Dear Johanne: I think my boyfriend is a narcissist

Dear Johanne

 I am in a relationship and whenever we have a disagreement, my boyfriend immediately hangs up & ignores me for a while without addressing the issue. I’ve had enough because its not fair for him to only speak on things when he is ready or for him to always expect me to reach out first. I was googling the definition of narcissism & I believe he is a narcissist. I don’t know what to do because he also has very good qualities, however, the entitlement & narcissism is getting too much. Can you please help me? Thanks

Johanne’s Response:

Having someone not listen to you or ignoring you is hurtful and frustrating, in any relationship. I am not sure if this is a relatively new energy or whether you have been weathering these feelings for some time, but it sounds as if you are pretty fed up!

I like the fact that you have taken the time out to try and work out what is going on with him.

Disclaimer * a bit of amateur psycho analytics can throw up all type of things – a bit like  googling ‘symptoms’ and convincing yourself you have a terminal illness, when really you just need to go to the GP and get diagnosed with heartburn – but in all seriousness it does demonstrate that you want to understand his actions and make the relationship work. It would take an expert to diagnose his suspected ‘narcissism’. But we can explore the communication issues and what you might do about it…

A lack of clear communication is genuinely at the root of most troubled relationships. From reading your dilemma it sounds as if he cannot fulfil this fundamental skill necessary to keep his bae happy! And I get it, even for the most confident and experienced of people, it is not always easy to be direct, clear, honest, and diplomatic.

Unfortunately, if he is shutting down (and you want to make things work which clearly you do) as annoying as it is, the onus will be on you to get to the heart of the problem. I have a few key actions that may help you approach discussing it with him.

• Set aside time to talk – Try to schedule some time when you will both be relaxed and have time to talk, ideally on neutral ground and face to face. Phones off and minimise any distractions.

• Be clear on your objectives and what you want to achieve – in a direct, honest way let him know you are feeling and how his actions make you feel. Try to be as succinct and to the point as possible –you want to get your main points across.

• Ask him how he feels when you have a disagreement and why he thinks he takes the ‘shut down’ approach.

• Take the time to listen – like really listen to what he says (believe – I know this is not always easy especially if you are frustrated and have built-up resentment but do let him talk).  This is all about getting a deeper understanding of your partner and why they behave the way they do. It is so important for your foundations to really get to know & understand each other.

• Be patient – you may not get the resolution you need on your first attempt, it may take several rounds – sorry but I’m a realist! We all develop emotionally differently due to our life experiences and what we have been taught from birth. You most likely will have different boundaries based on this. It is important that this is mutually respected, but it also means it may not be an easy road.

However, if you love each other and are both willing to talk, listen, understand, and adapt, I think you can make it work. Remember relationships are not easy and take constant commitment and work. 

Good luck girlfriend!

By Johanne – Dating & Relationships writer

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