Most of us have had the non-pleasurable experience of dating a narcissist at least once in our single lives. We picture the narcissist as being the one who is highly self-centered, craves attention, and has a strong lack of empathy for others, but this isn’t always the case. According to Psychology Today, there are actually several different classifications of narcissism, and they aren’t always as obvious as the classic definition. In fact, some of us may be living with a narcissistic significant other without even realizing it.
The Definition. Psychology Today states, “the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration.” These behaviors usually include manipulative tendencies and a high level of arrogance (even if masked as confidence).
Need for Attention. Most of us assume the narcissist is the person in the room who is commanding all of the attention. While it’s certainly true that many of them tend to hog the conversational flow, not all narcissists are that easy to point out in a crowd.
Varying Shades of Narcissism. Narcissists don’t always fall neatly into the stereotypical definition most of us think of when we envision the tell-tale self-absorbed extrovert. In fact, there are several different “subsets” of narcissism in the medical world – some of which are increasingly difficult to spot.
Three Main Subsets
According to Dr. Elinor Greenberg, there are three main “types” of narcissists. “I have found it useful to divide Narcissistic Personality Disorder into three main subtypes – Exhibitionist, Closet, and Toxic,” Dr. Greenberg explains.
Identifying Personalities. Greenberg explains there are many different traits involved with NPD that aren’t always understood initially as being narcissistic behavior. The easiest way to understand it, she says, is to pay close attention to the specific actions to identify which type they may fall under.
Exhibitionist Narcissists. The most common type is identified as the Exhibitionist Narcissist. This is the type we think of when we picture the stereotypical attention hog. “They tend to dominate conversations, feel entitled to special treatment, act supremely confident, and enjoy telling stories and giving advice,” Greenberg says.
Closet Narcissists. The second type, the Closet Narcissists, get their highs by associating with someone or something they admire. In short, “they feel too exposed and vulnerable to enjoy being the center of attention. Instead they find ways to attach themselves to people, causes, religions, and other things that they admire and consider special. They then feel special by association,” Greenberg explains.
Toxic Narcissists. The Toxic Narcissist is the most harmful of the three. Those classified as Toxic, are generally the truly sadistic sociopathic personalities with zero regard for others. “Their poisonous intent is very obvious when they present in an overt form, such as the classroom bully who terrorizes the weakest kids, or the boss who angrily devalues a different person every day in front of the whole team,” explains Greenberg.
Dating a Narcissist. So what do you do if you come to realize you’re dating a narcissist? Well, according to Psychology Today, it’s important to first understand that a narcissist is someone with deep psychological tendencies – it isn’t a newly developed behavior. It is something that’s been with them since childhood and not likely to change.
Repeat Offenders. “Narcissists are usually fairly overt when it comes to demonstrating their relationship style, because they are not usually aware of what their actions say about them. They also tend to repeat the same relationship patterns over and over again,” Greenberg says.
Dating an Exhibitionist Narcissist. According to Greenberg, when you’re on a first date with an Exhibitionist Narcissist, they will dominate the conversation to the point of exclusion. “When they are not bragging about their own accomplishments or telling stories in which they play a heroic or starring role, they are busy devaluing anyone who disagrees with them,” she explains.
Dating a Closet Narcissist. A first date with a Closet Narcissist is a bit more difficult to spot since these types don’t particularly love the spotlight in the same ways as an Exhibitionist does. Instead, they have a more indirect approach: “they may play the victim and use your pity to persuade you to do what they want,” Greenberg explains.
Dating a Toxic Narcissist. It goes without saying, if you find yourself on a date with a Toxic Narcissist, you need to run – hard and fast. “Their goal is to establish themselves as better than you and make you feel inferior and inadequate. Life with them is one long putdown,” says Greenberg.
Using Others. While there are several varying degrees and styles of narcissistic behavioral types, they all have one thing in common: they are users. “Narcissists are not all alike, but all use other people to help regulate their self-esteem,” Greenberg explains. It helps to understand this when trying to work your way through the world of dating and finding the right compliment to your own needs.
by Jamie Kreps
Source: Rebel Circus