You may be very good at spotting red flags, but narcissists are very good at anticipating the fact that you’re looking for red flags, and covering them all up in the first few weeks or months of dating. Some of the biggest narcissists are also the greatest actors; they know how to feign empathy, generosity, patience and good humor. Narcissists genuinely believe that they know what is best for everybody, so they have no qualms about acting a certain way to trick you into being in their lives because they believe being in their lives is the greatest thing that could ever happen to somebody. So if you can’t count on spotting red flags in the behavior of a narcissist right away, perhaps you can count on something you have a much better view of; your own red flags. Here is how dating a narcissist changes your behavior.
You end up bragging more
Narcissists will incorrectly label your humility as “not believing in yourself.” They announce their own accomplishments to everyone, and they convince you that you should, too. They make you feel like they are being loving by doing this, but they’re actually molding you to be as intimidating and unapproachable as they are. They want to establish the two of you as a power couple.
You apologize more
Because narcissists put so much emphasis on being the best, and they train you to value that too, they also make you feel awful when you’re not the best. You’ll find yourself apologizing a lot when you’re dating a narcissist because he’s trained you to be less forgiving of yourself. If you mess up a recipe ever so slightly, you’ll feel humiliated and apologize all night.
You don’t defend people
There was a time when if you saw someone even the slightest bit rude to a server at a restaurant or cashier at a store you’d say something to them about it. At the very least, you’d say something kind to that server or cashier after the offender left. But your narcissist boyfriend is rude to people in the service industry all of the time, and you’ve started to turn your cheek.
You become more selfish
Narcissists are very selfish, and they will slowly teach you to be selfish, too. They’ll do this under the umbrella of teaching you how to go after what you want and be “assertive,” but they’ll slowly train you to think only of yourself and not of others.
You become abusive to your friends
Narcissists are usually emotionally abusive, but they’re also scary, so rather than standing up to them, you hold onto the pain they cause you. It has to go somewhere, so you end up being emotionally abusive to the people who will take it—your friends and family.
You become critical of women
Narcissists are typically misogynistic and hyper-critical of women, believing women should behave a certain way (like not talk to another man without the presence of their partner). Your narcissist boyfriend will condition you to believe that too, and you’ll find yourself internally judging women.
You value money more
Narcissists love money—they have to since they retain little joy from human connections. Your narcissist boyfriend will condition you to care more about what a job pays than whether or not it makes you happy.
You value status more
Narcissists, naturally, adore status. While the old you may have seen value in being an apprentice in an industry you’re new to but want to learn about, the new you (the one trained by a narcissist) sees no value in anything unless it gives you status.
You laugh less
You become generally stiffer and uptight after dating a narcissist. You become so used to worrying about your behavior and impressing him that you are never relaxed enough to laugh.
You become quieter
Another part of being stiffer is that you don’t speak as freely. You find yourself filtering and questioning your thoughts, unsure if your narcissist partner would approve of them, or think they were dumb.
You become flaky
Since the narcissist’s schedule takes precedence above all else, the only way you get to see him is if you’re at his beck and call. So you end up canceling a lot of your plans at the last minute if he wants to see you.
You’re hard on yourself
You become very critical of yourself because the narcissist is critical of you. You no longer look for silver linings or reward yourself for trying. If you don’t get a job, you are mean to yourself rather than comforting.
You become paranoid
Narcissists lie a lot—they think it’s okay because, as stated before, they believe they know what’s best for everyone. If lying helps them manipulate people into doing what they think they should do, then they think the lie is justified. For this reason, you become very paranoid.
You become irritable
Now that you’ve read the rest of this list, you can imagine how it’s possible that you’d become very irritable! You’re constantly stressed, on edge, worried and sad. You become a nightmare to be around.
You use people
Narcissists see people as tools. They don’t spend time with friends because they like them but rather because friends offer them certain things (status, networking opportunities, ego boosts). You find yourself spending less time with the friends you genuinely like and more time with friends who can do something for you.