What is Narcissism you may ask? Narcissistic behavior (both male and female) is a broad spectrum of behavior that is normal and prevalent in the human condition universally; therefore, we are all narcissistic to a degree. As children, we all go through normal narcissistic stages during early development and teenage years, but for some people it may develop into a personality disorder.
Narcissistic behavior traits are measured on a scale of 1 – 10; with healthy narcissism being a number 1, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder being a number 10.
Healthy or mature narcissism is the ability to establish mutually satisfying relationships with others, in which giving and receiving are balanced. In contrast, Unhealthy Narcissistic behavior traits are seen in individuals who are incapable of true reciprocal mutuality in a relationship. Therefore narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic symptoms can occur in varying degrees, however, even lesser degrees of narcissism can be problematic in a relationship.
So, how would I recognize the unhealthy version? Unhealthy Narcissists can be very fascinating and exciting personalities when you first meet them, but unfortunately, that is likely to be short lived when you enter into relationships with them.
Below are a few tips that will help you recognize the tell-tale signs of narcissistic abusive behavior that may confirm or calm your concerns.
Typically, people who are in a narcissistic relationship will notice certain behaviors that are causing them pain:-
- They complain of being in a relationship where they receive very little emotionally. Even when things are shared, they seem to be the one doing most of the work (the lion’s share as it were).
- They report that their partner acts very different in private than in public. When in private they are cold and unavailable emotionally, whereas, when in company they become alive, and charismatic (more the person they first fell in love with).
- They experience constant criticism, and feel they are inferior in the relationship in every regard, to the point that they are made to feel that they are crazy.
- Their partner uses rejection, humiliation, and control in order to maintain the power in the relationship, leaving them feeling as if they are always walking on eggshells.
- They feel constantly confused by the way they are treated in the relationship; the indignant self-righteousness, the constant eroding of their confidence and self-esteem, the sudden rages, the pathological lying etc.
- They feel they are becoming a mere shadow of their former self.
- Their narcissistic partner talks consistently about themselves, absolutely everything is about them; they even claim credit for any achievement the partner manages to get (the achievement is somehow down to their input in some way or other).
- They live under a blanket of lies and exaggerations, because this is the way the narcissist protects their grandiose self-image, and gains the constant attention and admiration they need from others.
- Anytime they feel that they are for once getting the upper hand, the narcissistic partner always has to slap them down and have revenge, so punishment is inevitable.
- They do not feel able to tell others about the mental and physical abuse they are experiencing in the relationship, because they feel so dejected. They also fear that they would be disbelieved that their charming partner is really a Dr. Jekyll and Mr/s. Hide personality.
About this Author
Christine Louis de Canonville is a Psychotherapist and Supervisor who is an expert in the area of narcissistic behavior and narcissistic abuse. She specializes in teaching and training therapists in the understanding of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, a new syndrome that is on the increase in our culture. She has clinical experience treating patients suffering from childhood trauma, and in her private practice she also specializes in one-to-one Spiritual Recovery for the victims of narcissistic abuse. Visit her Website: http://narcissisticbehavior.net