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5 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist


These days the term ‘narcissist’ is used fairly loosely, especially given the impact that reality TV and social media has had on our culture. But if you find yourself in a relationship with a real narcissist, you’ll soon realise that narcissistic behaviour is a lot more damaging than just posting a lot of selfies on Instagram and wanting to be the centre of attention. 

A diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder can only be determined in a proper clinical assessment, and it’s worth noting that people can have a lot of narcissistic traits without necessarily having a full blown personality disorder. At the end of the day, whether someone can be diagnosed clinically or not isn’t the most important thing. What’s usually more helpful is knowing the typical behaviour patterns that play out when you’re in a toxic relationship so that you can spot the signs early and save yourself a lot of emotional harm.

In my most recent YouTube video, I described five very typical behaviours you can expect to see if you’re dealing with a narcissist.

1. Love Bombing

In the early stages of a relationship, the narcissist will LOVE BOMB you. This is also known as the idealisation phase where they will put you on a pedestal, tell you you’re the most amazing, beautiful, special person they’ve ever met and that they want all the same things in life that you do. It’s much like the honeymoon phase of a normal relationship but it will be intense and accelerated. They might talk about engagement and marriage very early and  will convince you that they’ve waited their whole life for someone like you. The whole point of the love bombing is to get you completely and utterly enamoured by the narcissist’s charm; in other words, to get you on the hook and reeled right in.

2. Future Faking

“Future faking” is a term used to describe the narcissist’s tendency to promise you something you want in the future in order to get what they want in the present. It could be the engagement and the wedding that they dangle in front of you or it could be that you want to buy a house or take a special holiday or something else that’s important to you. They’ll talk about it, go to the open homes, pick up the travel brochures… but then they do absolutely nothing to turn that dream into a reality. In other words, they will lie to you in order to string you along.

You might want to watch my full video below or share it with someone you think might be in a relationship with a narcissist.

(Blog continues below video)

3. Devaluing

After a narcissist has successfully got you on the hook, they’ll fairly quickly show their true colours. The devaluing tactics might be subtle or they might be glaring. It might come in the form of backhanded compliments, a condescending tone, dismissing your point of view or being passive aggressive. It might be cruel, insulting, and hurtful comments, or belittling you and the things or people you care about (yes, all those things they loved in the idealisation phase). 

The narcissist might be inconsiderate, not bothering to consult with you about plans or they may give you the silent treatment. If you get upset, they’ll devalue your feelings by telling you that you’re being overly sensitive or too emotional. (Note: the narcissist has no real capacity for empathy so your hurt feelings are an inconvenience to them).

4. Narcissistic Rage

A narcissist can blow up over the tiniest thing. You’ll be left with your head spinning wondering how such a small thing created such a huge explosion. One of the most significant character traits of a narcissist is that they can’t cope with criticism at all, so if you should you do or say anything the narcissist perceives as undermining their position, challenging their false idealised sense of importance, or threatening their ego, you will likely cause a narcissistic injury and this can result in narcissistic rage.

5. They never apologise

Even with all their terrible behaviour, the narcissist will never apologise. In their opinion, every problem is really YOUR fault. Problems they bring upon themselves will be blamed on you. You can’t reason with them or bring your point of view to them in order to have a healthy adult discussion. There is no discussion with a narcissist; there is only the narcissist educating you on how things are.  

So, are you dating a narcissist? Maybe, maybe not.

At the end of the day, the most important question to ask yourself is whether you feel truly valued and respected and SAFE in the relationship, or if you feeling like you’re constantly being pepper-sprayed with micro- and macro-aggressions. Are you walking on eggshells or slowly losing confidence in yourself? Are you doubting yourself and wondering if it might really be your fault things are bad? Do you feel exhausted from ‘managing’ this relationship?

These are all signs you need to find the courage to leave and free yourself to find a more healthy, balanced partnership with someone who truly values what you have to offer.

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  1. Courtney on January 19, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    Wow this was incredible. THANK YOU. I’ve recently broke it off with my boyfriend for all of these exact reasons. He has all of the traits of a narcissist and I’m so happy I stumbled across this page. I should have done it earlier but now I know without a doubt I’ve done the right thing. Thank you thank you thank you

  2. Ken on September 11, 2021 at 1:02 am

    Thank you for this insightful information! I’m fairly confident I went through this in my last relationship.

    1. – Idealization – soulmates, meant to be. 2. – Future Faking – Promised to buy me a raft if we got married, take me on a trip to Tahiti. Pressure to commit and talk of love within 2-3 months of dating. 3. – Devalued – very condescending comments, belittling during narcissistic rage incidents over not very big things. Doubted my love after only 3-4 months and criticized me for being cautious. Making plans that involved me at the spur of the moment, then getting upset if I was too tired to do it. Inconsistent plans to be together that kept me off balance. Did not apologize for behavior of slamming doors and hang the phone up on me. 3. – Discard – very hot and cold with withdrawing of affection and then ghosted me after dating for 6 months. Very little contact, no initiation of communication.

    2. I made the mistake of coming back to her and professing my love, the disorientation of being left hanging really hurt me and made me vulnerable. Thought I could convince her that I loved her, since she defined me as avoidant even though I was just being cautious. Would give me enough communication to keep me hooked and validating her but not commit to anything, then I called her out on “love bombing” me, sent her articles about it and mentioned much of this, then she called me crazy (gas lighting?) for professing love and then accusing her of emotional abusing me one day to the next, that I was mentally unstable and need more therapy.

    Am I making this up to make myself feel better (questioning the reality) or was I really in a relationship with a narcissist? Any comments would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Cass on September 23, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Ken, from everything you’ve said that sounds like classic narcissistic behaviour!

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Cass Dun clinical psychologist
Hi, I’m Cass.

I'm here to help you find freedom from psychological struggles so that you can live your happiest, most meaningful and fulfilling life.

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