteem and the narcissist’s true motives.

Related: 35 Best Karma Narcissist Quotes that Will Shake Your World

Will a narcissist do the same relationship pattern with everyone?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the behavior of a narcissist will vary depending on the individual and the type of relationship they are in.

However, it is generally agreed that narcissists tend to idealize all of their partners at first, before eventually discovering “flaws” and moving on to the next person. This pattern can be seen in both romantic relationships and platonic friendships.

In a healthy relationship, both partners work to understand and accept each other’s faults. However, a narcissist is not interested in compromise or understanding. They simply move on to someone else when they become bored or disgruntled with their current partner.

This narcissistic abuse cycle of idealization and devaluation can be damaging and toxic for both parties involved and it’s usually encountered in every narcissistic relationship.

Related: How to Expose a Gaslighter: The 9 Smartest Ways

What is the narcissistic abuse cycle?

narcissistic abuse cycle in a relationship

Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist knows that it’s an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you’re the most fantastic person in the world, the next moment, you’re worthless and invisible.

These up-and-down relationship patterns are actually part of a larger cycle of narcissistic abuse.

To understand narcissistic relationship patterns, it’s essential to understand what narcissism is. Narcissists are fixated on power and control and can use any manipulation tactics or emotional blackmail strategy to get what they want.

These relationship patterns typically start with the “love bombing” phase. In this phase, the narcissist will shower their victim with attention and affection, making them feel unique and important.

This initial period of intense adoration can be intoxicating, often leading victims to believe that they have finally found the perfect partner.

However, once the honeymoon phase starts to wear off, the narcissist’s true colors begin to show. They may start withdrawing their attention or making critical comments to devalue their partner. This can leave victims feeling confused, hurt, and trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it is essential to remember that you are not alone. Help is available, and you can find the strength to attract genuine love and break free from this cycle of abuse. Consider online therapy if you don’t want to seek professional advice locally.

Related: Reactive Abuse & Narcissism: What Is It & How To Deal With It

What are signs of a narcissist in a relationship?

What are the signs of a narcississtic relationship pattern?

It’s important to remember that not every narcissistic partner is the same, and each narcissistic relationship pattern may differ from another. In the interest of not degrading or undermining people with narcissistic traits, it’s important to mention that we’re only describing narcissistic relationships from a general viewpoint, and exceptions do occur.

So, from a general viewpoint, here are some red flags that may indicate that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist:

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance.

Grandiosity is one of the most typical narcissistic tendencies, and a narcissist’s whole life can revolve around seeking praise and constant admiration. They often try hard to portray themselves as someone highly skilled and creative and relish the idea of being a genius.

Narcissists love being told they’re unique and intelligent and feel uncomfortable when they’re not being noticed or praised.

  • Preoccupied with ideas of unlimited success.

Narcissists are preoccupied with ideas of unlimited success, power, and beauty. They have an inflated sense of self-esteem and believe they are superior to others. Narcissists also lack empathy and are unable to see the perspectives of others.

These traits can make it difficult for narcissists to maintain healthy relationships. Narcissists often look for relationships in which they can be in control and feel superior to the other person.

Narcissists may try to belittle or undermine their partner’s accomplishments. Narcissists may also withhold love and affection to control their partner. As a result, narcissists often have dysfunctional relationships marked by conflict and manipulation.

  • Believe that they are unique and can only be understood by other special people.

At its core, narcissism is about having an inflated sense of self-importance. Narcissists believe they’re unique and can only be understood by another special person. A narcissist will also expect to be recognized as superior, even if they’ve done nothing to earn it.

As a result, a person with narcissism may seek relationships with people they perceive as being on their own level. In their mind, these are the only people who can provide the validation and admiration they crave. And while a narcissist usually wants to be with a high-status person, they’ll also want to be on top.

  • Has a sense of entitlement and requires excessive admiration.

Another typical feature of narcissistic relationship patterns is the narcissist’s need to be adored and admired. Their mental condition forces them to seek praise, and may experience extreme anger when deprived of it.

  • Takes advantage of others and lacks empathy.

A person in a relationship with a narcissistic partner may be subjected to fierce and constant psychological manipulation. They often find themselves desperately seeking the empathy narcissists simply don’t have. This can lead to feelings of emptiness, self-doubt, and depression.

  • Takes no responsibility.

While they’re thrilled to take all the credit when things go right, they’ll never take responsibility when things go sour. In a normal, healthy relationship, people split both praise and blame. Such relationships can flourish and promote self-development, but this is rarely the case with a narcissistic partner.

  • Shows arrogant and intimidating behaviors. 

Being highly egotistical, a narcissistic partner is unable to hide their arrogance. But when their self-esteem is threatened, they’ll often lash out, intimidating their partners.

The seven signs you’re trapped in a narcissistic relationship pattern

What narcissistic love patterns have in common?

Your partner cannot empathize with your pain or problems.

It’s practically impossible for narcissists to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. A person dealing with a narcissistic partner may feel that their self-care is being neglected, and their needs are being outright ignored — and they usually are.

You are being controlled and criticized.

People with narcissism tend to build themselves up by putting others down. Their sense of superiority comes from making the person they’re in a relationship with feel inferior and beneath others. A person in a relationship with a narcissist may suffer from low self-esteem, depression, or anxiety due to being constantly demeaned and undermined.

You are being gaslighted.

Gaslighting refers to when someone attacks your character. They’ll blow your wrongdoings or mistakes out of proportion to make you feel like an intrinsically lousy person. Keep an eye out for this, as the self-doubt it causes can be highly damaging in the long run.

You feel you always need to satisfy your partner while your needs are ignored.

After tasting glory during the honeymoon phases of the relationship, you may find yourself craving that again, but you’re unlikely to get it. Yet, a person may often continue trying to please their narcissistic partner in the hope of being praised or rewarded.

You feel like you can’t give feedback on their behavior and anything that hurts you.

When criticized, narcissists feel extremely triggered, which may cause them to lash out. As a result, their partners quickly learn not to offer honest feedback, even when their behavior warrants criticism.

Your partner constantly needs admiration. 

Unless they get the constant validation they crave, they’ll be unfulfilled, manifesting in many negative ways.

Your partner is often aggressive and makes you feel small.

People dealing with narcissistic partners are often made to feel small and worthless. This is not a characteristic of a normal healthy relationship — it is, however, at the core of the narcissistic relationship cycle.

Read more: How to manifest someone to be obsessed with you in 7 easy ways

Final Thoughts

Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often require excessive praise and approval and are quick to take offense.

Their interactions with others are generally characterized by manipulation to achieve their goals. They tend to be very self-interested and lack empathy for others.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be difficult and narcissistic partners often withhold affection or appreciation, leading to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem in their partners.

Narcissistic relationships are often tumultuous due to the narcissistic partner’s need for control. These dynamics can negatively impact mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it is vital to seek professional help to protect your mental health. And remember, you aren’t alone!

More on narcissism: 

  1. How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you? + 10 top tips to cope
  2. The 12 traits of a narcissist to spot immediately and avoid attachment
  3. The Narcissist Prayer: How To Dive Into the Narcissistic Soul