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Narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic abuse starts after a honeymoon period when you will have felt at the centre of the other person’s world. You might have spotted signs that the person can be cold, argumentative and selfish, but as this was not consistent behaviour and you were in the honeymoon period, you overlooked it.

The perpetrator of narcissistic abuse is a narcissist, meaning they are incapable of knowing the hurt they cause, or more accurately, are unable to care, as they lack one crucial factor in caring; empathy.

What is narcissistic abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is emotional abuse carried out by someone who is a narcissist. It is a pattern of behaviour consisting of lying, anger, denial, lack of accountability, deceit, and manipulation carried out by narcissistic to achieve what they want or to deflect criticism. It often stems from a fragile sense of self. The person receiving this abuse feels confused, chaotic, anxious, and often afraid.

How can you tell if it is narcissistic abuse?

Are you being lied to?

Not the normal type of white lie that we are all guilty of, the type of lying we are talking about is more pathological.

This type of lying can go unnoticed in relationships. For example, Mark had lied about why previous jobs had fallen through, and Laura only started to notice years into her relationship with him when she noticed he was lying about the work he was doing with her. When things were going wrong with work partnerships, there was always a reason, someone else’s fault, or circumstances beyond his control, but never something that he was responsible for.

Mark also lied about seemingly simple things; where he was when he was coming home, what he was doing. Narcissists can also lie about past experiences to make themselves look better in your eyes.

Narcissists lie mainly to avoid responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Are you able to address the lying in a respectful conversation?

When you point out the lying or discrepancies, a narcissist might lash out with insults or threats, as opposed to partaking in the conversation you started.

Narcissists often try to discredit you by telling your loved ones lies about you. Narcissists are good at charming others and can often get the support of loved ones by convincing them that they only have the best interests of their partner in mind.

An example of this is telling co-workers, friends or family things like they are doing their best to help you, but you know what she is like, implying there is something wrong with you. If you are on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse, it can be very manipulating.


The manipulation can be far-reaching, for example. If family members are concerned or witness something questionable things, if the narcissistic partner has been lying about you and painting themselves in a good light as someone who accepts and looks out for you, despite your flaws, this lying is manipulation. They can also manipulate you by denying that some things ever happened, or tell you that you are making things up, or just trying to start an argument.

Narcissists are skilled at emotionally manipulating their partners.

Are your needs being met?

In a healthy relationship, there is give and take, and your needs get met. You are able to discuss problems and work together to solve them.

If you are the victim of narcissistic abuse, you are probably giving a lot more than you are receiving, and your needs can be trampled on. The needs of the narcissist always come first and yours will not only be ignored but are irrelevant.

There are several signs that you may be in a narcissistic relationship. For example, your partner may:

-Constantly seek compliments and validation from you

-Put you down to make themselves feel better

-Be very possessive and jealous of your time and attention

-Try to control what you do and who you spend time with

-Manipulate or use others to get what they want

-Be selfish and only concerned with their own needs and desires

-Lack empathy for your feelings or experiences

How to get help

If you choose to stay in the relationship

Some people do not wish to leave their partner just yet, or maybe never. If this is you, there are things you can do to protect yourself in the relationship.

Do not get into an argument with your partner; there will be no healthy resolution. They will shout, lie, deflect and blame you. 

Walk away from confrontation, even though you may feel wronged or simply want to discuss your feelings. Your partner will not be interested in your feelings. Do not take their disinterest personally. To be genuinely interested in your feelings, they need to be able to empathise, and narcissists do not have this ability.

Develop other relationships. Relationships outside your romantic ones, can be your lifeline. This is where you can get your emotional needs met. Developing other relationships not only gives you the support you need now, but also creates a necessary support network should the time come that you wish to leave your relationship.

If you choose to leave the relationship

Plan ahead; leaving a narcissistic relationship can be difficult.

Cut all ties with your ex-partner in order to avoid the intense anger that they may be feeling.

Reach out to family and friends or speak with a therapist if you are having difficulty processing some of the emotions you are feeling.