Just like toxic relationships, narcissistic relationships can be incredibly damaging, leaving deep emotional scars that sometimes may be too deep to even be fixed. However, these relationships are not formed intentionally. For instance, it’s not like a narcissist puts the tag over their head or wears a t-shirt describing what they are. But that does not mean they are not still easy to recognize.

Nonetheless, the truth remains that when you can finally recognize the signs of narcissism early on, you can avoid these toxic dynamics. Fortunately, that’s exactly what this blog’s about—how to help people identify the common traits of narcissists. This guide will also cover some effective ways of overcoming narcissistic relationships in various contexts.

Narcissism 101: Recognizing them by their traits

All narcissists, no matter what form they present themselves, make you feel like they are the most important of all. They are not just proud; they also need to always be worshipped or admired by the people around them. Here are the general traits of a narcissist:

  1. Grandiosity (an exaggerated sense of their own importance and achievements).
  2. Lack of empathy
  3. Manipulative behavior
  4. Need for admiration, constant attention, and validation.
  5. Sense of entitlement
  6. They take advantage of others to achieve their own goals, etc.

But as open as these traits are, they are still not easy to identify.

The First Impression

Initially, narcissists can be very charming and charismatic, making it difficult to recognize their true nature. They often hide their traits during first impressions, presenting themselves as confident and successful individuals. This facade can make it challenging to identify their underlying narcissism until you are more deeply involved with them.

However, while narcissists can hide their true nature, certain subtle traits can reveal their narcissism. These traits may vary depending on their role in your life. That said, here are the subtle traits to look for in a person to determine if they are or aren’t narcissists.

In a Romantic Relationship

At the start of the relationship (or even during casual dates), they’ll offer excessive flattery and attention but gradually start to become more controlling and critical. This could be intense control over what movie you should watch or how you should present yourself.

As a Boss

When they are your boss, then it is usually very easy to tell early on. Some of them have excessive control over every aspect of work and others always shift blame, never taking responsibility for failures. Nonetheless, the one thing that remains constant to all narcissistic bosses is that they don’t recognize or value employees’ contributions.

As a Teacher or Lecturer

While this is not common, many students have faced tutors who have morphed into their narcissist abusers during solo projects or personal tutoring. Here are some of their subtle traits even before getting too close:

  1. They show preferential treatment to certain students.
  2. They harshly criticize students while rarely offering praise.
  3. They always expect constant admiration from students, even when it is obvious they have done nothing admirable.

As a Family Member

This is the most emotionally stressful form a narcissistic abuser can take. Not only is it different to detach from a family member (especially a parent), but the trauma hits closer to the heart than a boss or a teacher. Here’s how you can tell from the onset:

  1. They use guilt and manipulation to control you most of the time.
  2. They constantly swing between extreme affection and coldness.
  3. They belittle or undermine you, even at family gatherings or external events, bringing you even more shame.

Steps to Recovering from Relationships with a Narcissist

While there are so many things you can try that’ll help you heal, here are the few that will work.

  1. As soon as you have identified the narcissist, keep your distance. If it is a romantic partner or a boss, detach yourself from the person and stay as far away from the person as possible.
  2. In cases where you may not be able to completely keep your distance, set boundaries. Seek the intervention of legal authorities for a restraint order if there’s a need to.
  3. You also need to protect yourself from the occurrence by gathering needed evidence of their abuse of you. Gather witnesses and try to avoid being alone. Surround yourself with friends, family, and other support groups.

Practice being kind to yourself and keeping yourself in a positive space. If necessary, seek therapy.