“This is the best relationship that I’ve ever had!” is often part of the description of the problem. You see, narcissists know what you want and like. They have no trouble lying and telling you what you want to hear. This makes it very confusing to determine if they are “the best” or “the worst” thing to happen to you.
It is important to observe what they do. Try to ignore the promises and excuses and examine the irrefutable evidence of what actually happened.
So, look backwards, do not consider what you’ve been promised. There are two key questions that usually get to heart of this:
Think of a situation where you wanted conflicting things. No chance for compromise like, if we buy this we can’t afford that, or, if we do this we can’t do that. I want to stress again, agreeing that “next time” will be your turn is just an illusion.
Do you ever get your first choice in these matters? I’m not asking whether or not he/she gets you to agree that their choice is better–that’s not the point of this. Do you ever get your first choice in these situations?
One small caveat. If you have been fighting and a concession is made to win you back or to keep you from leaving, this does not count. We are only discussing when you are deciding on making a choice, not in the “win you back phase”. Pause for a moment and consider a relationship where-in you only get your way by threatening to leave. That is a nasty arrangement, but I digress.
Second question: you’ve had a bad day, or you’re ill or you got into a disagreement with someone you like. How does he/she respond? There are two broad categories. She either does what she can to listen to you, support you as best she can or make your life nicer, maybe suggest dinner out or a good movie. Or, his day has been worse! He has a lot of work to do and he is busy. Things are bad for him as well. You should get over it. You always complain and are never happy. You are making things unpleasant for him. “Suck it up!” “Get over it.”
*I hate pronouns! Narcissists are just as likely male as female. Males make the news more, because these traits benefit men. Women with these traits can be seen seen as “bitchy” and tend not to be as visible or successful with these traits. This makes it seem like there are more men, but it is not my experience as a coach that works with people who have had to deal with a narcissist. So think of the pronouns as interchangeable.
The examples I’ve given are stereotypes and over simplified, but directly address whether or not he cares about you and your needs. If you do not get what you want when his needs are in conflict–ever, and if your emotions are downplayed and you are not supported, you are with someone who does not care about you. Lack of empathy is what defines a narcissist.
Final point. His words are not what are important. His actions are what matters. He can say whatever he wants and he never really has to do any of it. Look at the pattern of what has happened.