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I believe that if we took a poll of our readers, we would find that many of them (myself included) have been in relationships with at least one person that changed us. Some of those relationships left us feeling generally cheerful and happy.
You had a sunny disposition toward life and the possibility of finding “the one” when dating and could honestly say that you looked for the best in everyone… approaching life with rose-colored glasses.
However, there were those “other” relationships… the rough ones. Those that left many of us feeling as if we had been a POW who barely escaped to tell our stories.
This type of experience can cause us to be more cynical and distrusting than we previously were, making it hard to consider opening our hearts to someone else again.
What is a Narcissist?
A narcissist is a person who is considered to have a personality disorder. They have a mental condition that causes them to think of themselves first and with more regard than they should.
To a narcissist, your issues aren't as important as theirs are. In addition, a narcissist needs to be the center of attention, be adored by others, and lack sympathy and empathy for others around them.
It is hard to be in a relationship with a narcissist. They tend to keep a scorecard of what they do for you and use it against you when you disagree with them. They are very manipulative in that way. Furthermore, narcissists have trouble with relationships because of the superficial way in which they view others.
These people are not very self-aware. Narcissists tend to focus on external things, not willing to take a look inside and discuss their thoughts, behavior patterns, and feelings.
Lastly, narcissists feed off gossip, feel significantly entitled, and can be very judgmental toward others. They will do so whenever they notice a flaw in a person or a mistake worth pointing out.
Because of these behaviors, narcissists aren't excellent relationship partners, and being in a relationship with one will certainly change you.
Warning Signs that Someone May Be a Narcissist
Here are a few warning signs that someone may be a narcissist. If you’re lucky enough to pick up on them early… you may want to run for the hills!
If you’re not lucky enough to dodge this bullet before things get going, keep reading on the ways in which dating a narcissist can change you… and perhaps you’ll be inspired to change the situation instead.
13 Ways Dating a Narcissist Changes You
1. You develop self-sabotaging tendencies
When considering how dating a narcissist changes you, one of the more troubling ways is this, you may develop self-sabotaging tendencies. This is because for so long, in an attempt to be the center of your universe, your narcissist partner sabotaged the joy you find in every friendship, family member, hobby, or career.
Throughout your relationship, the narcissist criticized you for studying too much, spending too much time at work (away from them), or finding joy in habits that didn't include them.
Therefore, they would start an argument right before you leave for work, text you all throughout the day, and accuse you of not caring when you don't have the time to answer them.
After the relationship is over, you can begin to feel that you are not good enough, don't deserve to be happy, and begin to sabotage the opportunities you have.
Furthermore, because of the trauma and put-downs you experienced during the relationship, you feel you don't deserve to be happy.
2. You find yourself trying to live up to the expectations of others after the relationship is over
Narcissistic partners can often be unpredictable. Their feelings and emotion can be all over the place, up one minute and down the next. Furthermore, they don't always respond to situations as you expect.
Many become blinded by their narcissist partner's wit, charm, attractiveness, and charisma and often cannot understand what is happening. When the relationship fails, you can often feel drawn in by similar personalities that love bomb you into falling for them. Therefore, repeating the same pattern of trying to live up to someone else's expectations.
3. You can become insecure and develop a low sense of self-worth
After getting out of a serious relationship with a narcissist, it can take a severe toll on you mentally and emotionally. After long periods of questioning yourself and feeling inadequate, you can feel worthless, devalued, anxious, and insecure.
Your narcissist ex can be miles behind you in the rearview mirror of your life, and you still realize you have become clingy, moody, jealous, entitled, and self-seeking after the relationship is over. Just like the narcissist you despised. This has caused many to hate themselves as a result.
4. You learn to set better boundaries
After getting out of a relationship with a narcissist, you learn to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Then, rather than your world revolving around a person and their feelings and needs, you can focus on finding someone who values you and your needs as you do theirs.
5. You doubt your own perceptions
After time spent with a narcissist, you can begin to feel that your perception and judgments of people are off. You can't help but wonder if you can trust what you see and often seek validation from others for clarity.
Moreover, your introspection, intuition, and gut feelings are no longer your go-to weapons to examine your surroundings. While dating a narcissist, you began to look inward and question if you were the cause of so many of the relationship problems.
Though it wasn't you, it is a good sign to look within yourself. That is something a self-absorbed narcissist simply will not do.
Lastly, you want to be able to forgive yourself and not consistently blame yourself for not seeing the signs sooner.
6. You can become more isolated and standoffish
Narcissists seek to isolate you so that you have no one else to validate your perceptions of them and their behaviors. They usually devise a way to separate you from your friends and family. They don't want you to have anyone on your side, so you will give in to them.
As a result, many people from this type of relationship find themselves unable to trust because they are wired that way due to the mental abuse they escaped from. Therefore, they purposefully isolate themselves as a form of protection.
7. You feel helpless
After surviving all the lies, manipulation, criticism, and calculated isolation you experienced with a narcissist, you may feel helpless. This was the narcissist's attempt to make you feel as if you could not trust anyone but them.
A narcissist fears being abandoned and vulnerable and try to twist things so that you feel dependent on them and cannot leave. Unfortunately, this causes many people to feel like their relationship is a prison.
However, after overcoming the relationship, many still have residual emotional effects of feeling helpless and question their own abilities to form healthy relationships.
8. You become a defender of the narcissist’s behavior
A narcissist can use your loyalty to them to manipulate and control you. As a result, many of you may begin to make excuses for and defend your emotional abuser. You may feel it is your fault for their behavior and even say it results from the abuser having a “bad day.”
When in reality, the narcissist is like this all the time. This happens because many seek peace in the relationship and become agreeable, thinking it will improve matters. But usually, it is at the expense of their self-respect.
9. You can spot red flags a mile away
After surviving a relationship with a narcissist, it can make you keenly aware of the behavior, and you can spot it in others a mile away. Now you can avoid the past repeating itself.
You are better, stronger, wiser, and able to assess potentially unhealthy relationships before they get serious. Lastly, it can help you spot the behavior in your current relationships with family, friends, and co-workers and avoid the issues it may bring.
10. Your relationships with family and family will get better
After dating a narcissist and going through the isolation it can bring, it is liberating and freeing to move on from your ex. At that point, you can begin to enjoy the presence of your friends and family again.
Relationships that were diminished or strained by your past relationship can now be rebuilt.
11. You learn to take a stand
At the beginning of your relationship with a narcissist, you may have been subservient, giving in to their wishes, desires, viewpoints, patterns, and behaviors. However, you get to the point where enough is enough, and you will no longer tolerate their abusive and manipulative behavior.
Therefore, you take a stand and walk away from the relationship, realizing life is too short to let this abuse with someone you are dating continue.
12. You become a paranoid person
Narcissists are paranoid people who are not very trusting and always looking for saboteurs and traitors among their ranks. Unfortunately, this type of cynical behavior can rub off on you, too, and you fall into similar behavior patterns.
Avoiding confrontations and failing to take a stand against a narcissist can become a breeding ground for paranoia.
13. You become a more compassionate person
Though a person is narcissistic, it doesn’t mean they do not have good qualities about them. None of us like to be judged by our worst qualities.
Suppose you have stayed in a relationship with a narcissist. In that case, it could be because you see the best in them. This shows your compassionate side.
However, emotional abuse is to be taken seriously, and subjecting yourself to that in a dating relationship can do more harm than good in the long run. It may be a sign to move on from the relationship knowing you were caring, understanding, and did everything possible to make things work between the two of you.
How to Heal (or Move On) After Dating a Narcissist
Moving on and recovering from a relationship with a narcissist is not always easy but most often needed. Many have moved on by taking a hard look at how it has not only affected them, but seeing how it may have affected their children, loved ones, and friends as well. Here are a few steps to help you heal and move on after dating a narcissist?
Final Thoughts on 13 Ways Dating a Narcissist Changes You
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can feel like you just survived a 12-round boxing match with one hand tied behind your back. However, you survived. You are still here and can still have a bright future.
The lies, manipulation, and gaslighting may have put more gray hairs in your head than being a US President… but it doesn’t have to define your life. Surround yourself with loving and caring family and friends who will support you, build you up, and help put this horrible chapter behind you.
Seeking professional help is a great option as well. Lastly, remember, don’t blame yourself. We have all been there, survived, overcame, and have the t-shirt to show for it. There is healing ahead for you. Being with a narcissist doesn't make us weak or oblivious… it simply makes us human.
See more posts about dealing with narcissists in your life:
- 13 Narcissist Traits, Characteristics, & Warning Signs
- 15 Subtle Ways to Manipulate a Narcissist in Your Life
- 7 Signs of a Covert Narcissist & How to Deal with Them
- 19 Weird Things That Narcissists Do to Manipulate People
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.