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The Subtle Signs That You’re Dating A Narcissist

Published by Daniel Brooks Moore on

Dating a narcissist can be a very confusing experience. You can feel like you’re neither coming nor going and that nothing you do is right. Sadly, that is intentional and it’s what keeps you hooked.

According to Anna Drescher, a psychologist with expertise in mental health and relationships, “narcissistic relationships typically involve three distinct phases: love bombing, devaluation, and discard. This cycle is driven by the narcissist’s motivation to maintain control and keep their partner emotionally invested, while satisfying their own needs.”

She adds that “every new relationship they pursue will follow a similar pattern of abuse.” So if you feel that you could be the person to put a pause or even a stop to these behaviours, it’s very unlikely that you’ll succeed.

The signs of a narcissistic partner


So, at first, they’re the dream partner. They adore you. Jennifer Guttman, a cognitive behavioural therapist, said that someone who is love-bombing a new partner may introduce them to family members, friends and other important people early on, or move the relationship along at a much quicker pace than normally expected.

In the moment, while you’re also feeling a bit smitten, it can be hard to tell that this is a form of emotional abuse because it looks nothing like we expect abuse to look. In fact, it looks like the opposite.

Love-bombing is an effective strategy because, according to Cleveland Clinic, because, initially, you might feel safe, secure and swept off your feet because grand gestures are a self-esteem boost and make you feel important and desired. They add that it can be hard to identify because you can’t always immediately figure out somebody’s intentions.


Almost as quickly and excessively as the love-bombing happened, it’s often followed by devaluation. In a VeryWell Mind article, peer-reviewed by a licensed therapist, Sanjana Gupta says, “the narcissist will start dropping subtle hints that you’ve done something wrong, that you’ve forgotten something important, or that you’ve hurt their feelings. You’ll start to feel insecure.”

This can be incredibly confusing and leave you feeling completely out of sorts and if reading this feels familiar, please know, you haven’t done anything wrong and this is just another behaviour from a narcissistic person.

Gupta adds that some of the signs of the devalutation phase can include:


Backhanded compliments

Excuses for poor behavior

Subtle criticism


Mind games that seem harmless


No win-situations

Lack of empathy and validation

Comparisons to others

Ridicule and humiliation

Many of these behaviours leave you wondering if you’ve done or said things that you deep down know you didn’t. This is a process called gaslighting


According to Hailey Shafir, a qualified counsellor and expert in mental health, “When the narcissist gets bored or decides the person is no longer useful enough to them, they’ll often end the relationship and ‘discard’ the person. Sometimes, this ending is final. Other times, a narcissist will use hoovering to lure the person back into the relationship and repeat the cycle.”

Hoovering is a process where the abuser ‘sucks’ their victim back in and repeats the narcissism pattern again.

Help and support:

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are not in immediate danger, you can contact:

The Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge: 0808 2000 247

In Scotland, contact Scotland’s 24 hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234

In Northern Ireland, contact the 24 hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline: 0808 802 1414

In Wales, contact the 24 hour Life Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800.

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428

Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327

Respect helpline (for anyone worried about their own behaviour): 0808 802 0321



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