A discussion popped up on Reddit today and it got me thinking about my most recent ex-love Trigger. That’s not my nickname for him. That’s what he called himself online if you can believe that.
The discussion was about a certain politician that many of us in Alberta have come to loathe. On the day that was meant for celebration for many people, this guy goes ahead and picks a fight with the newly inaugurated president. On the DAY OF inauguration. Who the heck does that?
But politics isn’t the point of this post. What I did recognize right away with this most recent news is that this person is likely a narcissist. He displays all the classic behaviours that a narcissist would. And oddly enough, it just clued in that my ex was indeed a narcissist.
What are narcissistic behaviours to watch out for?
That’s a good question. And there are a lot of different answers for this. I’ll give you some examples that I saw in my ex. Only not at the time I was dating him because you know. Love makes you stupid, deaf and dumb. Here are some key signs to look for when entering a new relationship – whatever that might relationship be.
It’s more than just arrogance or self-entitlement with narcissists. These people often display a sense of superiority – that they are better than people who are “beneath” them. Narcissists fully believe that they are better than others and only want to associate with people of the same class or higher. They often will do anything to become successful often harming others along the way.
The self-entitlement my ex displayed at times was astonishing. He thought that because I was single and lived alone at home, that he could come and go as he pleased. He thought my requirements for him to call at least once a week were “too demanding” and that he shouldn’t have to cater to my every need. Yet, whenever he called – he expected me to drop everything for him. And sadly, I did. I made myself TOO available for him. And that can be a bad thing when it’s abused.
Needs constant attention
As I’m writing this article out, I’m beginning to worry that I may be a narcissist myself. I think in some cases, artists can be seen as narcissistic. But it comes with the territory. When you’re constantly marketing and “pimping” out your products on a daily basis, it can be difficult to talk about anything else. When you run a blog like this – a “daily diary” sort of blog – it can seem like the writer is in love with themselves. But anyone who has read any of my posts will know that’s not the case.
A narcissist will constantly talk about themselves without asking how the other person is doing. Or they will constantly interrupt you to talk about themselves. Or better yet – any time you have good news or something important that you want to talk about – they will turn around and make the conversation all about them.
I try and make a point with every email or text to ask how the other person is doing. And not only that, but I make it a point to actually listen and provide feedback. Relationships can’t be a one way street.
I’ve been accused of doing this in some discussions. But something I’ve learned is that in order to give advice on situations, I often pull from my own experiences. I’ll share my story or experience and follow that up with some advice – but only if asked for it. Narcissists love to give unsolicited advice to make themselves feel better about a situation.
The narcissist will often seek constant praise. And I mean constant. Again, I’m worried as an artist that I just might be what I fear the most.
The Hot Headed Bully
A narcissist will often bully others to make themselves feel better about their lives. From my experience, I often feel that these people either loathe themselves or are really insecure about something and they use narcissistic behaviours to hide their insecurites.
Woah. That just sounded like something a therapist would have said. I think I missed my calling as a life coach.
My ex had a temper on him. I remember one day we were bickering by text. And I admit, I was acting a bit bratty. Sometimes I liked to poke the bear as we called it. But one day we both crossed the line.
He called me and SCREAMED at me over the phone as I was getting into a cab to go home from work. I had to hold the phone away from my ear he was so loud. That was uncalled for. I don’t even remember what I said to him for him to react that way. But wow.
He also once threatened me. He came barging into my old condo, slammed the door. Threw my key card onto my table so hard it chipped the glass. He was physically vibrating and his face turned a shade of red I had only seen in cartoons.
For the first time in our four year relationship, I actually feared him and for my safety. And the worst part of it was – I had contributed to it. We broke up not long after that. We realized we were toxic for each other and it was a vicious cycle of abuse. Some relationships are just like that.
Never takes responsibility
When I make a mistake, I learned it’s better to own up to it rather than deflecting blame onto someone else. Even if it was someone else’s fault, I will explain what happened that led up to the mistake, and will usually follow up with a “I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.” My ex on the other hand – never took responsibility for anything.
“I lost my phone again. It’s not my fault you need constant contact,” he once said to me.
“It’s my fault you lost your phone for the third time while pig hunting? You know that’s statistically impossible right?” I quipped back.
And then he would go radio silent until I apologized. That guy had me wrapped around his stubby pinky finger. He knew exactly what buttons to push to get me to do anything he wanted.
Narcissists will never admit when they are wrong. They will always deflect the blame onto someone else. Always. I can’t tell you how many times my ex would blame me for him not being able to show up for a day or canceling last minute. It really did a number on my psyche.
This is what I’ve noticed about narcissistic people. They will often use emotional blackmail to make you feel bad about something they did wrong. This comes in part with not being able to take responsibility for their actions.
When you hear statements like, “I work so hard for my business and my family, the least you could do is accept that I can’t call you for weeks at a time. Maybe even months.”
They have a way of making their demands seem reasonable in turn, making you feel selfish for asking. They will often make you feel like you’re crazy in an effort to manipulate you. And then, the icing on the cake – they’ll make you feel guilty about it until you apologize!
“You’re over thinking it way too much,” my ex would often tell me. “I’m not shutting you out personally, I shut out everyone for weeks at a time.”
Of course it turns out he was lying about this. But that’s just one of many examples.
Cutting the cord on toxic relationships
This topic deserves a blog post of its own and I will work on that soon. When it comes to having a narcissist in your life, whether they are a family member, friend or coworker – it’s important to establish healthy boundaries. You have every right to say what you’re comfortable and what you’re not comfortable with.
For example, I confided in my therapist during our last session that I felt I was reaching out to a certain friend who reads this blog way too much. I thought she might feel overwhelmed with how needy I was being through all of the drama that was happening in my life. That’s part of living with anxiety from day to day.
My therapist gave me some great advice and said: “That’s why it’s healthy to set boundaries. And that’s why you have me. Try not to reach out to her everyday. Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts at night time. Keep a journal next to your bed and write down your concerns.”
It was great advice – and it’s why I’m back to writing almost daily here in this blog. This is my very public daily journal. I figure at the very least, if it’s not entertaining, perhaps some people can learn from my mistakes.
The main take aways from this article on how to spot a narcissistic person are:
- They never take responsibility for their mistakes and will deflect blame onto everyone else.
- They need constant attention and constant praise (yay social media!)
- They believe they are superior over most people and have unrealistic expectations of others who do not meet their demands
- They often will use emotional blackmail or will bully others to feel better about themselves
- They make EVERYTHING about them – even when it’s your special day
Learn to set boundaries in your relationships. Distance yourself from these people if necessary. Only communicate when you have to. And keep conversation to a minimum responding with only the details that they need to know. The less you share about your personal life with these people, the less ammo they have to use on your later on.
If a person is relying on you too much – you can tell them in a kind way that it’s too much pressure for you. Doing this is sometimes kinder than just stopping communication all together.
And to give you a prime example of what narcissistic behaviour looks like, here’s a clip from a fan favorite movie – Mean Girls!
Call to Action
Have you ever had a narcissist in your life? If so leave me a comment and let me know how you dealt with the relationship.
Life Coaching Sessions
Hope you enjoyed this article on how to spot a narcissist. This is part of my new series on “personal development”. I often feel that I missed my calling on being a therapist or life coach. I’m considering offering coaching sessions to those who can’t afford therapy or just want some personalized advice offline. If interested, drop me a message through this blog.
I can walk you through scenarios that have happened in my life and share coping techniques that have proven to work for me. And the great thing is I have a business license as a consultant to offer services like this!
Disclaimer: I’m not a trained psychologist what I share is based on research, what I learned in my professional career working in addictions and mental health – and from my own therapy sessions.
- What’s it like to live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
- What is gaslighting?
- How to avoid burnout at work
- Mindfulness vs Mindlessness
- Isolation and communication skills
- The important of a good night’s sleep
- Conflict resolution – dealing with difficult people
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