How Dating a Narcissist Changes You

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A relationship with a narcissist may be a roller-coaster of emotions, painful and depleting. Most of the time, being in a relationship with a narcissist severely impacts the health and well-being of their victims.

When you date a narcissist, your perceptions about yourself and the world may change. This can be devastating for your sense of self, self-esteem, and emotional stability.

Understanding how dating a narcissist changes you can help you break out of your toxic relationship and end the pattern of narcissistic abuse.

Are You Dating a Narcissist?

Are you concerned that your partner may be a narcissist? Here are some signs to help you recognize a narcissist:

  • They lavish you with love, attention, and gifts
  • They are jealous
  • They don’t show empathy
  • They gaslight you
  • They make you feel guilty 
  • They demean you in front of other people and turn others against you
  • They don’t respect your boundaries.
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What Are Common Narcissistic Behaviors in a Relationship?

1. Love Bombing

You may believe you are the luckiest person alive after meeting a narcissist. First, they might seem charming, humorous, and completely smitten with you. Then, they will love-bomb you, overwhelming you with love and attention.

Even if you grow concerned about things moving too fast, you might want to ignore what your gut tells you because it feels so amazing to be someone’s center of the universe.

However, the honeymoon phase of your relationship with a narcissist won’t last forever.

Narcissists usually only care about themselves. They use love bombing to control their victims, making them feel insecure and vulnerable. A narcissist will give you a hint of what’s to come and then pull it back. So, you’ll constantly try to meet their need for narcissistic supply in order for them to continue showering you with affection.

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2. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse that narcissists use to set up a subtle but long-lasting relationship dynamic in which they have full power and control.

For example, they may twist what was said or done to make you apologize for something you didn’t do. They’ll lie to you and then deny saying lies to confuse and undermine you. Gaslighting often leads the victim to lose a sense of self-worth and identity.

3. Hoovering

Hoovering is a manipulative strategy narcissists use to ensure narcissistic supply by keeping their victims in the relationship. When they sense that you want to leave, a narcissist may use hoovering to see whether you will reengage and return to abuse. They may make big promises, love bomb you, or threaten to harm themselves just to keep you around.

4. Triangulation

Triangulation is a common strategy of narcissistic abuse. To maintain control, a narcissist will pull another person into the dynamics of your relationship. And this can be anyone, from a family member to a total stranger.

5. Lack of Empathy

Narcissists are entirely self-absorbed and only care about what they want and how to get it. They can’t relate to other people’s needs or emotions and show no remorse for harming those who care about them. A narcissist will abandon you with no regrets once they are finished with you.

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Can a Narcissist be in a Healthy Relationship?

It is difficult to have a healthy and meaningful relationship with someone who is self-centered, controlling, and abusive. So, people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can usually not have healthy relationships.

However, if a person with narcissistic traits can respond with empathy and acknowledge your needs, then there might be some hope for the relationship.

How Dating a Narcissist Changes You

A relationship with a narcissist can have long-term effects on your sense of self and well-being. But it can cause some positive changes as well. So, here is how dating a narcissist changes you.

Loss of Identity

Constantly being a victim of narcissist gaslighting may cause you to question all you know and are. Also, because of narcissistic abuse, you may become submissive, feel small and unimportant, and see yourself as the narcissist’s toy. This can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and self-respect. As a result, you may struggle to set boundaries, make decisions, and feel good about yourself.

Enabling Abuse

If you habitually make excuses for a narcissist, prioritize their needs, lie to them, or even blame yourself for their behaviors, you may be supporting narcissist abuse.

Feelings of Helplessness and Anxiety

Narcissists value people for what they can offer them, so if things don’t go as planned, they will blame or even abuse you.

Your narcissistic partner may make you believe you’re not good enough to be loved by someone else. So, you may struggle to see your way out of the relationship. Their constant abuse may make you feel exhausted, anxious, and helpless most of the time.

You Become Cut Off from Other Relationships

Narcissists are controlling, possessive, and jealous. So, the longer you stay in a relationship with a narcissistic partner, the more they will isolate you from family and friends. They will never like your friends or coworkers. Instead, they will use jealousy to control you, criticizing and judging everyone you meet.

Dating a Narcissist Can Cause Positive Changes as Well

Leaving a toxic relationship with a narcissist can be difficult and stressful. However, dating a narcissist might have a good impact on you. For example, as you start to heal from narcissistic abuse, you may notice that you have become more resilient and can cope with grief better.

You may feel inspired and empowered to say no, set boundaries, and care for yourself. You may become more compassionate and develop stronger relationships with friends and family. Finally, you may better detect possible abuse symptoms and recognize toxic people.

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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My name is Kamini Wood, and I’m here to accompany you on your journey toward understanding yourself on a deeper level so can create the life you want personally and professionally. It’s time to embrace your AuthenticMe ™