10 Shocking Ways Dating A Narcissist Changes You

10 ways dating a narcissist changes you

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Dating someone with narcissistic personality traits can affect you in a lot of ways.

One of the first changes you’ll notice when you’re in a toxic relationship is that you’ll constantly doubt yourself and feel that you’re never good enough.

This can result in severe anxiety, chronic depression, frequent panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder if it goes on for a long time.

If you’re not aware of the side effects of narcissism, you may blame yourself for any mental health issues you’re experiencing as a result of the abuse.

In this article, we dive deep into how dating a narcissist changes you even after you’ve broken up with them. But first, let’s understand who a narcissist is…


According to the American Psychological Association, narcissism is characterized by excessive self-love.

A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which someone has an inflated sense of their own importance, lacks empathy for other people, and has a strong desire for recognition, attention, and admiration.

Now that you know a few details about narcissism, you may be wondering, “What does being in a relationship with a narcissist feel like?”

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m dating a narcissist?” Take a look at these 10 warning signs you’re dating someone with a narcissistic personality disorder.

Signs you're dating a narcissist


When you’re in the early stages of dating, it’s easy to mistake someone’s narcissistic tendencies for deep love, affection, or protectiveness.

To help you know if you’re with a narcissistic partner, here are a few signs to watch out for:

1. Your partner constantly needs attention and admiration

2. They exaggerate their talents and accomplishments

3. They make false promises all the time

4. They manipulate and gaslight you

5. Your partner lacks emotional empathy for you and others

6. They can’t tolerate criticism or feedback

7. They try to dominate or micromanage you

8. Your partner criticizes you all the time

9. You are afraid to express your real feelings

10. You feel as if you’re walking on eggshells

If you’re unsure about your romantic relationship, download this narcissist red flags checklist to see if anything resonates with you.


According to Dr. Darlene Lancer, people with a narcissistic personality disorder can only maintain a relationship for six months to a few years at most.

Depending on the dynamics of your relationship, the narcissist dating cycle can go on for a long time until your romantic partner decides to discard you.

Or you finally realize what’s happening and end the relationship yourself.


I’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse and I can tell you from experience that it’s brutal, especially on the nervous system.

Being in a narcissistic relationship can exhaust you emotionally, drain your energy, and even lead to a serious mental health condition.

Most victims report feeling as if they’re going crazy with all the manipulation tactics a narcissistic person employs.

To give you some real-life examples of how dating a narcissist changes you, I interviewed Edwina Caito, a survivor of narcissistic abuse that lasted for 22 years.

Here are a few side effects of dating a narcissist:

1. You lose your sense of identity

Narcissists have an inflated ego which makes them believe they’re more important and superior to others.

When you get into a relationship with a narcissist, you may mistake their excessive need for attention and admiration for healthy emotional needs.

In your quest to impress the narcissist and keep them happy, you focus solely on their needs and what they want thereby sacrificing yourself.

When you repeatedly deny your own needs to please someone else, you slowly lose your sense of self and feel as if you’re living another person’s life. 

It’s like you don’t even deserve to exist at all and the feeling of worthlessness can be so overwhelming.

Edwina Caito recounts, “I began to see through the mask my narcissistic ex wore in the beginning. All the hurt turned to anger, frustration, and disbelief like I was disconnected from my own life and all of this wasn’t really happening.”

How dating a narcissist changes you

2. You question your own sanity

When you enter a new relationship with a narcissistic individual, there will be lots of red flags to warn you.

If it’s your first time dating a narcissist, you may think that you’re just being insecure or paranoid to question their love whenever you suspect something’s not right.

A narcissist knows this and uses your ignorance to their advantage by invalidating your feelings and telling you that your suspicions are just in your mind or that you’re too sensitive.

As a result of their emotional abuse and frequent gaslighting, you may become so confused that you even question your own sanity and think that you’re actually going crazy.

Edwina says, “I was left a shell of who I once was, afraid to speak up for myself as I was unsure of my own worth and intelligence. I apologized for everything to everybody, as I learned to shoulder everyone else’s faults. I left questioning if I, in fact, was the narcissist.”

3. You become insecure and lack confidence in yourself

Individuals who display narcissistic traits are highly critical of the people around them and tend to use condescending statements to make you feel like you’re not good enough.

When you date a narcissist even for a short period, one major change you’ll notice in your life is zero confidence and low self-esteem.

They’ll blame you for all their problems and make you think that everything is entirely your fault.

The constant emotional abuse, harsh criticism, and belittling remarks can make you feel so insecure to the extent that you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities.

Narcissistic people do this to their victims in a bid to gain control over them and to appear more powerful than they really are.

According to Edwina, ” I had doubts about everything….my sanity, my looks, my intelligence, and even my ability to care for myself.”

4. You become a people pleaser

Narcissists are unable to empathize with the feelings of others and they tend to take advantage of the people in their life.

Since they’re self-centered and controlling, they believe they deserve special treatment and always want their insatiable needs met before anything else.

When you date someone with narcissistic traits, they expect you to drop everything you’re doing to attend to them whenever they want.

If you refuse to give in to their unrealistic demands, they’ll try to manipulate you or force you to do what they want at all costs.

As your relationship progresses, you may get tired of fighting them and begin to obey their every whim without thinking of the consequences.

And when you’re with someone who constantly uses you for their personal gain, you’ll struggle to make yourself a priority.

This means you’ll learn to put others first and yourself last every time. If this continues long enough, you’ll become a people pleaser and a doormat for people to step on easily.

How dating a narcissist changes you

5. You fear confrontation and avoid it at all costs

One recurring pattern in most victims of psychologically abusive relationships is that they use silence as a coping mechanism.

As narcissists are prone to anger and rage during disagreements, you may have to lie, withhold the truth, or minimize your own feelings and emotions to maintain peace in the relationship.

As a result of the narcissistic abuse, you begin to associate all conflict with negative emotions and can easily get triggered when you perceive an upcoming argument.

You may also become passive-aggressive or develop a fear of confrontation which makes you complacent in relationships.

Instead of expressing your true feelings and speaking up for yourself, you learn to bury your emotions and remain silent just to avoid trouble.

6. You attract troubled relationships unconsciously

It’s quite common to repeat history when it comes to unhealthy relationship patterns.

If you’ve dated a narcissist in the past, you may tend to attract other narcissistic partners.

This is because your ex somehow convinced you that no one else will ever love you and that you were lucky to have them in your life.

These kinds of comments can create a feeling of insecurity that lingers even when you leave them.

Additionally, the severe relationship trauma you experienced may have conditioned your brain to accept abuse because it seems familiar.

If you keep ending up in toxic relationships, seek professional therapy to help you form healthier behavioral patterns so you can spot narcissistic partners easily and attract better people into your life.

7. You suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or narcissistic abuse syndrome

As a victim of narcissism, you’ll likely suffer from PTSD because of the prolonged abuse and traumatic events you endured in your relationship, which triggered a fight or flight response within you.

As a result, your brain becomes highly alert, looking out for impending danger and anything associated with those bad memories can trigger a panic attack.

Edwina Cairo recalls, “I was a beaten puppy, cowering in a corner with fear and I had to seek counseling to learn how to be me again at the insistence of the only friend I had at the time.”

If you’re experiencing symptoms of psychological trauma, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you overcome your anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

8. You develop trust issues

Another side effect of dating a narcissist is that you’ll find it difficult to trust anyone including yourself.

Since they lie constantly, use your words against you, gaslight you, and distort facts to suit their needs, it’s impossible to trust them.

Due to their narcissistic behavior, you’ll develop serious trust issues and begin to question everything in your life.

This can make it difficult to build healthy, loving relationships with other people because you won’t be able to let down your guard or believe what people say even if it’s the truth.

When you meet a good person, you may find yourself watching their every move, overthinking things, trying to figure out if there is a hidden meaning behind their words, and if the things they say truly match their actions.

It’s an agonizing process that takes away all the innocence and beauty of falling in love with someone.

How dating a narcissist changes you

9. You become isolated from other people

Narcissistic people believe they’re superior to you and expect your life to revolve around them.

To make sure you give them all your attention, they’ll isolate you from your friends and family.

They may do this by telling you negative things about your loved ones, chasing them away when they visit you, answering all your phone calls, or coming up with unreasonable excuses for you to stop associating with them.

You may think they’re just trying to protect you and you won’t understand how damaging their actions are until you realize that you’re lonely and have no relationship with the most important people in your life.

“Finally, after 22 years of marriage, I found the courage to walk away from my narcissistic husband. It wasn’t easy. I had little support as he had already laid the groundwork to make himself out to be the victim. Our mutual friends were made to believe that I laid in bed all day, shouting orders as he cooked, cleaned, cared for our daughter, and paid all the bills”, Edwina recounts her ordeal.

10. You learn to recognize red flags in relationships

Ironically, the only good thing you get from a narcissistic relationship is the ability to spot red flags and toxic behavioral patterns in other people.

Due to your first-hand experience, you’ll be able to avoid getting into unhealthy relationships because you know exactly what they look like.

You’ll also learn how to stand up for yourself, rebuild your self-esteem, increase your emotional intelligence, and establish healthy boundaries in your life.


Dating a narcissist may change you in many ways but leaving an abusive relationship is the best decision you’ll ever make towards recovery and self-empowerment.

Most narcissists dislike criticism or feedback and they’re afraid of being alone thus it’s hard to end toxic relationships amicably.

If you want to leave a narcissistic partner, you need to plan your escape secretly without letting them know what you’re up to.

Confide in a trusted friend or family member, join an online support group, source for funds, and consult a therapist to help you break free from your narcissistic relationship.

How dating a narcissist changes you


The effects of dating a narcissist can cause lasting damage to your mental health and even turn you into a shadow of your self.

It may take a long time for the deep emotional wounds and psychological scars you’ve incurred to heal but with the right therapy, you can become whole again.

If you’re a victim of narcissism, you can repair your life and become the best version of yourself by getting the professional help you need.

The best way to get yourself back after leaving a narcissistic relationship is to work with a certified therapist to help you heal and regain control of your life.


After dating a narcissistic partner, you may find yourself struggling with low self-confidence, anxiety attacks, chronic depression, or severe trust issues.

While you may want to bury the emotional pain and act like the abuse never happened, traumatic stress symptoms don’t just go away on their own.

Without the professional help of a certified trauma therapist, it can be difficult to break the cycle of guilt, self-doubt, or shame that originates from narcissistic relationships.

If you’re currently dating a narcissist partner with the hope that you will change them, I strongly advise you to rethink your decision before you lose yourself in the process of saving them.

Most narcissistic individuals are set in their ways and rarely ever change unless with the intervention of a professional therapist.

They won’t rest until they’ve devalued you, destroyed your self-worth completely, and turned you into the worst version of yourself.

The earlier you get out of the toxic relationship, the better your life will become. Choose yourself today and do what your future self will be proud of.


Recommended Reading:

Top 10 Dating Red Flags That Should Send You Running

15 Crystal Clear Signs He Pretends To Love You

12 Warning Signs He Doesn’t Value You

About The Author

Jennifer Dagi

Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life. As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.

She strongly believes communication and intimacy are important in building a successful relationship.

Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.

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