The Narcissist in a Relationship

The Narcissist in a Relationship

narThe narcissist in a relationship is a scary thing. Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be toxic, damaging, and even abusive.

A narcissist in a relationship behaves differently with their romantic partner than with other people.

In fact, this is one of the strongest signs that you're in a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists have two faces: the mask that they show the outside world and their true self that slowly gets revealed over the course of a relationship.

As their narcissism becomes less and less covert. The narcissist in a relationship will slowly begin to exert power and dominance over their partner.

This is part of the narcissist relationship pattern and narcissistic abuse.

Understanding how narcissists behave in relationships is important. Narcissists aren't like the rest of us. They don't have the same emotions, reactions, and motivations.

It's important to remember this. Once you understand how they operate, you'll be able to reclaim some of your power in the relationship.

This article describes the narcissist in a relationship, so you can better determine whether there's a narcissist in your relationship.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021

The Narcissist in a Relationship: They Always Come First

A narcissist in a relationship doesn't love their partner the way that a normal person does. And, while it may seem like they only love themself.

A narcissist doesn't truly love anyone: including themself.

This is why they hide behind the mask of narcissism. They must build themself up while bringing others down.

A narcissist in a relationship doesn't see their partner as another person. They only see their partner as an extension of themself.

This could present as rabid self-absorption. Or, it could present itself as seeing you as an extension of themselves.

Narcissist in a Relationship: Manipulation + Control

A narcissist in a relationship sees their partner as a reflection of himself. They do not see you as an individual with your own feelings, thoughts, and desires.

They are not interested in your needs or empathetic to them. One of the key characteristics of a narcissist is a lack of empathy.

They don't care about your needs because they simply cannot understand them.

Since a narcissist in a relationship sees their partner as a reflection of himself, they will often try to control and manipulate them.

They want their needs fulfilled, so they will manipulate you. They will deny your experience and promote their own.

They want you to reflect well on them, so they will control you. They do this through putting you down or seeking a relationship with a power imbalance.

Many narcissists are outwardly successful and they use this to manipulate their partners.

The Narcissist in a Relationship: Everything is Transactional

A narcissist in a relationship doesn't do nice things for their partner because they care about them. They do it to receive praise and validation.

Nothing comes free with a narcissist. If they take you on a trip or buy you a present, they will expect lavish praise and credit in return.

They might also use sex to manipulate you. A narcissist might do something nice for you, but they will always demand something in return.

Sometimes this is validation and sometimes it's things like sex. 

The Narcissist in a Relationship: Nothing is Ever Good Enough

A narcissist in a relationship will intentionally put their partner down. They do this to lower your self esteem and gain power over you.

They might criticize your appearance, your behavior, or even your parenting skills. They blame you when things go wrong and never take any responsibility themselves.

For example, a narcissist in a relationship might blame you when they don't get what they want, such as a promotion, status, or recognition.

This places you in a constant state of asking yourself: will I ever be good enough?

Jealousy is a key characteristic of a narcissist. A narcissist in a relationship may even be jealous of their partner or children. Often a narcissist might resent the attention that their partner begins giving to a child.

Or, they might move you to the sidelines of the child's life in order to make the child orbit around them.

The Narcissist in a Relationship: Agression

We often think of narcissists as grandiose or delusional, self-absorbed, and vain. These are all true.

But, recent studies show that aggression is a key component of narcissism. Aggression and violence are a huge part of narcissism.

A narcissist in a relationship might put on a nice and loving mask in public, but then become aggressive, cruel, or dismissive to their partner in private.

A narcissist in a relationship also uses their partner as an emotional punching bag or dumpster. They go out into the world and succeed and take out their frustrations on you when they get home.

A narcissist also becomes aggressive when they are challenged. If you do anything that pierces their delusions of superiority they will lash out.

Narcissists also cannot handle criticism. They receive all forms of criticism as an attack. And, they will attack you back. 


A narcissist in a relationship is dangerous. If you suspect you might be in a relationship with a narcissist, then you should begin learning more about narcissism to protect yourself.

Understanding the narcissist in a relationship is a great first step to breaking away from the toxic patterns that they've created. 


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July 14th, 2024

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