What Are the Signs of a Narcissistic Partner?

M.C. Huguelet

When a partner constantly shows an apparent self-confidence so extreme that it seems to verge into self-obsession, it may be time to consider whether that person is a narcissist. There are many warning signs that may indicate that one is involved with a narcissistic partner. For instance, a narcissistic partner may demonstrate a belief that he is better than his partner, may require endless praise, and may display jealousy or anger toward his partner if she outshines him in some respect. Further, he may hide his emotions and appear incapable of empathizing with his partner. Those in a relationship with a narcissist should take steps to protect themselves from emotional damage.

A narcissist has an inordinate amount of self-love.
A narcissist has an inordinate amount of self-love.

Many problem behaviors displayed by a narcissist are grounded in an unsubstantiated belief that he is superior to everyone else, including his partner. He may frequently point out areas in which he perceives himself to be better than others, and may expect constant compliments on everything from his appearance to his performance of routine tasks at home or work. Instead of complimenting his partner or others when they achieve success in some area, he may react with jealousy, anger, or even physical violence.

Narcissists are often prone to feelings of intense jealousy.
Narcissists are often prone to feelings of intense jealousy.

Additionally, a narcissistic partner is often unable to make the emotional connections that are a fundamental part of true intimacy. For example, he may attempt to avoid showing weakness by concealing his feelings from his partner. Further, he may seem incapable of understanding why his partner feels sad, happy, anxious, excited, and so forth. In fact, he may not even appear to recognize changes in his partner’s feelings, and may ignore her or put her down when she attempts to bring her feelings to his attention.

In some cases, a narcissist can be a very charming friend or partner, and the victim may have developed a codependent relationship that can take some time to recover from.
In some cases, a narcissist can be a very charming friend or partner, and the victim may have developed a codependent relationship that can take some time to recover from.

Over time, being in a relationship with a narcissistic partner can cause depression and a lowered sense of one’s self-worth. While it is true that in many cases narcissism in fact reflects an inner turmoil and lack of self-confidence, even an individual with severely damaged self-esteem is unjustified in treating his partner with disrespect. Those who believe they may be in a relationship with a narcissistic partner should take steps to avoid sustaining emotional or physical damage. They should adopt a zero tolerance policy toward violent or hateful behavior. Further, they should consider seeking counseling to determine whether their partner may be capable of developing a more healthful outlook or if it is best to terminate their relationship.

Narcissists rarely put in the effort to connect with their partner.
Narcissists rarely put in the effort to connect with their partner.

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Discussion Comments


I lived with this NS for over 30 years wondering what was wrong with me and listening to him tell me everything was wrong with me. He talked me into getting mental help and thank god I did-she has helped me to see the real picture. We have a son who is the best but most likely because the man sat at the local bar all the time and wasn't involved too much with his life. I was sexually abused when younger so I was inclined to be controlled and abused by this relationship. I feel better every day since he has left (he needed a separation, I (think because he could not control me anymore.) I just pray every day I will be again. Brenda


I was married to a narcissistic personality for 12 years. All I can tell anyone is don't waste another second. They can't change, so just get out and don't give them another thought.


@fBoyle-- That does sound like narcissism. Narcissists love revenge and they are very good at planning it.


@StarJo-- I don't think that's true. Someone who has not interacted with a narcissist before might not recognize the signs for a long time.

Also, some people are inclined to be overpowered and controlled by their partners. And I think narcissists seek such individuals, whether intentionally or unintentionally because they thrive on power and controlling others to feel important.


I'm starting to think that my girlfriend is a narcissist. I've noticed lately that when we have an argument, she attacks me verbally in a very planned way. She remembers things I have shared with her in the past and brings them up again and again to hurt me. It seems very vengeful.

When she does this, I'm so appalled. I can't believe how she remembers those things and thinks of them suddenly.

Does this sound like narcissism?


@StarJo – I agree with you. I dated a narcissist for two months, and that was plenty long enough for me to see that I didn't want to be in that relationship.

I think the breaking point came for me when I showed up at his house crying because I had just gotten fired. I expected him to hug me and tell me I would be okay, but instead, he just told me to stop blubbering because he had to ask me something. He then showed me two suits and asked which one I thought he should wear to his awards banquet that night.

His total lack of sensitivity appalled me, so I left. He had the nerve to call me and tell me that I forgot to give him an opinion on the suits!


It's really scary when a person is both narcissistic and violent. My uncle had a bad temper and no concern for others, and he wound up in jail for beating his wife. He didn't know how to show emotion or to respond to it.


I always like to think that I can change a person by loving them. That's how I ended up married to a narcissist.

I really thought that all he needed was love, because he had experienced a mostly loveless childhood. His mother was a narcissist, so I believed that he wound up the way he was because he was never shown true love.

I couldn't change him. I was miserable in our marriage for seven years. I kept trying, but nothing I did helped at all.

Many women feel like they can change a man by supporting him and loving him enough. This isn't usually true. If he doesn't change before you're married, then he isn't going to.


You can tell within the first few weeks of dating someone whether or not he or she is narcissistic. I don't see how anyone could be blind enough to marry a narcissistic person without knowing how they are.

If you are just dating, it should be easy to run the other way. Marriage gets more complicated, but I would imagine that it would be hard for a narcissistic person to maintain and grow a relationship long enough for it to reach the point of marriage.

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