What you need to know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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Have you heard of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is something that few people seem to have heard of. Once you become aware of it you may discover examples of it in relationships friends or family members are in, or even recognise that you have perhaps been in such a relationship. Knowledge is power, so read on!

Many people are at least vaguely familiar with narcissism, “You know you are around a narcissist when someone brings all conversations back to them and their stories and interests. They really can’t listen for more than a mere moment to others (unless the topic is about them).” Narcissistic Personality Disorder is at the extreme end of the narcissistic spectrum.

So, what what does Narcissistic Personality Disorder look like in a relationship context?

This slideshow gives an excellent introduction into how Narcissistic Personality Disorder tends to present in relationships:

 

What you need to know

A relationship with someone who has signs of NPD creates a lot of confusion. The relationship will often start out seeming “perfect”, often with lots of synchronicity.

The relationship will typically become serious fast, with trust quickly established, meaning you may feel comfortable to agree to buying property, getting engaged, falling pregnant etc more quickly than may usually happen in a developing relationship.

The narcissist may be very charismatic and mould themselves to fit the absolute ideal of their partner; a “soul mate.”

How things unfold

As the relationship progresses, there are often lies and manipulation, things that don’t add up, false promises, betrayals, strange behaviour and forms of abuse. Weaknesses are found and exploited. Negotiation on almost any point is impossible; it is their way or the highway. This can sometimes be mistaken for strength or decisiveness. Obsessive or controlling behaviour may be mistaken for simply knowing what they want, or “true love.”

When questioned or confronted about particular behaviours or stories, such people will tend to talk in circles, deflect, project or become enraged. Words don’t match actions. They don’t follow through. Nothing is ever their fault. Setting boundaries in such situations is almost impossible, as the boundaries won’t be respected. And yet, behaviour can also quickly switch back to charming and “normal”, providing hope that maybe the person was just having “a bad day” (week/month/year).

The excuses

Very often, there are “valid reasons” for the behaviour – a difficult childhood which may include abuse, life challenges, “bad luck”, or acknowledged mental health or dependency issues, which can cause the partner to feel sorry for them and even defend their poor behaviour to others.

The promise of the “fresh start”

Occasionally the person with signs of NPD may seem to “own” their behaviour and even seem to make attempts at change. However this will tend to be temporary.
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