Imagine you’ve been dating a new person for around 5 months. Things started off on a great note. They made you feel special by showering you with attention and compliments.
But recently, things have started to feel different. You’ve noticed how much your partner likes to talk about themself… to the point that they hog the conversation.
Those compliments they used to give you have now changed into criticisms. It’s pretty clear they think they’re the smartest person in every room. When you call them out on these behaviors, they don’t take it well.
In Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and spent the rest of his life staring at himself. Like their namesake, narcissists spend a lot of effort creating a self-serving experience.
Narcissists thrive on external validation and often don’t understand the difference between admiration and love. Instead of seeking deep attachments, they seek approval. Compliments and attention are validating, so the narcissist continually seeks them out. But the moment the narcissist fails, they’re “shattered”.
Narcissists typically struggle with empathy, meaning they can’t place themselves in another person’s shoes. This may lead to a narcissist barely seeming interested in what’s happening in your life.
Or taking it to the other extreme and celebrating you in a very public way, even if that isn’t something you enjoy. Because they’re always seeking external validation, publicly celebrating your birthday or your accomplishments makes them look good.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) specifies that someone must meet at least five of the nine listed criteria to clinically qualify as having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
For the purpose of this quiz, we’re going to focus on red flags rather than the criteria required to qualify as a medical diagnosis. These red flags aren’t exclusive to someone who has NPD –– anyone can display one or a few of these tendencies.
Some of the top red flags that your romantic partner either displays narcissistic tendencies or has NPD are:
- Love bombing: At the beginning of your relationship, they showered you with attention, praise, and maybe even lavish gifts or vacations. It probably seemed too good to be true––because it was. Love bombing can be a manipulation tactic.
- No long-term friends: Because narcissists have trouble connecting with others, they can struggle to maintain long-term relationships, even with family. Narcissists often learned through fraught relationships with their primary caregivers that love is conditional and must be earned. This can lead to shallow, transactional relationships with friends and can also set people up to fail. A narcissist may have an irregularly high number of ex-friends.
- Grandiose sense of self: A narcissist wants to be the one talking. They often hog conversations, displaying far more interest in talking about themself than in trying to learn about you.
- Picking on you: A narcissist’s self-image sometimes depends on feeling superior to others. This can lead to the narcissist actively trying to lower your self-esteem. They may begin picking on you for things such as your fashion or your hobbies. Often people who date narcissists find themselves adjusting their behaviors to avoid criticism from their partners.
- Gaslighting: Gaslighting means intentionally denying or negating someone else’s memories in order to manipulate them. When you’re having to question your own memories, wondering, “Did that really happen?” it’s possible you’re being gaslighted.
This quiz is designed for anyone who wonders what narcissism is and if their partner displays any of the symptoms of narcissism.
The statements in this quiz are designed to help you answer questions such as:
- Am I dating a narcissist?
- How can I tell if my partner is a narcissist?
- What is the difference between narcissistic tendencies and Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
- What are the red flags associated with narcissism?
This quiz is designed to help you identify the common signs of narcissism so you can discern if your partner displays them or not.
This quiz is not meant to definitively advise you on how to deal with a narcissistic partner. Remember, you don’t have to stay in an unhealthy relationship, even if your partner isn’t a narcissist.
A person with narcissistic tendencies is self-focused. They seek external validation, even at their partner’s expense, and may belittle their partner to make themself feel superior. A classic sign of narcissistic behavior is hogging the conversation. Their over-inflated sense of self is quite fragile and can be easily broken by disapproval or criticism.
A person doesn’t need to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder to display narcissistic traits. While having some (or all) of these traits doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a bad person, that never means you have to continue to date them if the relationship is unhealthy.
Because narcissists struggle with empathy, it can be especially hard for them to understand how their behavior makes you feel. If you’re interested in learning more about narcissism, here are some helpful resources:
- Dating a Narcissist: Common Signs and What to Do
- How To Deal With Your Partner’s Narcissistic Behaviors
If your relationship has reached a point where you no longer feel safe, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Chat Support is here to help.
What are the red flags of a narcissist?
Some red flags include:
- love bombing
- not having any long-term friends
- being hypercritical about others
- hogging conversations
What are the top 5 signs of a narcissist?
While there are more than five signs of a narcissist, common signs may include:
- displaying a grandiose sense of self
- delusions of grandeur
- sense of entitlement
- needing constant praise or attention
- demeaning others
How do I know if I’m a narcissist in a relationship?
Only a mental health professional can formally diagnose people with NDP, but you can examine your tendencies against the NPD criteria. Narcissistic traits and tendencies can occur outside of the disorder, so it’s possible to unconsciously act in narcissistic ways.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a good way to become aware of your behavior. If you believe yourself to be acting in narcissistic ways, you may benefit from finding a qualified mental health professional. Consider the following resources for more support: