Red Flag

A Person’s Narcissism Isn’t the Only Red Flag You Should Be Focused On

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Too many folks get hung up on whether someone is a narcissist or not. 

They say, “Well, my partner does this or that, but they don’t do this…so, I’m unsure about leaving the relationship because I don’t know if they’re truly a narcissist.

If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place because I am going to address this issue today.

There are lots of reasons to leave a relationship and a person’s narcissism is only one of them.  But since narcissism is the focal point of so many blogs, articles, and videos today, we have forgotten about basic decency as a required core foundation of healthy relationships. 

In this post, you’ll learn why it doesn’t matter if someone is a narcissist. Specifically:

  • Why a person’s narcissism isn’t the only reason you should leave (hello emotional abuse and emotional unavailability);
  • The five common reasons you should consider leaving a relationship (like, yesterday);
  • Specific examples of narcissistic and emotional abuse that you can apply to your own situation and decide if you should be planning your exit.

Want to stop the crippling indecision, stop being exploited, and finally live in alignment with your integrity and self-pride?

Then you’re going to love this post.

Let’s jump in.

5 Common Reasons You Should Leave a Relationship (regardless of whether someone is a narcissist)

Red Flag #1 – They constantly points out things they “don’t like” about you

Oddly, these may be the very things they loved about you in the beginning.  Narcissists groom their targets by claiming to love everything about them…the way they dress, their hairstyle, their interests, their taste in music, their love of the arts.

Then shockingly, the things they once loved about you became the reasons they were ‘forced’ to cheat, have lost interest, or caused them to start a new relationship with someone else.

The reason this manipulative tactic has such a profound effect on your self-esteem is that you’ve spent a good portion of your life developing your preferences, interests, personality, and personal style.  Along the way, you became comfortable in your own skin. 

Then, along came someone who appeared to love every little thing about you.  In fact, it seemed the two of you shared many things in common.

Then slowly, like dismantling a jigsaw puzzle, they began taking little parts of you away by claiming they were intolerable.  Things that meant the most to you:  your family, your friends, your appearance, your relationship with your children, the love you have for your pets, your charity involvements, your violin lessons.

Until you didn’t know who you were anymore.

Narcissists strive to keep people small and “well-disciplined”. This will play out through criticizing everything about you so that you end up changing yourself to fit inside the small box they’ve designed for you. 

True love doesn’t take away the things that make up who you are.  It doesn’t diminish you.  If you feel like you can’t do anything right, that you couldn’t possibly attract someone else, that you’re “too old”, too needy, too sensitive to be in a relationship with anyone else, this is a sign it’s time to leave.

Red Flag #2 – They Always Lie

Most people don’t want to be liars.  Maybe a friend asks you about their new hair cut or a new outfit they’re really excited about, but you don’t want to hurt their feelings by giving them your opinion.  This might be okay, especially that your taste in haircuts and fashion might vary wildly from your friend’s. 

However, when lies are used to cover up wrongdoing or to cause you to doubt your own perception of reality, these lies are abusive.  If lies are rampant in your relationship, then you’re in the wrong one.  Bottom line – you can’t have a healthy relationship with a liar. 

Red Flag #3- They Constantly Cheat

There are many varied ideas and belief systems that revolve around fidelity and what is considered cheating.  Some folks are into polyamory, and so, theoretically, are open to open relationships. 

It may seem the lines are blurred when it comes to what constitutes cheating and abuse, but they’re really not.  Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does your partner gaslight you about the cheating?
  • Do they blame you for their choice to be unfaithful, citing your looks, weight, or preferences as reasons they are straying?
  • Do they insult you and make you feel undesirable?
  • Do they claim you’re overreacting and that ‘everyone cheats’?
  • Do they use cheating as a method of hurting you?
  • Do they pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do or cheat on you when you don’t do them?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then cheating is abusive in your relationship.  And even if you are trying out the polyamorous lifestyle and your feelings are constantly hurt by something your partner is doing, then you may want to ask yourself if you’re doing it because you’re truly open to it or doing it to hang onto someone (while abandoning yourself in the process).

Incidentally, one of the narcissist’s favorite tricks is to claim they have a sex addiction, can’t help themselves, and then appeal to your good heart to “stick with them through it all”.  All this accomplishes is you staying in a relationship where you will ALWAYS be cheated on.  I’ve been in this field for over ten years and I’ve never seen a cheating narcissist STOP cheating.

Red Flag #4 – Their words don’t match their actions

Narcissists are absolute geniuses at telling you what you want to hear at just the right moment to keep you hooked in the relationship.

Think back to the last time you caught them cheating or they suddenly materialized after disappearing off the face of the earth for two weeks.  Regardless of the dialogue that played out, I would imagine they successfully rationalized and minimized their relationship crimes. 

In the moment, you may have even felt like you could sympathize with what they were saying.  They promised they would try to do better, that they love only you, that the two of you belong together (and should get engaged), that they’ll get that house the two of you looked at, that they will break it off with the new person.

And you bought into it.

Alternately, they may have come back saying they met someone new and now can’t decide between you or the other person.  This is the initial step in their plan to triangulate between the two of you

This is precisely what they do to people who are over-conscientious (willing to give the narcissist the benefit of the doubt) and who tend to over-intellectualize (tries hard to empathize and believe the narcissist has some understandable reason to be hurtful). 

It also plays into the fairytale you have in your mind about their finally having The Epiphany and renouncing their awful behaviors for the sake of true love.

Before you know it, you’re accepting things you never thought you would in your relationship, vowing to stick by their side, and feeling like a fool because of it.

That’s because, on a subconscious and intuitive level, you know the narcissist is a liar who has absolutely no plans to change.

Red Flag #5 – They make you choose between them or your children

Narcissists are jealous of anything or anyone that takes your attention away from them.  Your children are no exception.

One of the most heartbreaking elements of narcissistic abuse is the disconnect that often happens between abuse victims and their children.  There are few things that make the narcissist feel more powerful than having so much influence over you that you are willing to obey their commands and interact with your children according to what the narcissist deems fit. 

I’ve even seen parents kicking their older children out of the house because the narcissist said it was time for them to go.

There are two common and unfortunate scenarios that typically play out when one is involved with a narcissist regarding their children.  First, abuse victims are so consumed with the narcissist due to crippling self-esteem issues, trauma-bonding and PTSD symptoms, they have little attention or energy to give to their children.  Many times, all they can do is clothe and feed them, but have very little capacity to be truly present with them.  This often results in children feeling unseen, neglected, and unloved.

Second, because parents who are targets of narcissistic abuse often develop such extreme levels of anxiety, depression, and hypersensitivity, they can become impatient with their children, or find themselves resenting their children for behaving in ways that upset the narcissist. This leads to a further disconnect, with the children feeling unloved and unworthy, which may lead to their developing either codependent or narcissistic traits as a defense mechanism. 

If either of the above scenarios describes your relationship with your children, it’s a sign that screams it’s time to leave.

The Life-Changing Magic of Opening Your Mind to Other Reasons Someone’s a Crappy Person

It doesn’t matter whether someone is a narcissist if these five common relationship crimes are happing to you. 

Emotional abuse and emotional unavailability are not issues you can fix by staying in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care about you or your feelings. 

If you’re ready to take control of your life, download the free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap. You’ll get a 14-day series of emails with emotional support and encouragement and a list of 16 empowering beliefs to live by. Plus, you get complimentary seating to the masterclass, 7 Proven Steps to Break the Narcissistic Spell.

Recovering from narcissistic abuse is hard, and it’s okay to admit you need help. If you’re ready to go deeper NOW, check out the #1 therapist-approved online program for narcissistic abuse recovery. Thousands of people have benefited from this program that’s practical, proven, and reliable.  It’s the best place to begin a journey toward renewed self-worth and an end to feeling worthless.

Your healed life starts with one step...

Claim your free Email Recovery Course and Healing Roadmap. Includes expert advice and tips for encouragement and support. * Seating in my masterclass: 7 Proven Steps to Break the Narcissistic Spell PLUS +* How would your life be different without narcissistic abuse? * 30-Day New Life calendar + more!

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NATASHA SIMON says September 12, 2020

Kim Saeed, your work is so amazing. You walked the journey, so you know mine. I am very grateful for your help. The legal system needs to be educated and trained on how to identify and make judgements on crimes committed by narcissists, because they are certainly clue less.
I was taken from a live of high class to no class in the space of 3 short years and nothing to show for it but a life of regret and rebuilding.
How can that ever be right !!!
they say to forgive – NO.
they say forget revenge – NO.
Criminals that LOVE crime do not deserve the goodness of life.

RB says September 8, 2020

Thank you, Kim. I found your blog last year(?) while doing a lot of research. I’ve been researching this for almost my entire last marriage. Whatever you are sending out via email right now is exactly what I need to hear. We circle, we cycle, we spin. It takes years for all of the work we have to put into healing. So, even when I know all these things are true, the way you have chosen your blog posts and the way your writing is changing recently is right on target with what I need to hear/remember/remind myself of. Thank you so much.

    Kim Saeed says September 14, 2020

    So glad to know my writing is resonating with you, RB! Sending hugs…


Anonymous says September 6, 2020

Cheaters for sure. I caught the idiot coming through a hedge near my house to find the back entrance into a girl’s house nearby. I didn’t realise it at the time, I thought he was so infatuated with me that he was checking up on me! I actually laugh out loud about it these days when I think about it. When you get their behaviour, you really get it. NOTHING is as it seems. Even after all this time, out of nowhere, another piece of the jigsaw suddenly falls into place.

GEM says September 6, 2020

My daughter’s ex-husband is a narcissist. My daughter became disabled with bipolar disorder during their marriage. They got divorced and he got full custody of the 3 minor children. He recently got remarried. At first everything seemed fine with his 2nd marriage. One of the reasons it was fine is that he made my daughter look insane to his new wife. He and his new wife talked about her adopting the kids and they had a “Mom Ceremony” so the kids would call her mom (never heard of such a thing). My daughter is doing very well. She is great when with the kids and never talks negatively about their dad. Recently, her ex must have been in his low self-esteem stage. He lost his job. After this, he said he thought he had COVID and stayed alone in the bedroom for about 10 days. I knew he was faking. When tested, he was negative. His new wife almost had a nervous breakdown because she had to do everything. She was getting little sleep. She told the kids she felt like she was going to have a heart attack and they would probably be glad if she did. After he came out of his “COVID” room, she was so stressed that she stayed with her parents for 2 nights. Then, he got his reward. Her parents took their daughter and him on a Mississippi Cruise. Now, he is going to be a real estate agent (worse job for him). He doesn’t like people and doesn’t like taking orders. At this time, he is still in his “high” stage – he hasn’t started his job yet. His new abuse strategy is getting the three children to feel embarrassed about their mom’s disability. My daughter is upset, but is keeping quiet. He is trying to manipulate all 3 children and his new wife is going along with this. I believe this is called narcissistic parental alienation. My husband and I, grandparents, have a wonderful relationship with our grandchildren (even though 4 hours away). We do not think it would be healthy to intervene about his new abuse. If we do, we will be punished and he won’t let us see the kids. This whole situation is very sick and he is secretly abusing many people. I caught on to him after the divorce. I accidentally read about narcissists and the light turned on. He is the example of a true narcissist. It is very difficult to deal with him and what to do to diffuse him. The only thing we can do is keep in contact with the children. Many times, he interferes with phone conversations and makes them put us on speakerphone. It seems almost every time we call, the grand kids either have to go to bed or eat supper. These times are always so drastic and coincide with our phone calls. My daughter, us, and others in our family only care about the kids welfare and do not want to stir anything up for them. This is a very difficult situation and so hard to stop him from this behavior.

Anonymous says September 2, 2020

Mine was the best cudler ever…. But he ghosted, he triangulated me with younger women and he cheated. I cought them almost in the act…in his boat on the harbor. After seven cycles I was a biochemical chaos and totally devastated. Trying to build myself up now, and still missing ‘some of the persons’ that he was.

Anonymous says September 2, 2020

I never caught my husband cheating, but, from the beginning I did notice him looking at my friends up and down. He always said I was cheating. I was wondering if statistics show that he was most likely cheating. I always knew that he knew I wasn’t cheating so I assumed he was putting attention on me doing it. He even made my kids think I was.

    RB says September 8, 2020

    Yes, (reader also cheated on) that is a common thing that happens. Narcissists accuse you of things they are doing, so that they put you on the defensive. Form of gaslighting. My ex accuses me of lying (dealing with children issues, divorced). But it’s because he never told me the truth. He accuses me of what he’s doing.

Kathy says September 2, 2020

After reading this, I was shocked to see how all of the three, and yes, I mean three, toxic relationships did almost all of the five listed traits. The one which I did have boundaries on and saved me each time was the dislike of my children. I thought for a long time; I was being selfish or spoiling my sons as I was told this so much. But after reading this, I now know loving and protecting my children was what saved me from a life of complete grief.

    NATASHA SIMON says September 12, 2020

    Yes you are so very correct.
    saving your children is the best foundation and freedom that we can give our children.

Wren says September 1, 2020

Kim, I absolutely agree with this. One of mind tricks they pull is in the early stages, when the cracks are beginning to show, and when they are testing your dedication to their abuse. They’ll do something awful, like seriously flirt with someone, right front of you, and even be bold enough to ask for her number, right in front of you, and then tell you none of it happened, it was all in your head, it wasn’t as bad as you say, you’re too sensitive and jealous, etc. You tell yourself they are right, ask yourself what’s the matter with you, and then resolve to be a better person. He’s a catch, after all, and you could lose him if you don’t change.

I wish I had been strong enough to stop it right there. I wish i had come across someone like you back then. I would have run for my life. That is the hope of your articles. Anyone who isn’t quite hooked in yet can use the education you offer to make better decisions before their life is ruined. Love isn’t always easy. Relationships take work. But they should never ever ever wound you by slicing like a razor to your soul. If anyone nicks you like that once, don’t stick around.

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