What Are The Hallmarks Of A Relationship With A Narcissist?

Anything that costs your peace is too expensive

(Read time 1-2 mins)

I was recently asked what are the hallmarks of a relationship with a narcissist. This is a good question to ask, because it provides important guideposts to the partner to assist her in evaluating her relationship based on the following hallmarks, and whether they are present:

  1. Verbal, emotional, mental, and physical abuse, if not all, certainly at least one form
  2. Criticism and devaluation
  3. Pathological control
  4. Gaslighting
  5. Making the partner wrong
  6. Humiliation
  7. Jealousy and provocation
  8. Manipulation, especially using guilt and shame as a control tactic
  9. Blameshifting
  10. Walking on eggshells
  11. Complete absence of emotional intimacy, support, and trust
  12. Chronic feeling of emptiness within the marriage, isolation, loss of hope
  13. Infidelity, if not physical, then emotional
  14. Betrayal on every level
  15. Dehumanization and trauma

A relationship with a narcissist is loaded with tension and anxiety, and it puts the spouse’s emotional, physical and mental well-being at risk. The longer the partner stays with the narcissist, the worse off she or he will be. Narcissistic abuse is progressive. The abuse becomes more severe, the wounds deeper, and the  trauma bond stronger. It is possible for the partner to become so devalued and invalidated over time that she loses herself completely.

As the partner clings onto the love-bombing version of her NPD partner, and with fierce hope and a desire to have what she thought she was going to have with him, she will continue to try to make her narcissist “see the light” and believes that once she does, he will “get it” and change back into the man she met.

What is really happening, however, is the toxic trauma bond is being reinforced making it more difficult for the partner to maintain her sense of self, identify that she is being abused.

Narcissists are masters at manipulating their partners to question their own thoughts and feelings, even to the point that the partner herself will become her own worst critic, and over time, automatically assume any feelings she has are wrong. Invalidating her own thoughts, feelings, ideas and reactions becomes an automatic reflex. The result is that the partner is conditioned through narcissistic abuse to negate and invalidate herself. This exacerbates the already serious risk to her well-being, and ultimately will make it nearly impossible for her to ever leave the narcissist.

It is critical to get out of any relationship where abuse is occurring, and get to a safe place. Recognizing the hallmarks, and leaving a narcissist takes tremendous strength; but it is possible, and empowers healing and growing, and positions the ex-partner to empathize, support and empower other victims.


*Please note: All of my articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, as they are too.

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