You may think you know what dating a narcissist means, but you really don’t until you’ve been there yourself. While some of the changes in your behaviour and personality may be subtle at first, others will creep up on you over time, making you wonder why they are happening and how they got so bad so quickly. These are just some of the ways that dating a narcissist changes you as a person.
You might feel isolated
Dating a narcissist is lonely because you’re dating an empty shell of a person. The way narcissists treat their partners can leave those relationships feeling isolating and unfulfilling.
When your partner has little to no interest in what you think, or they don’t care about sharing experiences with you, that leaves no space for closeness or intimacy.
If we define loneliness as the sad or uncomfortable feeling caused by being without companionship, support, or meaningful relationships, it’s easy to see how someone who consistently acts selfish and detached can cause loneliness in his/her partner.
You may have lost your identity
If you’ve spent any time with a narcissist, you’ve probably noticed that he or she does most of—if not all—the talking. As much as we hate to admit it, narcissists don’t usually make great listeners.
While we can usually count on our friends and family members to give us advice and share their opinions, narcissistic people have only one person on their minds when they talk to you: themselves.
Though some people are genuinely more talkative than others, there’s typically no need for one person in your life to monopolize all conversations; but if your partner tends to dominate every discussion, not just some of them, then it might be worth revisiting your relationship.
You Can Become Excessively Paranoid
When dating a narcissist, it’s normal to feel like you’re always being watched, judged and constantly criticized. In an effort to change who you are and give your significant other what they want, it’s possible that you end up giving more than you can afford to give.
In some cases, your fears turn out to be real—your narcissist is doing exactly as they have promised. But in others, they might be just trying to manipulate or control you by making you believe that their threats are true.
Once again, there’s only one way to find out for sure. Stick around and see if things get better with time—or worse.
You Cope Better With Grief
The most unexpected change that can come about from dating a narcissist is your ability to cope with grief. After all, if you’re in any way attracted to someone who suffers from NPD, chances are you’ve had to deal with their extended bouts of negative emotions.
Whether it’s anger, resentment or feeling insulted, those with a narcissistic personality disorder often take these feelings out on others — which means one thing for sure: You’ll have learned how to cope with someone else’s grief long before your time spent together comes to an end.
You will feel like you’re trapped
Although you might think that dating a narcissist would be fun and exciting, once you’re in it, it feels like more of emotional prison. Initially, you may not realize what’s happening because they can be so charming and complimentary in public. But when they have you alone, they become verbally or emotionally abusive towards you in subtle ways.
This is part of their manipulation process; it allows them to control how others see them and if anyone tries to criticize them. People will come to see them as perfect—including you! And although there might be warning signs along the way, by that point it’s usually too late for many people…when people are stuck in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, they often believe themselves responsible for their behaviour.
You will doubt your own reality
When you date a narcissist, everything can feel like it’s your fault. They are always right, and if they aren’t, it’s an illusion meant to trick you. They will undermine your self-confidence in every way possible and then blame you for not sticking up for yourself.
They have no desire to build someone up because they don’t think anyone is worth that kind of effort. The attention they give you is never what you want—it is only enough to keep them interested.
You begin to self-sabotage even long after the relationship is over
After they’ve walked out of your life, these personalities can still retain some form of control and influence over you, whether you realize it or not.
They want to make sure you never fully recover from them and move on, so they haunt your thoughts—sometimes in obvious ways and other times through triggering behaviour that causes feelings of confusion, depression or anxiety.
If you ever find yourself feeling as though something is holding you back from moving on with your life after a breakup or divorce with one of these people in your past, ask yourself if any of their behaviours were similar to what is described below.
If so, consider making an appointment with a therapist who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery and can help bring clarity to what’s going on within you.
You could gain renewed self-respect
After leaving a relationship with a narcissist, you may feel discouraged and sad, but it’s important to remember that these emotions are perfectly normal.
However, after dealing with an emotional manipulator for so long, you might start to wonder whether or not your self-doubt is warranted. After all, you’ve been told that you’re worthless many times before—by your ex-partner—and now you’re wondering whether or not he/she was right after all.
It’s natural for there to be some lingering doubt; unfortunately, though, any time spent doubting yourself is time that could have been spent bettering yourself.
You might draw firmer personal boundaries
Many people who have dated a narcissist will tell you that one of their biggest takeaways from that relationship was learning to love and respect themselves more.
Dating someone who is narcissistic—or, better yet, in love with themselves—can help you learn to be more confident and think more highly of yourself.
Recognizing that narcissists don’t feel or care about emotions like compassion and empathy can help us break down these emotional walls as well. No one can beat up on us when we’re on our own shoulders!
You could become more compassionate
There’s an old saying that we can’t truly love someone until we’ve loved ourselves. The same goes for compassion—the ability to empathize with and understand others’ feelings.
Relationships with narcissists can help us do that, whether or not we realize it at first. When you’re around someone who loves themselves unconditionally, it can be easy to doubt your own worth or think you’ll never be good enough in some aspect of your life, because their standards are so high.
But as long as you keep doing what works for you and refuse to compromise on things that matter, believing in yourself becomes easier after time spent with a narcissist; they bring out something better within you by showing you what unconditional love looks like from one person to another.
You might improve at spotting “red flags”
Even though people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are self-absorbed, they can seem quite sensitive when you first start dating them.
They need to be needed, and your new partner will likely compliment you regularly and take an interest in what makes you tick. However, once your relationship becomes codependent—which it almost certainly will—your once-sensitive partner will become increasingly callous as he or she looks for praise elsewhere.
Long story short? Narcissists can soften your heart if only because they make you care more about other people!
You could feel mentally or physically unwell more often
Living with a narcissist can be mentally or physically damaging, and even lead to depression or anxiety. If you feel like you’re not your usual self, it may be time to check in with yourself and make sure that everything is alright.
Don’t forget to speak to someone close to you if things are bothering you. There is no shame in seeking help and support when it comes to mental health!
You might view kindness as transactional
If you’re in a relationship with someone who is narcissistic or has NPD, chances are they’re not going to be particularly empathetic to your needs. In fact, they might be quite manipulative and even abusive.
While it’s unlikely that you will die because of your partner’s manipulation, it could take its toll on your mental and physical health. The burden of carrying around extra stress, anger and sadness can cause depression as well as contribute to illnesses like high blood pressure and heart problems.
Speaking from personal experience, my own narcissism made me feel depleted more often than not — there’s nothing more draining than feeling like everything in your life revolves around someone who does not care about you.
You could spend all your money on your partner
Some researchers have found that as many as 37% of adults spend all of their extra money on their significant other. Dating a narcissist can make you feel so special that you want to shower them with gifts.
The problem is, narcissists never see these expensive items (or romantic gestures) as signs of love—only as proof that they are more important than anyone else in your life. If you suspect your partner is narcissistic, try keeping your spending in check to save yourself some heartache.
You might walk on eggshells to avoid arguments
Dating someone with narcissistic tendencies can be a challenging experience. Since they have trouble seeing other people as individuals with their own perspectives, narcissists tend to have poor relationships with everyone.
Although you might not realize it at first, dating someone who is a narcissist will likely change your behaviour in relation to them—at least for a while.
For instance, if your partner tends to get jealous easily, you might find yourself walking on eggshells around them in order to avoid these flare-ups.
If your partner tends toward emotional abuse, you may be careful not to upset them or hurt their feelings so that you don’t end up on the receiving end of angry outbursts and nasty put-downs.
You may prioritize your partner’s needs over yours
If you’ve just broken up with someone who’s narcissistic, it’s common to feel shell-shocked. Your former partner could have made you feel that nothing was your fault and everything was your responsibility – possibly even down to their behaviour. This means that it may take time for you to recover psychologically from the relationship and become more resilient in your attitude towards life. In other words, you may continue to blame yourself for things beyond your control until you’re able to build yourself up again.
You might feel used
Narcissists use people for their own gain and tend to discard them when they are no longer useful to them. Even if you manage to stay with your partner, he or she may continue to manipulate you for more attention by saying things like If I can’t have you, then no one else can. A narcissist will always look out for his or her own best interest and doesn’t care about yours.
When dating a narcissist, it’s important not to take what they say too personally because it could just be manipulation at its finest. If your partner says something mean or spiteful and then blames it on something else—it’s probably because of that reason.
You may struggle to say “no”
When you date someone who has narcissistic tendencies, it’s common to feel like your boundaries are being violated over and over again. A narcissist is unlikely to say no when they really mean it; instead, they let you down gently.
The result? An inability to stand up for yourself without feeling guilt or worry about damaging your relationship.
You could feel insecure in your relationship
After being involved with a narcissist for some time, you could start to feel more insecure about your own actions. Narcissist often triggers feelings of self-doubt in their partners by constantly putting them down or making it seem like they’re not good enough.
When you’re with someone who can be condescending and belittling toward you on a regular basis, it’s hard not to wonder if there may be something wrong with your own thoughts or opinions. Being with a narcissist can make you question whether or not you have an overactive ego and thus attract people like them.
If your partner is constantly criticizing everything from your appearance to what shows up on your credit report, chances are that they’ll end up making you question who you are as well.
You may blame yourself for everything
When you’re in love with a narcissist, everything seems to revolve around them. They make sure you know how much you mean to them, and how it’s all your fault when things go wrong.
In reality, they’re not capable of empathy or true understanding of others; their behaviour is only ever aimed at themselves.
You might doubt yourself constantly
After you’re involved with a narcissist for even a brief period of time, it’s possible that your self-esteem will take a hit. Everything from your appearance to your intelligence can be called into question when you’re around someone who talks about themselves incessantly and takes every opportunity to place blame on other people.
When you end up in an abusive relationship with someone like that, you may begin to doubt yourself constantly. If you have trouble remembering what qualities are positive and which ones aren’t because of things said by your partner, it’s easy to forget how great you really are.
That’s why it can be so important after ending an unhealthy relationship to spend some time reconnecting with old friends and family members so they can remind you how wonderful they think you are.
When it comes to dating a narcissist, you must understand that you are dealing with someone who is completely incapable of empathizing with another person. When they are done using you, they will discard you without giving any thought or consideration to your feelings. The narcissistic relationship is extremely toxic.
This may be hard to believe at first because narcissists can be so charming and attractive, but once the mask begins to slip, all hell breaks loose. The best thing for you to do is avoid being involved in a relationship with one of these people in any way if possible. But if it does happen, try not to engage too deeply with them—and don’t depend on them for happiness and fulfilment in your life!