dating a narcissist warning signs

5 Early Warning Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist

Sharing is caring

With Narcissism being the buzzword all over the media these days, there are thousands of websites that offer dating advice on how to avoid narcissists.

However, after a while, the articles all start to look the same…rehashing the same cookie-cutter DSM criteria, reciting how self-centered narcissists are and how they’re always the center of attention.  Frankly, readers often come away more confused after searching for dating advice as it pertains to detecting disordered personalities.

Since people are generally on their best behavior during early dating, how can you really know if someone is a narcissist, or just trying to make a good impression? 

There are many things to be cautious of when avoiding narcissists in the dating arena.  Today, I share five top red flags to be on the lookout for so you can avoid users, losers, and abusers.

Video Transcript

1 – You Find Yourself Making All the Effort

In today’s world of online dating, it’s common to widen your list of prospects by searching for matches that live one to two hours away, sometimes more.

In this scenario, both parties should be willing to take on their share of traveling. Narcissists will often have a long list of reasons why you should travel to them instead of the other way around. They might pardon themselves due to their job, their custody situation, et cetera. However, everyone has their own lives, responsibilities, and obligations. If you can hire a babysitter and adjust your work schedule, they can too.  Keep in mind that this should also be the case if the two of you live in the same city.

If you find that you are the one making all the effort, it’s possible you’ve become a narcissist’s target or, at the very least, in the company of someone who’s entitled and emotionally unavailable.

2 – After One or Two Dates, They Ask You to Change Your Hair Color or Wardrobe

This is an underhanded way for a narcissist to determine if you have co-dependent tendencies. If you are willing to make big changes to your appearance, like your hair or clothing style, it means you are highly cooperative, which is a trait narcissists look for.

They also do this to give you the false hope that the relationship has long-term potential. If someone you’ve just started seeing is already telling you things you should change about yourself, nip it in the bud. After all, what makes them so special that you need to immediately change yourself to their satisfaction? Don’t give them the impression that you are unhappy with yourself.

Tell them to take a hike and continue your search for Mr. Or Ms. Right, who will like you just the way you are.

3 – They Make Inappropriate Comments of a Sexual Nature

Unless you’ve made it clear that you are into casual encounters, no one should open this subject in the initial dating phase and especially not on the first date. This is another ploy by the narcissist to find out if you are willing to engage in inappropriate topics, even if you’re uncomfortable with it.

Likewise, if your new date takes one of their children along and then mauls you on the park bench in front of them, steer clear. This is a blaring sign that they have no boundaries, regardless of how innocent and fun it may seem at the outset.  It’s also an indicator that they date often and likely expose their children to inappropriate scenes without a care about how it will affect them.

THRIVE program

4 – They Dated a Victoria’s Secret Model

If someone is genuinely interested in you, they shouldn’t be talking about ex-lovers from the start. This is a sly way to play on any insecurities that you might have. While they’re blabbering on about how they had to arrange their schedules around her photo shoots, you are secretly making plans to lose 15 pounds and sign up for a gym membership.

It’s also an early form of triangulation. They want to give the impression that they’re important and in high demand. If you just met someone and are already feeling jealous and insecure, you’ve been played by a narcissist.

Block their number and remove them from your social media sites. Stat.

5 – They Tell You How to Handle Your Children

Regardless of what culture they’re from or if they have children of their own, anyone who tells you how to deal with your children when they barely know you is arrogant beyond measure.

Narcissists have no boundaries, and this is obvious in their assumption that you will welcome their input on how you are raising your children. Some narcissists will go so far as to include this on their dating profile, making references to unruly children. No person you’ve just met has a right to give you this type of advice, no matter how convincing it may seem in the delivery. In their mind, if you are willing to let them have a say so about your children, you would be willing to tolerate just about anything. Let them know that the topic isn’t up for discussion and flag the waiter for your check.

If you’ve recently taken a dive back into the dating pool, don’t go into the deep end. Trust your instincts. If you keep getting the niggling feeling that your new date has a lot of nerve, that’s your internal GPS telling you to reroute. Finding a romantic partner shouldn’t leave you feeling like you are on an examination table undergoing a surreal version of the Spanish Inquisition. The most uncomfortable topics might include politics or whether you like sushi. Maintain your boundaries and don’t budge on the things that are important to you.

Bonus Tip – If you’re looking for long-term potential in a relationship, there’s one thing you should do, and that is to focus on trust before touch. If you are recovering from a narcissistically abusive relationship, you don’t want to give too much, too soon because once you do that, you begin to form an emotional attachment to the person and they could end up being another narcissist.


Loneliness can sometimes drive us to make quick connections with people, but it’s important to remember that, in reality, if you’ve just started dating someone, you barely know them.  All you see is what they want you to see.

It’s a good idea to make a rule to not be intimate with anyone until you know more about them. This helps increase the chances of the relationship being built on a solid foundation.  Let the relationship flow naturally without jumping into a commitment too quickly. If you feel clingy, needy, or experience intense trauma triggers, you’re not ready for a relationship yet.

One way to prepare yourself for authentic love is with the THRIVE program.

THRIVE is your compass back to a life in harmony with your values and a love that aligns with your deepest truth.

If these words are speaking to you, then know that you have come to the RIGHT place. Click here to learn more about THRIVE.  

Sharing is caring

Leave a Comment:

brenda firebaugh says January 23, 2023

you are right about making all the effort, yes in my narc marriage I did and 2 narc adult kids and I do.

Anonymous says May 14, 2019

Known one for 3 years gets worse all the time!

On a Dating Site? One of the Top Ways to Avoid Users Online - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery & Personal Growth says January 1, 2019

[…] if it’s someone you’ve been dating a few months that you met online, don’t fall into a false sense of security and send them additional or […]

Kira says August 21, 2018

What a great article. I’m definatly not ready to date. A friend set me up on a simple lunch date with an old friend of hers. Handsome. And he was the first to tell you that. Lol. Then began with the non stop compliments . How good we look together. Getting sexual really really fast. Over lunch. Then calling me obsessively . I only saw him the one time. He said he wanted to change jobs move in with me! Lol.
Oh I had to back that up. He just wanted to hook his trailer to my bumper being he thought he was manipulating a wealthy divorcing woman. He’s 60. Has nothing. And was not that handsome. But scared how he picked up on what were my weaknesses were. It took weeks to get rid of him. He went silent after I hurt his feelings really bad. He lives with another woman. I think he was looking to switch bumpers. It was onviose calling from 5 diffrent numbers. And blocked numbers. New Gmail account . Only calling during the day. Never texting. He went quiet fir two weeks then called asked me to dinner. Not because he had left the other woman. He was house sitting fir his daughter near by. So I went postal on him. I think he’s gone now. But yea! I’m way out from dating. And if it does not happen organically ( meet in person) ( not on line) It’s not happening at all. Im old school . I got a new puppy instead. She keeps me grounded . I think I have two yrs to get through the trauma . So not up for it.

On a Dating Site? One of the Top Ways to Avoid Users Online - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says May 6, 2018

[…] if it’s someone you’ve been dating a few months that you met online, don’t fall into a false sense of security and send them additional or […]

Misty Ty says November 5, 2017

Yes on all counts. I had to drive the 2 hours to see him all the time. Then he would be angry if I was late. He tried to change my career from professional theatre to being his secretary in his failed law firm. He insisted that we spend all of our weekends watching him play in a band while I sat there in a dive bar when I should have had season tickets to the theatre. He hooked me with great behavior in the first year, then I was unknowingly trauma bonded. Had no clue about NPD until the discard when my journal matched the NPD textbook. These 5 things are on point. I have evidence to prove it.

Anonymous says November 5, 2017

I began dating someone I met from work, he has frequently texted “Did I do something wrong?” Also, in making an arrangement to get together, commented “Are you sure you want to!!”

Theonethatgotaway says January 15, 2015

Very timely. Dating a new guy after taking a one year break from dating a narcissist. During that time I met a few guys that had a few of the signs mentioned above. This guy so far seems different but I needed to read this as a reminder as to what to take note of. Thank you

StrongerSoulSurvivor says March 21, 2014

Great advice here, Kim. Narcissists are masters of disguise, but even they can’t keep their mask straight all of the time.

navigator1965 says March 21, 2014

If I can add to #5, this also reflects the narcissistic trait of grandiosity. The narcissist has to be better than you, and so he or she will invent things that “you could do better.” To the unwary who do not understand this, it could undermine their confidence in their own parenting skills and philosophy.

Another good post, Kim. Thank you.

Paula says March 20, 2014

Great list! Here are my responses to these behaviors to make these losers run fast in the opposite direction:

#1 – “My car was repossessed today. Do you mind picking me up?”

#2 – “Oh, you prefer red heads? I prefer men with a bigger you-know-what, but I guess we all have to settle, huh?.”

#3 – “One time, at band camp…”

#4 – “That’s hilarious, because my best friend is a Victoria’s Secret model. She admits that she likes dating boys. They’re so easily manipulated.”

#5 – “I’m sorry. Last I checked, Dr. Spock wrote that book.”


LD says March 20, 2014

My narc showed NONE of these signs early on. The child rearing thing eventually showed up around 4-5 months or so. He was also rude to my then 4-year-old son when he once got hurt and cried and he mockingly called him a “Baby!”. I was so taken aback by this bullying of a child whom he barely knew (not like that mattered). He admitted later he was jealous of my son. I should have run then but I excused it thinking that he was just one of those guys who was raised to be a tough guy. I called him out on it and he apologized but the mask came off fully later and he was cruel to both my son and I. He had 2 adopted kids whom he seemed to love (the best a narc can) but he could never accept my son. He saw him as competition. He only had visitation with his other kids so he can handle kids in short bursts. Now he only sees our daughter occasionally. I swear he does this so he can keep patting himself on the back and calling himself a “family man”. Our therapist said, “He’s a family man alright…he collects them.” (I am his fourth ex wife and he still thinks it’s because no one has ever “adored, worshipped, and appreciated” him enough (his words). Anyhow, now I know that a good man doesn’t slip up like that even once because it’s not in them to bully a little child. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I try to always keep that in mind now. I mainly wanted to say that none of these things can be present early on and you can still be blindsided by a Narc. The real mask seems to come off when you marry them. Other sites have warned that if they only talk about themselves and don’t ask questions about you on your first few dates then that is a Narc sign. Not always true either. My ex constantly asked me questions on the first few phone calls and dates (I used to call it the “interviews”). I only found out later that he was just storing up info on me to use against me in verbally brutal and mocking ways later. Also, to use for his false chameleon like image in order to trap me…for example, he asked me about wanting kids on the first date. After I said I really wanted more kids he said he wanted a whole bunch, too. We used to talk about having seven total (meaning three more). After we were engaged he said he’d “agree to only one”. WTF? To this day he tells everyone that he agreed to having a baby only because I wanted one and I only used him for a child so that I could be a single mother because that is what he says I truly wanted. (He is the one who divorced me!) Even though I said I’d rather stand in front of a firing squad then to go through divorce again and be a single parent he has the evil nerve to cruelly divorce me and then tell people this blatant lie. WOW. It’s bait and switch and projection and twisted perversion with these guys. Now with dating, I’ve learned to ask the questions and not let them know how I feel about a topic first so that I can feel comfortable that I’m getting a more honest answer. Then when I get that answer, I believe it! If it doesn’t fit with what I want and who I am…NEXT! Sorry that was so long. I just hope it helps someone else to know that although narcs seem to share some common traits and signs they do not share all and even the things that look good (like them asking a lot of questions about you) could actually be fueled by evil intentions. Good luck to all.

    Kim Saeed says March 22, 2014

    LD, thank you for your input. The signs in this post certainly aren’t all-inclusive. They’re just a few of many.

    I believe whatever has worked for a Narc in the past is what method they will use when screening for new supply, and also depends on their agenda and frankly, their level of intelligence and patience levels. In your case, your Ex asked you if you wanted kids on the first date to test the topic’s importance in order to devise his plan.

    I once had a man ask me on the very first date, “So, what were your mistakes in your past relationships?” while tapping his smartphone…checking emails and messages and such. That one was pretty obvious. Needless to say, I didn’t go out with him again.

    Other Narcs give no obvious signs in the beginning, which of course, is a strategy, too. That’s why it’s sometimes so difficult to determine their genuity. However, there’s usually some type of indicator that causes our intuition to pique, which we fail to give weight to.

    Your Ex sounds a lot like mine…The bullying of you and your child, the child-like mocking, his ludicrous statement that you used him for a child because you “always wanted to be a single mother”. Seriously? Anyone who’s been a single mom can attest to how difficult it is emotionally and financially. I would hope that anyone who heard this statement from him would have some sort of discernment as to its truth.

    Sounds like you have a great dating strategy. It’s really sad that today’s dating scene has come down to our having to be on constant alert. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more important to establish a friendship first. That gives us time to really know someone before becoming intimate and making long-term plans with a virtual stranger.

      LD says March 22, 2014

      Hi Kim,

      I hope it didn’t come across like I was saying anything negative about your writing as I so appreciate your work! I usually post here under another name and used my other alias by mistake. 😉 I was just amazed that my ex often did none of the signs you posted and that other websites post. He seemed to be very aware of what would look and sound good. I guess this troubles me because they are often so hard to detect. You are definitely correct that our intuition tells us something at some point early on and we ignore it because when they are good they are SO good.

      My ex, whom I have to have contact with due to our daughter, still volunteers to do nice things for me. But, a week later he will rage at me for being 15 minutes late and therefore “still not making him a priority”. I wonder if they do these giving, loving things in order to balance out the evil…so that when you call them out on the bad behavior they immediately point out all the good they did and feel justified in now calling you “unappreciative” and being appalled that you could dare say they were verbally abusive when they are “such a good guy”. My theory is that they score-keep a lot…gifts have strings…so something nice is another test to see if you will reciprocate with something they deem just as good. Then, if you don’t (and what is ever good enough for them?), the rage feels justified for them I guess?

      Anyhow, yes, seriously…he told everyone I used him in order to be a single mom, LOL. His 3rd ex wife and I spoke recently and she said he told her this but she knew better and that “anyone with half a brain knows that wasn’t what you signed up for as no woman does.” It was validating to talk to her.

      Oh, by the way, talking about chameleons…he bragged to me that on his first date with the new supply when she said a dealbreaker for her was young children he just laughed and ordered another drink and didn’t tell her til months later about our baby daughter! Of course, she forgave him as according to him she “adores” and “worships” him. Apparently, she actually thanked him for lying to her so that she could get to see what a great guy he was and not judge him on having young kids. Wow, she may be the perfect fit for him since she helps him to spin his evil deeds into good ones! I wonder when she will get the D and D.

      Lastly, I totally agree about the friendship part…take things slowly and TRUST your God-given instincts. The mistake I made was not running when the first huge red flag showed up about 3 months into dating. The guy you met who asked you what your past mistakes were…I would like someone asking me that and also answering it himself in order to see how introspective he is; however, while tapping his smartphone?? LOL. Wow. Those two things don’t seem to fit. That is just plain rude and clearly he isn’t introspective enough to realize how rude and dismissive of your presence it is! I guess if you answered the question and then asked him the same he’d blame all his exes for being rude, lol. Gotta laugh at these jerks. God knows I did enough crying and suffering with PTSD symptoms. Time to live in true happiness and love.

      Sorry I always write so much more than I initially intend to! Thanks again for your work, Kim. 🙂

    Sandi says November 5, 2017

    THANK YOU LD … not too long at all and VERY informative … and I must say too, reaffirming for me. Just survived a year of narc abuse, was totally love-bombed into it, and have successfully kicked him out of my house, but of course, need lots of time for recovery. He is still “hoovering” but I have 2 months of no contact under my belt now … staying strong. Bless you!

kimberlyharding says March 20, 2014

Great advice- especially about trusting your instincts. I like how you distilled a lot of information into a few key points. It is easy to get caught u in the initial excitement of dating.

    Kim Saeed says March 20, 2014

    Thanks, Kimberly! You are right about getting caught up in the moment when dating. More and more I think the best way to go about it is to establish a friendship first.

alm383 says March 20, 2014

كيف الحال
مذيد من النجاح والتوفيق

Add Your Reply