First Date: Red Flags That He’s a Narcissist
How to avoid dating a self-centered man
Narcissists are all too common, so it’s likely that either you, or one of your friends, has made the mistake of dating one.
If you’ve been burned by dating a narcissistic man, you might be terrified to date again. It’s too bad that they don’t come with a warning label. Despite the lack of a label, there are definite warning signs to help you spot a narcissist on the first date and avoid going out with him again.
What exactly is a narcissist?
First, you might be wondering, what exactly is a narcissist? It’s more than just someone who likes to look at themselves in a mirror. Someone with a narcissist personality disorder, which is a recognized mental disorder, has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, and an utter lack of empathy for others. These personality types hide their fragile self-esteem behind a mask of ultraconfidence, according to The Mayo Clinic.
As you can imagine, dating someone like this like traversing a field of landmines. Their ego is so fragile that they need constant reassurance and they’re frequently upset when they perceive others are getting special favors or admiration that they think they deserve instead.
If you end up dating a narcissistic man, after a few initial weeks of him impressing you with his intense interest in his career or other passions, you’ll spend much of your time trying to boost his waning confidence. He might seek attention from other women, to feel better about himself, and be utterly oblivious to how his flirtatious behavior impacts you. Of course, this behavior easily extends to infidelity, because someone with narcissistic personality disorder believes that they’re special and regular rules do not apply.
Red flags to look for in a guy
Kate MacLean, relationship expert at PlentyOfFish, a popular online dating site, said that she has honed down the top five qualities of a narcissistic personality that you can be on the lookout for on a first date:
- They answer their own questions before you can - They pose a question only with the intent of answering it themselves. Before you can even take a breath, they are mid-way through telling you how hard they crushed it at the gym that day. He is not interested in getting to know you, because he are focused on self promotion.
- They claim to be an expert at everything - They currently work as a “professional” athlete, chef, and musician but when you ask them about their expertise in these fields, their answers are extremely vague.
- They always one up your story - No matter what, they always have an unbelievable story on hand to undermine your riveting life experience.
- Constantly checking themselves out - They use every store front window as a mirror, and pull their cell phone out at dinner table and take a selfie, not with you, but with their steak and mashed potatoes.
- Eyes on the time - With every word you speak, your date keeps checking their watch as though you are wasting their precious time.
“Now if you are still wondering whether your date is a narcissist, the best way to tell is at the end of the evening, after you say your goodbyes. If you were both given a pop quiz the next day about one another, who would ace the test?” MacLean said.
Why you don’t want to date a narcissist
If you haven’t had the misfortune of dating a narcissist, you might wonder what all the fuss is about, since everyone can be a little self-centered on occasion.
Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Susan Edelman, who is also an adjunct clinical associate professor at Stanford University, said, “You don’t want to date a man who will make your relationship all about him all the time. Don’t let his charm or sex appeal stop you from noticing the warning signals. It’s better for you to figure out early on whether or not it’s a good idea to spend more time getting to know him.”
Dr. Edelman shares her top five ways to spot a narcissist:
- He doesn’t ask questions about you. Asking questions shows interest in you and the ability to handle the give-and-take of a relationship. If he’s not asking questions, it doesn’t always mean he’s a narcissist. He might just be very nervous. You might consider making a little joke with a big smile, like, “Do you have any questions for me? I don’t want this to feel like an interview.” If you feel a little neglected, listen to your instincts.
- He monologues. He keeps bringing the conversation back to him. No matter what the subject, he will talk about himself. He might appear to be interacting with you, but his responses are more about him than what you were talking about. If your connection feels a bit off, listen to your gut.
- He expects special treatment. Your date may want a certain table in the restaurant. Maybe he has complaints about the food or service that seem out of proportion to the problem, because he feels that he deserves better. He doesn’t seem to notice or care about inconveniencing the restaurant staff.
- He might want something from you. If you have something he wants, he may lay on the charm and do special things for you. Maybe he’ll order your meal for you or spend a lot of money on your date. Whether he wants sex, status, money, or power, he may be very calculating in order to get what he wants, making it harder for you to see his hidden agenda.
- Dangerous chemistry. Narcissistic men are exploitative and impulsive thrill-seekers. They also report having higher numbers of sexual partners. It’s possible that women are drawn to bad boys, but another way to interpret this research is that these men have lower standards for short-term mates (casual sex). This means that he’ll try to sweep you off your feet, but it will be a microwave romance, one that progresses at lightning speed—and typically explodes in your face. Be careful not to get burned by the heat of passion.
If you meet someone with any of these qualities, you need to pay careful attention to your instincts and intuition, Dr. Edelman said.
“It’s critical to take your time to get to know him rather than rushing to get sexually involved. If he’s just interested in sex, he’ll move on to the next woman and save you lots of heartache,” she said.
Narcissistic men are exploitative and impulsive thrill-seekers.