Romantic Relationship With a Narcissist: Pre-Election Campaign


A person with narcissistic personality disorder is in a life-long search of ideal love. They suffer from being unsure if they love or are loved back.  They also suffer from not being understood. They cannot find their Mr. or Ms. Right because people worthy of such a perfect partner as themselves simply do not exist. Unsurprisingly, they end up destroying their love.

 How It All Begins

As in any relationship, everything starts out great.  You would not even suspect anything fishy. A narcissist’s courtship is beautiful and passionate, right out of a fairy-tale. You are showered with flowers and presents, wined and dined at expensive restaurants, drowned in compliments.  The narcissist seems so interesting, clever, caring and generous; you cannot fail to notice their intelligent conversation and wide knowledge in many areas.

In Search of Admiration

The narcissist talks about their success at work, science or sports. You are certain to hear about their superior education followed up by working for famous companies. Your new acquaintance will not fail to tell you how highly valued and respected they are by colleagues and friends. Another favorite subject is their background: exciting places they have been, mouth-watering food they have tasted, breath-taking sights they have seen, wonderful people they have met. In short, you are bound to think them the most interesting person you have ever met.

Sometimes a narcissist likes to talk about their family history: “My grandmother was the countess of N”, or “Our noble family hails back to medieval Burgundy”. They mention their important connections whose names are certain to draw an exclamation of admiration from you. The narcissist may talk about all of these subjects at once or just about one of them. This is how their grandiose image is created in your mind.

At this point, you cannot but feel flattered: “What an outstanding person I just met!” Be warned that the only goal of this grandiose image is to impress you.  Admiration is vitally important to a narcissist because they need it to fill up the emptiness inside them. Unsurprisingly, seeking admiration is their goal in any relationship, and especially in love. If your new acquaintance seems to indulge too much in such talk, you might want to try not to ignore them and watch their reaction. With a narcissist, you are sure to feel a certain tension and awkwardness since they may be very hurt by a lack of praise. Possibly, they will not air their resentment, but you will undoubtedly feel it. Another scenario is possible: if the narcissist is really taken with you, they will redouble their efforts to obtain your admiration. And if they succeed, watch their reaction to your praise. Normally a narcissist would be very pleased, to the point glowing with pleasure. No wonder: you just gave them their dose of energy, and they are high on your admiration.


A narcissist does not just pay you compliments, they drown you in them. You will hear abundant and frequent praise of your beauty, intelligence, kindness and so on, especially at the beginning of your relationship. On hearing a compliment, try asking yourself if you feel obliged to pay it back. Normally, people pay compliments in order to be nice, to show appreciation or another sincere sentiment. However, a narcissist has quite a different goal: to get compliments and thus some energy of admiration.

What is a narcissist reaction to an unanswered compliment? They are sure to be hurt. You might feel uncomfortable or guilty, and the energy level of your conversation will fall. Trust your feelings even in such small things.

“Kindred Spirit”
On first dates, a narcissist seems to read your thoughts. They finish your sentences for you; they anticipate your every wish, whatever it is. You immediately notice how much you have in common; such affinity of minds and souls appears absolutely incredible. Your partner likes the same books and films, has the same hobbies, favorite music, food and style of clothing. You think, “We are made for each other!” What really happens is tuning in, reading your data and readjustment. A narcissist does not know their own interests, goals, or capabilities. Nothing they have is their own. Everything is borrowed from others. And now you are the image your partner is mirroring.  Their attempts to please you are a part of their current pre-election campaign.

Try testing your prospective “kindred spirit” for narcissism. Before talking about your own preferences, ask your partner what books or films they like. Then tell them you prefer something different and watch their reaction. If they frantically change preferences in order to suit yours, be on your guard. A person in sound psychological health and with a high self-esteem would not be bothered to tell you that their interests differ, like that they like some other kind of films or clothing. On the contrary, a narcissist’s strategy is to become like you in order to conquer you.

 Example of narcissist’s mimicry.

A man whom I consulted told me about the behaviour of his narcissistic wife at the beginning of their relationship. Being quite a tall woman, she used to try to look smaller, wear heelless shoes and even hunch her back slightly. The reason is that stereotypically a woman should be shorter than a man, and she wanted to follow this stereotype to please my client. In contrast, after the wedding, she started wearing high heels and held her head high. She was no longer bothered by her height and even seemed to proudly tower over him.

This woman never cooked. But, as soon as she learned that her prey liked cooking, she repeatedly invited him to home-made dinners, highlighting their “common passion”. Her mother accredited this new hobby to love, but after they got married, no dinners were forthcoming any longer.

On first dates, my client’s partner admired everything about him: his hobbies, his work, his abilities and looks, and tried to get him to pay back her compliments. If nothing of this kind was offered, his date’s mood changed immediately: she started praising herself, almost forcing his approval. After their wedding, she never complimented her husband, although she still wanted compliments from him.

Trust Your Feelings!

During the pre-election campaign, a narcissist is irresistibly charismatic and charming. Your having other suitors will only make your new acquaintance triple their efforts. They will try to get rid of all the contenders and win the prize – you. A narcissist always wants to seem the best choice, mostly by trying to steal the spotlight.

Seeing through a narcissist’s disguise requires good self-reflection skills, that is, awareness of your bodily feelings and emotions. While in conversation with a narcissist, the most frequent body feelings are pressure and tension in the stomach or solar plexus area. You might not yet understand the connection between your date’s behaviour and your tension, but you already feel it. Trust your feelings: they are an important diagnostic marker.  You may also be interested in my video on hidden signs of narcissism, on ignoring and intrusiveness.

Please be on your guard. If you see a narcissist, run away! Every day with them tightens the noose around your neck. Going out with a narcissist is like doing drugs. You get high and want to do it again; it is stronger than you. However, this is followed by a hangover and a painful withdrawal. At this point, you have to get some more to get rid of the pain, and no pleasure is yours any longer. Getting off such a relationship is very difficult, and sometimes impossible. Do not risk it, as you would not risk it with drugs.

If you see any of the alarming signs, do not commit yourself in a hurry. Wait before proposing, getting married or even moving in with your partner. A narcissist is bound to show their true nature soon. Your patience will protect you against dependence and many painful years to come.

I wish you awareness of your feelings and happiness in your relationships.


Author: Tatiana Dyachenko, systemic life coach, Ph.D. in psychology


Translation from Russian: Tatiana Fridman




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