Narcissism is a term batted around frequently at the moment, whether it been in the television shows we watch, in reference to a character, the articles we read, talking about a public figure or in general chit chat amongst friends, discussing a date that didn’t go so well. Either way, those commonly referring to others as narcissists aren’t always getting it right and this can be damaging to both the individual in question and those labelling. Narcissistic traits can be found in all of us to some degree, but high levels of narcissistic adaptations can translate into a personality disorder and the two are very different.
The traits associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), in the context of romantic relationships include a strong sense of a whirlwind romance. A technique of strong seduction and a ‘sweeping you off your feet’ sensation ensues, leading to an all-encompassing desire. Thus, a reliance on the individual demonstrating NPD occurs and a belief that this is true, magical love develops. A superficial charm and manipulations, not matter how slight or big, help to enforce this belief that the connection is true. This move to establish a link quickly is an NPD’s need for admiration and a confirmation that they are better than you, as they hold the upper hand. So perhaps, if you refer to someone you are dating as narcissistic because they want to maintain some level of independence and you believe they are being selfish as a result of this, take a second to ensure you’re not trying to move things to fast and if you are why that is?
Another trait connected with NPD is an unwillingness to compromise and not seeing something from someone else’s perspective. If you are dating someone who persistently wants things their own way or fail to see your viewpoint, it can put a real strain on the relationship as compromise is a huge aspect of loving relationships. It again feeds into control over the relationship and the other person, therefore take time to establish that compromise is demonstrated in your relationship before jumping to referring to your partner as a narcissist, should they not budge on one thing. If compromise is generated in the relationship, it is understandable that there may be some aspects of life that some people won’t compromise on. For example, if it has always been your dream to have children and you date someone who does not wish to have them, it doesn’t make either of you a narcissist to stick by this. However, if you find yourself or your partner unwilling to make any compromises, this can be a tell-tale sign.
Blaming others for your actions and a lack of consistency in behaviour are also aspects closely linked to NPD. For most people, it is easy to maintain a connection, even when arguments occur. However, those demonstrating narcissism find it problematic to overcome the damage caused to their grandiose ego. A need is formed, in which they protect their self-esteem over any thought of the emotional wellbeing of another.
As we said earlier, we can all exhibit narcissistic traits, so it is not to say that if you display one of these behaviours that you have a personality disorder but simply a reminder to be careful when you are labelling others with a term relating to someone’s mental health and to make sure you aren’t projecting traits onto others. Narcissism is not a gender issue and it is important remember that it is not clear whether NPD is controllable or uncontrollable - some with NPD try harder than others to regulate their behaviour, others can be unphased by the hurt they can cause. Whether this is the case or not, labelling someone wrongly can have detrimental effects and so it is important we reflect upon our own behaviour and the persons behaviour as a whole before jumping to conclusions.