Narcissists can be very enchanting individuals, so it’s not that difficult to fall for one and fall hard. They can be very charming and make it seem like they’re always ready to sweep you off your feet, which can all be quite flattering for a single woman looking for love.
Unfortunately, many women find out a bit too late in the game that their new partner isn’t right for them, and is not actually as caring as they seem. But by that point, a woman may already feel very attached, making it even more difficult to face the idea that this new man isn’t really capable of the kind of relationship she wants.
By then, the woman might be trying to figure out what she’s doing wrong to cause the problem with her new man. It’s always something along the lines of “Why is he mad at me? How can I explain this to him better so he’ll understand? Am I being too sensitive?”. The fault is hers, at least in her mind.
The Problem with Narcissists
Here’s the thing: the answer to these questions is that it’s not her problem at all. The guy she’s dating has big problems when it comes to empathy.
Empathy is a person’s ability to understand someone else’s feelings and experiences. It is your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, even if the situation itself is very foreign to you. Empathy doesn’t just come into play in romantic relationships — people rely on it all the time to navigate all kinds of relationships, from family ones to small interactions with a cashier who’s having a bad day and your ability to not push it because you can tell they’re not having a good time.
Narcissists have big problems with empathy. Whether they lack the ability to master it, or are just not willing to do it, the bottom line is virtually the same: it makes for a very difficult relationship. Maybe you felt that he really did understand you during courting when he was trying to win you over early in your relationship, but once that period passes, things go downhill rather fast.
Part of the problem here is the tendency of some to overlook a potential partner’s shortcomings in the first stages of a relationship, especially if there are two major things in play:
- You actually really like him
- You are very afraid of ending up alone
And these are both valid, but if you are not paying attention to early warning signs, you put yourself at greater risk of getting into a relationship that not only will not likely work out but can also be bad for you.
Sure, some shortcomings aren’t necessarily dealbreakers. It can be very frustrating if he never puts the glass on the coaster, but it’s not a make or break quality. You have to ask yourself, basically, if you can deal with his narcissism. Most women prefer relationships where their partners make an effort to understand their feelings, both positive and negative, even if the men’s interpretations of her feelings aren’t always 100% accurate.
But without that comprehension, you can end up feeling very alone, even in a relationship.
How Can You Tell He’s a Narcissist?
You need to spot the early signs that your partner may not have the capacity or desire to empathize with you. To do it, let’s take the example of Leslie and Dan’s first date:
Leslie really liked Dan and enjoyed his company. He seemed into her and had a great conversation going. She felt their chemistry was building until he started going into more personal issues with his questions.
He started asking how old she was, then why her last relationship failed, and how much money she made. Leslie answered playfully that ‘I’m old enough to know that I don’t have to answer that question!’
Dan wasn’t amused, nor did he take the hint, so Leslie had to be more direct and said ‘I’m not comfortable with these questions. We just met. Can we change the subject?’
Rather than apologizing, Dan became defensive and said ‘I just want to get to know you better. There’s no need for you to be so sensitive.’
Leslie had been told before she was sensitive, so she thought the whole thing was her fault, but she wasn’t sure of it. So she tried to change the subject. She figured she’d wait after the date to think about it and sort it out.
Most men trying to make a good first impression would immediately apologize if their date told them they were uncomfortable, but Dan got defensive and put the blame on Leslie. He did what narcissists do: he made it about him. A man who can’t apologize or at least care how you feel is trouble.
If you are dealing with old baggage that makes it hard for you to see that the guy has problems, you should start to examine it. Try to accept that your feelings matter a lot when it comes to finding the relationship of your dreams, and never ignore them just to make him happy.
Are you able to tell if he’s a narcissist before you get involved? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your story!
Also, you can check out my FREE checklist to help you detect narcissists and players before they break your heart.