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I’m Married to A Narcissist - Here’s 4 Tips

The term 'narcissist' has become popularised in recent decades and is commonly known to include people who can significantly disrupt interpersonal relationships. Realising that you're married to someone with narcissistic tendencies can be extremely distressing. 

At Sunshine Coast Couples Clinic, we understand the complexities this realisation brings and are here to offer support and guidance. 

In this latest blog update, we will be exploring some useful tips for anyone who suspects they  may be married to a narcissistic, and also how you can recognise if your partner may be a narcissist.

  • How common are narcissists?

  • The impact of narcissism on relationships

  • Common signs you might be in a relationship with a Narcissist

Tips For Dealing With A Narcissist | Sunshine Coast Psychologist

How Common Are Narcissists

Although it is difficult to get an accurate reading of the number of narcissists in our society, it is estimated that between 1 to 6 out of every 100 people are affected by Narcissistic personality disorder.

Understanding Narcissism in Relationships

Narcissism in relationships often starts with small signs and can intensify over time. Key signs of narcissistic behaviour include:

  • a lack of empathy

  • extreme sensitivity to criticism,

  • and, a high need for admiration and/or praise

These traits can lead to manipulative behaviours, such as gaslighting or emotional exploitation, where the narcissist may twist reality to evade accountability. 

Signs That You May Be in a Relationship With a Narcissist

We have asked Madonna Hirning, Sunshine Coast Psychologist and Couples Therapist, to provide signs that you may be in a relationship with a Narcissist.

*Please be aware that all of the signs listed below is a general guide, and any or even a few of these things in isolation does not mean your partner is a Narcissist. It is more complex than that and a lot of damage can be done by individuals or their therapists labelling a partner as a Narcissist prematurely, without accounting for the whole picture.

  1. Often, a narcissistic partner engages in flattery and will often “love bomb” partners with romantic gestures and gifts and prove themselves to be reliable and indispensable in the early stages of a relationship.

  2. They won’t take responsibility or accountability for their negative behaviours or contribution to relationship difficulties.

  3. They are extremely sensitive and reactive to any perceived criticism.

  4. They may routinely turn around any concerns you raise and make them about problems with you.

  5. They  may challenge your words, actions or thinking in a way that can make you feel like you are going crazy – behaviour more commonly known as “gaslighting”.

  6. They may lack appropriate empathy for your feelings and experiences in general not only feelings relating to ways their behaviour has impacted you.

  7. They may suddenly change their behaviour and express what might feel like empty empathy and promises to change when you are ready to leave the relationship. This may quickly turn to anger and rage if you don’t immediately accept the platitudes and promises to change and make it all ok.

  8. They may constantly be trying to leverage the relationship for their own benefit but not be willing to make space for simple requests from you.

  9. They may need a lot of recognition and praise and become distant or upset if this is not received in the way they would like.

Should I Leave My Narcissistic Partner? 

This is a very difficult question and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s important to take time really have to weigh up your options carefully, as would be the case in any seemingly “normal” relationship. 

Coming to realise over a period of time that you are in a relationship with a Narcissist can be extremely distressing. Individuals with highly narcissistic tendencies tend not to deal with rejection well and can become rageful and spiteful when challenged or if you indicate that you want to leave the relationship.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can cause significant problems & pain to you, your children and extended family & friends.. 

We encourage you to seek support and advice from professionals, or at the very least, someone you trust with experience. It’s not easy and decisions like this should never be impulsive or without careful consideration. 

Sunshine Coast Therapy | Psychologist Near Me

Narcissists and Love-bombing

It is important to keep in mind that when winning over a new partner, true Narcissists are very good at projecting the persona of a very attentive and suitable partner.

They engage in flattery and will often “love bomb” potential partners with romantic gestures and gifts and prove themselves to be reliable and indispensable in the early stages of a relationship. 

Over time, you may start feeling like things have changed in your relationship. 

It can also be hard to come to terms with that the person who seemed such a suitable partner in the beginning appears to be a Narcissist. It’s not uncommon to have feelings such as shame and self-blame when experiencing awareness that the person you have chosen as a partner appears to be a narcissist. 

4 Tips for Coping with a Narcissistic Partner

So, what do you need to do to help cope with a narcissistic partner? Here are 4 important tips:

1. Identify and Set Clear Boundaries

It's good to establish and maintain healthy & firm boundaries. Define what behaviours are unacceptable, communicate these boundaries clearly, and stick to them - consistency is important.

2. Seek Individual Therapy

Therapy can be a sanctuary for understanding and coping with your relationship dynamics – the good, bad and ugly. A therapist can offer insights and strategies that may work with your specific situation, helping you to build resilience and maintain your mental health. Madonna Hirning at Sunshine Coast Couples Therapy offers individual therapy sessions and is also an experienced couples therapist, giving her the experience to guide you through this.

3. Educate Yourself About Narcissism

Knowledge is power. Understanding narcissism can help demystify many of the painful behaviours that affect your relationship. It is not as simple as you might initially have been lead to believe – it’s complex and deserves proper time and research to understand this topic better. 

4. Consider Couples Therapy

If your partner is open to it, couples therapy can be an effective tool. It’s important to work with a therapist who has experience with narcissistic behaviours.  Our couples therapy sessions at Sunshine Coast Couples Therapy are available face to face or online, making them as accessible as possible for you.

Exploring Potential Solutions and Support

Determining if you are indeed in a relationship with a narcissist requires careful consideration and professional insight. It's vital to get support, whether through individual counselling or couples therapy.

For many, couples therapy offers a chance to see if the relationship can evolve positively, providing a space for both partners to learn and adapt.

FAQs About Being Married to a Narcissist

How can I communicate effectively with a narcissistic partner?

Effective communication with a narcissist requires clarity, patience, and firm boundaries. Avoid emotional responses and focus on factual statements when addressing behaviours that concern you.

What should I do if I feel overwhelmed by my partner’s narcissism?

Prioritise your mental health by seeking support from friends, family, or a professional therapist. It's important not to face these challenges alone.

Can a narcissist change their behaviour?

While change is possible, it requires significant effort and professional intervention. The willingness of the narcissist to acknowledge their behaviours and engage in therapy is a critical factor.

How can I set boundaries without causing conflict?

Setting boundaries with a narcissist can be challenging. Communicate your boundaries during calm moments, not in the heat of conflict. Be clear about what you will tolerate and the consequences of overstepping these boundaries.

Should I consider leaving a narcissistic partner?

Deciding to leave any relationship is personal and complex. If your mental health or safety is at risk, it may be necessary to consider separation. Consulting with a therapist can help you make this decision with clarity and support.

Taking The Next Step

Navigating life with a narcissistic partner is undeniably challenging, but you're not alone. At Sunshine Coast Couples Clinic, we provide the support and strategies needed to manage this situation. 

We asked Madonna Hirning about a good next step and she had this to say:

“If you want to be sure, or test the potential of the for change you can do so by reading and exploring positive relationship behaviour yourself and even trying couples therapy to give your partner a chance to see if they are able or willing to modify or adapt their behaviour and take responsibility for their part of the relationship challenges.”

Whether through individual therapy or couples counselling, recognising the problem is the first step towards recovery. For personalised advice and support, please contact us today.

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