10 Narcissistic Traits To Look Out For With Your Spouse (And What To Do About It)

Do the words selfish, arrogant, or manipulative describe your spouse to a tee? And does that mean they are a narcissist? Maybe or maybe not. Many people don’t realize that there’s a mental health condition known as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, up to only 5% of people who exhibit narcissistic behaviors truly have NPD. But the label doesn’t necessarily matter because anyone can display narcissistic behavior from time to time. Regardless of whether the diagnosis is there or not, the result is the same: narcissist behavior is extremely detrimental to a relationship and the well-being of the person subjected to it. As such, here are common narcissistic traits to look out for and what to do about them.

The Facts on Narcissism

Narcissism in and of itself can be considered on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum, narcissistic behavior occurs occasionally; on the other end, a person may be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The difference is that a person with NPD exhibits a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, a tendency to exploit others, and a lack of empathy. However, a specific set of criteria must be met for the diagnosis. 

The cause of NPD is unknown, but it is suspected to be a combination of genetics, neurobiology, and environment. What’s more, these narcissistic traits often begin to show in teens and early adulthood, affecting males more than females.

Common Narcissistic Traits

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Narcissistic behavior typically falls into two categories; overt and covert. Overt narcissists more outwardly exhibit their traits and are often seen as demanding and responding with anger when they don’t get their way. On the other hand, covert narcissists may seem shy or modest, but they are extremely sensitive to how others perceive them and tend to hold grudges. Regardless, they share similar traits, which include: 

  • An overinflated sense of self-importance.
  • Overreacting to criticism.
  • Fixated on being more successful, influential, intelligent, loved, or attractive than others.
  • Feelings of superiority.
  • Need for excessive admiration.
  • Sense of entitlement.
  • A willingness to take advantage of others with no remorse.
  • Playing the victim.
  • Making everything about them.
  • Lack of understanding and consideration for other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Arrogant or snobby behaviors and attitudes.

What To Do If You’re Married to A Narcissist

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While therapy can certainly help a person with NPD and/or narcissistic behavior, your spouse must be willing to change. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case, as narcissists typically don’t see their behavior as a problem. So, you’ll need to decide if it’s worth it to stay married or leave the relationship and get divorced.

If you decide to move forward with a divorce, you’ll want to find an attorney with experience in high-conflict divorces. If children are involved, you’ll also want to create a legal parenting plan as soon as possible. We recommend going through an intermediary during this process. For example, our experienced mediators and Certified Divorce Specialists™ can help with child custody, child support, and divorce mediation. In divorce mediation, a neutral third party works with you to negotiate a mutual settlement agreement. This is often less combative than court litigation, but it can also save you time and money. What’s more, you and your spouse don’t even have to be in the same room during mediation, as our services are 100 percent virtual!

Contact us today for more information on how our mediation services and coaching can help.

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