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Is he a narcissist?

Here’s how to tell — and how to deal with one

By Jocelyn Gavin Lane

Ever wondered why the person you’re dating, or perhaps a close friend, seems to turn every conversation back to themself? It could just be a quirk, or it could be something more — like narcissism.

Knowing whether you’re involved with a narcissist can save you a lot of emotional turmoil. Let’s unpack what to look for and how to handle the situation. If the alarm bells are ringing that you’re dealing with a probable personality disorder, you’ll need tact, a cool head and a solid support system.


You may be surprised to learn that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) affects a relatively small percentage of the population, estimated at about 1%, according to the American Psychiatric Association. However, many people may exhibit narcissistic traits without meeting the full criteria for NPD, which still can make relationships challenging. When we haphazardly place labels on people without expertise or a proper diagnosis, we can increase mental health stigma in our communities.


Narcissists can be incredibly magnetic and charming, initially drawing you in with their confidence. But beneath that allure are some warning signs:

1. Lack of empathy:

Does it seem like this person is just not that into your feelings? Narcissists often struggle to make genuine emotional connections, making you feel ignored or trivialized.

2. Grand plans and grandstanding:

Narcissists often have an inflated idea of who they are and what they’ve achieved. If someone always bragging and seeking constant praise, take note.

3. Thirst for admiration:

A neverending quest for compliments and positive feedback is a classic trait of narcissism. Criticism, no matter how constructive, usually doesn’t go down well.

4. Manipulation masterclass:

Ever feel like you’re being emotionally toyed with? Narcissists are pros at bending situations — and people — to their favor.

5. Entitlement:

Watch for a persistent sense of entitlement. Narcissists tend to expect special treatment, as if the world owes them.


If the red flags are waving, here are some strategies to keep your sanity:

  • Set clear personal boundaries; imagine drawing a line in the sand. It’s crucial to determine what you will and won’t tolerate. Narcissists are known for testing limits, and it’s vital to stand firm on your own terms.
  • When things heat up, it’s important to keep your cool. Engaging in emotional showdowns or deep, heavy discussions often plays right into narcissists’ hands, as they likely will twist the conversation to create drama or gain the upper hand. Instead, try to keep interactions straightforward and unemotional. It might feel a bit clinical, but it helps prevent situations from spiraling out of control.
  • Build your support system. Handling a narcissist can be draining. Lean on friends or consider talking to a counselor to help you.
  • Look after yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in a narcissist’s drama. Remember, your needs are important, too. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
  • Sometimes, the best move is to seek advice from someone, such as a licensed mental health professional, who deals with personality disorders. This person can offer insights and coping mechanisms you may not have considered.

Being involved with a narcissist isn’t easy, and it’s okay to seek help or decide to step back from the relationship if it’s affecting your wellbeing. Remember, it’s not selfish to put your emotional health first; it’s necessary.

Jocelyn Gavin Lane, LCSW, is owner and clinical director of Premier Professional Counseling Services LLC. Reach her at (228) 220-4226.

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