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What narcissists do to their spouse?

Six Possible Effects Of Being With A Husband With Narcissistic Traits

Living with someone who has narcissistic traits can be draining, especially if you are married or deeply committed to one. This person may have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or have a range of narcissistic tendencies. Either way, they may have an enlarged sense of their own importance that can cause significant challenges in a relationship. In this article, we’ll explore six possible effects of being with a husband with narcissistic traits, and how to seek help if this is something you’re experiencing.

Being With Someone With Narcissistic Traits Can Be Overwhelming

What Is Narcissism?

A person displaying narcissistic behaviors may have NPD or simply have a number of narcissistic traits. The Mayo Clinic defines NPD as «a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance.” Someone with NPD may have a sense of superiority, an intense need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and little empathy for others. But at the same time, they can have deep feelings of insecurity, humiliation, and shame, and they can be easily upset by criticism.

You might not have recognized that your husband had narcissistic traits when you first met him and started dating. They often know how to make you feel good, so in the end, you’ll do the same thing for them. While it’s very manipulative, you can be so caught up in the newness and fun of the relationship that you might not notice.

Possible Effects Of Being With Someone With Narcissistic Traits

  1. You Lose Your Outside Relationships

When you’re living with a husband with narcissistic tendencies, he may not want you to have any other relationships with friends or family. He may work to pull you away from your friends and family slowly, so it may take a while to notice.

It could start by him making small comments about how he doesn’t like your friends. He might always need to spend time with you when you’re supposed to go out with your friends, so you’ll choose to stay with him instead of going out with them. It might be that he’s not feeling well when you’re supposed to go to your parents’ house for the holidays, so he asks you to stay home with him. It could be that he points out all the imperfections or things that he thinks are annoying about the people in your support network to persuade you to think the same thing. The more this happens, the less time you spend with others, and eventually it may feel like you have lost your relationships with them.

Being with a narcissistic person may whittle away at your self-esteem. A narcissistic person often can’t handle when someone else does something better than them. They may consistently make you feel criticized and belittled. Eventually, this constant criticism may impact your self-esteem.

You may start to feel that you are «not good enough» or «less than» your husband. Because he is likely secretly insecure himself, his goal may be to build himself up and make himself feel better by making it seem like he’s better than you. People with NPD can also thrive on the idea that they are out of your league, and that you should not leave them because they are the best you’ll ever get. Their sense of entitlement over the relationship may make you feel like you would be foolish to leave. They might even threaten to leave themselves, as a ploy to cause you to beg for them to stay, preying on the low self-esteem they’ve instilled in you.

If you are experiencing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available to help you with information and resources. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text «START» to 88788. You can also use the NDVH online chat system.

  1. Feeling Like You’re Losing Your Mind

Some people with narcissistic traits participate in both gaslighting and narcissism. It’s a form of emotional abuse that they use, which can leave you feeling like you’re losing your mind. Gaslighting is described as a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt themself, and ultimately lose their sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.

If your husband does this, he may constantly lie to you and criticize you. If you try to talk to him about it or call him out on his lies, he will deny it and become defensive. Instead of accepting responsibility, he makes it sound like you’re the one that has the problem. He repeats this behavior so much that even if you knew the problem was his at the beginning, eventually you start to believe what he’s saying and think that it might be you. As this continues, you may start to feel like you’re losing your mind because you don’t remember things that he swears he told you, or he acts like you didn’t tell him something you know that you did.

  1. Always Having to Focus On Keeping Him Happy
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When you’re married to a husband with narcissistic tendencies, your life may become all about making him happy. You will learn how to say and do things to boost his ego because you can’t stand the way he behaves when you don’t. It could be that he becomes depressed, angry, irritable, or verbally abusive. After seeing this behavior, time and time again, you learn how to give him what he wants. Otherwise, he might give you the cold shoulder, or threaten to leave because of “unhappiness.” This can be a form of emotional abuse and manipulation.

Being With Someone With Narcissistic Traits Can Be Overwhelming

When you are living with someone with narcissistic traits, your life may become all about them. Over time, you start to lose yourself. The dreams and goals that you had for your own life may slowly start to disappear because your husband controls so much of your life. You may find that your friends are gone. You don’t spend any time with your family, and everything in your life revolves around your husband.

  1. Arguments Always End With You Apologizing

A person with narcissistic traits often cannot handle admitting that they are wrong. That means even if you know they were wrong, and they know they are wrong, they may still not apologize. Their sense of self-importance can overpower any scenario. Every argument that the two of you have seems to end with you taking the blame for it. Everything is your fault. Even things that are outside of your control. They may say that you’re doing everything wrong, even small things like grocery shopping or laundry, and tell you that if only you’d change, the marriage would be “perfect.”

Help Is Available

If being with a partner with narcissistic traits has taken a toll on you, know that help is available. Whenever you’re ready, you can connect with a licensed therapist online or in person for support.

Being with a partner with narcissistic tendencies can be very draining, and it can leave you feeling belittled and low energy. For some in this situation, traveling to an in-person appointment may feel exhausting. With online therapy through ReGain, you can meet with a licensed therapist wherever you have internet—no need for a commute.

And research has demonstrated the effectiveness of online therapy for a range of concerns, including self-esteem, empowerment, and quality of life.

Meet Our Therapists


Being married to someone with narcissistic traits can take a significant toll on a person. Some of the possible effects might include developing low self-esteem, losing oneself, and becoming distant from friends and family. If you are married to someone with narcissistic traits, help is available. You can connect with a licensed therapist online for support.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition categorized by an astronomical amount of self-importance, a need for praise and appreciation, and an inflated ego, even if they’re insecure deep down. A person with NPD may often refuse to admit that they’re wrong in any capacity. They often need excessive attention.

What is love bombing?

Love bombing is giving someone constant affection and positivity, but for a manipulative purpose. When someone is love bombing, they are trying to win you over for their own personal gain. For example, if someone has broken up with an abuser, the abuser may try to be extra affectionate and show remorse to win the person back, even though they are not genuinely sorry.

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Five Tips For Dating Someone With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Are you in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)? While most couples experience challenges at times, being in a relationship with someone with NPD may present some truly unique hurdles given the common symptoms of NPD. However, it is still possible for you and your partner to create a healthy, loving relationship.

If you’re married to a narcissist, it may be helpful to learn more about the condition and consider the tips below for being with a partner who has NPD.

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Being With A Partner With NPD Can Be Challenging

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by an extremely high sense of one’s own importance. Somebody who has NPD may come across as overly confident and arrogant, but often, they may have low self-worth. The exact cause of NPD is not known, but some experts believe that it may result from a combination of factors including childhood trauma, early relationships, and genetics.

  • An inflated ego
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • A tendency to take over conversations
  • An inflated sense of self-importance
  • A tendency to exaggerate accomplishments
  • Fragile self-esteem
  • The habit of taking advantage of others for their own personal gain
  • Constant troubled relationships
  • A tendency to belittle others
  • Inability to see the needs or feelings of others
  • Feeling envious of others
  • Difficulty with their own emotions
  • Anger, mood swings, and impatience
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These symptoms may make it difficult to be in a relationship with someone who has NPD. It is also important to note that having narcissistic tendencies does not necessarily mean that a person has NPD.

Tips For Being With A Partner Who Has NPD

1. Monitor And Nurture Your Own Self-Esteem

Individuals with NPD may find it difficult to be empathetic to other people, and they may put other people down, as they see themselves as superior.

If you stay in a relationship with a partner with NPD, it can be important to pay attention to how your own self-esteem might be being affected by the relationship, and to take steps to build your self-esteem to ensure it remains at a healthy level.

If their behavior has become abusive, help is available.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, please know help is available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799–SAFE (7233).

2. Learn More About Your Partner And Their Insecurities

When in a relationship with someone with NPD, it may be helpful to try to learn more about their insecurities and what might bring those out for them. If they are seeking help for their NPD and learning their own coping strategies, you may consider asking them for guidance on how you can be sensitive to their insecurities. Because individuals with NPD may have low self-worth, trying to understand if there are certain topics or actions that they feel especially sensitive to may allow you both to communicate in healthy, positive ways, while being prepared for challenges that may arise.

3. Establish Clear Boundaries

Setting boundaries in any intimate relationship can lead to a healthier connection, and in a relationship with someone with NPD, it may be especially important.

Some examples of boundaries that you may want to set include:

  • No name-calling. You could let your partner know that if they begin to call you names, the conversation will be over, and you will walk away.
  • Having time alone with friends. A partner with NPD may not like it when you spend time with friends or have your own life outside the relationship. However, isolation can be a form of emotional abuse, and you deserve to have a strong support system in your life.
  • Not making excuses for them. Individuals with NPD may behave arrogantly or take advantage of others to get what they want, and at times, other people in your circle such as friends or family may be offended by their behavior. Your partner with NPD may feel they deserve special treatment and expect you to cover for them; you can establish that this is not something you will do for them.

4. Maintain A Support System

Being With A Partner With NPD Can Be Challenging

Strong connections can be important for all of us, and when you are with a partner with NPD, you might find it helpful to establish and maintain a strong support system around you. With support in place, you can have other people to turn to when experiencing challenges in your relationship. Trusted friends and loved ones may also help you see things clearly, maintain healthy self-esteem, maintain clear boundaries with your partner, and feel more stable during challenging times.

5. Seek Counseling

If you are in a relationship with someone with NPD, you may also consider seeking support from a licensed therapist. A therapist may help you work through concerns you may have about your relationship, help you work on building your self-esteem, and teach you strategies to help strengthen your relationship.

It’s possible that a partner with NPD may feel resistant to the idea of seeking help, so taking the steps to see a therapist in person can feel like a big undertaking. This can make online therapy a good option, as it can remove the need for transportation and may feel more convenient for some people. With online therapy for individuals through BetterHelp or couples therapy through ReGain, you can talk with a therapist from anywhere that is comfortable and works for you, instead of having to go into a therapist’s office.

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Research has shown that online therapy may be an effective way of helping couples and individuals who are experiencing challenges in their relationships. For example, one study examined the effectiveness of an online therapy program for couples experiencing relationship distress. It concluded that the online intervention was “effective in significantly improving both relationship and individual functioning.”


Being with a partner with NPD may present significant challenges, but there are resources available to support both you and your partner. To start, you may consider learning more about NPD and trying some of the suggestions above. For additional support, you can speak with a professional counselor with the experience and training necessary to help you navigate your relationship.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do narcissists treat their wives?
How do I survive a narcissistic husband?
How do I communicate with a narcissistic husband?

What are the signs of a narcissistic husband?
Does a narcissist love his wife?
How does a narcissist act toward his wife?
Will I ever be happily married to a narcissist?
Can a narcissist have a happy marriage?
Are narcissists faithful in marriage?
Does narcissism get worse with age?
Why do narcissists cheat on their wives?
What are the stages of narcissistic abuse?
What is emotional abuse by a narcissistic husband?

What is something a narcissist would say?
What is mental abuse from a narcissist?

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    Previous Article

17 Signs You’re in a Narcissistic Marriage or Relationship

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Ivy Kwong, LMFT, is a psychotherapist specializing in relationships, love and intimacy, trauma and codependency, and AAPI mental health.

narcissistic traits to look out for in a partner

Signs of narcissism are often hard to spot in the beginning stages of a relationship, but over time, these signs can be seen more clearly. This article will help you identify if your partner exhibits any of the tell-tale signs of narcissism.

What Is Narcissism?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) defines narcissism as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. At least five of these criteria must be present:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally exploitive behavior
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

Signs You’re in a Narcissistic Marriage or Relationship

Let’s take a look at some behaviors that someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may present. While many of the following behaviors can be indicative of narcissistic personality disorder, only a mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis.

You Don’t Feel Connected

Your partner talks with you when it is convenient. However, they have never actually asked what your plans are for the future or how you can work together to build the life you want.

They constantly brag about themselves and their accomplishments and rarely show interest or ask questions about anything going on in your life. Their happiness comes from external sources such as prestige at work and money. You wonder if they are even capable of feeling romantic love or emotional connection.

You Feel Manipulated

Your partner will make subtle threats throughout the relationship. They may not be direct with their words, but you’ll get a sense that if you don’t do something for them or give in to what they want, bad things will happen. Sometimes, it’s easier just to go along with what they want even if you don’t really agree with it. This is a way of controlling and manipulating their partners to get what they want.

Often, people in this kind of relationship forget what life was like before the manipulation started.

You Don’t Feel Good Enough

You have feelings of inadequacy that don’t match what you’ve accomplished in your life. Your partner tends to put you down or make negative comments about the things that you do. You’ve lost touch with the things that you used to enjoy doing because you don’t have time for them anymore.

Maybe you’re always tired and it’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning. You’ve begun hiding things from family or friends or feel ashamed about what goes on in your life. You lie to cover up the things that your partner does or does not do.

You’re Constantly Being Gaslighted

When someone constantly denies things that you know to be true, they are gaslighting you. This is often seen in abusive or controlling relationships and is a common tactic among narcissists.

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For example, your spouse may make a comment like «You just don’t remember right» about something that you know happened. They will gaslight you into believing that certain things never happened or that they did things because of something you did or said first.

Your partner may tell lies about your behavior and try to twist reality so that it fits their version of events rather than what really happened. You might begin second-guessing yourself and feel like you’re going crazy.

If they do this in front of family members and friends, those people may start to think the problem is with you instead of your partner. It can be difficult for others to realize what happens behind closed doors because your partner appears so charming on the surface.

You Avoid Conversations

It may seem as though every conversation with your partner ends in an argument no matter how hard you try to stay calm and not get upset by what they say or do. The narcissist constantly tries to push your buttons to get you to react; controlling others’ emotions gives them a sense of satisfaction.

Often, it’s easier to avoid having a conversation entirely than to deal with the constant mind games.

You Feel Responsible for Everything

Narcissists think that everything is always someone else’s fault, including the things that they do wrong. You won’t get an apology from a narcissistic person. Narcissists don’t see other people as being on equal footing with them so it makes sense why apologizing would be out of the question.

Your narcissistic partner likely never takes responsibility for their actions and always blames you. If something goes wrong, it is your fault, even if they’re to blame.

Everything bad that happens in their life is somehow because of you, which leaves you feeling like there’s nothing that you can do right.

You’re Walking on Eggshells

Do you feel as though you’re walking on eggshells because you never know when your partner is going to explode or be in one of their moods?

Typically, it goes like this: Everything seems fine, but then something minor happens and they go into a rage. Even a small thing like someone at work being recognized for an accomplishment while your partner feels overlooked can cause a narcissist to throw a fit. This is known as narcissistic rage.

You probably feel like you’ve lost yourself because now all of your decisions are based on what will keep your narcissistic partner happy.

You See Through the Charm

On the surface, your partner is charming, confident, and accomplished. However, they seem this way only because they are so skillful at hiding their true colors when in public. They say all the right things, and people love them, but the second that you’re alone with your partner, everything changes. The switch flips, and suddenly you’re dealing with a completely different person than who everyone else sees on the outside.

You Feel Criticized Constantly

Your partner is excessively critical of your appearance. They might make comments about your weight, clothes, or choice of hairstyle. They make fun of you or put you down; this might happen behind your back and/or to your face.

They make fun of others, especially people they perceive as lesser than them (i.e., someone they deem as less attractive or wealthy). In general, they are highly critical of everyone.

Your Needs Are Ignored

Your partner thinks only about their own needs and how things affect them, not you or anyone else—including the kids if you have a family. They will do only things that benefit themselves, not you or your relationship together.

For example, your partner might:

  • Want to have sex when they want it, but not so much when you want it
  • Expect you to pick up after them
  • Take credit for your hard work
  • Get upset when others treat their family better than yours
  • Favor certain children over others in the family if they feel one child makes them look better

Your Family Is Warning You (or Is Oblivious)

Your family has told you that they don’t like how your partner treats you. Or, your family is oblivious that anything is wrong because your partner has been feeding them lies about you. Either way, your partner is a point of contention when it comes to family relations.

You’ve Been Cheated On

A narcissist is often a master flirt and might be cheating on you. They are very charming and know how to sweep people off their feet. You may find yourself constantly questioning if your partner is being faithful because of their flirting. They might have cheated multiple times, so nothing will stop them from doing it again.

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You Feel Unloved

When you first got together, you felt like the most amazing person in the world. However, as time went on and problems arose, your partner began to devalue and ignore you. This is a red flag that they’re not who they made themselves out to be in the first place.

You likely were receiving love bombs in the beginning to get you hooked, but once you were married, those love bombs went away.

You Get the Silent Treatment

Your partner uses the silent treatment as a power play to control you. They’ll withhold affection and ignore your existence until they feel like being nice again, which is usually only when it will benefit them in some way (like getting what they want).

You might think that this behavior is normal or even «expected» of people who are married. However, the truth is that the silent treatment isn’t part of a healthy, loving, and respectful relationship.

You’re Stuck Financially

If there’s one thing that narcissists know how to do well, it’s to take advantage of their spouses financially. You might be paying for everything while your partner can’t hold down a job, or their job might be bringing in a lot of income but they’re not letting you see any of it.

If this is the case, chances are that your partner has been spending every last cent on themselves and isn’t planning to share with you now or in the future.

You Can’t Rely on Your Partner

When they make promises, you never know if they’re going to keep them. Narcissists are notorious for making promises and then breaking them when it’s convenient. You don’t feel as though you have a partner you can rely on, and you find yourself having to do everything yourself.

You’ve Asked, They Won’t Change

Narcissists aren’t willing to change because this would mean admitting something is wrong within themselves—and narcissists never admit such things. On the other hand, some will proudly admit that they are narcissists, but claim that everyone else is the problem.

If your partner isn’t willing to change their behavior, you might be in a relationship with a narcissist.

What to Do If You’re in a Relationship With a Narcissist

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can have significant, long-lasting effects on your mental health. If your partner is emotionally abusive and unwilling to change their behavior, it’s time for you to reconsider the relationship. And if you decide to leave it, have a support system in place beforehand—people you trust enough to confide in. This might be your friends, family, or therapist, for example.

If you continue your relationship with the narcissist:

  • Seek therapy or outside support
  • Create and maintain boundaries
  • Keep records of conversations, events, etc. to ward off gaslighting
  • Try to remain calm and assertive
  • At work, resist gossip, even though you might need to vent
  • Learn all you can about narcissism so you can recognize their tactics and manipulation

Get Help Now

We’ve tried, tested, and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Find out which option is the best for you.

A Word From Verywell

Everyone has the potential to be self-centered from time to time; however, the narcissist seems incapable of operating in any other manner. Remember: Information is power. Learn all you can about narcissism so you can recognize what’s going on. Given what dealing with a narcissist can do to your self-esteem, self-care is essential; consider therapy to protect your mental health.

6 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  2. Fisher KA, Hany M. Antisocial Personality Disorder. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; May 21, 2021.
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  4. Krizan Z, Johar O. Narcissistic rage revisited.J Pers Soc Psychol. 2015;108(5):784-801. doi:10.1037/pspp0000013
  5. McNulty JK, Widman L. Sexual narcissism and infidelity in early marriage. Arch Sex Behav. 2014;43(7):1315-1325. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0282-6
  6. Carlson EN, Vazire S, Oltmanns TF. You probably think this paper’s about you: narcissists’ perceptions of their personality and reputation [published correction appears in J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012 Aug;103(2):379]. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011;101(1):185-201. doi:10.1037/a0023781

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of «Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder» and «7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety.»

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