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Dating a Narcissist - Everything You Need To Know As A Woman

Types of Narcissism | By: Katie Lister

April 03, 2024

Who is a narcissist? Can narcissists have healthy romantic relationships? How do I deal with a narcissistic boyfriend? How can I protect myself from a narcissistic partner? You are in the right place if you have these and other related questions.

Hi, my name is Katie Lister. I am a practicing Registered Nurse and the founder of Growth Gals. I lead personal development groups and coach women to live their best lives authentically. Growth Gals provides a safe space for women to connect with like-minded individuals, learn, and offer support to one another.

At GG, we discuss various issues that affect the everyday lives of women, such as emotional intelligence, self-improvement and mental health. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about dating a narcissist and protecting yourself.

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Katie Lister

Katie Lister

Written by Katie Lister, RN, BScN. An experienced Registered Nurse, Group Facilitator, Life Coach, and Community Leader. Read Katie's Full Author Bio

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reference book on mental health disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), lists narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as a mental health condition. According to this manual, a narcissist is an individual with an overinflated sense of entitlement and believes they deserve special treatment.

According to mental health experts, most people exhibit narcissistic tendencies. However, people with NPD consistently exhibit at least five of the narcissistic traits described in the DSM. These narcissistic behaviors include:

  •       Arrogance
  •       Grandiose sense of self-importance and loves bragging
  •       Entitlement
  •       Preoccupation with self-image, power, status, and success especially on social media
  •       Lack of empathy
  •       Low-self-worth and low self-esteem
  •       Exploits others
  •       Narcissists have a deep need for external validation, admiration, and praise
  •       Envious of others and thinks everyone is envious of them
  •       Intimidates, demeans, or belittles others

Who is a male narcissist? Find out in this article. 

How Do Narcissists Behave in A Relationship? 

A narcissistic relationship is where one partner exhibits characteristics related to NPD. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it can affect your emotional and mental health. Narcissistic partners can make one lose self-confidence and feel unheard, uncared for, and alone.

Sometimes, it can be hard to determine whether your partner is indeed narcissistic. However, there are common red flags you can look out for. Some behaviors displayed by a narcissist in a relationship include:

Manipulation tactics

Narcissists are skilled manipulators. They use intimidation, charm, love bombing or guilt-tripping to control their partner, leaving the partner feeling helpless and trapped.  

Narcissistic abuse can also involve manipulative flattery and the use of compliments to manipulate and control their partners. They may also play the victim to make you feel sorry for them.

Every conversation is about them

A narcissist, especially an overt narcissist, always ensures they are the topic of any conversation. They steer conversations toward them and their experiences. If the topic veers away from them, the narcissist keeps interrupting you mid-conversation. They dismiss, correct, or ignore you if you dare defy them or have a contrary opinion.

They push for reactions

A narcissist will push your buttons to get an emotional reaction. These reactions supply them what is known as their narcissistic supply. This is the constant need for admiration and praise needed by the narcissist. This supply is the only way a narcissist feels seen and superior.



A narcissist may use gaslighting tactics on a partner to make them doubt their reality. They deny facts they know are true and twist the truth, making the partner doubt their sanity. They will also blame their partner for things they have not done and that are not their fault. They will say hurtful things and brush them off by either denying they said them or telling their partner that they are too sensitive.

They lack empathy

A narcissistic partner cannot understand how others feel, and so do not ever see the need for apologizing. They lack the emotional skills to make a partner feel understood, validated, or heard. Narcissists lack emotional intelligence and have no sense of self-awareness or empathy.

Can You Have a Healthy Relationship with a Narcissist?

When a person meets all the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, being in a healthy relationship with them can be difficult. It’s almost impossible to have a genuine relationship with someone who is arrogant and makes everything about themselves. In most cases, relationships with narcissists involve emotional, physical, and psychological abuse.

Narcissists lack empathy, and it’s hard for them to love genuinely. This aspect of narcissism is a complex concept to grasp for anyone in a romantic relationship with them. Narcissists are charming at first, and once someone falls in love with them, it becomes a challenge for most to leave the toxic relationships.

However, it is important to note that narcissism exists on a spectrum, and some narcissists might be capable of receiving and giving love. While a narcissist may try to change, you have to remember they are not your responsibility, and it’s not your fault they are the way they are.

If you are not able to leave the narcissistic relationship, it is important to learn about the disorder and equip yourself with knowledge on how to deal with a narcissist. If the relationship is abusive, you should put your personal safety first, consider leaving, and have an exit plan.

Are narcissists born or made? This article has the answers. 

How to Protect Yourself When Dating a Narcissist

If you are in a relationship with someone you think might be a narcissist, you must know how to read the warning signs. And learn how to protect yourself. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself:

Set clear boundaries

You must set boundaries and communicate them clearly to your partner. Every relationship needs boundaries, but with a narcissist, the boundaries are crucial. Setting boundaries means deciding what is and isn’t acceptable and what you can and won’t tolerate. Some narcissists ignore boundaries, but you have to be firm and don’t give the narcissist too many chances.

Don’t give them too much attention

A narcissist always seeks admiration and attention, always striving to be the center of attention. The best way to ensure you are not the narcissist supply is by ensuring you do not fall into the trap of giving them too much undeserved attention. Speak up when they ignore you and ensure they meet your needs and wants too.


Be ready for unhealthy reactions 

A person with NPD already has an inflated sense of self-importance. They expect the world to revolve around them, and they will react when you take the focus off of them. A true narcissist does not respect boundaries and may also make demands when you start to speak up for yourself. They may try to manipulate you to feel guilty about your demands and make you feel like you are asking for too much.

Remember, it’s not your fault

The narcissist never admits fault and may try to blame you for things that are not your fault. They will get angry and blame you when things don’t go their way. Don’t accept blame for anything that is not your fault. If you take responsibility for their faults, the cycle of blame shifting will never end.

Get a support system

A narcissist will try to isolate a partner from friends and family. Recognize the red flags and keep in constant touch with your support system. Seeing a psychotherapist with a PsyD can give you an outlet via talk therapy where you can talk about your experience. The mental health professional can also help you create an action plan to leave the relationship and free yourself from the narcissist.

Is my boyfriend a narcissist? The telltale signs to look out for.

How to Help a Narcissistic Boyfriend

An unhealthy relationship with a narcissist can take a toll on your well-being and affect everyone around you. Dealing with a narcissistic boyfriend is draining and can affect your mental health. Here are some ways to help a narcissistic boyfriend.

Learn about narcissistic personality disorder

Learn as much as you can about the condition and how to manage someone with the condition. Find out where your boyfriend is on the spectrum and if he can change. If he is self-aware, he may be open to seeking help and you can support him in his therapy journey.

Manage your expectations

Narcissists rarely apologize for their wrongdoings as they don’t see any issue with their narcissistic behaviors. You often have to take on the emotional load of two people. If he makes a promise, he could genuinely mean it, but his actions may not match his words. Ensure you communicate assertively that he must also meet your needs.

Avoid telling them they are wrong

Narcissists will not change their perspective and do not care about others’ feelings. Avoid discussing right and wrong themes in arguments, as convincing them to take responsibility wastes time and energy.

Accept him for who he is

Accept your boyfriend for who he is, but that does not mean you should tolerate or excuse psychological or emotional abuse. Sometimes, acceptance means realizing they won’t change and the relationship won’t work, especially in a new relationship.


While a narcissist has zero empathy, try to use empathy when dealing with him. Validating his feelings may disarm the narcissist and diffuse a potentially explosive situation.

Dating a Narcissist: How Growth Gals Can Help

Our aim at Growth Gals is to inspire women to reach their full potential. We also strive to create positive change by giving women the resources to discover their true selves and expand their knowledge base on various issues, such as mental health, interpersonal relationships and emotional intelligence.

Growth Gals helps women overcome obstacles and make informed decisions. We also help them connect with other women with similar values and experiences. Subscribe to the Growth Gals newsletter to access resources and helpful guides for women. Learn more about how we can support you and help you if you are dating a narcissist.


Dating a Narcissist: Conclusion

Long-term relationships with narcissists are emotionally and mentally draining. The narcissist is arrogant, entitled, and has little regard for anyone’s feelings.

Narcissism is a spectrum, and narcissists who are further up in the spectrum rarely change as they don’t accept they have a problem. If you are dating a narcissist, learn how to read the red flags of narcissism, and if the relationship isn’t working, you should consider a break up before it gets worse.

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