- 11 Ways To Deal With A Selfish Partner & Have A Healthier Relationship
- 1. Give Yourself The Attention You Were Giving Them
- 2. Speak Up
- 3. Lay Out The Benefits Of Changing
- 4. Understand Why It’s Happening
- 5. Establish Turn-Taking
- 6. Reconnect With Your Value
- 7. Bring Up Past Successes
- 8. Determine What You Can Deal With
- 9. Take Breaks And Explain Why
- 10. Point Out, Very Clearly, When You Need Them
- 11. Decide If You Should Keep Them
- 4 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Emotional Pirates
- How to Deal With Selfish People
- Why Are Some People So Selfish?
- Can Selfish People Become Less Selfish, Over Time?
- Should You Call Someone Out on Selfish Behavior?
- How To Become Less Selfish
- Should You Stay In a Relationship With a Selfish Person?
- Early Warning Signs That Someone is Selfish
- Having Compassion For Selfish People
- Here are 6 behaviors that create selfish people (and how to avoid them):
- 1. Manipulation.
- 2. Uncaring.
- 3. Plotting and scheming.
- 4. Self-centered and conceited.
- 5. Giving and sharing do not come easily.
- 6. Expectations of others to do things for them.
- Why are some people so selfish?
- Whom can we call selfish?
- We’re both selfish and altruistic
- What makes a person selfish?
- Selfishness and losing control
- Dealing with a selfish person
- 13 Warning Signs Of A Self-Centered and Self-Absorbed Person
- Here are 13 traits of self-centered people you should watch out for:
- 1. They always view themselves as better than others.
- 2. They have strong opinions.
- 3. They hide their insecurities and vulnerabilities.
- 4. They abuse their friendships.
- 5. They have very little empathy for others.
- 6. Self-centered people focus more on superficial qualities than character.
- 7. They are disinterested in your day.
- 8. They aren’t interested in activities that interest you.
- 9. They interrupt you when you are talking.
- 10. They prioritize themselves ahead of the relationship.
- 11. They set a lot of rules.
- 12. They make accusations.
- 13. They assume you are always available.
- How to Be Less Self-Centered
- How to Deal with a Self-Centered Person
- Do you have a self-centered person in your life?
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Know someone who expects constant admiration, who thinks they’re better than everyone else, but flies off the handle at the slightest criticism? These tips can help you recognize and cope with a narcissist.
- Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder
- Don’t fall for the fantasy
- Set healthy boundaries
- Don’t take things personally
- Look for support and purpose elsewhere
- How to leave a narcissist
- If you need help for narcissistic personality disorder
- 11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out
- 1. They were charming AF… at first
- 2. They hog the conversation, talking about how great they are
- 3. They feed off your compliments
- 4. They lack empathy
- 5. They don’t have any (or many) long-term friends
- 6. They pick on you constantly
- 7. They gaslight you
- 8. They dance around defining the relationship
- 9. They think they’re right about everything… and never apologize
- 10. They panic when you try to break up with them
- 11. … and when you show them you’re really done, they lash out
- OK, so you’re dating a narcissist… now what?
- Bubble of Self-Proclaimed Greatness: Traits of Self-centered People
- Self-centered Traits
- How to Deal with Self-centered People
11 Ways To Deal With A Selfish Partner & Have A Healthier Relationship
No matter how much you love someone, sometimes that’s not enough for them to pause and consider your feelings in a given situation. Whether they do it intentionally or by accident, sometimes you’re going to have to deal with a selfish partner. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re selfish all the time — chances are your honey does thoughtful and caring things throughout the week that you really appreciate, but slips up now and then when it comes to looking out for your needs. Whether that’s always expecting you to cook dinner when they’re working late or zoning out when you’re complaining about work, chances are there are a couple of selfish tendencies you’d like to get rid of.
And the great thing is that you totally can. This doesn’t mean you’re setting off on a project to change them completely (because that’s impossible and you shouldn’t want to change those that you love to better suit your vision), but that you’re trying to strengthen your relationship. While the knee-jerk reaction might be to blow up at them and start an argument, there are much more tactful ways to bring up the delicate request. Below are 11 ways to deal with a selfish partner.
1. Give Yourself The Attention You Were Giving Them
It’s time to pump the brakes on the lavish love and attention you focused on your partner, and put that amount of devotion towards yourself. Lifestyle writer David William from Lifehack pointed out, “Ignoring your needs to pour attention and energy into a self-absorbed person isn’t virtuous. It only sets you up for being emotionally drained and hurt.” So show yourself love — indulge in hobbies, make time for self-care, focus on your own needs and put theirs on the back burner. You deserve it.
2. Speak Up
Sometimes we don’t know we’re acting selfish until someone spells it out for us, so speak up. But don’t do it an aggressive way or else that’ll just tailspin into a fight. William suggested saying something along these lines: “Instead of throwing a tantrum and screaming, ‘You never listen to me; you always make everything about you,’ try saying, ‘I really need to talk to someone about something bothering me. Would you be willing to listen to me?’” Chances are, they will be.
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3. Lay Out The Benefits Of Changing
If you toss a one liner like “You need to change ASAP” at your partner, they’re just going to think you’re nagging. Instead, emphasize the benefits of their efforts to change so they can see how much better things can be. Couples counselor Elly Prior of Professional Counselling offered, “Emphasize the benefits — to him or her, you and the relationship of a particular change or action, so that it builds their view of themselves of being ‘good.'” If they see how much a simple tweak can make you happy and strengthen your bond, it’d be crazy for them not to put forth the effort.
4. Understand Why It’s Happening
Sometimes people act a certain way because of a past experience, so before completely dismissing your partner try to get to the root of their actions. Psychotherapist Diane Barth from Psychology Today advised, “Understanding doesn’t mean letting someone off the hook. But if you can get behind the behavior and discover what motivates it, you’ll have a better chance of responding in a way that might make it less powerful.” Have they been ignored in the past, neglected, or might be responding to something you’re doing? Get to the bottom of it.
5. Establish Turn-Taking
It’s a lot more helpful to bring up a problem with a solution at the ready, so when you bring up their selfishness propose a turn-taking idea. Corporate counselor Skornia Alison at self development site Motivation Grid explained, “Try a ‘turn-taking’ experiment where both of you take turns to speak, listen, and do favors to each other. Let this be a condition to the relationship and see how it goes.” It might feel orchestrated, but it can teach them what you need and expect.
6. Reconnect With Your Value
Sometimes we let selfish people steamroll us because we don’t understand our worth. In order to realize you don’t deserve to be treated this way, you need to reconnect with your value. Lifestyle writer Lindsay Curtis from lifestyle site The Daily Awe recommended, “This might require spending less time with this person for a while. Pursue your interests. Reconnect with people who rub off in positive ways on you. Use positive affirmations like, ‘I’m a really awesome person who doesn’t even mind sharing the last scoop of ice cream in the house.’ Kidding. Sorta.” After doing that, calling out your partner for being bad won’t be as hard or intimidating.
7. Bring Up Past Successes
If you’ve been dating longer than two months, chances are you and your partner had to work on other problems together to come to a happy medium. When bringing up their selfishness, first bring attention to those past successes. Prior offered, “Talk about what the two of you have achieved in terms of change and growth, however little. Avoid pointing the finger.” They’ll remember how good it felt afterwards and be more inclined to do it.
8. Determine What You Can Deal With
When someone you care about is acting selfish, you need to set boundaries. Determine what you can let slide and what you need the correct amount of attention in. Curtis explained, “Decide what parts of your life you can no longer compromise, and build a fence around them.” Having them always eat the last slice of pizza is maddening, but not a deal breaker. But having them ignore you when you have an issue in order to talk about themselves might be.
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9. Take Breaks And Explain Why
If your partner is having a particularly selfish week, take a break from them to focus on yourself. After a couple of days not hearing from you they’ll ask what’s up, and you can explain why distancing yourself like this is necessary for your well-being. That might finally click for them. Lauren Stewart from Elite Daily pointed out, “It can seem harsh to tell someone you need to take a break because he or she is draining your energy. Chances are, the person won’t understand, but it can be a necessary lesson.” Help them understand what their actions do to you.
10. Point Out, Very Clearly, When You Need Them
There’s a big possibility you’ll need to constantly remind your partner of their selfish ways before they break the habit, so have patience. But one great way to make sure you get the love you need when you need it is to be super clear what you need at that moment. Stewart explained, “Instead of losing your temper and saying, “Everything is always all about you!” try asking him or her to listen to you. Tell this person you’re having a problem or a hard day, and ask if he or she is willing to listen.”
11. Decide If You Should Keep Them
Sometimes people won’t change, and during times like those you need to decide if you should move on. If you’ve made your best efforts in explaining to them how their selfishness hurts you and they still resist change, then there’s not much more you can do. On top of that, it can actually do them a favor. Curtis explained, “It’s actually a loving act to stop tolerating bad treatment, because it teaches others how to be kinder.” Maybe you walking away is what will finally make them work on themselves.
So the next time your partner is acting selfish, try these tips and see if you can improve the situation.
Images: @aclotheshorse/Instagram; Isla Murray/Bustle
4 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Emotional Pirates
Step Three: Mount antipiracy defense measures.
Some pirates make themselves obvious. Their arrogance or neediness is like a skull-and-crossbones flag. Others are very subtle. They can lie so effectively that your first signal of something amiss may be your own anger, frustration, or lack of energy. But as soon as you recognize an emotional pirate, try these maneuvers:
Quietly sail away: Once Cecily knew that Gwen was a pirate, she began spacing their coffee dates farther and farther apart, and finally stopped calling Gwen or answering her messages. If you can end a relationship with a pirate this easily, do it. You may be met with anything from disinterest to a flurry of phone calls to a tantrum. If the pirate throws a fit, proceed to the next tactic.
Batten the hatches: To perform this maneuver, be civil, but don’t ever offer the attention the pirate craves. Limit yourself to bland, noncommittal comments. Instead of “You poor thing!” or “Tell me more!” try saying, “Yeah, that’s life,” or “Onward!” When pirates realize your attention hatches are truly battened, they drift away.
Hide your treasure: This powerful approach will baffle and confuse emotional pirates. Remember, attention is your treasure, so instead of pouring it onto the topics pirates bring up, focus on something that interests you: cooking, carpentry, cat burglary, you name it. Ask questions you want answered. For example:
Pirate: You won’t believe what my ex said to me!
You: Hey, how do chickens sleep? Do they lie down, or what?
The more random your comment, and the more unrelated to the pirate’s topic, the better. Again, persistence is key! Continue to focus on your real interests, no matter what. Share no treasure, and the scurvy knaves will be gone.
Step Four: Head for calmer seas.
You may be one of those warmhearted, codependent people who attract many pirates or who have let one pillage them for years. (This usually means you were raised by parents with piratical tendencies or fell into a romantic relationship with a pirate before you realized what was happening.) If so, the tactics above will feel awkward, especially at first. Hang in there! For motivation, recall that while you’ve given many hours of intense emotional energy to your pirate, the pirate would not notice if you were on fire.
The moment Cecily fully realized Gwen was a pirate, she began implementing the maneuvers above—gradually. A naturally giving person, she found it hard to simply take a cutlass to the relationship. And that’s okay. If you know you’ve allowed a pirate into your life and you continue to let yourself be plundered for a while, don’t beat yourself up. Go at your own speed. But take notes. Later, back among crewmates who pay as much attention to you as you do to them, you can entertain one another with tales of the lawless looters who pillaged your energy long ago, before you really learned to sail.
Martha Beck’s latest book is The Martha Beck Collection: Essays for Creating Your Right Life, Volume One (Martha Beck Inc.).
More Life Lessons from Martha Beck
- 3 easy ways to build your resilience
- 10 questions to ask if you’re overstressed
- How to get through an emotional minefield
How to Deal With Selfish People
Do you have someone in your life who consistently makes you feel like they don’t care about you, or whatever you’re feeling is not *quite* as important as whatever is happening for them?
If so, you may be in a relationship with a selfish person. This can be emotionally draining, not to mention frustrating — particularly if they’re your husband, wife, or partner. (Though selfish bosses, friends, and coworkers are challenging too).
If you’re trying to figure out how to get your needs met in a relationship with a selfish person, here are some strategies to make it work. (Or, give you the clarity and confidence to let them go).
The first step? Understanding the psychology of selfish people can help you get insight and compassion into the way they think, and why they do the infuriating things they do…
Why Are Some People So Selfish?
Emotional intelligence exists on a spectrum. Some individuals are higher in emotional intelligence than others. One symptom of low emotional intelligence is the tendency to be self-absorbed: Exclusively concerned about what you’re thinking, feeling, needing and wanting, rather than attuned to the thoughts, feelings, needs and desires of others.
One thing that I have found to be helpful is to conceptualize the way that people are functioning in the context of their life experiences. People who are “selfish” (have little awareness of the thoughts, feelings, or needs of others) tend to have been raised in environments in which their feelings, thoughts and needs were not recognized or valued. In contrast, highly empathetic people had — from earliest childhood — their feelings and thoughts reflected back to them, and at least respected.
In this way, thoughtful and compassionate people are not born: they’re made. Likewise, people who have arrived in adulthood without the easy ability to understand or value the emotions of others are products of their environment. The good news is that everyone can learn how to become more other-focused. However, this work is long and slow.
Can Selfish People Become Less Selfish, Over Time?
While emotional intelligence is different than cognitive abilities in that it can be strengthened and increased through deliberate learning and practice, it requires the person who is lower in emotional intelligence to 1) recognize that there is an issue, 2) have an interest or desire in improving the situation 3) learn specific skills and strategies to increase emotional intelligence and then 4) commit to practicing these skills regularly.
Unfortunately, in this situation the question “can we ‘train’ self-absorbed people to take more of an interest and listen?” is describing the central problem which is also creating barriers for the solution. People with low emotional intelligence generally have zero awareness that their relational focus is creating distress or annoyance for others…. Because they often fail to pick up or consider how others are feeling. “Being trained” would require them to pick up on cues given by others and then respond by doing things they struggle to do: containing their inner experience to the point that they’re able to focus on the other person, listening, etc.
All of these activities, though they seem simple, actually require a complex emotional intelligence / emotional regulation / communication skill-set that is developed over time. Expecting that someone who doesn’t do these things should be able to if they only cared enough is a recipe for disappointment and resentment.
Should You Call Someone Out on Selfish Behavior?
You certainly can point out when someone is being self absorbed or inconsiderate. But, consider this:
When you (naturally) react negatively to someone with low emotional intelligence (again, someone who may have little to no self-awareness around how they may be impacting others) they will often feel genuinely surprised, offended, and even attacked and victimized. For this reason, enerally speaking, more often than not, attempts to directly confront self-centered behavior and ask for improvement results in defensiveness, minimization and often an unproductive conflict.
It is therefore extremely difficult for others to create change in a self-focused person.
The person doing the calling out is usually just going to get dismissed by a self-centered person as being hostile, difficult, “selfish” (ironically), or a variety of other things. It usually takes a self-centered person to experience consequences in multiple relationships as well as in the occupational domain in order for them to entertain the possibility that they themselves are the common denominator.
Now, what CAN work is to “assist” the other person in experiencing natural consequences for their relational patterns. For example, it’s normal and natural to not want to spend as much time with someone who is self-centered and a poor listener. Over time, they may notice that they don’t have that many friends, or have short-lived relationships, aren’t advancing in their careers, or often feel lonely and disconnected. They may start to feel badly about that and wonder why.
This type of self-reflection can lead them to enter into a personal growth process, ideally with the assistance of a therapist or coach who can help shine a light on the relational blind-spots that have been causing others — and ultimately themselves — so much pain. This can lead to a transformational new level of self-awareness and personal responsibility, particularly when it’s coupled with effective direction around how to learn emotional intelligence skills.
How To Become Less Selfish
People committed to the process of increasing their emotional intelligence can then begin learning how to understand their own feelings, and use that as a starting point to develop empathy for others. Often, learning how to name and manage their own feelings feels like new territory for them.
They can shift away from the “mind-blindness” that may have characterized their relationships in the past, and begin deliberately focusing on what others are thinking, feeling, or wanting. Often, learning how to actively and empathetically listen, ask open-ended questions, and slow their process down to incorporate the perspectives of others are central to developing stronger relationships going forward.
However — and this is key — no one can do this work for them. The selfish person has to be motivated to do this work for themselves. If you try to “help” a person grow in this area by confronting them, nagging them, or pushing them towards personal growth work it’s just going to make YOU angry, and THEM defensive. (And less likely to do the work).
Should You Stay In a Relationship With a Selfish Person?
The answer to this question depends on what type of relationship you’re hoping to have with a self-focused person, and how committed you are to supporting them through their growth process.
Dating Someone Who is Selfish
If you’re dating, it may be wise to let this person go sooner rather than later so that they have time and space to continue to develop themselves personally. You’ll be saved the frustration, hurt and resentment that you’re certain to experience if you continue attempting to get your needs met by them before they are able to do so.
Being Friends With a Selfish Person
Likewise, casual friendships with people who relate to others this way are rarely satisfying. You’d do better to invest your time and energy into friendships with people who you can have a more balanced and mutually generous relationship.
Married to a Selfish Person
Now, if you’re neck-deep in a marriage / kids / mortgage situation with someone who you’ve come to realize is a self-centered and lacking in emotional intelligence skills, it may be worth working on things with them. In these situations “working on things” tends to look like one person getting really angry with the other person for doing what they usually do — being thoughtless and self-absorbed — which leads to defensiveness and withdrawal.
A better solution is to bring this party to a good marriage counselor who can help you both understand what is happening in the relationship in a neutral and productive way that’s more likely to generate real and lasting change. The person who struggles with emotional intelligence skills needs guidance around how to be a more emotionally present partner. However, the person on the other side of the dynamic may also need to work on having acceptance, compassion and appreciation for their partner as well.
A particularly difficult relationship to manage is when you have a parent or a close family member who is very self-centered. The best strategy here may be to 1) lower your expectations dramatically 2) limit your time together and 3) look to other people to meet your emotional and relational needs, because you’re not going to get them met here.
Early Warning Signs That Someone is Selfish
You can save yourself a lot of frustration and heartache by avoiding getting entangled in relationships with selfish, self-absorbed people from the get-go. When you’re getting to know someone new, observe how they relate to you, and other people too.
When you’re dating, take self-centered behavior extremely seriously, and do not make the mistake that too many people do (especially women) which is to “date optimistically.” Optimistic dating is thinking that behavior / personality / values / life goals will change in response to how much someone cares about you or how committed they are to the relationship.
A lot of women take selfish behavior on their new boyfriend’s part to indicate that they should work harder to be more loveable because then their boyfriend would treat them better. This is not true: The guy is being self-centered because that’s actually who he is. If you want better, cut them loose.
Furthermore, remember that the way people do small things is generally a microcosm of the way they do big things. Not taking five seconds to text you back all day “because they were busy” implies that your needs are actually secondary to theirs, in their mind. Pay attention to that, especially early on.
A great way to test someone’s generosity vs. tendency towards selfishness is to say no to them when they ask you for something. A generous person who is capable of having empathy for your feelings will understand and respect your boundaries. A selfish person who struggles to understand and prioritize the feelings of others sometimes will likely get upset, “hurt” or even angry with you.
A fantastic and very reliable way to prune self-centered people from your life is to get good at saying no. Expect that they’ll get mad at you, and stay the course. If you set a new expectation for the relationship — that this is a two-way street — they’ll either have to do some important growth work, or the relationship will self-destruct. Win – win, either way.
How can someone break a cycle in which the selfish person in their life frequently asks them for favors or time, without reciprocation?
Having Compassion For Selfish People
If you’re navigating a challenging relationship with a self-centered person, it can help you to hold on to empathy and compassion for them. Keep in mind that the self-centered person really has no idea how off-putting their way of relating is, and that the origins of their selfish behavior are in their own unmet needs for emotional support. These ideas can help you stay in a compassionate place when dealing with these types of people.
Remember that they just want to be loved too, and they are also doing the best they can with what they have. They got dealt a crappy hand in the supportive family department (OR they are on the autism spectrum, which we have not touched upon, but which is also very real).
All of the above can help you be patient, but also manage your expectations so that you don’t find yourself getting hurt, disappointed, or resentful when they don’t behave differently.
Until they discover that the way they’re relating to other people is pushing them away, and decide to get help for this, they’re unlikely to change. That’s not your fault, but it’s also not your problem. You can be kind to self-centered people, but knowing who and what they are will also help you set healthy boundaries for yourself and invest your energy and attention in people who can love you back.
Wishing you all the best,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Have you had to develop boundaries with similar relationships in the past? Share with us your suggestions in the comments section!
Selfish people come across our lives all the time. There is a difference between self-loving and being selfish. This type of person only thinks about themselves while bulldozing their way on others to get what they want. Psychologist F. Diane Barth defines selfishness as having two primary characteristics: “1. Being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; 2. Having no regard for the needs or feelings of others. If someone is both totally self-involved and uncaring about anyone else, they are not likely to be very responsive to you in any way other than evaluating how you meet their needs.”
Here are 6 behaviors that create selfish people (and how to avoid them):
Related article: 9 Comebacks For Dealing With Selfish People
The person who will utilize behavior for their benefit without regard to you is a master manipulator. Selfishness is not a genetic physical disposition in our psyche. It is a learned behavior from childhood. Children are suppose to be selfish up to a point since they are learning from their environments. It’s important to distinguished from the behaviors of self love and self care. However, the manipulator feeds on another person’s self-esteem. Stand back and realize that you are not getting anywhere by arguing with this person. This type of selfishness has little or no regard to your needs. If you are feeling like you are being used then most likely you are.
Selfish individuals are emotional tyrants. They are uncaring and have no sympathy for your needs. The more love and reward you show them the easier it is for them to feed from your kindness. They might appear charming and caring at first but their behavior goes astray the moment you don’t submit to their desires. The best way to deal with an uncaring and unselfish behavior is to put yourself first and let them know it. They don’t tolerate that. They are all about them. Explaining to them things like this is redundant since they can’t see past their own issues.
3. Plotting and scheming.
This specific trait or action arises from the fear of losing control. The moment you step into the picture you are disrupting their goal. The selfish person will continue doing things behind your back and plotting a different angle to suit themselves. The lack of control scares them. They have to manipulate everything. The best way to deal with this type of behavior is to show them who is really in charged through kindness. And when that doesn’t work it’s important to let them go. You cannot be responsible for how they feel since they cannot see your point of view.
4. Self-centered and conceited.
Narcissism and selfishness arrive from a lack of self-worth and an attention seeking behavior. In order to feel better this type of personality will brag and make everything about them seem relevant. Stay true to yourself. The moment they put you down remember not to take it personally. Anyone who goes around hurting another is truthfully a hurt individual. They must put themselves up by putting another down.
5. Giving and sharing do not come easily.
Selfish people pretend they care. They might say the right things but their actions speak loudly. They only do things for others when they will receive great benefit from them. It’s not in their nature to go out and give. If they do it is because they want the attention back to them for giving. They will make sure they let the world know how wonderful they’ve been. The easiest way to readjust their behavior is to take away their focus. Do not praise the behavior. It’s best to just allow the act itself to go unnoticed.
6. Expectations of others to do things for them.
A selfish person has high expectations of what they need. They live based on what others think of them and what they can do for them. What can they get out of this? They expect the world to revolve around their needs and desires. They ask for lots of favors, so stop doing them. Don’t give into their demands. Limit the time you spend around this type of person because if they don’t have you available to their demands they will not need to be with you.
To some extent, we are all considered selfish when we give to ourselves first and foremost. But there is a line between narcissism and self-care. Being selfish is self-absorbing of others. This type of personality is arrogant and self-indulging. There are ways to deal with selfishness and remove those who bathe only in their glory. End all relationships that don’t support you because you deserve better.
Are there people in your personal or professional life who have traits or behaviors that you consider unhealthy? If so, do you wish you would have known how to spot them sooner?
Welcome to the Dr. Georgiana Relationship Series: “The 14 Types of People To Avoid”. In Part 4 of this series, I pointed out the many warning signs of The Immature person that will bring emotional unrest to your life. In this segment, I am going to discuss The Selfish individual.
This segment is in response to an email I received from Harrison, from London, England with the following question:
“Dear Dr. Georgiana:
I was told by a previous client of yours that you specialize in helping people evaluate partners and decide whether to keep or leave a relationship. I have been dating John for eight months now and although he has a lot of qualities I like, I am worried about some of his behaviors. For example, last week we went away for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. He made all the arrangements and said it was going to be a surprise. The surprise was that we went to a beach resort that he likes and expected me to pay for my share of the costs! When I told him that I should not be paying for my birthday present, he got upset, accused me of not wanting to share, and told me that he was offended by my high expectations. In retrospect, I don’t remember any instance of him giving freely. He often tries to manipulate me into thinking that I am at wrong in wanting him to understand my needs. I used to enjoy giving him presents but I am getting tired of his lack of appreciation for the effort that I make.
I have also noticed that whenever we go out anywhere, especially to social events, he wants to be the center of attention. He is a very good talker and has a very charismatic personality, so people are drawn to him, but he seems to have trouble including me when he is having a conversation. I suspect that it is because he does not want me to hear him say things that are not really true. At first, I took his showing off as his attempt to impress me, but now I am having doubts about how much he cares for me. I talked to one of his friends recently who told me that John is like this with everybody, not just with me. He told me not to take it personally. But he also confessed that he wished John was less critical of others and learned to forgive. I’m scared… What do you think I should do?”
Harrison, I commend you for the self-awareness it took to seek help with this issue and I am so sorry to hear you are doubting yourself. Trust your intuition though! John fits the profile of The Selfish individual, and though he may have lots of positive qualities that you find endearing, the negative ones are not to be dismissed, as they are clearly making you unhappy.
A selfish person is someone who is excessively or exclusively self-concerned – seeking or concentrating on their own advantage, pleasure or well-being without much regard for those of others.
When you are in a relationship with a selfish person, you can feel: manipulated, cheated, left out, exhausted from always giving more than you are receiving, resentful, sad, trapped, and angry. From what I gather, you have plenty of reason to be concerned at this point.
Based on your description, here are the 17 characteristics of a selfish person that John presents:
- Doesn’t enjoy giving
- Is controlling (seeks power or influence over others)
- Is manipulative
- Lacks the ability to identify with and understand the feelings and needs of others
- Is unwilling to express appreciation
- Has little ability to see how his behavior affects others
- Gets angry when everything doesn’t go as he wants
- Expects to get something back from what he gives
- Has an exaggerated sense of self importance and entitlement
- Craves admiration or attention
- Is blaming and critical of others
- Is constantly preoccupied with appearances
- Has difficulty forgiving
- Lies and uses others to obtain what he wants
- Denies, diverts and shifts blame
- Acts in an emotionally immature way
- Portrays himself as a victim
I always tell my clients to periodically put their feelings of love and attraction aside for their partner and objectively analyze their potential for happiness with them for the next 10 years. So, how do you
think you will feel at the end of these next 10 years with John?
There may be many reasons why John is the way he is, most of which are probably tied to his childhood experiences. Keep in mind that selfishness is an ingrained trait that is very difficult to change. If John was willing to look at his behavior and acknowledge how he is making others feel, you would at least have a chance of getting some of your needs met over time. However, given the way he reacts when you point them out, it is unlikely that he will be able to come to terms with his selfish behavior any time soon. Think about how much you are willing to compromise in your life and decide accordingly.
Thank you, Harrison, for sharing this experience and giving me the opportunity to advise you. To everyone following the series, I am honored to be part of your journey to find the right partner. I look forward to sharing future segments with you, connecting in one of my online relationship programs, or having a personalized Relationship Coaching session.
If you have been successful at spotting unhealthy people before they created too much pain in your life, please share your wisdom in the comments’ section below or on my Facebook page. You can see the answer to many of my subscriber’s questions and be notified when I post new segments by signing up to receive my online news bulletin at www.drgeorgiana.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author Georgiana Spradling, Ph.D., MFT, CDVC, is a multicultural and multilingual (English, Spanish, & French) Emotional Intelligence Relationship Coach with over 20 years of experience helping people choose the right partners and avoid the wrong ones, manage emotions and behaviors in self and others, leave unhealthy partnerships, and move past old relationships. She is a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor and has a Certificate as an Anger Management Facilitator. Her e-book: “Don’t Get Stuck with the Wrong Partner: Learn to Detect Unhealthy Traits and Behaviors in Others” is available on the Amazon Kindle. You can subscribe to her videos on the undesirable sides of dating, committed relationships, separation and divorce on her YouTube Page.
Dr. Georgiana coaches on the telephone, online or in her office in San Francisco (USA) and offers a FREE 25-minute Consultation. She can be reached through her website: www.drgeorgiana.com, by e-mail: [email protected] or phone: 1-650-731-5105.
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Why are some people so selfish?
Why are some people so selfish? Is selfishness a virtue or a vice? Is it good or is it evil?
If you’re ambivalent about selfishness then you’re not alone. Selfishness has baffled philosophers and social scientists- many of whom have endlessly debated whether or not selfishness is a good thing.
The main reason why selfishness has befuddled many is the dualistic nature of the human mind i.e. the tendency to think only in terms of opposites. Good and bad, virtue and vice, up and down, far and near, big and small, and so on. Selfishness, like many other concepts, is way too broad to be fitted into two extremes.
In this post, we explore the trait of selfishness, the psychological reasons that can motivate a person to be selfish, and the ways of dealing with a selfish person.
Whom can we call selfish?
A selfish person is the one who puts their own needs first. They’re primarily concerned with themselves and seek only those activities that fulfil their own desires and wants. Anything wrong with that? I don’t think so.
Going by that definition, we’re all selfish in one way or the other. All of us want to do things that are ultimately for our own good and well-being. This type of selfishness is good and desirable.
So far so good. The problem arises when we do things for ourselves and at the same time ignore the needs of those around us or when we fulfil our needs at the expense of others. When you make life difficult for others to meet your own ends, then that kind of selfishness is the selfishness that you’d like to avoid.
We’re both selfish and altruistic
Thanks to our dualistic mind, we tend to think of people as either selfish or altruistic. The truth is- we’re all selfish as well as altruistic. Both these drives exist in our psyche.
Selfishness allowed our ancestors to gather resources for themselves and survive. Since humans evolved in tribes, being an altruistic member of the tribe contributed to the well-being of the whole tribe, as well as the altruistic individual.
While the tendency to be selfish is innate, in this post we look at some of the more proximal causes of selfishness.
What makes a person selfish?
A person who holds on to his resources and doesn’t give it to the needy can be considered a selfish person. This is the type of selfishness that we commonly refer to when we say that someone is selfish.
When we say that someone is selfish, we usually mean that they don’t share their resources (money, time, etc.). Now, why won’t a person share their resources, even if it may be the best thing to do in a given situation?
The biggest reason is that selfish people tend to think they don’t have enough, even if they do. A selfish person, therefore, is also likely to be stingy. This insecurity of not having enough motivates a person to hold on to their resources and not share them.
Selfishness and losing control
Another reason why people are selfish is that they have a fear of losing control. If someone has many needs and goals, then they overvalue their resources because they think that these resources are going to help them reach their goals. If they lose these resources, they lose their goals and if they lose their goals they feel they have lost control over their life.
For example, a student who doesn’t share his study notes with others is usually the one who has high academic goals. To him, sharing notes could mean losing an important resource that could help him reach his goal. And not being able to reach your goals is a recipe for a feeling of loss of control over your life.
In other cases, the way a person was raised can also make them act in selfish ways. The only child or the child whose every demand was met by his parents (spoilt child) learns to take as much as he can and give very little back.
Such children learn to care only for their needs with little empathy or consideration for others. As children, we were all like that to some extent but, gradually, we began to learn that other people have emotions too and so developed empathy.
Some people never learn empathy and therefore remain selfish, just like when they were kids.
Dealing with a selfish person
The most important thing to do when dealing with a selfish person is to figure out the reason behind their selfishness and then work on eliminating that reason. All other methods and efforts of dealing with a selfish person are going to be in vain.
Ask yourselves questions like…Why are they being selfish? What are they feeling so insecure about? Are you making unrealistic demands of them? Are they really in a position to meet your demands?
We are often quick to label someone ‘selfish’ instead of admitting that we failed to persuade them or that our demands are unreasonable.
But what if they are really being selfish and you’re not just falsely labelling them?
Well then, help them get rid of their insecurity. Show them that they’re not going to lose anything by giving you what you want.
Or, better yet, show them how they may benefit by helping you in case there’s a possibility of a win-win situation.
Hanan Parvez (M.B.A., M.A. Psychology) has written 300+ articles at www.psychmechanics.com, a blog with over 3 million views and 100k monthly visitors. His work has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur.
Selfish (adjective) self·ish : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.
Ironically, people who are selfish are usually unaware of the fact, believing they are genuinely nice people. A selfish person cares only about themselves (obviously) and creating happiness for them, regardless of how others are affected. Individuals who are extremely caring and emotionally understanding are typically the ones who are “used and abused” by the selfish. In the beginning, they will seem caring and looking to pamper you, but only long enough for you to let your guard down.
Here are a few signs you should be aware of in order to spot a selfish person:
You never see their weak side. The ego of a selfish person will not allow for vulnerability.
They are entitled. They feel they have things because they deserve it. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s okay to feel that you’ve worked and have earned something. Like a house or new car or whatever. But, you are not entitled to it. It can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye.
Selfish people also have a hard time accepting being wrong. If you don’t agree with them, they will simply ignore your inferior opinion.
In the beginning, they are super friendly and come across as someone who would do anything to help. But once you get to know them, you realize that they are only looking out for number one.
They will never commit to something or someone unless they are getting some sort of benefit from it.
They don’t take anything too seriously and seem carefree. Unless it’s about them, of course. You can be going through something awful and they will make you feel like an idiot for being upset.
They always find a way to get out of it when you turn to them for help. Even though they ask favors from others all the time. Just because you make a sacrifice for them does not mean they would do the same for you.
They are great manipulators, unable to consider the implications of their own actions and how they may affect others. Don’t ever expect this person to recognize their mistakes and apologize for them.
Total control freak. Doing things their way is the only way. They will go to any length to see that things are done their way, regardless of who could be affected by their actions.
Realization and acceptance are the first steps to getting the hell away from these people. Selfish people do not change, so don’t waste your energy attempting to change them. Treat them exactly how they’re treating you. It’s impossible to comprehend the feeling of being damaged by someone unless you’ve felt it yourself. One you’ve given them a sample of their own toxic cocktail, slowly drift away and never look back.
13 Warning Signs Of A Self-Centered and Self-Absorbed Person
Picture this. You have been in a relationship for a few months, and you begin to notice your new boyfriend spends a lot of time talking about himself and his accomplishments.
Your beautiful new girlfriend seems to look around every room she enters. Full of herself, she waits for heads to turn and approving looks to come her way.
When you share a success or an exciting event in your life, inevitably the conversation turns to their self-absorption with their achievements or more thrilling adventures.
He or she is self-centered.
Self-centered people have massive egos and need your constant approval, accolades, and attention, but they rarely return those gifts to you.
It has become a one-man or one-woman show in which your partner is the leading character, and you are merely the supporting cast or cheering audience.
No one likes self-centeredness, especially if you are spending the majority of your time with them.
Self-absorbed people can suck the life out of you, as you do backflips to prop up their egos and insatiable need for reinforcement.
What does being self-absorbed mean?
When you encounter a person like this they tend to be consumed with their own thoughts and concerns.
They are not good at actively listening to others or curious enough to ask conversational questions. They lack empathy and interest in you and tend to make you feel insecure and unimportant.
If you are a kind, empathic, and giving a person, you might give a self-absorbed person a lot of grace.
You might think you just need to give more, praise more, and be more accepting so that you’ll receive a few crumbs of approval yourself.
At first, you may mistake your partner’s self-absorption for confidence, high self-esteem, and positivity.
You may not recognize at first that this pulled-together, attractive, and self-absorbed personality is really a narcissist in the making.
Here are 13 traits of self-centered people you should watch out for:
1. They always view themselves as better than others.
Some people are so preoccupied by their own opinions, self-image, and appearance that they believe they breathe rarified air.
They view themselves as a special breed, someone whom others should look up to and acknowledge as special.
As the partner of a self-absorbed person, your job is to praise and adore this person. But you will never be on equal footing with him or her.
People who are egotistical always think they are superior to others, which often leads them to devalue people around them.
The more you give of yourself, the more this self-centered person will show contempt for you.
2. They have strong opinions.
Your partner’s opinions are known because he or she makes them perfectly clear.
Personality types who are into themselves do not want to listen to the opinions of other people because they only believe their views, preferences, and desires are correct.
If you disagree or present another opinion, the overly self-involved person views this as an attack or put-down.
He views you as an extension of himself, and expressing your own opinions feels threatening to his fragile ego.
3. They hide their insecurities and vulnerabilities.
While people who are self-consumed may appear to have it all together, the opposite is usually true. Underneath the bravado is a deep well of insecurities.
Why else would she continue to boast and need constant reinforcement?
Maintaining this veneer of perfection and confidence keeps you at arms distance, as the self-centered person has a difficult time with emotional intimacy.
This kind of closeness requires opening up and being vulnerable, allowing you to see his or her weaknesses and flaws.
But this feels immensely frightening to someone whose entire life is based on maintaining a facade.
Admitting weakness for self-centered people feels like death.
4. They abuse their friendships.
People who are obsessively into themselves have an easy time making friends at first.
They can be charming, interesting, and fun to be around.
But often they just want to benefit from the relationship in some way, mainly to have an audience to reinforce their relentless need for attention and approval.
You may notice your new lover has a crowd of adoring sycophants who buzz around him or her, trying to capture some of the magnetism and success.
Over time, however, you see how friends are carelessly discarded by a self-centered person, or how they drop away as they realize they are being used.
One characteristic of a self-focused person is they don’t have deep and lasting friendships based on mutual respect and trust.
5. They have very little empathy for others.
Self-centered people think the world revolves around them and that their own challenges are the only ones that matter.
They view your pain or problems through their own eyes and how it impacts them. Whatever hardships you are having, they’ve had it worse.
They aren’t interested in how you are impacted or what you are feeling. They don’t want to be bothered with your emotional needs.
A self-absorbed person doesn’t have the ability or the willingness to put themselves in someone else’s shoes or share their pain.
They think the world (and you) exists for their benefit and needs and have little concern about how others are affected.
6. Self-centered people focus more on superficial qualities than character.
Does this person seem more interested in how you look, the kind of car you drive, or your income than he or she does in your character, interests, and emotional needs?
Egotistical people often choose partners who will reflect well on them. “Look at me. I can attract this hot man who makes a lot of money and drives a Porsche.”
If you don’t measure up to your partner’s idea of perfection, he or she will pressure you to get in shape, get a better job, or start wearing different clothes.
A self-consumed person is far more interested in how you look on his arm than he is in your goals and dreams or your deepest fears.
If this person is not very interested in who you are as a person, so you likely won’t feel seen, appreciated, or heard in the relationship.
7. They are disinterested in your day.
We all need to come home at the end of a long day and share our joys and frustrations with the one we love.
It’s important to be with someone who asks about your day and takes the time to listen to you attentively.
Mutual sharing and active listening is an essential part of a healthy relationship.
If they are always dominating the conversation and never ask about your life, he or she is living in a one-dimensional world that doesn’t include you.
Your words are just background noise until she can take the floor and talk about what’s really important — herself.
Your bad day or the news about your promotion is quickly bypassed so the focus can turn back to them.
8. They aren’t interested in activities that interest you.
Compromise is required for a relationship to flourish. When two people come together with different interests and preferences, you both have to make concessions at times to accommodate the other.
If this person doesn’t care about your opinion or interests, this is definitely a red flag.
A self-absorbed person feels that he or she should be the last word on how and where you spend your time.
You must adopt his or her preferences and mold your life to fit your their interests and choices.
Related: Is It Time To Drop a Relationship
However, you shouldn’t have to nag your partner to participate in things you want to do, whether it’s the restaurant you prefer, a movie you like, or a vacation spot.
You shouldn’t have to accommodate your partner every single time.
Your needs and wants should be equal to your partner’s, and he or she should show a willingness to compromise.
If you find yourself feeling regularly resentful and disregarded, it’s time to face the truth about this person.
9. They interrupt you when you are talking.
A self-centered person likes the sound of his or her own voice more than yours. You’ll be interrupted or talked over with little regard for your feelings.
If you disagree with them, they will be quick to defend their point of view without even acknowledging what your perspective.
She doesn’t hesitate to correct you in front of others to support her position.
Being heard and affirmed is a very important part of feeling loved and needed.
If you begin to feel emotionally and verbally sidelined, it is probably because this person doesn’t care.
10. They prioritize themselves ahead of the relationship.
Your partner should have a team mentality when it comes to your relationship. He or she should consider everyone involved (especially you) when making decisions.
When you have a quality, emotionally intelligent partner, you will find that he views your happiness as important as his own.
Self-absorbed people don’t stop to consider your preferences or happiness or even the health of your relationship. In his mind, the relationship is all about him.
You need to face the truth that you and your relationship will never be a priority for this person, and you will never feel deeply loved and cherished.
11. They set a lot of rules.
People who traits of self-absorption have high expectations of others. If you fall short of these expectations, you are likely to be judged and corrected very quickly.
To help you meet their expectations, people who are absorbed with themselves make rules for their partner to follow so they can feel more in control.
This is how we do dinner. This is the time we go out. This is the way we keep our house. This is how we raise the children.
Often, these rules are unfair, one-sided, and unnecessary, and they make you feel resentful and disrespected.
12. They make accusations.
If you find that your partner is falsely accusing you, he or she is likely becoming paranoid that you are out to undermine them in some way or threaten their sense of self-worth.
Self-centered people don’t want their image of perfection to be tainted, so if they feel like anyone is putting that in jeopardy, they are likely to jump to conclusions.
You find yourself frequently in the position of self-defense, having to earn his or her trust for no valid reason.
13. They assume you are always available.
Your life revolves around him or her, right?
So your schedule is always open for you to jump when he or she calls.
A self-centered man or woman is puzzled or angry if you have a previous engagement and aren’t available to help them or do what they want.
Why would you want to do anything else when you could sit around waiting for Mr. or Ms. Amazing to do you the honor of requesting your presence?
How to Be Less Self-Centered
If after reading this far, you can answer the question, “Am I self-centered?” with an honest “Yes,” you’re probably wondering what you can do to change that.
And the following are excellent habits to create. Just implementing one or two to start with will yield noticeable results.
- Spend more time listening than talking.
- Ask others about their day, their concerns, and their interests.
- Take the preferences and interests of others into account when planning activities.
- Wait patiently and listen while others are talking.
- Respect other people’s schedules and commitments.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable with others (even at the risk of humiliation).
While a self-centered personality might easily grow bored with other people’s concerns, interests, and challenges, everyone can become more thoughtful and more loving with practice.
And if you care about building loving relationships that will last, it’s worth the trouble to go against your usual inclinations.
With time and practice, those inclinations can change for the better.
How to Deal with a Self-Centered Person
If you have a self-centered person in your life, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it and whether or not it’s best to end the relationship.
After all, it’s tempting to think they can’t change or that they have zero interest in becoming less self-centered.
But that shouldn’t stop you from giving them a chance to see their behavior for what it is and to change it.
Sit down with your partner and tell them what you’ve observed in their behavior toward you and others.
Show them the contrast between their behavior and what you expect from a romantic partner.
If they argue with you and even blame you for the way they’ve acted, call them on it.
Let them know that unless they can see their behavior for what it is and expend some effort toward becoming a real partner, the relationship is over.
If your relationship matters enough to them, they’ll take your words to heart. If it isn’t, it’s best to know that as soon as possible, so you can break free and move on.
Do you have a self-centered person in your life?
Is your partner so selfish that they believe you don’t have a life beyond his or her needs? If so, it’s time to reassess whether you want this person in your life.
If you feel that you are just a supporting player in your partner’s one-man show and that your needs are constantly put on the back burner, then you might consider letting go of this relationship.
This isn’t a relationship — it’s a charade performed by a prima donna on their stage.
Find someone who will cherish you, listen to you, and tend to your needs as readily as they tend to their own.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Know someone who expects constant admiration, who thinks they’re better than everyone else, but flies off the handle at the slightest criticism? These tips can help you recognize and cope with a narcissist.
The word narcissism gets tossed around a lot in our selfie-obsessed, celebrity-driven culture, often to describe someone who seems excessively vain or full of themselves. But in psychological terms, narcissism doesn’t mean self-love—at least not of a genuine sort. It’s more accurate to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. And they’re in love with this inflated self-image precisely because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity. But propping up their delusions of grandeur takes a lot of work—and that’s where the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors come in.
Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration. Others often describe people with NPD as cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding. This way of thinking and behaving surfaces in every area of the narcissist’s life: from work and friendships to family and love relationships.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are extremely resistant to changing their behavior, even when it’s causing them problems. Their tendency is to turn the blame on to others. What’s more, they are extremely sensitive and react badly to even the slightest criticisms, disagreements, or perceived slights, which they view as personal attacks. For the people in the narcissist’s life, it’s often easier just to go along with their demands to avoid the coldness and rages. However, by understanding more about narcissistic personality disorder, you can spot the narcissists in your life, protect yourself from their power plays, and establish healthier boundaries.
Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder
Grandiose sense of self-importance
Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or “special” and can only be understood by other special people. What’s more, they are too good for anything average or ordinary. They only want to associate and be associated with other high-status people, places, and things.
Narcissists also believe that they’re better than everyone else and expect recognition as such—even when they’ve done nothing to earn it. They will often exaggerate or outright lie about their achievements and talents. And when they talk about work or relationships, all you’ll hear is how much they contribute, how great they are, and how lucky the people in their lives are to have them. They are the undisputed star and everyone else is at best a bit player.
Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur
Since reality doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves, narcissists live in a fantasy world propped up by distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking. They spin self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, attractiveness, and ideal love that make them feel special and in control. These fantasies protect them from feelings of inner emptiness and shame, so facts and opinions that contradict them are ignored or rationalized away. Anything that threatens to burst the fantasy bubble is met with extreme defensiveness and even rage, so those around the narcissist learn to tread carefully around their denial of reality.
Needs constant praise and admiration
A narcissist’s sense of superiority is like a balloon that gradually loses air without a steady stream of applause and recognition to keep it inflated. The occasional compliment is not enough. Narcissists need constant food for their ego, so they surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their obsessive craving for affirmation. These relationships are very one-sided. It’s all about what the admirer can do for the narcissist, never the other way around. And if there is ever an interruption or diminishment in the admirer’s attention and praise, the narcissist treats it as a betrayal.
Sense of entitlement
Because they consider themselves special, narcissists expect favorable treatment as their due. They truly believe that whatever they want, they should get. They also expect the people around them to automatically comply with their every wish and whim. That is their only value. If you don’t anticipate and meet their every need, then you’re useless. And if you have the nerve to defy their will or “selfishly” ask for something in return, prepare yourself for aggression, outrage, or the cold shoulder.
Exploits others without guilt or shame
Narcissists never develop the ability to identify with the feelings of others—to put themselves in other people’s shoes. In other words, they lack empathy. In many ways, they view the people in their lives as objects—there to serve their needs. As a consequence, they don’t think twice about taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends. Sometimes this interpersonal exploitation is malicious, but often it is simply oblivious. Narcissists simply don’t think about how their behavior affects others. And if you point it out, they still won’t truly get it. The only thing they understand is their own needs.
Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
Narcissists feel threatened whenever they encounter someone who appears to have something they lack—especially those who are confident and popular. They’re also threatened by people who don’t kowtow to them or who challenge them in any way. Their defense mechanism is contempt. The only way to neutralize the threat and prop up their own sagging ego is to put those people down. They may do it in a patronizing or dismissive way as if to demonstrate how little the other person means to them. Or they may go on the attack with insults, name-calling, bullying, and threats to force the other person back into line.
Don’t fall for the fantasy
Narcissists can be very magnetic and charming. They are very good at creating a fantastical, flattering self-image that draw us in. We’re attracted to their apparent confidence and lofty dreams—and the shakier our own self-esteem, the more seductive the allure. It’s easy to get caught up in their web, thinking that they will fulfill our longing to feel more important, more alive. But it’s just a fantasy, and a costly one at that.
Your needs won’t be fulfilled (or even recognized). It’s important to remember that narcissists aren’t looking for partners; they’re looking for obedient admirers. Your sole value to the narcissist is as someone who can tell them how great they are to prop up their insatiable ego. Your desires and feelings don’t count.
Look at the way the narcissist treats others. If the narcissist lies, manipulates, hurts, and disrespects others, he or she will eventually treat you the same way. Don’t fall for the fantasy that you’re different and will be spared.
Take off the rose-colored glasses. It’s important to see the narcissist in your life for who they really are, not who you want them to be. Stop making excuses for bad behavior or minimizing the hurt it’s causing you. Denial will not make it go away. The reality is that narcissists are very resistant to change, so the true question you must ask yourself is whether you can live like this indefinitely.
Focus on your own dreams. Instead of losing yourself in the narcissist’s delusions, focus on the things you want for yourself. What do you want to change in your life? What gifts would you like to develop? What fantasies do you need to give up in order to create a more fulfilling reality?
Set healthy boundaries
Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and caring. But narcissists aren’t capable of true reciprocity in their relationships. It isn’t just that they’re not willing; they truly aren’t able. They don’t see you. They don’t hear you. They don’t recognize you as someone who exists outside of their own needs. Because of this, narcissists regularly violate the boundaries of others. What’s more, they do so with an absolute sense of entitlement.
Narcissists think nothing of going through or borrowing your possessions without asking, snooping through your mail and personal correspondence, eavesdropping on conversations, barging in without an invitation, stealing your ideas, and giving you unwanted opinions and advice. They may even tell you what to think and feel. It’s important to recognize these violations for what they are, so you can begin to create healthier boundaries where your needs are respected.
Make a plan. If you have a long-standing pattern of letting others violate your boundaries, it’s not easy to take back control. Set yourself up for success by carefully considering your goals and the potential obstacles. What are the most important changes you hope to achieve? Is there anything you’ve tried in the past with the narcissist that worked? Anything that hasn’t? What is the balance of power between you and how will that impact your plan? How will you enforce your new boundaries? Answering these questions will help you evaluate your options and develop a realistic plan.
Consider a gentle approach. If preserving your relationship with the narcissist is important to you, you will have to tread softly. By pointing out their hurtful or dysfunctional behavior, you are damaging their self-image of perfection. Try to deliver your message calmly, respectfully, and as gently as possible. Focus on how their behavior makes you feel, rather than on their motivations and intentions. If they respond with anger and defensiveness, try to remain calm. Walk away if need be and revisit the conversation later.
Don’t set a boundary unless you’re willing to keep it. You can count on the narcissist to rebel against new boundaries and test your limits, so be prepared. Follow up with any consequences specified. If you back down, you’re sending the message that you don’t need to be taken seriously.
Be prepared for other changes in the relationship. The narcissist will feel threatened and upset by your attempts to take control of your life. They are used to calling the shots. To compensate, they may step up their demands in other aspects of the relationship, distance themselves to punish you, or attempt to manipulate or charm you into giving up the new boundaries. It’s up to you to stand firm.
Don’t take things personally
To protect themselves from feelings of inferiority and shame, narcissists must always deny their shortcomings, cruelties, and mistakes. Often, they will do so by projecting their own faults on to others. It’s very upsetting to get blamed for something that’s not your fault or be characterized with negative traits you don’t possess. But as difficult as it may be, try not to take it personally. It really isn’t about you.
Don’t buy into the narcissist’s version of who you are. Narcissists don’t live in reality, and that includes their views of other people. Don’t let their shame and blame game undermine your self-esteem. Refuse to accept undeserved responsibility, blame, or criticism. That negativity is the narcissist’s to keep.
Don’t argue with a narcissist. When attacked, the natural instinct is to defend yourself and prove the narcissist wrong. But no matter how rational you are or how sound your argument, they are unlikely to hear you. And arguing the point may escalate the situation in a very unpleasant way. Don’t waste your breath. Simply tell the narcissist you disagree with their assessment, then move on.
Know yourself. The best defense against the insults and projections of the narcissist is a strong sense of self. When you know your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s easier to reject any unfair criticisms leveled against you.
Let go of the need for approval. It’s important to detach from the narcissist’s opinion and any desire to please or appease them at the expense of yourself. You need to be okay with knowing the truth about yourself, even if the narcissist sees the situation differently.
Look for support and purpose elsewhere
If you’re going to stay in a relationship with a narcissist, be honest with yourself about what you can—and can’t—expect. A narcissist isn’t going to change into someone who truly values you, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for emotional support and personal fulfillment.
Learn what healthy relationships look and feel like. If you come from a narcissistic family, you may not have a very good sense of what a healthy give-and-take relationship is. The narcissistic pattern of dysfunction may feel comfortable to you. Just remind yourself that as familiar as it feels, it also makes you feel bad. In a reciprocal relationship, you will feel respected, listened to, and free to be yourself.
Spend time with people who give you an honest reflection of who you are. In order to maintain perspective and avoid buying into the narcissist’s distortions, it’s important to spend time with people who know you as you really are and validate your thoughts and feelings.
Make new friendships, if necessary, outside the narcissist’s orbit. Some narcissists isolate the people in their lives in order to better control them. If this is your situation, you’ll need to invest time into rebuilding lapsed friendships or cultivating new relationships.
Look for meaning and purpose in work, volunteering, and hobbies. Instead of looking to the narcissist to make you feel good about yourself, pursue meaningful activities that make use of your talents and allow you to contribute.
How to leave a narcissist
Ending an abusive relationship is never easy. Ending one with a narcissist can be especially difficult as they can be so charming and charismatic—at least at the start of the relationship or if you threaten to leave. It’s easy to become disoriented by the narcissist’s manipulative behavior, caught up in the need to seek their approval, or even to feel “gaslighted” and doubt your own judgement. If you’re codependent, your desire to be loyal may trump even your need to preserve your safety and sense of self. But it’s important to remember that no one deserves to be bullied, threatened, or verbally and emotionally abused in a relationship. There are ways to escape the narcissist—and the guilt and self-blame—and begin the process of healing.
Educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to recognize the techniques a narcissist may use to keep you in the relationship. When you threaten to leave, a narcissist will often resurrect the flattery and adoration (“love bombing”) that caused you to be interested in them in the first place. Or they’ll make grand promises about changing their behavior that they have no intention of keeping.
Write down the reasons why you’re leaving. Being clear on why you need to end the relationship can help prevent you from being sucked back in. Keep your list somewhere handy, such as on your phone, and refer to it when you’re starting to have self-doubts or the narcissist is laying on the charm or making outlandish promises.
Seek support. During your time together, the narcissist may have damaged your relationships with friends and family or limited your social life. But whatever your circumstances, you’re not alone. Even if you can’t reach out to old friends, you can find help from support groups or domestic violence helplines and shelters.
Don’t make empty threats. It’s a better tactic to accept that the narcissist won’t change and when you’re ready, simply leave. Making threats or pronouncements will only forewarn the narcissist and enable them to make it more difficult for you to get away.
Seek immediate help if you’re physically threatened or abused. Call 911 in the U.S. or your country’s local emergency service.
For more tips on leaving, read How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship.
After you’ve left
Leaving a narcissist can be a huge blow to their sense of entitlement and self-importance. Their huge ego still needs to be fed, so they’ll often continue trying to exert control over you. If charm and “love bombing” doesn’t work, they may resort to threats, denigrating you to mutual friends and acquaintances, or stalking you, on social media or in person.
Cut off all contact with the narcissist. The more contact you have with them, the more hope you’ll give them that they can reel you back in. It’s safer to block their calls, texts, and emails, and disconnect from them on social media. If you have children together, have others with you for any scheduled custody handovers.
Allow yourself to grieve. Breakups can be extremely painful, whatever the circumstances. Even ending a toxic relationship can leave you feeling sad, angry, confused, and grieving the loss of shared dreams and commitments. Healing can take time, so go easy on yourself and turn to family and friends for support.
Don’t expect the narcissist to share your grief. Once the message sinks in that you will no longer be feeding their ego, the narcissist will likely soon move on to exploit someone else. They won’t feel loss or guilt, just that never-ending need for praise and admiration. This is no reflection on you, but rather an illustration of how very one-sided their relationships always are.
If you need help for narcissistic personality disorder
Due to the very nature of the disorder, most people with NPD are reluctant to admit they have a problem—and even more reluctant to seek help. Even when they do, narcissistic personality disorder can be very challenging to treat. But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope or that changes aren’t possible. Mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotic drugs are sometimes prescribed in severe cases or if your NPD co-occurs with another disorder. However, in most cases psychotherapy is the primary form of treatment.
Working with a skilled therapist, you can learn to accept responsibility for your actions, develop a better sense of proportion, and build healthier relationships. You can also work on developing your emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is the ability to understand, use, and manage your emotions in positive ways to empathize with others, communicate effectively, and builder strong relationships. Importantly, the skills that make up emotional intelligence can be learned at any time.
To learn more, see Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit.
There are many formally identified personality disorders, each with their own set of behaviors and symptoms. Many of these fall into three different categories or clusters:
- Cluster A: Odd or eccentric behavior
- Cluster B: Dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior
- Cluster C: Anxious fearful behavior
Since there are too many identified types of personality disorders to explain in this context, we will only review a few in each cluster.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder: Schizoid personalities are introverted, withdrawn, solitary, emotionally cold, and distant. They are often absorbed with their own thoughts and feelings and are fearful of closeness and intimacy with others. For example, a person suffering from schizoid personality is more of a daydreamer than a practical action taker.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: The essential feature for this type of personality disorder is interpreting the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning. People with paranoid personality disorder are untrusting, unforgiving, and prone to angry or aggressive outbursts without justification because they perceive others as unfaithful, disloyal, condescending or deceitful. This type of person may also be jealous, guarded, secretive, and scheming, and may appear to be emotionally “cold” or excessively serious.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder: A pattern of peculiarities best describes those with schizotypal personality disorder. People may have odd or eccentric manners of speaking or dressing. Strange, outlandish or paranoid beliefs and thoughts are common. People with schizotypal personality disorder have difficulties forming relationships and experience extreme anxiety in social situations. They may react inappropriately or not react at all during a conversation or they may talk to themselves. They also display signs of “magical thinking” by saying they can see into the future or read other people’s minds.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder: People with antisocial personality disorder characteristically act out their conflicts and ignore normal rules of social behavior. These individuals are impulsive, irresponsible, and callous. Typically, the antisocial personality has a history of legal difficulties, belligerent and irresponsible behavior, aggressive and even violent relationships. They show no respect for other people and feel no remorse about the effects of their behavior on others. These people ware at high risk for substance abuse, especially alcoholism, since it helps them to relieve tension, irritability and boredom.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: People with borderline personality disorder are unstable in several areas, including interpersonal relationships, behavior, mood, and self-image. Abrupt and extreme mood changes, stormy interpersonal relationships, an unstable and fluctuating self-image, unpredictable and self-destructive actions characterize the person with borderline personality disorder. These individuals generally have great difficulty with their own sense of identity. They often experience the world in extremes, viewing others as either “all good” or “all bad.” A person with borderline personality may form an intense personal attachment with someone only to quickly dissolve it over a perceived slight. Fears of abandonment may lead to an excessive dependency on others. Self-multilation or recurrent suicidal gestures may be used to get attention or manipulate others. Impulsive actions, chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness, and bouts of intense inappropriate anger are other traits of this disorder, which is more common among females.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: People with narcissistic personality have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, are absorbed by fantasies of unlimited success, and seek constant attention. The narcissistic personality is oversensitive to failure and often complains of multiple somatic symptoms. Prone to extreme mood swings between self-admiration and insecurity, these people tend to exploit interpersonal relationships.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder: Avoidant personalities are often hypersensitive to rejection and are unwilling to become involved with others unless they are sure of being liked. Excessive social discomfort, timidity, fear of criticism, avoidance of social or work activities that involve interpersonal contact are characteristic of the avoidant personality. They are fearful of saying something considered foolish by others; worry they will blush or cry in front of others; and are very hurt by any disapproval by others. People with avoidant personality disorder may have no close relationships outside of their family circle, although they would like to, and are upset at their inability to relate well to others.
- Dependent Personality Disorder: People with dependent personality disorder may exhibit a pattern of dependent and submissive behavior, relying on others to make decisions for them. They require excessive reassurance and advice, and are easily hurt by criticism or disapproval. They feel uncomfortable and helpless if they are alone, and can be devastated when a close relationship ends. They have a strong fear of rejection. Typically lacking in self-confidence, the dependent personality rarely initiates projects or does things independently. This disorder usually begins by early adulthood and is diagnosed more frequently in females than males.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Compulsive personalities are conscientious and have high levels of aspiration, but they also strive for perfection. Never satisfied with their achievements, people with compulsive personality disorder take on more and more responsibilities. They are reliable, dependable, orderly, and methodical, but their inflexibility often makes them incapable of adapting to changed circumstances. People with compulsive personality are highly cautious, weigh all aspects of a problem, and pay attention to every detail, making it difficult for them to make decisions and complete tasks. When their feelings are not under strict control, events are unpredictable, or they must rely on others, compulsive personalities often feel a sense of isolation and helplessness.
11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out
When someone posts one too many selfies or flex pics on their dating profile or talks about themselves constantly during a first date, we might call them a narcissist.
But a true narcissist is someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It’s a mental health condition characterized by:
- an inflated sense of importance
- a deep need for excessive attention and admiration
- lack of empathy for others
- often having troubled relationships
What it boils down to, says licensed therapist Rebecca Weiler, LMHC, is selfishness at the (usually extreme) expense of others, plus the inability to consider others’ feelings at all.
NPD, like most mental health or personality disorders, isn’t black and white. “Narcissism falls on a spectrum,” explains Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”
The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, but it specifies that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist.
9 official criteria for NPD
- grandiose sense of self-importance
- preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- need for excessive admiration
- sense of entitlement
- interpersonally exploitative behavior
- lack of empathy
- envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
That said, knowing the “official” diagnostic criteria doesn’t usually make it easier to spot a narcissist, especially when you’re romantically involved with one. It’s usually not possible to determine if someone has NPD without the diagnosis of a qualified expert.
Plus, when someone is wondering if they’re dating a narcissist, they generally aren’t thinking, “Do they have NPD?” They’re wondering if how they’re being treated is healthy and sustainable in the long-run. Please avoid diagnosing your partner in conversation. Rather, read on to gain some insight into the health of your relationship.
You’re here because you’re concerned, and that concern is valid if your health is at stake. If you think these signs fit, we’ll also give you tips on how to handle the situation.
1. They were charming AF… at first
It started as a fairy tale. Maybe they texted you constantly, or told you they loved you within the first month — something experts refer to as “love bombing.”
Maybe they tell you how smart you are or emphasize how compatible you are, even if you’ve just started seeing each other.
“Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones who can appreciate them fully,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, LCSW, founder of Kaleidoscope Counseling in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But as soon as you do something that disappoints them, they could turn on you.
And usually you’ll have no idea of exactly what you did, says Tawwab. “How narcissists treat you, or when they turn on you, actually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own .”
Weiler’s advice: If someone came on too strong at the beginning, be wary. Sure, we all love to feel lusted for. But real love has to be nurtured and grown.
“If you think it’s too early for them to really love you, it probably is. Or if you feel like they don’t know enough about you to actually love you, they probably don’t,” Weiler says. People with NPD will try to manufacture superficial connections early on in a relationship.
2. They hog the conversation, talking about how great they are
“Narcissists love to constantly talk about their own accomplishments and achievements with grandiose,” says psychotherapist Jacklyn Krol, LCSW, of Mind Rejuvenation Therapy. “They do this because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it helps them create an appearance of being self-assured.”
Clinical psychologist Dr. Angela Grace, PhD, MEd, BFA, BEd, adds that narcissists will often exaggerate their accomplishments and embellish their talents in these stories in order to gain adoration from others.
They’re also too busy talking about themselves to listen to you. The warning is two-part here, says Grace. First, your partner won’t stop talking about themselves, and second, your partner won’t engage in conversation about you.
Ask yourself: What happens when you do talk about yourself? Do they ask follow-up questions and express interest to learn more about you? Or do they make it about them?
3. They feed off your compliments
Narcissists may seem like they’re super self-confident. But according to Tawwab, most people with NPD actually lack self-esteem.
“They need a lot of praise, and if you’re not giving it to them, they’ll fish for it,” she says. That’s why they’re constantly looking at you to tell them how great they are.
“Narcissists use other people — people who are typically highly empathic — to supply their sense of self-worth, and make them feel powerful. But because of their low self-esteem, their egos can be slighted very easily, which increases their need for compliments,” adds Shirin Peykar, LMFT.
People-reading tip: Folks who are actually self-confident won’t solely rely on you, or anyone else, to feel good about themselves.
“The main difference between folks who are confident and those with NPD is that narcissists need others to lift them up, and lift themselves up only by putting others down. Two things people with high self-confidence do not do,” Peykar says.
As Weiler explains it, “Narcissists punish everyone around them for their lack of self-confidence.”
4. They lack empathy
Lack of empathy, or the ability to feel how another person is feeling, is one of the hallmark characteristics of a narcissist, Walfish says.
“Narcissists lack the skill to make you feel seen, validating, understood, or accepted because they don’t grasp the concept of feelings,” she says.
Translation: They don’t do emotion that belongs to others.
Does your partner care when you’ve had a bad day at work, fight with your best friend, or scuffle with your parents? Or do they get bored when you express the things making you mad and sad?
Walfish says that this inability to empathize, or even sympathize, is often the reason why many, if not all, narcissists’ relationships eventually collapse, whether they’re romantic or not.
5. They don’t have any (or many) long-term friends
Most narcissists won’t have any long-term, real friends. Dig deeper into their connections and you may notice that they only have casual acquaintances, buddies they trash-talk, and nemeses.
As a result, they might lash out when you want to hang out with yours. They might claim that you don’t spend enough time with them, make you feel guilty for spending time with your friends, or berate you for the types of friends you have.
Questions to ask yourself
- How does your partner treat someone they don’t want anything from?
- Does your partner have any long-term friends?
- Do they have or talk about wanting a nemesis?
6. They pick on you constantly
Maybe at first it felt like teasing…. but then it got mean or became constant.
Suddenly, everything you do, from what you wear and eat to who you hang out with and what you watch on TV, is a problem for them.
“They’ll put you down, call you names, hit you with hurtful one-liners, and make jokes that aren’t quite funny,” Peykar says. “Their goal is to lower other’s self-esteem so that they can increase their own, because it makes them feel powerful.”
What’s more, reacting to what they say only reinforces their behavior. “A narcissist loves a reaction,” Peykar says. That’s because it shows them that they have the power to affect another’s emotional state.
A warning sign: If they knock you down with insults when you do something worth celebrating, get away. “A narcissist might say ‘You were able to do that because I didn’t sleep well’ or some excuse to make it seem like you have an advantage that they didn’t have,” Tawwab says.
They want you to know that you’re not better than them. Because, to them, nobody is.
7. They gaslight you
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse, and it’s a hallmark of narcissism. Narcissists may spew blatant lies, falsely accuse others, spin the truth, and ultimately distort your reality.
Signs of gaslighting include the following:
- You no longer feel like the person you used to be.
- You feel more anxious and less confident than you used to be.
- You often wonder if you’re being too sensitive.
- You feel like everything you do is wrong.
- You always think it’s your fault when things go wrong.
- You’re apologizing often.
- You have a sense that something’s wrong, but aren’t able to identify what it is.
- You often question whether your response to your partner is appropriate.
- You make excuses for your partner’s behavior.
“They do this to cause others to doubt themselves as a way to gain superiority. Narcissists thrive off of being worshipped, so they use manipulation tactics to get you to do just that,” Peykar says.
8. They dance around defining the relationship
There are thousands of reasons someone might not want to label your relationship. Maybe they’re polyamorous, you’ve both agreed to a friends-with-benefits situation, or you’re simply keeping it casual.
But if your partner is exhibiting some of the other symptoms on this list and won’t commit, it’s likely a red flag.
Some narcissists will expect you to treat them like they’re your partner so they can reap the intimate, emotional, and sexual benefits while also keeping an eye out for prospects who they deem superior.
In fact, you may notice that your partner flirts with or looks at others in front of you, your family, or your friends, says therapist April Kirkwood, LPC, author of “Working My Way Back to Me: A Frank Memoir of Self-Discovery.”
“If you speak up and own your feelings about their disrespect, they will blame you for causing a fuss, call you crazy, and use it as further reason not to commit fully to you. If you don’t say a word, non-spoken message that you don’t deserve to be respected,” she says.
If it sounds like a lose-lose situation, that’s because it is. But remember that you deserve someone who is as committed to you as you are to them.
9. They think they’re right about everything… and never apologize
Fighting with a narcissist feels impossible.
“There is no debating or compromising with a narcissist, because they are always right,” Tawwab says. “They won’t necessarily see a disagreement as a disagreement. They’ll just see it as them teaching you some truth.”
According to Peykar, you may be dating a narcissist if you feel like your partner:
- doesn’t hear you
- won’t understand you
- doesn’t take responsibility for their part in the issue
- doesn’t ever try to compromise
While ending the relationship is the best game plan with a narcissist, Weiler advises on avoiding negotiation and arguments. “It will make you feel crazy. The thing that drives a narcissist crazy is the lack of control and the lack of a fight. The less you fight back, the less power you can give them over you, the better,” she says.
And because they never think they’re wrong, they never apologize. About anything.
This inability to apologize could reveal itself in situations where your partner is obviously at fault, like:
- showing up for a dinner reservation late
- not calling when they said they would
- canceling important plans last minute, like meeting your parents or friends
Good partners are able to recognize when they’ve done something wrong and apologize for it.
10. They panic when you try to break up with them
As soon as you back away, a narcissist will try that much harder to keep you in their lives.
“At first, they may love-bomb you. They’ll say all the right things to make you think they have changed,” Peykar says.
But soon enough, they’ll show you they never actually changed. And because of this, many narcissists find themselves in on-again, off-again romantic relationships until they find someone else to date.
11. … and when you show them you’re really done, they lash out
If you insist that you’re done with the relationship, they’ll make it their goal to hurt you for abandoning them, Peykar says.
“Their ego is so severely bruised that it causes them to feel rage and hatred for anyone who ‘wronged’ them. That’s because everything is everyone else’s fault. Including the breakup,” she says.
The result? They might bad-mouth you to save face. Or they might start immediately dating someone else to make you feel jealous and help heal their ego. Or they’ll try to steal your friends.
The reason, says Tawwab, is because a good reputation means everything to them, and they won’t let anyone or anything interfere with it.
OK, so you’re dating a narcissist… now what?
If you’re in a relationship with someone with NPD, chances are you’ve already experienced quite a bit.
Being in a relationship with someone who’s always criticizing, belittling, gaslighting, and not committing to you is emotionally exhausting. That’s why, for your own sanity, experts recommend to GTFO.
How to prepare for a breakup with a narcissist
- Constantly remind yourself that you deserve better.
- Strengthen your relationships with your empathetic friends.
- Build a support network with friends and family who can help remind you what is reality.
- Urge your partner to go to therapy.
- Get a therapist yourself.
“You cannot change a person with narcissistic personality disorder or make them happy by loving them enough or by changing yourself to meet their whims and desires. They will never be in tune with you, never empathic to your experiences, and you will always feel empty after an interaction with them,” Grace says.
“Narcissists can’t feel fulfilled in relationships, or in any area of their lives, because nothing is ever special enough for them,” she adds.
Essentially, you’ll never be enough for them, because they’re never enough for themselves.
“The best thing you can do is cut ties. Offer them no explanation. Offer no second chance. Break up with them and offer no second, third, or fourth chance,” Grace says.
Because a narcissist will most likely make attempts at contacting you and harassing you with calls or texts once they’ve fully processed the rejection, Krol recommends blocking them to help you stick with your decision.
Remember: This article isn’t meant to diagnose your partner. It’s meant to outline unacceptable behaviors and reactions in the context of a loving, equitable partnership. None of these signs point to a healthy relationship, NPD or not.
And having one or six of these signs doesn’t make your partner a narcissist. Rather, it’s good cause for reevaluating whether or not you’re thriving in your relationship. You’re not responsible for their behavior, but you are responsible for taking care of yourself.
Gabrielle Kassel is a rugby-playing, mud-running, protein-smoothie-blending, meal-prepping, CrossFitting, New York–based wellness writer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drunk, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal, all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or practicing hygge. Follow her on Instagram.
Most of us are polite and will humour this person until the point where we realise that this dynamic looks unlikely to change. At that point we often wonder what it is that seems to be so lacking in us that this other person barely registers that we have a life – and soon after that we begin to feel indignation that anyone could be quite so insensitive.
If you and your new sister-in-law were sharing a dessert and she consumed it all – every time – it would be a very odd experience. Actually this is what is happening. Whilst we know that retaining some selfishness is important for healthy relationships, Judith Orloff, writing for Psychology Today suggests, we need to be strategic when dealing with this type of personality. Similarly, Wendy Behary, in her book, Disarming the Narcissist, says we need to keep our expectations low when we are dealing with friends or family or workmates who have these tendencies. We can’t choose our families- nor our work colleagues -and therefore it is important to learn how to manage these personalities who will crop up in most people’s lives at some point.
Instead of believing you will turn the self absorbed around, says Orloff, it is best to be realistic about the time you spend together. Confronting a person with these traits can be to provoke their anger or retaliation. Try diverting the constant ‘me-talk’ by telling your companion that you like one of her positive attributes, suggests Orloff, for example: “I like the way you seem to grasp local politics – can you tell me more of what you think is going on in this city” etc. Lower your expectations and strategise your needs. Frankly your deepest feelings are highly unlikely to be cherished – and while it is tedious to ego stroke these people, your relationship is unavoidable – and using techniques to keep the relationship harmonious, whilst preserving your own peace of mind, is good advice.
The reality is that this type of personality is actually a sad one under all the prattle. The self absorbed tend to live in a narrowly confined world and, lacking a stable centre, they struggle with any degree of healthy attachment, and cannot read the core of themselves or others. Instead they cling to external cues and images with which to present their sense of self and worth. I suspect that if you look closely, your sister-in-law might have scared off any hope of having her own close friends – and, further to this, lives a life with some knowledge of her own aching emptiness.
You are entirely correct that trying to connect with this personality type seems to suck the energy out of conversations and events – don’t make your sense of self worth dependent on this sister in law. I understand how important it is to feel part of your new family, but you will soon start to find your own friends. Your challenge is to balance out your needs.
In a nutshell, the advice is to turn the conversation round when you can, try and keep your conversations with her in a group – and don’t let yourself promise things to her that you can’t deliver. Talk to your husband and make sure you have his support.
Jane Austen, gimlet eyed observer of human social behaviour in the nineteenth century, said wryly, ‘selfishness must always be forgiven, simply because there is no hope of a cure”.
So try not to wear yourself out with your reasonable response to unreasonable behaviour – set your boundaries and look forward to the many new and real companions who I have no doubt will soon be in your life
Bubble of Self-Proclaimed Greatness: Traits of Self-centered People
Dealing with self-centered people can get to be very tough, especially if you don’t know how to deal with them. Knowing some of the traits of this behavior will help you deal with them.
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
― Oscar Wilde
If we could help it, we would never really share our things. We wouldn’t really want to think about others and sacrifice something that could’ve been all ours. But we still do that. Why? ‘Cause we live in a society and societal rules and nomenclature demand that we share, care, empathize, and such and such. So we learn that these are all positive traits and that a good human being is one who has a profusion of these positive qualities. Of course, there are times when we show traits of negative behavior―in the way of selfish behavioral patterns. But these do not become a part of our behavior and merely limit themselves to select occasions.
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And then there are self-centered people who do not exhibit any of the above-mentioned positive traits and thereby affect other people’s adjustment in society. Dealing with self-centered people can get tough if one does not know how to go about it. In extremes, this can turn out to be a personality disorder and can be very draining for those who have to deal with it.
Self-centered people like things to be done their way and they are convinced that their way is the only right way. They do not like it if people do not behave or do things according to the way they want them done. They allow no scope for other people’s opinions. Self-absorbed people also expect that their problems and needs should always be given top priority.
Self-absorbed people find it difficult to have long-lasting and fulfilling relationships. Since they are usually about the ‘taking’ and rarely about the ‘giving’, they cannot sustain emotionally strong relationships. Which is the reason why they are not always reliable. They are initially able to attract people with their charm and smooth talk, but soon, people find their self-absorbed banter, draining.
Self-absorbed and self-centered people only think of their own self and are not very considerate or empathetic towards others―if they are considerate, it is only because they are constantly calculating what the other person can do for them. In that way, the other person is only important because of their ‘usefulness’.
Self-centered people consider themselves to be superior than the others around them―they therefore do not give others’ opinions any importance and think that they’re too good for them. In a conversation, self-centered people often cut someone’s point to put forth their own. They hardly ever acknowledge others’ involvement in a project. Nor do they contribute in group activities or projects that involve team work.
One of the most common characteristics of a self-absorbed person is that he/she always blames others for things not turning out the way they had hoped. This happens because they think that they can do no wrong.
As for interpersonal relationships, a self-centered people are fully capable of abandoning someone in order to satisfy their own needs. They usually make for fair weather friends. They do not show feelings of compassion, sympathy, or understanding towards others or the society in general.
Self-absorbed people often like to ‘steal the show’ and take credit for work. This person often brags about their achievements and have a tendency to make a major deal about something that might be quite minor to begin with. They need to be in the limelight and be the center of attention at all times and require constant praise and needs constant validation.
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Self-indulgent people have a huge ego and they don’t usually acknowledge their mistakes―in fact, they rarely ever apologize for the same. They do not listen to what others have to say and exhibit several traits of selfishness in this way.
Self-obsessed people are materialistic because inanimate objects can be controlled and manipulated. They are very, very possessive about their objects and the people around them and do not like to share anything.
Self-indulgent people care more about their self-image than anything else and want the world to revolve around them. In that way there is always a lack of empathy in relationships.
People who are self-centered share a lot of their traits with narcissistic behavior traits and therefore dealing with these kinds of people needs to be managed in the same way that narcissists are dealt with.
Self-indulgent people are indifferent to many things in society and other people because all their concentration is only on themselves and their needs.They put their happiness before anyone else. They do not encourage others to excel in any field. Anyone succeeding is not in their agenda. They pull people down with actions and harsh words.
How to Deal with Self-centered People
It’s needless to say that living with a person(s) who is self-centered is not easy and can take a toll on the way a person interacts with others. While there are certain methods that one can adopt while dealing with people who are self-centered, it is important to understand that you cannot change a self-centered person. It is their nature, and unless they analyze their own behavior, there is going to be no scope of change and improvement.
When interacting with self-centered people, try to do so in a group so that there are others present around and there is a chance to get your point across as well. This will prevent the self-obsessed person from making it all about himself/herself. Try to look for breaks in their speech to include your points of view.
If possible, try to understand why the self-obsessed person exhibits such behavior patterns. When you find their underlying needs for that behavior, or certain ways in which they stop that behavior, then supplying them with that will prevent the behavior pattern. Like a genuine praise might stop them from trying to hoard the attention further.
Do not lose your temper or peace of mind by getting affected with what they do. Try to remain focused on your life. It is very easy to start reacting and behaving like they do, but that is only going to affect you and bring no change in them whatsoever.
Try to speak to the self-obsessed person and tell them how their behavior affects you. In case of confrontation, keep it short and simple. Listening to others is not one of their strongest qualities and they have a very low attention span.
It has been seen that a self-centered person cannot really be expected to change. Do not give in to their demands at the cost of your own. Do not let them dominate you―so don’t be their doormat. This will only encourage them to be more and more selfish. Try to put your foot down and as hard as it may be, try to put your needs out there as well.
Dealing with self-centered people is not as easy it might seem. You need to be focused and not lose your cool. That is why many people find it easier to simply avoid or limit being in the company of people who are self-centered. Though it definitely does not hurt to try to talk to them, do not let them suck into your peace and quiet.
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