What is Narcissism and what is Narcissistic behaviour?
An integral part of a healthy relationship is a sense of equality and consideration and empathy for each other. In fact no relationship can feel rewarding and supportive if either partner is mostly self absorbed.
It was once joked that “a Narcissist is someone who after taking the trash out gives the impression he just cleaned the whole house”.
If you have ever felt that your partner feels superior to others, or more entitled to things than others, then this may mean that he or she may have more than their fair share of Narcissistic tendencies. Perhaps he/she finds a host of ways to devalue you or ignore you, or perhaps try to control you?
Or perhaps, if you are honest with yourself, it might be you who has many of these characteristics?
If you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, it will feel like a very one-sided relationship.
Narcissism is considered a spectrum Disorder, which means that there are degrees of manifestation of the characteristics, so a person could have a couple of Narcissistic traits, which is considered fairly normal, or have many and be considered to have a full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as defined in the DSMV, or sit anywhere in between.
To discover where you or your partner sit in relation to these characteristics, here are the 9 Essential Characteristics of the Narcissistic Spectrum.
The 9 Characteristics of Narcissism
- An exaggerated or grandiose sense of self importance that isn’t supported by reality. He/she believes that his/her priorities, interests, opinions and beliefs are better than or more important than others and as a result, they feel entitled to dominate and control those around them. He/she can even seem quite modest in public about these views, but usually at home these are evident.
- A preoccupation with fantasies of extraordinary success, power, beauty or love. He/she lives more in a fantasy world of their own making than in reality of both successes and recognised failures.
- A belief that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people. He/she sees himself/herself as more special than others, whether it be more accomplished, more feeling, more giving, more ethical, more long suffering, more insightful, etc.
- An intense need for admiration. When in conversation, he/she can’t listen attentively and will bring the conversation back around to him/her. Often partners of a Narcissist will refer to the one thing they have in common with their Narcissist partner is that they both love him/her.
- A delusional sense of entitlement. He/she feels that rules, regulations and normal standards don’t apply to them, and also may find hard work, working toward a goal, illness and injury difficult to cope with, as they believe themselves to be above these kind of common things.
- A tendency to exploit others without guilt and remorse. He/she is a “user” who may manipulate situations such that others end up doing all the work (and the Narcissist often gets the glory), or may end up losing their money. He/she will also promise things that they never deliver on.
- An absence of meaningful empathy for others. This is almost a universal trait with all Narcissists. He/she is so caught up in their own grandiose fantasy life that they pay no real attention to others in any genuine way. In the courting stage, he/she will use “fake empathy”, but beyond this stage, partners of Narcissists feel completely unsupported and not understood.
- A tendency to be envious or to assume that he/she is the object of others envy. He/she will be very envious if others close by have more than him/her, and will usually express this as contempt, distain and belittling towards them.
- An arrogant attitude. He/she will often be judgemental and condescending toward anyone who they feel is not up to their high standards and will regularly “put down” others to bolster their own self esteem
Now that you know the overall characteristics of Narcissism, here is a list of the many specific and subtle characteristics. The more you find in your partner (or yourself) the closer they (or you) are to a Narcissistic Personality Disorder end of the spectrum, which means the more difficult (or impossible) they will be to live with, or to maintain a healthy relationship with.
Research has shown that approximately 75% of those with Narcissistic traits are male and 25% are female.