In Part 1 of this article series, you learned 10 signs that you are in a relationship with a narcissist. You learned that narcissists are the masters of the guilt trip. You also learned that narcissists have a set of rules for you in the relationship that they don’t apply to their own behavior. Here are eight more signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist:
1. Changing your mind is seen as an affront to them.
“You said you were going to the movies at 6pm. But now you’re saying that you are going at 8pm. How can you change plans like that?” Because you have this wonderful thing called free will. Human beings have the right to change their mind at any time, and for any reason. When you change your mind about something, it makes the narcissist feel a loss of control. As you learned from Part 1 of this article, they will try to get control back through silent treatment, guilt trips, and something called gaslighting, which you’ll read about next.
2. They flat-out deny something they said or did, and it makes you wonder if you are going crazy.
You could have sworn the narcissist told you they were picking Johnny up from school today. In fact, you double-checked with them. But now the narcissist is saying they never told you anything of the sort. Maybe I just imagined that, you think. You start questioning your version of reality.
Even if you have definitive proof that the narcissist said or did something, they will tell you that you misunderstood, or will blatantly lie and say it never happened. One of the ways narcissists get control is by making you constantly question your sanity. What better way to get control over you than by implying (or straight-out telling you) that you are crazy.
This phenomenon of denying or altering the truth is called gaslighting, and it is a hallmark trait of a narcissist. It is named after the 1944 movie Gaslight, where a husband manipulates a wife into thinking she’s going insane. One of the ways he does this is by dimming and then brightening the gaslights in their home. When the wife mentions to him about the lights changing, he claims that he has no idea what she is talking about.
3. They seem charming and affable to everyone else.
Narcissists like to look good and have their behavior perceived as being good. However, behind closed doors it’s another story. You feel like no one else sees the real person with whom you live. In couple’s therapy, your therapist may even not buy that the narcissist is who you say he is. Remember, narcissists are masters of manipulation.
4. They will try to reel you back in if you leave.
What the narcissist fears most is perceived abandonment. The narcissist wants attention – whether it’s good or bad attention doesn’t matter. In Part I, you learned about the narcissist’s use of silent treatment as a way to gain control in the relationship. If you try to contact the narcissist or show them that you are upset about silent treatment, they feed off that attention. If you ignore the silent treatment, the narcissist will then try to reel you back in. This is sometimes referred to as “hoovering”, like the vacuum. The narcissist will come on so strong that you are now back in the same relationship dynamic. As you learned from Part 1, however, that happy reunion will eventually be replaced by an even worse blowup than before.
5. They aren’t just frugal, they’re stingy. Except when buying something for themselves.
The narcissist tells you they didn’t have enough money to get you a big birthday present this year. Then you see they have a bunch of new clothes in their closet. They expect you to pay for entertainment when the two of you go out – and if you don’t pay, they guilt trip you and tell you about all the times they paid for an activity. You reluctantly pull out your wallet again, because you don’t want to deal with the blowback that you know is coming if you confront the narcissist.
6. They give you gifts that make you scratch your head.
The narcissist will give you a birthday gift that has nothing to do with your interests. In fact, the gift they give you is so off the mark that you wonder if maybe your gift got mixed up with someone else’s. The gift looks like something that was just pulled off a shelf somewhere with little thought. These gifts are given when it’s only you and the narcissist at home. If you are being given a gift in front of other people, it may be an over-the-top gift that you know that the two of you can’t afford. Remember, the narcissist likes looking good in front of others.
7. Your holidays are usually ruined.
It seems like your partner/spouse gets really upset with you or does a disappearing act right before major holidays, like Christmas. You can’t even remember what the fight was about, but it was a big one. In your mind you go over and over what you might have done to upset the narcissist. The truth is, you may not have done anything at all. Narcissists hate having the focus off of themselves – you’ve been really busy with your holiday parties at work and in your social organizations (as you should). Narcissists also have difficulty with what they perceive as their partner/spouse being happy, independent of them. So now you spend your holiday wondering where the narcissist took off to, and beating yourself up about it.
8. They tell everyone that you are really crazy.
Remember how the narcissist told you their exes were all crazy, and how finally they were with someone stable (you)? You now find out through friends and relatives that your ex is telling them that you are insane. And since everyone finds them to be charming (see number 3 above), you are concerned that these people will believe the narcissist over you. You may even have friends or relatives that take the narcissist’s side. You will discover that those are people you didn’t really want around you anyway. Your true friends know the truth. This narcissistic behavior becomes more likely after a fight or if your relationship ends.