So you want to know if your ex is a narcissist?
Perhaps you are thinking that your ex broke up with you because they are a narcissist.
Maybe you looked online at some of the listed traits of a narcissist and are wondering if your ex is, indeed, one and, if so, how you can know.
It has certainly become trendy of late to label people as narcissistic and it’s certainly true in some situations.
A narcissist is defined as “a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.”
The dictionary defines narcissism as:
selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
Notice the image below from Dictionary.com showing how use of the word has skyrocketed in recent times.
How Common is True Narcissism?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is the technical diagnosis for what we call being a narcissist. This diagnosis is not common, consisting of only about 1% of the general population according to Science Direct’s review.
You might think that your ex is a narcissist because he or she often behaves selfishly and/or doesn’t give enough value and consideration to your feelings.
While I’m not saying that your ex is not a narcissist, I am saying that if we are speaking from a purely practical standpoint, the odds of your ex being a true narcissist are extremely low.
Your ex might show a particular trait shared by someone with NPD (a narcissist) but that does not mean that they have a diagnosable mental disorder.
Be careful that you don’t armchair-diagnose your ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend as a narcissist.
At the same time, if your ex is treating you as though they are narcissistic – that is, they are treating you:
- as though they are superior to you
- as though they should be admired and complimented but they don’t offer the same kindness to you
- as though they are entitled to what you have earned
- without concern for hurting you (emotionally at least) – meaning they are without empathy for you
- as though different rules apply to the two of you
If you are being treated that way, it doesn’t matter if your ex is a narcissist or not. What really matters is that you stay away from that person.
Being mistreated feels the same regardless of the other person’s mental state.
If this person has broken up with you and you are wanting them back, what you are feeling is normal after a breakup.
You are feeling the loss and the devaluing from it all. It often causes panic, hurt, depression, shock, confusion, and anger.
Just Because Your Ex Broke Up With You, Doesn’t Mean He or She is a Narcissist
You feel betrayed and discarded like a paper plate after a church potluck.
You wonder where the sense of loyalty and commitment was in your ex.
You see it as a character flaw in them and that is likely what makes you attempt to classify your ex as a narcissist – and they very well could be. But, if you look into your own past, it’s possible that you broke up with someone and that they felt the same feelings of betrayal, loss, and devaluing.
That didn’t make you a narcissist, it just meant that you saw a different future, that emotional attraction had fallen, that you grew apart from them in time, etc.
It doesn’t make you a cruel or bad person overall, even if your actions seemed and felt cruel to the person who you broke up with in the past.
Good people who are also mentally healthy can act and behave selfishly, coldly, immaturely, and hatefully.
I am certainly not defending the person who broke up with you.
One thing that I have learned in nearly 20 years in the relationship-recovery service is that when a person breaks up with someone, they often behave in a way that seems to be without concern for the person they are breaking up with.
However, when emotional attraction falls and that person wants to go their separate way, what else is there but to breakup?
You wouldn’t stay with someone when motivation is gone and you don’t want to be with them.
Though, in the case of a marriage relationship, it is different because there are usually more commitment connections (shared ownership, money, children, social pressure, etc.), we still would not expect someone to stay in a bad situation forever.
The decision to break up most likely did not happen overnight. It probably took months or even years.
Your ex probably wrestled mightily to revive their feelings, attraction, and desire to be with you.
You don’t know the nights that he or she asked what was happening inside of them.
You didn’t see the tears or feel the frustration and sorrow that came from knowing that what they wanted would hurt you and mean the end of a relationship.
So is your ex a narcissist?
I don’t know and neither do you. I can tell you that if you think they truly are, you don’t want to get them back.
If your ex truly does have this mental and emotional sickness, you want to get far away from them.
Why Does It Hurt So Much?
As I mentioned above, the feeling of loss and the devaluing that you are feeling from the breakup is so powerful and it can often be confused with intense love.
I am not saying that you don’t love your ex.
What I am saying is that a strong part of what is motivating you to get your ex back is that you want to reclaim what you had and to feel the value again that you felt when this person wanted to be with you.
I realize that such a statement is not fun to hear or think about, but I can tell you that my experience tells me that it is true.
Once you realize that the sense of loss and devaluing is in large part to blame for the sorrow you feel from this breakup, you are on your way to feeling better in time.
So while we probably encounter narcissists in our lifetimes, they are few and far between. You are justified in being angry with your ex and in questioning their character because they broke up with you. That alone is enough to suggest you might be better off without them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your ex is a narcissist.