Never ignore these painful symptoms.
What is a narcissist? Narcissistic abuse signs are not always obvious if your partner has a narcissistic personality disorder.
Have you felt controlled, demeaned, and belittled by your partner? Does your relationship leave you feeling confused, inadequate, and anxious all the time?
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can leave you depressed with anxiety, which takes a toll on your mental health.
Since the signs of narcissistic abuse tend to be subtle, here 8 things you need to pay attention to:
1. You can’t trust yourself or your instincts.
It’s normal to feel indecisive at times, but this is an agonizing sense of being truly incapable of making a decision for fear it will be the wrong one.
Narcissists need someone else to blame and after being told repeatedly that you are the source of all of the problems in the relationship, you begin to fear the seemingly dire outcome of a wrong decision.
Worse yet, if you consistently feel like you can’t trust the validity of your own opinions or memories, it is very likely a result of gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse where the manipulator “spins” reality (minimizes or denies situations or information purposely, to their advantage).
There are many gaslighting tactics used to confuse the victim, including manufacturing false details with the goal of making you feel mixed up, like you have lost your minds or have memory loss. Ultimately, this results in the victim losing trust in their version of reality and in themselves as a whole.
2. You can’t control your emotions.
If you are in a relationship with an emotional manipulator, it is almost impossible to be calm and serene while the other person is busy drumming up chaos all around you.
This is going to undoubtedly lead you to think you’re oversensitive, childish and an emotional basket-case. It is likely you will be distracted and underachieving in all areas of your life because you constantly feel anxious, preoccupied and upset.
This crazy-making is precisely the goal of the narcissist.
3. You think you are unworthy of love, attention, or respect.
In these soul-sucking relationships, you will eventually come to wonder if you’re inadequate as a person.
You may have been devalued and degraded, compared to others and made to feel inadequate as a partner, lover, and person. You may then believe you are unattractive, unlovable and even reprehensible.
This is the goal of the abuser — to make you feel worthless, defective and inferior — so that you are completely dependent on them.
4. You are depressed, anxious, and have low self-esteem.
In an abusive relationship, you will find yourself walking on eggshells with your partner, afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing and trying desperately to figure out ways to prevent or mitigate an attack.
Over time, this hyper-vigilance will take it’s toll on your mental health.
You will feel despondent, like nothing will ever get better, and nothing you do or say will ever help. You will have low self-esteem because you are constantly being criticized, attacked and blamed for everything in the relationship.
Eventually, you will feel like a complete failure as a human being.
5. You wonder why you never feel content, happy, or joyful.
Living in a relationship where you are constantly criticized and blamed for everything and are repeatedly given the message that you don’t measure up, over time you will feel so morose that you will wonder how you came to have such a negative outlook on life.
If you haven’t yet identified the problem as narcissistic abuse, you likely know that something is terribly wrong but can’t quite fully articulate it. However, you know deep down that you weren’t always this unhappy and you feel like it’s your fault because you should be grateful or optimistic.
You will feel helpless, hopeless, and stuck.
6. You avoid your partner or omit information so you can prevent conflict.
In relationships that are emotionally-charged, intense and tumultuous, people often turn to unhelpful coping strategies.
You may find yourself so anxious that you end up avoiding your partner or omitting information with the self-preservation goal of preventing conflict. You probably feel like a bad person for having to avoid and lie, but the fear of conflict overwhelms you so much it seems like the only viable option.
Unfortunately, this results in living in a state of constant fear of getting caught and the inescapable terror of the next fight.
7. You struggle with helplessness, self-disgust, and shock.
Psychological abuse affects the brain’s ability to regulate emotion and can cause you to spin, overthink and have erratic thoughts, feelings and behavior.
You may know something is wrong but when you try to address it with your partner, you are faced with gaslighting: “You’re overreacting” or “That didn’t happen.”
Your cognition is poor because you are so anxious and you feel stuck in the relationship and unable to think of a way out. You may feel disappointed in yourself that you have allowed the situation to unfold and equally shocked that another human being could be so intentionally manipulative.
8. You hide information or tell half-truths about your partner to friends and family.
If you told your friends and family the extent of the abuse that is taking place, there is a chance they may not believe you, or that they would judge you for staying and put pressure on you to leave.
You may not even be aware of why you are omitting information to others because you live in a state of incredible denial due to the abuse. This is cognitive dissonance — that unsettled feeling we get when we have conflicting beliefs.
All of these symptoms are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.
Psychologically abusive relationships are not ‘normal relationships’. They are traumatizing. Repeated exposure to a cruel, controlling, harsh and vindictive partner triggers the “flight, fight or freeze” fear response in the victim’s brain.
This is trauma. End of story.
Narcissistic abuse masquerades as love but is a sinister, gradual, and deliberate erosion of a person’s sense of self. It is both emotional and psychological abuse intended to undermine a person’s identity for the singular goal of achieving dominance for personal gain.
It involves patterns of manipulation, intimidation, emotional bullying, power and domination, deceit, egocentricity, stonewalling, guilt and shaming, rejection, gaslighting, financial abuse, and jealousy.
Please, please heed these symptoms. There is something terribly wrong and it’s not you. It’s your relationship with the toxic person.