Recognizing Red Flags: Early Signs of Narcissism in Relationships


Relationships can be some of the most fulfilling and rewarding aspects of our lives. They can also be complex and challenging, especially when one or both partners exhibit narcissistic traits. Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by a deep need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and a sense of entitlement. Recognizing early signs of narcissism in a relationship is crucial to maintaining your emotional well-being and ensuring a healthy, balanced partnership.

Excessive Self-Centeredness

One of the most apparent early signs of narcissism is excessive self-centeredness. Narcissists tend to make everything about themselves. They may constantly steer conversations toward their own experiences, achievements, and needs, often disregarding or downplaying your feelings and concerns. While everyone has moments of self-focus, narcissists consistently prioritize themselves.

Lack of Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Narcissists struggle with empathy, as they often find it challenging to put themselves in your shoes. They may dismiss your emotions, minimize your struggles, or even blame you for your own feelings. This lack of empathy can lead to emotional neglect in the relationship.

Manipulative Behavior

Narcissists are skilled manipulators. They may use charm, flattery, or even guilt to get what they want. Be cautious if your partner frequently employs manipulation tactics, as this can lead to a power imbalance and emotional coercion in the relationship.

Grandiosity and Arrogance

Narcissists often exhibit grandiose behavior and an inflated sense of self-importance. They may constantly seek attention, praise, and admiration. If your partner displays an excessive need for validation and seems excessively self-assured, it’s essential to recognize this as a potential red flag.

Difficulty Taking Responsibility

Narcissists tend to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. They may shift blame onto others, including you, when problems arise. This can lead to a pattern of deflection, making it challenging to address and resolve issues in the relationship.

Intense Need for Control

Narcissists often crave control in their relationships. They may dictate how you should behave, where you should go, and who you should spend time with. This need for control can lead to feelings of suffocation and an erosion of your independence.

Triangulation and Love-Bombing

Narcissists can employ manipulative tactics like triangulation, where they involve a third party to create jealousy or insecurity in the relationship. On the flip side, they might also engage in love-bombing, showering you with affection and attention to gain your trust before later withdrawing it.

Frequent Boundary Violations

Healthy relationships rely on mutual respect for boundaries. Narcissists often struggle to respect personal boundaries, invading your privacy, and making unilateral decisions that affect both of you without your input. This can lead to feelings of powerlessness and frustration.

Mood Swings and Unpredictability

Narcissists can be emotionally unpredictable. They may switch between periods of extreme charm and affection to coldness and disdain. This emotional rollercoaster can leave you feeling confused and on edge.


Recognizing early signs of narcissism in a relationship is crucial for your emotional well-being. While these signs may not guarantee that your partner is a full-fledged narcissist, they do indicate potential issues that should be addressed. It’s essential to remember that narcissism exists on a spectrum, and individuals may exhibit these traits to varying degrees.

If you notice these red flags in your relationship, it’s important to communicate your concerns with your partner. Seek professional help or counseling if necessary. Remember that a healthy relationship should be built on mutual respect, empathy, and open communication. Your well-being should always be a top priority, and recognizing and addressing narcissistic behaviors early can help you make informed decisions about the future of your relationship.

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Katina Farrell

Katina Farrell

Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert®

Katina Farrell, CDRE® is an experienced Realtor & Managing Broker who specializes in real estate transactions, with expertise as a trained Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert® and a Certified Negotiation Expert. She handles the sale of real property in family law cases as a neutral expert. Schedule a complimentary chat and discover more ways Katina can help you resolve the real estate challenges plaguing your divorce cases.

Call: 720-295-8848


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