12 Signs of a Narcissistic Relationship and How to Avoid Them

Being in a narcissistic relationship can be challenging and even toxic at times. Narcissists lack empathy and often behave in selfish ways that harm their partners.

However, it’s important to recognize the signs of narcissism early on so you can avoid getting trapped in an unhealthy dynamic.

In this article, I will explore 12 key signs of a narcissistic relationship and provide tips on how to prevent getting tangled up with a narcissist in the future.

Read Also: How to Stand Up for Yourself in a Relationship

12 Signs of a Narcissistic Relationship and How to Avoid Them

12 Signs of a Narcissistic Relationship and How to Avoid Them

Narcissism in relationships often shows in the following ways:

1. Excessive Self-Importance

Narcissists have an inflated sense of ego and feel entitled and superior to others.

They may brag excessively about their achievements or talents and constantly draw attention to themselves.

A narcissist will rarely admit they are wrong and often blame their partners for their shortcomings.

Watch out for anyone who seems obsessed with being admired and needing constant validation.

2. Lack of Empathy

While everyone gets selfish at times, narcissists genuinely struggle to care about their partner’s feelings or see things from their perspective.

Their needs and desires always come first. They are unable to celebrate someone else’s successes or provide emotional support during hard times.

If your feelings or problems are consistently dismissed or minimized, this could indicate narcissism.

3. Manipulation and control

Narcissists have a strong need to feel in power and control of their partners. They may try to isolate you from friends and family or micromanage decisions.

Gaslighting is common, where they lie to make you doubt your memory or perception.

Set clear boundaries and don’t let anyone manipulate you into doing things you are uncomfortable with to please their ego. Stand your ground respectfully.

4. Jealousy and Distrust

Because narcissists see themselves as superior beings, they often believe no one is good enough for them—not even their partner.

So they tend to be jealous, possessive, and distrustful in relationships. They accuse partners of cheating without cause and excessively check up on their whereabouts and social media activity.

Healthy jealousy is normal at times but constant accusations are a red flag.

5. Entitlement and Exploitation

Due to their grandiose sense of self-importance, narcissists feel entitled to special treatment and to have their needs met without reciprocation.

They demand excessive attention, admiration, gifts, or acts of service from their partners but rarely show consideration or gratitude in return.

They see partners as objects that exist to serve their ego rather than as equals.

6. Arrogance and Belittling Behavior

Narcissists feel superior to others and thus look down upon their partners. They exhibit smug, arrogant attitudes and use demeaning insults, nicknames, or ridicule to subtly belittle and embarrass their partner over time to assert power and control.

No one deserves to feel disrespected by their partner through cruel put-downs or criticism.

7. Envy and Jealousy of Success

While narcissists appear grandiose on the outside, inside they are filled with self-doubt and envy of others’ success and abilities.

So when their partners achieve something noteworthy whether it’s a new job, weight loss, or other accomplishment, the narcissist will try to one-up them, rain on their parade, or diminish their efforts out of fear that it makes them look bad in comparison.

Read Also: Self-Esteem Apps to Give Your Confidence a Daily Boost

8. Lack of Follow Through

While narcissists are persuasive and charismatic initially, they struggle to commit and follow through long-term.

Plans and promises are often broken when their interest wanes or a new source of supply comes along.

They want all the praise and good feelings upfront but then disappear once the thrill is gone, leaving their partners confused, frustrated, and hurt.

Don’t ignore this tendency as it will only lead to greater disappointment later on.

9. Extreme Reactions to Criticism

Due to their fragile ego, narcissists struggle with even minor criticism, feedback, or actions by their partner that they interpret as a threat.

Their automatic reaction is rage, defensiveness, insults, or even threatening behavior to assert power.

Healthy relationships involve respectful communication including constructive feedback to help each other improve – so this inability may hinder long-term fulfillment.

10. Volatile Mood Swings

Along with extreme reactions to minor criticism, narcissists often fluctuate between putting their partners on a pedestal one moment to suddenly devaluing or abandoning them the next without warning or logical reason.

Their moods and treatment of others change drastically based on their shifting perceptions and whether their ego needs are currently being satisfied.

This rollercoaster is exhausting and causes partners to constantly walk on eggshells to avoid setting off the next tantrum or silent treatment.

11. Lying and Stretching the Truth

Narcissists frequently lie not just to their partners or others but to themselves as well. They twist realities and selectively remember events to suit their grandiose self-image.

Little white lies grow into bigger creative stories as a way to impress and gain admiration from others.

While everyone occasionally fibs a little, compulsive and pathological lying ultimately destroys trust in intimate bonds.

12. Refusing to Change or Grow

The defining hallmark of a narcissist is an inability or unwillingness to self-reflect and change destructive behaviors even when shown clear evidence of harm caused.

They simply cannot face or deal with their shortcomings and pathological fear of losing superiority.

Healthy relationships involve two individuals committed to personal growth and compromise – but narcissists remain stagnant, making fulfilling partnerships impossible in the long run.


How Can I Spot Narcissism Early On?

Some early signs to watch out for are love bombing, future faking, constantly talking about themselves on dates rather than showing interest in learning about you, and inconsistent small lies or contradictory stories about their lives.

Listen to your intuition if it feels like they are putting on an act to win you over versus genuinely connecting with who you are as a person.

What Should I Do if I’m in a Narcissistic Relationship Now?

If you realize you’ve been entangled for some time, it’s important to create boundaries. Don’t feel ashamed and remember the narcissist’s harmful behavior says nothing about your worth.

Speak to supportive people, journal your experiences to see patterns, go to therapy individually to rebuild your self-esteem, and consider leaving if boundaries are repeatedly crossed and change is not forthcoming.

Your mental well-being and happiness should be the priority.

How Can I Prevent Getting Involved With Another Narcissist?

Moving forward, take things slowly in new relationships and pay attention to how the other person treats you versus simply what they say.

Do they respect your choices, listen without judgment, and make you feel understood? Focus on mutual care, trust, and respect over superficial qualities.

Set firm limits if love bombing or other tactics appear and don’t ignore red flags in the hopes things will improve.

Prioritize partners showing caring through consistent actions over empty promises. You deserve honest empathy.

What Type of Partner Is Best for Me After a Narcissistic Relationship?

The healthiest type is someone emotionally mature, self-aware, and willing to do their self-improvement work too.

Look for a caring listener who treats you as an equal, gives as much as they take in the relationship and sincerely respects your feelings, choices, and boundaries.

Rather than seeking perfection, focus on a genuine two-way connection based on mutual understanding and respect where both of you feel safe, fulfilled, and able to grow together long-term.

Read Also: 10 Steps to Let Go of Someone You Love, Unchain Yourself & Find Peace

Final Thought

A toxic narcissistic relationship can seriously impact your mental health and self-esteem over time.

However, by educating yourself on the signs and leaving unhealthy situations, you have the power to weed out narcissists early and avoid getting tangled up in the future.

Prioritize honest communication, caring through actions, not just words, mutual respect versus control, forgiveness for human flaws balanced with accountability, shared goals, and the ability to resolve challenges together as equals.

With healthy boundaries and partnerships where both thrive, one can overcome past hurts and have fulfilling relationships.

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