Let me tell you a story – a story of someone I thought was my Prince Charming. His name? Well, that’s not as important as what he represented in my life. For the sake of this narrative, let’s call him Alex. The beginning was dreamlike; I felt seen, cherished, and even spoiled.
However, as weeks turned into months, the fairy tale gradually twisted into something darker and more unsettling. Like a picture-perfect mirror starting to crack, Alex began to reveal another side of him – one that led me to ask, “Am I dating a narcissist?”
You see, narcissism isn’t just a word; it’s an ancient tale. According to Greek mythology, Narcissus was so entranced by his own reflection that he couldn’t pull away. Alex, too had this intense gravitational pull toward himself—a vacuum sucking in compliments and admiration yet failing to return the love in the way you’d expect.
Initially, it seemed like he was head over heels in love with me. He surprised me with extravagant dinners and wrote me love letters that could make anyone swoon. But these gestures started to feel less like love and more like a performance. I realized Alex wasn’t really seeing me; he was seeing a reflection of himself, basking in the glow of my admiration.
There were red flags, signs that were clearer in hindsight. His social circle was a carousel of people who were charmed by him initially but who faded away, tired of his antics. He took joy in nitpicking my choices, from my career to the way I dressed, as if putting me down elevated him.
And then, there was the gaslighting – the art of making me doubt my own perceptions. If I ever confronted him, he’d twist the narrative so subtly that I found myself questioning my own memories.
So, why am I telling you this story?
Firstly, if you’re in a relationship and asking yourself, “Is my partner a narcissist?” know that narcissistic traits can be subtle and confusing. Secondly, don’t rely solely on quizzes or self-assessments to diagnose narcissism; they can point to red flags but aren’t substitutes for professional advice.
Even if your partner isn’t clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a relationship shouldn’t make you feel consistently lesser or belittled. Everyone deserves a love story where they are an equal protagonist, not a sidelined character.
You might be asking, “What’s next for Adabobi?” She says she’s still on the journey to understand narcissism and its many nuances. For those in a similar boat, know that you’re not alone. Reach out for help when a relationship turns toxic because you don’t have to be the lonely spectator in someone else’s one-man show.
What are some red flags to look out for?
How can you tell if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist?
Look out for traits such as excessive self-focus, lack of empathy, and manipulative behaviours. But remember, only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose someone with NPD.
What can you do if you find yourself in such a relationship?
You may consider seeking professional advice and prioritizing your own well-being. If the relationship becomes unhealthy, it might be time to reevaluate your commitment to it.
Thank you for reading Adaobi’s story. I hope it served as both a mirror and a window – a mirror reflecting your own experiences and a window into the world of navigating relationships with deeply self-focused individuals.