Is Your Partner a Narcissist?
This quiz from the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go? can help you determine the answer.
Photo: Zdenek Sasek/Getty Images
Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:
1. Does your partner seem cold or unfeeling in the face of your feelings or the feelings of other people, or does he seem to have difficulty understanding the feelings of other people?
2. Does your partner talk about his life, accomplishments and work in an exaggerated or larger-than-life way (for example, having an impossibly good job, how he is going to have the greatest of everything)? Is your partner arrogant and convinced of his superiority over other people?
3. Does your partner believe that he is entitled to special treatment in all areas of his life (to receive special treatment from businesses, service workers, friends and life in general)? Does he become angry when this special treatment is not accorded to him?
4. Does your partner manipulate people and situations to get his needs met, with little regard for the feelings of other people?
5. Does your partner become intensely angry very quickly—and usually out of proportion to the situation at hand?
6. Does your partner often think that people are out to get him or take advantage of him?
7. Is your partner able to hand out criticism easily, but does he have a hard time hearing even the slightest feedback without becoming defensive and even angry?
8. Is your partner frequently jealous of you and your friendships, relationships, successes and opportunities?
9. Does your partner do bad things and not feel guilty about them or even have any insight into the fact that these were not nice things to do?
10. Does your partner need constant admiration and validation, such as compliments, awards and honors, and does he seek it out (for example, through social media or constantly letting people know about his achievements)?
11. Does your partner regularly lie, leave out important details or give you inconsistent information?
12. Is your partner an expert showman, making a big show of everything he does, including parties, the car he drives, the places he goes and the way he portrays his life to others?
13. Does your partner regularly project his feelings onto you (for example, accusing you of being angry at a time he is yelling at you, or accusing you of being inconsistent when his life is chaotic)?
14. Is your partner greedy and materialistic? Does he covet more things and more money and stop at little to achieve these things?
15. Is your partner emotionally cold and distant? Does he become disconnected, particularly at times when you are experiencing or showing strong emotion?
16. Does your partner frequently second-guess you or doubt you to the point that you feel like you are "going crazy?"
17. Is your partner cheap with his time or money? Is he a person who will only be generous when it will serve his interests?
18. Does your partner regularly avoid taking responsibility, and is he quick to blame others for his mistakes? Does your partner tend to defend himself instead of taking responsibility for his behavior?
19. Is your partner vain and absorbed with his appearance or how he displays himself to the world (for example, grooming, clothing, accessories)?
20. Is your partner controlling? Does he attempt to control your behavior? Does he appear almost obsessive and compulsive in his need for order and control in his environment and schedule?
21. Are your partner's moods, behaviors and lifestyle unpredictable and inconsistent? Do you frequently feel like you do not know what is coming next?
22. Does your partner take advantage of you and other people on a regular basis? Does he take the opportunity to ensure his needs are met even if it means inconveniencing or taking advantage of the connections or time potentially offered by you or other people?
23. Does your partner enjoy watching other people fail? Does he take glee in the idea that someone's life or business is not going well, especially when that person has typically done better than him?
24. Does your partner find it difficult to be alone or spend time alone?
25. Does your partner have poor boundaries with other people? Does he maintain inappropriate relationships with friends and co-workers, and keep doing this even when he is told that this is uncomfortable for you?
26. Has your partner ever been sexually or emotionally unfaithful?
27. Does your partner tune out when you are talking? Does he yawn, check his device or get distracted by papers and tasks around him while you are talking to him?
28. Does your partner become vulnerable or sensitive at times of stress or when things are not going well? Is he unable to cope when faced with significant stressors, and does he become very fragile at these times?
29. Is your partner regularly neglectful or just not mindful of basic communication and courtesy (e.g., letting you know he is going to be late, or reflexively saying and doing hurtful and careless things)?
30. Does your partner frequently use his appearance or sexuality to get attention? Is he very flirtatious, or does he frequently use sexy banter with people outside of your relationship in his words, actions, and social media posts or text messages?
If you answered "yes" to 15 or more of these questions, you likely have a pathologically narcissistic partner. If you answered "yes" to 20 or more of these questions, then it is pretty much a guarantee. Obviously, some of these characteristics are more problematic than others, and some may cause you more distress.
For example, you may have answered "yes" to only a few items, including number 26, because your partner cheated on you. Not all cheaters are narcissistic, but that one behavior may have betrayed your trust in a significant and permanent way. (However, it will be rare for a person with an unfaithful partner to have that as the only "yes" on the list).
Some of these questions hold more weight than the others when it comes to diagnostic or pathological narcissism. The key questions include 1: grandiosity, 2: entitlement, 4: empathy, 10: admiration and validation seeking, 13: projection, and 18: avoidance of responsibility. These characteristics form the core of narcissism and fuel the dynamics of superficiality and inability to form deep and mutual intimate relationships. If your partner has these key characteristics, many of the other questions on the list will follow.
No one will have a partner for whom all of these answers will be "no"—all of us have some of these characteristics—so you may have a sweet, empathic partner who just happens to like a very clean car or closet. One snowflake does not make a blizzard, and one "yes" does not make a narcissist. However, the more of these you are experiencing with your partner, the more challenging your relationship will be.
This excerpt was taken from Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist, by Ramani Durvasula, PhD. Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles.