LEARNING TO SPOT the signs of dysfunctional narcissism can help you make more informed in your relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners. It is a useful skill for anyone seeking to preserve their mental, physical, and emotional health.
It is easy to get drawn in by the formidable charm of highly narcissistic people, especially when they are telling you everything you want to hear during the love bombing phase of the relationship. People with this personality style form don’t fall in love, they form trauma bonds, and go to great lengths to avoid accountability. To the person on the receiving end, who is being groomed for exploitation, they are manipulated into thinking they’ve met the partner of their dreams.
It can take months and sometimes years for people to overcome the trauma of narcissistic abuse. Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Narcissistic Abuse Rehab reached out Dr. Michael Stokes, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Sex Therapist and the founder of Rhodes Island Sex Therapy. He also provides specialized counseling for pornography- and sex addiction. We asked him to share his picks of the biggest red flags of dysfunctional narcissism.
1. They Make Everything About Them
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Dr. Stokes, what’s a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a highly narcissistic person?
Dr. Michael Stokes: They focus everything on them, their accomplishments, and how they are better than those around them. These grandiose behaviors will be a huge red flag.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Can you please give some examples of what that might look like in practice?
Dr. Michael Stokes: This can include telling you how amazing he was at school and graduated top of his class. Meanwhile, this can be completely false.
2. An Over-Inflated Sense of Entitlement
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What other behaviors should people seeking to avoid relationships with highly narcissistic people look out for?
Dr. Michael Stokes: They have an over-inflated sense of entitlement. Therefore, they will belittle people without regard. This might not include you yet, but it will.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: That’s such an important observation. During the love bombing phase you are exempt from their aggression, but inevitably it will happen to you, too. Can you share an example of how they might belittle others in your presence.
Dr. Michael Stokes: This might include screaming at a server because his food is cold. Although not the server’s fault, this will not be a factor for the narcissist.
3. A Need For Constant Validation
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What is the first red flag that’s likely to show up in their relationship with the person they are grooming?
Dr. Michael Stokes: Narcissist have a insatiable need for constant reinforcement.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Because they are dependent on narcissistic supply or external validation to function. How might this show up in their relationship with someone getting to know them.
Dr. Michael Stokes: They will frequently ask for praise, acknowledgment, attention, etc. You will find they will tell you about all their accomplishments and embellish them to shift the focus to how wonderful they are.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: How will their demands for constant validation impact the other person in the relationship?
Dr. Michael Stokes: You will feel drained often by telling this person how amazing they are.
4. An Absence of Remorse
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: You are describing a personality that is highly self-focused, combative, and demanding. How do narcissistic people reconcile being so overbearing and emotionally needy?
Dr. Michael Stokes: They have no remorse. This person will talk down to other people, become verbally aggressive, and show no signs of remorse for these feelings.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: How do these maladaptive behaviors affect highly narcissistic people?
Dr. Michael Stokes: This person will likely not apologize or own their behaviors. This is a huge factor why marriages fail with narcissists. They cannot own their part within the marriage and will blame their partner.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Thank you for sharing your insight on signs of dysfunctional narcissism.
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