Spotting a Narcissist: How to Get the Best Return on Your Emotional Investment
Dating is like investing in the stock market. We want to get the best possible return on our investment, so we want to be informed and make the right decisions.
We can do some insider trading, by getting info from previous partners and we can do our due diligence and research the product, so that you can make the most educated decisions possible, but the bottom line is, every time you invest your emotional currency in a relationship, there is an element of chance and it is always going to be a gamble. What most people should be doing is learning how to minimize risk.
I get so many emails from readers desperate not to repeat the same mistakes in their next relationship. They want a sure fire way to spot a bad investment/Narcissist, so that they can pull their assets out and cut their losses quickly.
The difficulty with dating in general, is that most people don’t reveal who they truly are, until you’ve made the initial investment and if you happen to run into a Narcissist well … a Narcissist can’t show you who they are, because their sense of self/their entire identity is skewed, so what you see in the beginning is a mirage – a projection of who they think you want them to be. They can’t be themselves, because they don’t even know who they are.
The problem is that there is so much going on inside their head, that it’s near impossible to unravel their mystery in a lifetime, let alone in the first couple of dates and they spend the majority of their time with you, trying to trick you and mislead you, so that you can never ever get close enough to see the truth.
Fortunately, there are a some behaviors that are common to all types, subtypes and classes of Narcissist, some of these will be more prevalent in some and less so in others, but all Narcissists show these behaviors in varying degrees
They do the Hokey Pokey: They are never emotionally or physically in the relationship at the same time that you are. They’ve got one foot in and when you put a foot in, they pull theirs out. When you pull your foot out, they put theirs back in…. This is a massive red flag that this person doesn’t do intimacy. In these relationships there is no middle, just a bunch of beginnings and endings and we know that it’s in the middle part of a relationship where love evolves and intimacy grows.
This isn’t just about being physically present, although for some types it is. Typically Cerebral Narcissists and Inverted Narcissists often do have long term relationships. They will go through cycles of pushing you away and pulling you closer, even while living in the same house. You may be witnessing the behavior, but calling it by a different name like, moodiness, selfishness, anxiety or stress.
The Hokey Pokey is about emotional distance. You could be married to a Narcissist for 25 years and still not have a clue who this person really is. You can’t get emotionally close to a Narcissist. It’s just not possible
They have inappropriate or crazy outbursts over insignificant things. This is a very clear sign that you are involved with a Narcissist. They make mountains out of molehills and their behavior seems way over the top. They may go off on a tangent of curses that would make Eddy Murphy cringe, or they may just go on and on and not let something go. When their delicate sensitivities have been injured, they can be meaner than the Incredible Hulk on steroids. What will throw you, is the extent of their anger and the miniscule little triggers that set them off. This may be directed at you, or someone else and is usually followed by some type of punishment – like the silent treatment, or they may hold a grudge seemingly forever. This behavior will really stand out to you as odd and may only happen once in a while, but when it does you won’t forget it.
They pedestal people. At times they will hold certain people in really high esteem. They will want to know everything about them, spend lots of time around them, help them, be their friend and be in their circle. They could be their bosses at work, pseudo or real celebrities, athletes or anyone they can glean status or supply through proxy.
They have minions/harem members/followers/hangers-on. They like to have an audience. These people could be co-workers, ex-partners, internet groupies, friends, anyone that can supply attention and admiration and make the Narcissist feel special. It may or may not be sexual, but they like to know that people look up to them.
They try to isolate you from people you are close to. If you’ve been involved with them for some time they will want to create conflict between you and those that are close to you. They either want your attention all to themselves, they need you to choose them over your friends or family, or they know they are shady and don’t want you to be close to anyone capable of pointing out their flaws.
They always seem to be angry. While you may find them laughing and joking around at times, they carry an underlying deep seeded contempt for everything and everyone. They often seem paranoid and have a scary, deeply envious side to them.
It is unfortunate that we can’t tattoo a giant red flag on the forehead of every Narcissist. This would make identification so much easier, but if we pay attention to these signs we can have a better understanding of just what we are dealing with. Awareness is our best defense.
The unfortunate part is, that you aren’t going to see these traits early on when you’re dating a Narcissist. These behaviors reveal themselves slowly, once they’ve secured a connection. The best way to make sure you don’t end up in a relationship with another Narcissist is to make sure that you are emotionally healthy yourself. By treating yourself with love and respect, by having boundaries, by knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and by not being afraid to walk away once you’ve spotted an unhealthy pattern, then and only then can you protect yourself.
Most importantly, trust your Instincts – if your gut is telling you something is off, then believe it – something is off. These feelings are the Universe’s way of sending us warning signals. The more we listen to them, the stronger they become.
I’ll leave you with Sav’s dirty dozen dating tips. They aren’t necessarily specific traits of a Narcissist, but I would suggest that if your date shows any of the following behaviors, you should be looking for a window in the bathroom.
Sav’s Dirty Dozen Dating Tips (I know there are 15) Crawl out the bathroom window if:
They have any type of addiction – drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling.
They have a criminal record – violent tendencies, lack of respect for authority.
They suffer from mental illness – I’m not advocating intolerance, the problem for me is that these are often unpredictable and not somewhere I would want to invest my emotional currency, not to mention the possible repercussions of reproducing and passing on the illness to any offspring.
They are misogynistic – they talk about their ex, or their sister, or their mother – all women for that matter, with contempt.
They are full of hard-luck stories – they talk about how everyone has done them wrong and they were the poor victims of everything – nothing is ever their fault.
They are unemployed – I’m not judging, being unemployed might be fine for them, but I’m not looking for a grown man to support.
They seem emotionally wounded or broken – it’s not your job to fix anybody. Don’t look for fixer-upper projects – you’re banking your emotional currency on someone else’s desire to change and give you what you want. Not a good investment.
They are over 30 and still living with their parents – I know this is common in some cultures, but to me it says, ‘I can’t take care of myself and it’s going to take a stick of dynamite to get me away from my mama and if you do – you can expect to take her place, taking care of me, in every way. ‘ No thanks.
All they talk about is themselves – you notice every time you start to say something, you get interrupted by another rendition of how awesome they are.
They are constantly on their phones, or their phones keep going off – unless there is a good reason (ill parents, real estate agent…) you shouldn’t be on your phone during a date. Constant text messages could be an indication of a harem, but bottom line it’s disrespectful and shows you that they are not present.
They want to move way too fast – they start talking about getting married and you haven’t finished your salad, or how much they want to get through desert, so they can take you back to their place.
They brag a lot – they keep telling you how great their life is. They have the best job, they make so much money, they have the greatest car, everyone loves them …. If you have to tell someone you’re great, you’re probably not.
They keep looking for reassurance – you know how people say confidence is sexy – well lack of confidence is really unsexy. I don’t want to be with a guy that I constantly have to keep puffing up his self-esteem – it is too exhausting and screams ‘I’m insecure and emotionally unhealthy.’
They have a weird relationship with their parents – yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Something seems really off, like you’re walking with your boyfriend and his mom and you’re holding hands and you look over and he’s also holding his mom’s hand (totally happened to me). You don’t want to be involved in that tug of war – trust me on that one. Look for people who have cut the umbilical cord.
They are not over their ex – don’t spend another minute with this one. If they are in love with someone else, then they aren’t available for a mutually fulfilling relationship with you and they shouldn’t be dating – hence the term emotionally unavailable. Don’t get hung up nursing someone back to love – it won’t work out – at least not for you.
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