We have always known that there are “those” guys. They are the “jerks”, they are “arrogant” or just “totally in love with themselves” but when did the labels get so complicated?
Is it just because we have experts on television dating shows like MAFS and The Bachelor that we now throw around terms like “gaslighting” and “narcissist” so easily? And do we really know what this is? Or is everyone just using Dr. Google to support their own personal theories?
The short answer is that narcissistic behaviours and character traits are not new, and you quite possibly see it every day.
Fun Fact #1:
Narcissism started way back in Greek Mythology when a gorgeous guy was a little too impressed with his own looks. Sound familiar? Now there are heaps of details in there about the fatal consequences for the girl who fell in love with him and the way he treated her, and even some sad bits about his sister, but ultimately Narcissus was totally obsessed with himself. So much so that it killed him. What we need to take from this nowadays, is how not to get caught in the crossfire and end up a victim.
Fun Fact #2: Narcissism is a common trait in men, more so than women. However, it is a personality type that we find in all genders to it does not matter which love match you are looking for, you may come across one of these types in your search for your soul mate. So, what is a narcissist? The short answer is simply someone who is exceedingly self-centered and lacks any kind of empathy for others.
SPOTTING A NARCISSIST ON THE DATING SCENE
- He thinks he is better looking than others
- He believes he is always the smartest person in the room
- He honestly feels he is more important than you all
Yep, basically, his ego is way out of control. However, if you are going to effectively add a narcissism filter to your online-dating feed there is so much more to it.
Firstly, the two main categories of narcissist look completely opposite.
Let me explain so you can better identify if you are dating a narcissist …
THE GRANDIOSE NARCISSIST
The Grandiose Narcissist is the one you expect. This personality is called Overt as it is clearly obvious. This person is very assertive, which is sometimes nice when meeting new people, right? He will be outgoing and decisive, he will make the arrangements and book the details. You may feel supported and pampered by the way he always makes the decisions. Yet, where do we mark the line in the sand where supportive becomes domineering? And is the extroverted character a sign of something more sinister?
THE VULNERABLE NARCISSIST
The Vulnerable Narcissist can be just as foreboding and similarly hard to spot. This personality is called Covert as it involves introverted traits and can be couched in an overly sensitive demeanour. The Vulnerable Narcissist could be seen to lack confidence and might speak of feeling inferior, yet still have a strong sense of entitlement. In all respects it is a stark contrast but what you need to look for is the key theme. Themselves! Does your new beau continually talk about his own needs? People who have offended him? How the world is against him? What we are looking for is a hypersensitivity to criticism and after prolonged exposure this may become a volatile situation if he feels you are the one doing the criticising.
At this point you may be thinking, woah! Hang on a minute, that covers a pretty broad range of people!
And you would be correct.
A focus on oneself is certainly common, and rightly so!
Self-love is important, self-worth is critical and valuing one’s contribution to society is essential to mental health. The key difference to positive and negative self-reflection is self-improvement.
Here are some signs to suggest your self-love is healthy:
- You can acknowledge both your strengths and your weaknesses equally.
- You can accept responsibility for your actions and words and utilise all and any feedback for positive self-improvement.
- You focus on how your personal goals and ambitions are supporting others.
SIGNS YOUR NARCISSIST HAS A DISORDER
Back to possibility that you are dating a narcissist.
The next most important point to consider is the difference between having narcissistic traits and the possibility of narcissistic personality disorder. If you are unlucky enough to date someone with this mental health concern you have chosen from a pool of only 2% of the population.
So, what is the difference between a diagnosed psychological disorder and a self-absorbed individual?
- His behaviour is distressing, either to himself or you and others around him.
- His behaviour is dysfunctional, relationship breakdown is prevalent, and he never questions his actions.
- His behaviour is socially unacceptable, he can be cringeworthy in public and you know he is being judged.
If at this point you are feeling confused, I will provide you with the number one, surefire way of discovering the clinical narcissist …
Empathy. Or more importantly, the lack there or. Empathy is our ability to understand the position of another. It is the ability to put aside our subjective stance and genuinely recognise the perspective of another. It is not just acknowledging that the other person has a different opinion, but honestly and frankly seeing the world through their eyes, feeling what it would feel like from their point of view and being able to harmoniously acknowledge your differences.
If you are thinking of your beau right now and rolling your eyes at the thought of him truly ceding his position in an argument, you may have found yourself that needle in a haystack (and not in a good way!)
DOES THIS MEAN YOU SHOULDN’T DATE HIM?
Only you can decide whether you are actually dating a narcissist, and whether or not you should carry on doing so.
Yet it helps to know who you are dating to ensure it is a healthy relationship.
Dating is about integrating personalities, encouraging, and supporting each other to flourish as individuals and uniquely be the best possible version of yourself. Partners need to compliment each other (in every sense of the word!) and a healthy relationship is one in which you feel being with the other person makes you a better person also.
All relationships need to be based on personal growth and if this is not the goal (for both of you) are you in the right place?
Ultimately, it is about knowing yourself and feeling comfortable that the people around you (especially your intimate partner) is lifting you up, not dragging your down. Surround yourself with positive influences, always.