Despite what narcissists may believe, it’s not all about them. Narcissistic personalities affect everyone around them.
And while they may not be aware of the negative impact they have on others, the people in their lives probably are.
What is a Narcissist?
A narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a constant feeling of grandiosity and superiority. Narcissists require admiration from others but generally feel little or no empathy for the needs of others.
Signs of narcissism may include:
- Exaggerated self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, genius, beauty, or perfection
- Believe they are “special” and deserve special treatment
- Require excessive admiration
- A sense of entitlement and unreasonable expectations
- Exploitative or manipulative behavior to achieve their goals
- Lack of empathy
- Envy of others or believe that others are envious of them
- Arrogant behaviors
Interestingly, a team of researchers in 2014 concluded that narcissists could often be identified with one single question. If you ask a narcissist, “Are you a narcissist?” they’ll probably shamelessly admit it.
But longer, more in-depth tests and measures are available to evaluate narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissists in Relationships
Dealing with a narcissist can be difficult, whether you’re in a personal or professional relationship with them. Narcissists can be very charming and charismatic, making them easy to like.
But once you get to know them better, you may start to see some of the signs mentioned above. And that’s when things can start to get tricky.
Narcissists generally have a lot of friends, but the friendships are usually shallow and based on what the narcissist can get out of them. In romantic relationships, narcissists may be very passionate at first, but that quickly fizzles out and is replaced with criticism and selfishness.
In the workplace, they are quick to take credit for everyone else’s successes to inflate their status, yet they are quick to blame others for their own failures.
Can Narcissists Change?
Narcissism is not an incurable illness. It’s a personality trait that can evolve over time.
Unfortunately, the nature of narcissistic personalities means the person will probably be resistant to change. They feel they are already superior or perfect, so why would they want to feel less than that?
On the other hand, narcissistic traits do tend to lessen as a person gets older. Maybe the learned experience of humility comes with age or the increased empathy that develops after having children. It could also be related to the person’s career path or if they have ever been forced to adapt to significant changes in their life.
If your partner’s narcissism is interfering with your relationship, you may need professional help from a therapist or couple’s counselor to deal with the situation. Or, if their selfishness is causing you harm, it may be time to end it and move on.
Narcissists can change. They might sometimes change in some ways under certain circumstances, but also, they might not. Attempting to force them to change will probably not work. The only person who can change a narcissist is the narcissist themselves.