Once your children begin dating, it opens a whole new world of possibilities. It brings in a new member to the family which can be a good or bad thing depending on the person and their characteristics. But what if your son is dating a narcissist?
Your kid may have a good heart, but that doesn’t mean everyone has parented their children with the same values in mind as you did.
I didn’t like my son’s girlfriend and it seemed irrational because she hadn’t done anything directly to me, but I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until I was educated about narcissism that I knew what the issue was.
As a parent, you want your kids to be happy. There should not be a time where your child should be experiencing any mental battles but unfortunately, my son had to deal with a narcissistic girlfriend.
What is a Narcissist?
A narcissist is a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
A narcissist has an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They may display the need for a consistent flow of admiration, a lack of empathy, the inability to accept any form of criticism, and a sense of entitlement.
They believe that they are above being held accountable for their negative actions, and will often manipulate the people around them to ensure that it never happens. In relationships, they’re often abusive and they are able to hide in the dark because their tactics aren’t widely recognized.
“She wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, we loved her.”
When you first start a relationship with a narcissist, it will probably be a pretty good start, maybe better than you had expected- and much faster.
When a narcissist finds a new target, they use a tactic called love bombing to get the person hooked. Love bombing is a tactic where the narcissist will shower the victim with affection in order to manipulate them. They want to get you used to the good life- the physical affection, the positive affirmations, the grand gestures.
They want the first impression you have of them to be great, they also want you to make a connection and develop an attachment to them.
They want you to look at them like they are the best person in the world so when they start to show their true colors later on, it will be harder to walk away.
The Love Bombing Wears Off Eventually.
In the beginning, she was charming and seemed to really love my son. She was kind, respectful, and accomplished. I was happy that my son had found a good woman to share his life with.
As she became more comfortable with my son and our family, things began to occur that left us with a bad taste in our mouths.
She started talking about herself and her accomplishments all the time when she would be around us.
She would fill the room with talk about herself, but would fall silent when others celebrated themselves too- almost as if it was a slight to her to acknowledge anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong- it’s one thing to be proud of yourself. It’s another to be obsessed with yourself and have nothing else to talk about.
I started to notice my distaste for her when I would find myself annoyed in her presence. I thought “maybe a little self-absorbed, but she loves my son, and that’s what matters.”
Everyone Has Their Flaws, Right?
Many red flags may be excused in the beginning before the pattern of behavior is recognized and their true colors are shown.
It is obvious that nobody is perfect. You and I both have our own flaws, so should we shut another person down for theirs? especially with people close to us or our loved ones.
We may offer an extended grace period for them to become a better person but unsavory things will come to the surface in time. Their manipulative tendencies and self-serving ideas are the most important thing in their world and you will not enjoy their company at all.
If you fear your son may be being abused by his narcissistic partner, there are some things that you should be on the lookout for.
What is Considered “Abuse”?
Abuse comes in many forms. When I realized my son is dating a narcissist, I started to look for signs of abuse.
For example, she would start by making a personal dig at him masked as a joke. She will make these “jokes” a lot and continually repeat them until eventually, she resorts to straight-up putting him down without hiding behind humor.
Once she reaches that threshold where she feels comfortable enough with how much control she has over him, the insults will come from left and right- about his job, his appearance, his accomplishments, his aspirations, intelligence, and/or his support system.
She might insult him for things she praised him for in the love-bombing stage of their relationship, which could leave your son feeling confused and insecure.
Does she Exert her Control over your Son to Get Her Way?
Over the course of time, my son started to get more and more isolated.
She had hot and cold behavior that left him trying to stabilize things by any means necessary. If he didn’t do what she said or what she wanted, he would have to pay for it later.
He found it easier to stop fighting her and “go with the flow.”’ This might work for a while if they force it hard enough, but not for long because resentment is sure to grow. His feelings are buried so far down that his girlfriend won’t know they’re there.
That’s the way it has to be so he can focus his energy on giving her constant admiration and compliance.
Gaslighting and Blame-shifting are Her Hobbies.
A narcissist can not accept criticism.
When my son brings up his girlfriend’s behavior to her, she goes through a cycle of manipulation tactics until something works.
First, she will gaslight him. She will tell him that he’s exaggerating, making it up, or repeating things that I’ve put into his head. She will do anything to avoid admitting that she did something wrong.
When that doesn’t work, she moves on to blame-shifting. The woman has a talent for turning any wrong-doing of hers into my son’s fault. Even when she hurts him- he is always to blame because he didn’t admire her enough or follow through with one of her commands.
Finally, for her final performance, she will cry. More than that- she’ll sob. She’ll scream and cry and blow snot bubbles while she talks to him in circles about her feelings and how hurt she feels that he is attempting to set a boundary.
By the end of the dramatics, he often feels guilted into making amends, even when he was the one attempting to address an issue.
Even still, he Loves her. What can I do?
Unfortunately, you cannot force the two apart. Doing so may even push your son further away which is something I had to experience myself.
When I made myself his girlfriend’s enemy, I made him have to choose between me and his peace at home. I have learned over time to choose my battles with his girlfriend.
I avoid overstepping but I do offer support to my son. I recommend books and videos about narcissistic abuse and let him know he has somewhere to go when he feels he’s ready.
In his own time, I trust that he will make the decision to leave. He will only put up with misery for so long. When he does take that step, I will be there to support him- but until then, all I can do is love him through it.
Final Thoughts – My Son Is Dating A Narcissist
If your son is dating a narcissist, advising him about the long-term effects is important.
Your children are the most important thing to you so making sure that they are in a good relationship is something that you would hope for.
Unforutanly, there will be times where things don’t work out the way you hoped and they turn out to be dating someone who has narcissistic tendencies.
Explain that they use certain tactics to gain someone’s affection, get them hooked on, then start controlling them using their emotions.
This is why dealing with a narcissist is something that many people struggle with. It requires mental toughness and a way to handle emotional warfare.
All in all, your son dating a narcissist is not the end of the world. It just takes time and effort for him to finally step up and end this cycle once and for all.