Notable figures like Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Adolf Hitler, and Napoleon have been speculated to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), according to certain sources and historical accounts.
We often find ourselves drawn to individuals with NPD because some of them possess charming personalities when they choose to display them. In the early phases of a relationship with a narcissist, we might perceive them as "wounded," often attributing their behavior to early childhood trauma. Their convincing portrayal of themselves as victims of life's unfairness may evoke sympathy, leading us to become emotionally invested and hooked into the relationship.
Lisa E. Scott in her book, “It’s All About Him,” writes that narcissists are frequently:
(1) Controlling and manipulative:
In the beginning, a captivating personality and overt admiration for your actions can shift into a cycle of belittlement, judgment, and criticism, particularly when they perceive you as "caught" in a more committed stage of the relationship, such as marriage or moving in together. While initially, the relationship may seem harmonious, the ongoing criticism may lead you to feel incapable and burdensome to your narcissistic partner. Their actions, whether conscious or not, become centered around gaining complete control over you and satisfying their every need.
Examples: love bombing (pretending they are everything you ever wanted); withholding money; silent treatment; shaming; flattering, etc.
(2) Obsessed with their image:
Their obsession with image management extends to how they dress, the cars they drive, and the places they frequent. Narcissists are often preoccupied with material possessions and luxury items, as these serve as status symbols that bolster their self-esteem and the image they project.
“Narcissists are also concerned with the image their significant other portrays. A narcissist is astutely aware of his significant other’s ability to attract attention. In his mind, the more attention she can draw, the more ideal she is to him.” (Lisa E. Scott).
Examples: frequent plastic surgeries, going to the gym all the time, buying expensive clothes even if he/she cannot afford it; suddenly changing the way they speak to you when you are in front of other people or changing their mood from one minute to the next when there are other people observing them.
(3) They avoid intimacy and sex:
Narcissists engage in sexual activity not for the purpose of experiencing intimacy and vulnerability with a partner, but rather to seek admiration and be perceived as the most exceptional lover you've ever had. The focus is never on your needs; instead, it revolves entirely around their perception of how you see them.
The sexual narcissist might expedite the progression of sexual intimacy and go to great lengths in initial encounters to prioritize their partner's pleasure. While their initial sexual behavior may appear romantic and passionate, it inevitably evolves into a one-sided, egocentric, unempathetic, transactional, and aggressive dynamic.
Examples: using sex as a weapon (withholding it, or having sex all the time), ignoring partner’s sexual preferences, being aggressive, calling names, labeling.
(4) They may have difficulty in describing what love is:
As narcissists are inherently self-centered and prioritize their own needs, this influences their perception of love. They commonly regard love and admiration in a relationship as something that is owed to them. Consequently, they exhibit a sense of entitlement, resulting in the establishment of a completely one-sided relationship.
Your narcissistic partner may struggle to provide genuine support or express authentic emotions. Any love or affection they display is often motivated solely by their own self-interest. Initially, your partner might have made you feel loved in the early stages of the relationship, going as far as making you believe you were the most significant person in the world.
The love language of the narcissist is to get you to do all the work of the relationship. They feel “loved” when you are proving your love and loyalty. They believe you are invested into the relationship when you invest more into them than you invest in you.
(5) They find no joy in giving:
Gift giving s is not something narcissists do as a genuine act of caring. Recent research suggests that narcissists give "gifts" as a strategic investment and there are always strings attached. In a study by Hyun, Park, and Park (2016), individuals with high self-esteem were compared to those with elevated narcissistic traits in terms of their motivations behind gift-giving. The findings revealed that narcissists offer gifts with the primary motivation to keep you devoted to them. More specifically, narcissists use gift-giving to uphold and control relationships with the recipients.
Examples: giving a gift that they request to get back later because they got upset with you, giving you an expensive gift to make you view them as powerful or rich; giving you something that they want to give you, rather than giving you something because you need it or expressed your interest in; giving away the gifts you give them or making fun of the gifts you give them.
(6) They may act as if you did not exist:
Without any apparent cause, your partner might treat you as if you don't exist, and they may do so in particularly harsh ways. For instance, they might abruptly cease all communication, leaving you in the dark about whether something has happened to them, causing you to worry. It's essential to understand that this behavior isn't permanent; rather, it's another tactic employed by the narcissist to exert control. Relationships with narcissists often follow a cyclical pattern, and periods of ignoring are integral to that cycle.
Examples: they stop texting/phone calls all of a sudden, without any apparent reason; ignoring you when they are next to you; giving you silent treatment for days.
(7) They may escape or disappear:
Narcissists frequently create emotional distance from their partners, believing they are avoiding perceived "toxicity," even if this perception is inaccurate. This behavior is rooted in the narcissist's immaturity, resulting in a reluctance to be honest with themselves and their partners.
Remember that the Four Ds of Narcissism are denial, dismissal, devaluation, and divorce. These patterns of behavior can be detrimental to both the narcissist and those around them. Once narcissist is done with you (after devaluing you), they will frequently leave or divorce you to further show you how little they care about you.
Examples: you are trying to have an honest conversation and they shut you out by ignoring you are turning everything around to make it look like you are the one to blame; breaking you down emotionally then leaving you; keeping you at an emotional distance (you never feel like you got to know them); you start feeling like you are “disappearing.”
The games are never-ending, but a common thread emerges – you find yourself increasingly confused about the relationship. One day, they express overwhelming affection for you, and the next, they don't even call. If you sense emotional exhaustion after interacting with them, trust your instincts; something is amiss. No matter how successful they are, what they promise, and who they are, being in a relationship with them has a detrimental impact on you.. They might be resistant to counseling since they often perceive no faults within themselves. However, if you are or were in a relationship with them, seeking counseling can be a crucial step towards initiating the healing process.