“Is my partner a narcissist?” This is the most common question I’m asked, and rightfully so. Learning how to quickly and easily identify a narcissist brings you one enormous step closer toward reclaiming your sanity, power and life from narcissistic abuse.
The term narcissist is greatly misunderstood and overused. Not everyone who consistently behaves in self-absorbed or selfish ways has a personality disorder. There are many ways to identify a true narcissist, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s start with five.
I’ll use the acronym NARCS for ease of memorization.
N stands for Narcattack.
Narcattacks can be rageful and explosive, passive-aggressive, or even quite subtle, disguised as playful teasing, depending on what type of narcissist you are contending with.
Narcattacks can, and often do, come out of nowhere, seemingly prompted by absolutely nothing. One minute you and your partner (or spouse, relative, boss, etc.) are fine; the next, it feels like you’re getting run over by a freight train. You may even have just said or done something really thoughtful and kind, leaving you to wonder, why on earth are they reacting like that?
Whether you’re bombed by verbal/emotional abuse, an aggressive tantrum, tirade, army of hostile criticisms, blasts of guilt, humiliation, judgement, belittlement, condescension, and/or another form of narcabuse, the result is the same. No matter the type of grenade that is hurled your way, it feels the exact same way when your heart explodes. And no, you didn’t deserve that.
A stands for Absence of Empathy.
In the school of life, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder major in manipulation and minor in control. They cut class the day compassion is covered and get a big red F on all tests that involve empathy. In the same way that I can’t grasp advanced algebra, a narcissist can’t grasp empathy.
Most of them can fake it pretty well. For instance, when you break down and cry, a narcissist may stop screaming at you or even seem to care. But they don’t care that they triggered enough sadness to make you cry. They care that they mattered enough to do so.
Have you ever opened up to someone about something very personal and painful, only to receive a dismissive response? I’ll never forget the time I shared a very traumatic experience from my childhood with an ex and was met with the response, “okay.” Okay? No, actually, it wasn’t. I waited for more, which was like staring up at the branches of a lemon tree and hoping it would gift me an orange.
Having your vulnerability met with callous indifference can be frustrating and even extremely painful. There are plenty of people in this world who will listen with compassion and be present with your tender heart. Narcissists won’t. Because they can’t.
R stands for Responsibility Ricochet.
The only thing narcissists are less capable of than empathy is accountability. They do not take responsibility for anything, because they lack the ability to accurately self reflect. They are not just blaming you to manipulate you – they really can’t see their role.
They also can’t apologize sincerely. When they do apologize, it is usually quite generic, not for a specific statement or action.
“I know I’m going to lose you if I keep acting this way,” may sound specific. It isn’t. What way? When they do get specific, narcissists are usually just telling you what you want to hear to reel you back in for another round of the insanity.
That’s referred to as hoovering. Like the vacuum…sucking up any chance you had at leaving. Because awww, suddenly they care!
You know that old saying: “Fool me once shame on you; fool me four thousand times, maybe it’s time to take a look at this?” Okay, that’s not exactly how it goes. But you get the point. And there’s no shame in it. We all stay until we’re ready to leave.
Until you reach that point, stop wasting your energy trying to get a narcissist to see his, her or their role. Trying to get accountability and remorse from a narcissist is like trying to get a diamond from a mound of manure. You’re going to waste a lot of time and energy and it’s going to get really messy.
C is for Crazymaking
In ways that also start with C, like:
~Confusing the bejesus out of you, perhaps via gaslighting
~Changing the rules of the game the moment you learn them ~Convincing you of things about you, them, and life that aren’t true
It’s no wonder that people who deal with narcissistic abuse on a regular basis often feel like they are losing their minds. Especially if they are continuously told they’re crazy, one of a narcissists favorite go-to labels. You may have heard their ex was crazy also. Next time a potential partner tells you that about an ex, walk away immediately.
Narcissists are the most convincing people on the planet. They are also the people you should believe the least.
S is for Someone Else’s Shit.
Narcissists are not capable of accurate self-reflection, so they project their shortcomings and issues onto you. They do it so skillfully, you start to believe them. This is how self-esteem gets completely destroyed in these relationships.
Narcissists also project all their unhealed childhood wounds onto you. The hurt they never let themselves feel and weren’t allowed to express as kids has been getting stronger for years and decades, just waiting for the right, caring person to come along and tolerate their displaced anger and resentment.
Learning to differentiate your own issues from a narcissist’s is imperative. Villainizing narcissists for all the problems and victimizing yourself doesn’t serve you in the least.
The need for approval, validation, accountability and unconditional love, especially from someone who isn’t capable of delivering any of it, is your issue. The people-pleasing and pretzeling into what someone else wants you to be or do is your issue. The obsession and addiction is your issue. Well, that’s usually both parties’ issue.
Unlike the narcissist’s issues, your’s can be permanently released, and usually a lot more quickly and easily than the psychology world would have you believe. One you’ve been guided to the right path by someone who has found it, your issues will actually lead directly to your empowerment and freedom.
Then you’ll find your wings and ask the second most common question I’m posed: “Why didn’t I leave sooner?”
They are questions with many answers, and I’ll cover them soon.
I’m hosting a complimentary training this summer, to further explain how you can identify a narcissist and reclaim your power from narcissistic abuse. I’m also creating a course and a program for those who want to go deeper.
Register below and then head to the Stop Dating Narcissists Facebook Group, where the event will be held. The link for the group is directly below the registration box.
If you are a man looking for support, or are not on Facebook, DM me through Facebook or Instagram or fill out the form below.