The Narcissist Red Flags You Should Be On The Lookout For In The Dating World

If ever there were a type of person that you should avoid at all costs, it's a narcissist. Well, narcissists and serial killers, the latter of whom are also usually narcissists. Although the Cleveland Clinic reports that only 5% of the population has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), it doesn't mean that people can't have narcissistic traits that make them narcissists without the official diagnosis of having NPD.

While narcissists aren't fundamentally bad people, per se, anyone who lacks empathy — as narcissists do — is the type of person you probably don't want in your life. Especially if you're someone who prioritizes intimacy in a relationship and many, if not most, people do.

But if you haven't grown up with a narcissistic family member or have any narcissistic friends, identifying a narcissist in the dating world isn't always cut and dry. You could be chatting with someone on a dating app or be on a first date, and you can't tell if they're a narcissist or just arrogant and self-absorbed. Because of this, you want to have a heads up as to what the narcissist red flags are when you're dating so, if need be, you can get out of the situation before it evolves and their even truer toxic colors surface.

They only want to talk about themselves

If you love to talk about yourself, you're not alone and it doesn't necessarily mean you're a narcissist. Research has found that for many, their favorite topic is themselves, with people spending an estimated 60% of a conversation on the subject. When it comes to how much time we indulge in our favorite topic — us! — on social media, that number goes up to 80% (via Scientific American).

But as much as most of us could talk about ourselves all day, we still know when to pause, ask questions about the other person, and have a back-and-forth dialogue. We know how to not talk at people, but to talk with them. Narcissists don't have the capability of talking with people, because their ego is so inflated that they can only see themselves. Even if you attempt to jump into the conversation, whether it be on a dating app or a first date, you'll either be ignored, talked over, or the narcissist will feign interest for the briefest of moments before going back to talking about themselves. While this behavior is also linked to their lack of empathy, it's not always easy to see it that way in the early stages of dating someone. That's why you need to home in on how much they discuss themselves and see that as a glaring red flag.

They brag about their accomplishments

When people accomplish goals or fulfill their dreams, that's definitely something to be excited about and, of course, they want to share it. It's important to be proud of your successes, whether they're big or small, and relish in them. But a narcissist takes this to a whole other level — a level in which they brag incessantly about not just what they've achieved in life, but the money they've made, their social standing, and a whole bunch of things that they're likely far more impressed by than you are.

Although some people are just natural braggers, where the narcissist red flags come in is when they downplay your successes, especially while comparing them to theirs. It's this technique that they use over and over again, so much so that people who are in relationships with narcissists can feel unseen, neglected, and unable to express themselves because of how their narcissistic partner suppresses them, per PsychCentral.

You should never have to sit through a date where someone is constantly trying to one-up you when it comes to accomplishments. Success looks different to different people, and having something you're proud of be shot down isn't just wrong, but manipulative and unhealthy.

They act very entitled

Narcissists are notoriously entitled. They firmly believe that they are deserving of everything they want and need. It's this entitlement that they feel gives them carte blanche to do whatever it takes to satisfy their desires, including using people, lying, and ignoring facts. According to a 2020 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, narcissists, especially those who are grandiose in their attitude, are so certain of themselves, so over-confident, so entitled, and so lacking in self-awareness, that they have a very high likelihood of making bad decisions. When the outcome of those decisions backfires, they never take responsibility for it. Instead, they blame someone, anyone, else.

A perfect example of this type of behavior on a date might look like them ordering a cocktail then, upon receiving it and it not tasting as they want it to, blaming the server or bartender for doing it wrong — and probably making a scene about it in the process. The drink could have been made exactly by the book, but to a narcissist who doesn't get their way, everyone else is to blame and, because of that, they'll feel entitled to a round of free drinks, a comped dinner, or something else equally obnoxious.

They make backhanded compliments

When someone lacks empathy and suffers from a superiority complex, as narcissists do, they have an inherent need to make those around them second-guess their choices. If you show up to a date wearing something that you love and you think, or rather know, you look fantastic in, a narcissist will be sure to strip you of your self-esteem as quickly as they can. For example, they might say something like, "I wouldn't expect you to be able to pull off that color, but it looks good on you" or if it's a first date, "Your photos online made it difficult for me to recognize you."

As long as they can take your self-confidence down a bit, then they'll feel as though they've won, and a narcissist always has to win even if there isn't a prize to claim for it. If you walk away from a date feeling completely awful about yourself, that's your red flag to not only never see them again, but block them.

They tend to love bomb

One of the most confusing and infuriating red flags that narcissists have up their sleeves is the ability to be charming. These people exude charm in a way that can be so darn intoxicating that you don't which end is up anymore. Sometimes, depending on what type of narcissist you've stumbled upon, you might even find yourself love-bombed. At first, this can feel great, because who doesn't want to be swept off their feet? But what's important to realize is that a narcissist isn't love-bombing you because of you. It's because they need you to praise and admire them for this type of behavior.

"This type of psychological manipulation is deeply problematic and is unlikely to develop into something healthier," psychotherapist and relationship counselor Denise Dunne told InStyle. "My advice is to get out of the relationship by cutting all emotional ties and communication — someone with narcissistic traits will often try and entice you back, even if just for an argument."

Although being able to pinpoint all the narcissist red flags very early on isn't as simple as one would hope, if you can recognize even one or two, that's enough to end things immediately. You don't want to stick around and see what other red flags will be popping up over time. Once you're in a relationship with a narcissist, the power they hold over their partner is so strong that, for many, trying to break free can be near-impossible.