A relationship with a narcissist is often not sustainable in the long term. If your spouse is a narcissist, it may be in your interest to end the marriage. However, how do you know whether your spouse is a narcissist?
You may think that it would be obvious, but this is not necessarily true. A narcissist usually advances the relationship quickly in the beginning while hiding narcissistic tendencies behind charming behavior. The warning signs typically come on slowly, by which time you may find yourself in a deeply committed relationship. Here are some signals to watch for.
- Silence/lip service
A narcissist may use the silent treatment as a power play. This is a complete refusal to communicate and is different from the “timeout” or “cooling-off” period that many couples need after an argument.
A narcissistic spouse may also respond with silence when you ask for help. A different but related tactic is to agree to what you said but not follow through.
- Double standards
A narcissist expects you to behave in a certain way. He or she imposes rules on you, and there are punishments for violating them.
However, your narcissistic spouse may engage in the same type of behavior that he or she condemns in you and expect understanding and forgiveness. Holding oneself to a different standard and lording it over others is a sign of narcissism.
- Excess competitiveness
Have you ever heard the expression “winning at life”? That is what a narcissist sets out to do. He or she tries to accomplish this by making everything a competition.
If you have a talent or an interest, your spouse may try to prove that he or she is better at it than you are. If you complain about something, e.g., you are not feeling well, instead of showing sympathy, your narcissistic spouse may immediately go about proving that he or she is even worse off.
This is not an exhaustive list of narcissistic traits. If you suspect that your spouse may be a narcissist, seek out further information and professional help, if necessary.