Is My Boyfriend a Narcissist?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I started seeing my boyfriend a year ago and he was really great. We had a really good first couple of months but I started having my own emotional issues after an event triggered a date rape 20 years ago, then I began remembering other incidents from my childhood, the most troubling was remembering being molested when I was 5. I was diagnosed with PTSD.

The worse my condition became the more unstable the relationship got. Even before that though he was always bragging about things from his past… how popular he was in school, how great he was at sports, really anything to look good or show off. There were times, and still are, where I will call or text him worried or upset and he will say “why can’t you just be happy?” He has never comforted me one time when I was melting down and there have been times also when I have wanted him to help defend me when I was having problems with my ex (abusive attacks, name calling, etc) but he wouldn’t do anything. If fact he showed no sympathy for me at all.

There are SO many other examples but last night I really decided that I’ve had enough. I was expressing some feelings toward the kind of men that objectify women and feel no remorse – the kind of men I have attracted for 30 years. I made a comment in which I told him that I believed if he misled a woman and she wanted to know why he rejected her he would be man enough and considerate enough to tell her. I was complimenting him and he heard the opposite. I always want to know why he stays with me if he’s so miserable which is something else he is always throwing in my face.

I recently found out my mother is terminally ill and I feel awful that for our entire relationship I have been this pathetic girl with all these problems and needed him so much. I would and one day will (unless he is a narcissist and in that case I’ll be done) give him my shoulder to cry on if he ever needs it. I feel like he’s just with me to prove something or maybe even fix me. I’m just so confused and while in some ways he’s been better than any other guy I’ve been with, I feel totally disconnected from him emotionally.

We have had no physical relationship for months. I just can’t if there’s no connection. I know you can’t officially diagnosis him or anything, but does he sound like a narcissist in your opinion? Thanks very much!

A: No, I can’t “diagnose” him. I can offer you a couple of thoughts. Since you are in your mid-30s, you’ve both lived a lot of life already. His response to his past may be that he wants to emphasize the positive and live in the moment. Meanwhile, you have embarked on a healing journey where you are dealing with painful events from your past. To him, you may be a bring-down. To you, he’s unsympathetic. The incompatibility is now showing up in your sex life.

There must be something sweet and attractive about each of you for both of you to have hung in this long. I suggest you try to talk about the differences in your approach to this stage of your lives and see if there’s a way to accomodate both sets of needs. If you can’t do it and want to stay together, I suggest couples therapy to help you hear each other and find ways to be mutually supportive.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 May 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Is My Boyfriend a Narcissist?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/19/is-my-boyfriend-a-narcissist/