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How To Identify Narcissistic Behavior And Leave the Relationship Safely

Tips to identifying an unhealthy relationship and how to safely leave.

The term ‘narcissistic’ has become a catch-all phrase used for someone who is self-centered, vain, and thoughtless. We all may be guilty of using it to call selfish people out for bad behavior, but its misuse may prevent people from being able to identify narcissism and see the warning signs to seek help in leaving a toxic relationship or other dangerous situations.

What Is Narcissism?

The clinical term refers to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is someone with an inflated sense of self-importance who disregards others to the point of potential harm, abuse, and even death. It is most prevalent in men and, though a direct cause is unknown, there is a correlation of both genetic and environmental factors.

Please note: NPD must be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional.

Signs of NPD include a combination of:

  • A sense of entitlement and grandiose

  • An excessive need for admiration or attention

  • Disregard for others' feelings or safety

  • An inability to handle any type of criticism

  • Exploitative by taking advantage of others to achieve personal gains

  • Unreasonable expectation of special treatment to comply with their wishes

What Does Narcissistic Abuse Look Like?


Partners of narcissists are drawn to their perceived sense of self-worth and confidence. Unfortunately, those relationships become transactional for their own attention, sexual satisfaction, and ego. Boundaries and respect for their partner are virtually non-existent which means they lose interest when manipulation is no longer a challenge or you begin to expect emotional intimacy they can’t give.

Lack of Empathy

Whether you need understanding through a difficult time or want someone to celebrate your successes, you will need to look elsewhere than a narcissistic partner. Lacking empathy is a common narcissistic behavior which means a lack of remorse when hurting those around them and not apologizing without reward is to be expected throughout the relationship.


Tactics like gaslighting can make someone question what’s really happening in the relationship. Documenting interactions with your partner may help you confirm whether you are being gaslighted and help retain your sanity as you either learn to deal with their narcissistic behavior or leave the relationship.

How To Leave The Relationship Safely

Find Support

One of the most important ways to be seen and heard, when you are experiencing narcissistic abuse, is having a support system. A narcissist will often isolate you from those who may provide help in potentially harmful situations. Make sure to communicate clearly and openly with loved ones to combat isolation when you’re feeling alone and make plans to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.

Make A Plan

Once you’re able to identify narcissistic behaviors, make plans to get help for you and your partner. Once you know whether your partner is open to attending therapy sessions, plan to set boundaries to deal with it or remove yourself from the relationship altogether.

Get Therapy

Seeking help from a therapist who understands your situation can provide you with the necessary tools to get back to a healthy place. Therapy can help you develop strategies to cope and protect your mental and emotional well-being.

If you feel that you may be in a relationship with a narcissist and need support, please reach out to KQH Mental Health Counseling to see how we can help you today!

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