Is your partner a Narcissist or just selfish?
(This Q&A was originally featured in the #AskAthena Self-Help Column in Cosmopolitan Magazine)
I love your column. I thought I should write in because I feel like my boyfriend is so selfish.
I feel like my life revolves around him.
What he loves.
What he looks like (he is so insecure – I have to make him feel better all the time).
What he wants to do and if we do something that I pick and it isn’t a 100% perfect then he complains!
I always feel that I need to remind him that I exist and that my needs are important too. If I say something about how I feel he often shuts me down or tells me that I’m being crazy. I feel like he pretends to care about me but actually all he cares about is him. I feel so sad and heartbroken. How could I have fallen in love with him? Why has he changed so much? He never behaved like this at the beginning of our relationship. -Anonymous
It sounds like you are having an incredibly difficult time with your boyfriend, which is leaving you feeling lonely, heartbroken, angry and stuck. The best step forward is to begin to evaluate why you are in this relationship. What’s keeping you there? I know that there must be a multitude of factors that you didn’t write about, so it is important to reflect on what your motives are for staying in this relationship. This is not a judgement to say that you should leave but rather a question to determine what you are gaining from this relationship and what role you are playing. This is best worked out with a licensed psychologist. That said there are a few red flags here, indicating that your boyfriend is displaying narcissist tendencies*. I would like you to read the following questions and tick the ones (if any) that are indicative of your boyfriend.
Does your boyfriend:
Require constant admiration?
Behave in an arrogant manner?
Expect special favors (from you and others) and then assume unquestioning agreement with these expectations?
Does he have a sense of entitlement?
Do you feel like he takes advantage of you or others to get what he wants?
Expect to be recognized as superior?
Exaggerate his achievements and talents?
Is he preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance and or beauty?
Does he recognize the needs and feelings of other people?
Is he envious of people or believe that other people are secretly envious of him?
Does he have an exaggerated sense of self-importance?
Does he lack empathy?
Does he require admiration all the time by everyone?
If you ticked more than 6 of the questions above then it is highly likely that your partner is displaying narcissistic propensities. NB: *Please note that this is not a diagnosis.
You and your boyfriend will need to work with a licensed psychologist who can do a full intake assessment in order to make a valid diagnosis.*
Just know that you are not alone in this.
Your needs are worthy of attention and action and you do not need to make people need you in order to receive love.
You are worthy of being in a partnership that is based on mutual respect, love and empathy.
I highly recommend seeking individual counselling to help support you in your process of understanding yourself and your partner better.