We want to believe the best about the people we love, so oftentimes it’s not until we’re removed from the situation that we see their true colors. Those colors aren’t always pretty, either. Narcissism is a pretty big buzzword going around right now, but the true characteristics of it actually fall under the category of a very serious- and often very traumatizing- personality disorder. Think you might have been married to one? Read on to find out.
20 Tell-Tale Ways to Spot a Narcissist
A narcissist is very good at convincing the people around them that they are the crazy ones, not them, so you may find yourself doubting whether or not you were actually married to one. There are some key signs that can help you determine this:
- They have a very high sense of self-importance.
- They are able to easily manipulate others into getting what they want.
- They are rarely remorseful, and when they are, they don’t really mean it.
- They’re very concerned about impressing other people.
- They are mean or condescending towards those closest to them.
- They can be incredibly charismatic to people outside of their inner circle (i.e. a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde split personality).
- They often embellish their accomplishments to make themselves look better.
- They don’t handle criticism well, even if it’s mild.
- They have a very difficult time respecting other people’s boundaries.
- They hold grudges for a very long time.
- They are incredibly selfish and self-centered.
- They often make promises without the intention of keeping them.
- They have advice to give about everything, even if they aren’t familiar with the topic.
- They find a way to blame all of their mistakes on other people.
- They are arrogant about their physical appearance.
- They tend to dominate every conversation they are a part of.
- They are very impatient and expect the people around them to comply with their demands immediately.
- They don’t like it when someone else tries to make a decision for them.
- Their affection feels fake or forced, even to those closest to them, like their spouse or children.
- Their relationships are superficial and self-serving, and if they are no longer serving them, they have no problem cutting that relationship off without warning.
How a Marriage to a Narcissist Might Affect You
Being married to a narcissist- even for a short time- can have a very deep and lasting impact on you. It can be very difficult to feel loved or even feel safe when you are in a relationship like this. The constant ups and downs can be incredibly confusing.
After a while, you may start to believe that you are the one in the wrong. As a narcissist slowly breaks you down, you can suffer from low self-esteem, a lack of energy or interest in the things you used to enjoy, anxiety, and depression. You may develop a fear of making even the smallest mistakes because you don’t want to get yelled at. Your confidence may start to slip and you will slowly start to lose yourself until you get to the point where you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.
Recovering from a Marriage to a Narcissist
Once you are finally out and the dust settles, you might wonder how you can move on after enduring torment from your marriage to a narcissist. While it’s not an easy situation to recover from, it is possible. Individual counseling can be a very effective tool when recovering from this toxic marriage. Additionally, you can do the following:
- Create as much distance between you and the narcissist as possible. This may be more challenging if you have to co-parent with them, but you can still learn to set healthy boundaries.
- Set boundaries when it comes to engaging with a narcissist, or with other toxic people in your life.
- Identify negative thoughts when they come into your head and replace them with something positive. That mindset shift is very important when you’re leaving an unhealthy relationship.
- Journal your thoughts so you can start to rediscover yourself. Your journal is also a good place to write down all the things you love about yourself, so you can begin wiping out that negative self-talk and replacing it with things that are more optimistic.
A strong support system is also very important when you’re getting out of this type of relationship. When you surround yourself with people who lift you up instead of tearing you down, you begin to believe in good things again- and that is one of the gifts of divorcing a narcissist.