by Danielle Wright w/ Lisa K. Stephenson, Author & Relationship Coach
We’ve discussed narcissism a whole lot here at She’s SINGLE. The reason for this is that the term is thrown around frequently in today’s climate. This can cause people to misdiagnose others or enable a person to change their mannerisms to fit into the stereotype. What do I mean by this? Simply put, some men/women are adopting narcissistic personality traits to earn the love of a romantic interest.
Alpha male YouTube channels are teaching men that to get a woman to fall in love with them, they should use manipulation tactics, gaslighting, and other narcissistic attributes. Unfortunately, due to this rise of misinformation many women are ending up with either full-blown narcissists or men with narcissistic traits. In this article, with the help of a few experts, I would like to dive deeper into this phenomenon to help distinguish the two.
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“The main difference between dating a full-blown narcissist and someone with narcissistic tendencies is that one will exhibit all of the signs, while the latter will exhibit a few. Additionally, the latter is more likely to be willing to change while a full-blown narcissist is not.” – Samantha Zhou, Manager of Health and Mental Well-being.
WHAT IS NARCISSISM?
According to Aditya Kashyap Mishra, Co-Founder of Mood Fresher, “Narcissism is a personality disorder that is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. People with narcissism often have a sense of entitlement and require constant attention and validation.”
Let’s dissect this, an inflated sense of self-importance – we can see the shift between men and women happening at an alarming rate where most men now want to be chased, split responsibilities 50/50, and are no longer interested in stepping into a sole provider role. What we have are men yearning to feel appreciated and needed in their homes.
So, to combat this, they shift the balance of power to where the attention is on them and their wives/girlfriends have to work ten times harder to keep their love and affection. Of course, this is not all men! But a good portion of men, especially African American men. But make no mistake this was not done on purpose; it is more of a coping mechanism to heal their wounds of constantly feeling invalidated, used, and unappreciated in their households.
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Lack of Empathy – Surely, a man who is interested in a woman is not going to be apathetic toward her. But there is this new wave of nonchalance towering over relationships/situationships in 2022 that no one seems to understand.
When we reward a behavior it is likely to continue, so if this type of behavior will get a man the love, attention, and admiration he so craves, then, of course, he will continue this action. Does that make him a narcissist? Maybe not. But this does make him a person with narcissistic tendencies. He is adapting particular traits because it yields positive results.
When the results are positive more of the abuse will continue. Some signs to look out for that you are being abused by a full-blown narcissist versus one with narcissistic tendencies according to Mishra:
You’re always walking on eggshells, afraid of saying or doing something that will upset your abuser.
You’re always trying to please your abuser, even if it means sacrificing your own needs.
You’re always making excuses for your abuser’s behavior.
You’re constantly second-guessing yourself, or questioning your reality.
You’re always wondering why you’re not good enough.
Control is the root of narcissism along with selfishness and possession. If you’re experiencing any of this, you should consider reaching out to a support group for help.
ENABLING A NARCISSIST
Whether you’re dating someone who is a diagnosed narcissist or someone with narcissistic tendencies, Zhou says, “Some tips of how to stop enabling a narcissist include setting boundaries, refusing to give them what they want, and being assertive. It is important to remember that enabling is often a form of co-dependency, and so working on healing your self-esteem and developing healthy coping mechanisms is essential.”
Hearing this may have you thinking that you need to stay in your relationship if only SOME signs are exhibited, but the truth is, the relationship may not be healthy overall. Even the smallest signs of narcissism is a red flag because as aforementioned it is done with malicious intent. Perhaps, you’re elusive or your partner fears you will leave him/her for someone better looking or with more money. Their goal then becomes to deflate your self-esteem and leave you in a vulnerable state open to criticism that can lead to depression.
If you’ve made your way to this article it’s for good reason and you’re in search of a solution to what you know to be a problem. “The best way to stop enabling a narcissist is to stop engaging with them completely,” Sam Holmes says, Editor for Feel and Thrive. “When you engage a narcissist by trying to assert your boundaries or by giving them a heads up that you want to leave, you allow them to manipulate, gaslight, and emotionally abuse you.”
While it may be comforting to hear that a person with narcissistic tendencies can change, it is not prudent to rely on this. It is also not your responsibility to fix or change this person. You are responsible for yourself and your happiness.
Anyone who needs to resort to manipulating you to earn your love or respect is not someone you should want to spend the rest of your life with. And yes, I understand that these tendencies do get men what they are looking for, in most cases, but women do hold the power. If we want to end this cycle of narcissistic abuse—in any form—and the overuse of the term, then we should stop rewarding the behavior as a whole.
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