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20-Feb-2020 16:50

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"I now know that this isn't normal behavior—there's a difference between communicating with someone and getting to know them, and smothering that person."Jamie*, 46, tells SELF that her former husband used to ruin every holiday, seemingly without remorse.

One Christmas in particular stands out: “I love to have friends and family around me during the holidays, and so I had invited one of my best friends over for Christmas Eve dinner,” she says.

As defined by the Mayo Clinic, NPD is “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.”His constant manipulation, his verbal attacks on Linda—only to switch to playing the victim moments later—and his gaslighting tactics all pointed the therapist to the diagnosis, Linda says.

"I did not believe it at first because, after being with someone for that long, I wanted to believe that he was a good person and I had invested in something that was real," she admits. I just felt relieved."Dating a narcissist can be a confusing, miserable experience that slowly erodes a person's sense of self-worth.

Alexander the Great and Napoleon had conquered worlds by my age.'" Although remarks like this point to narcissism, they're easy to ignore when you're infatuated, or to even view as a funny display of a partner's confidence.

Research published in 2013 in the may shine a light on why narcissism isn't always easy to spot at first.

When Jamie’s husband was diagnosed with narcissism, she felt awash with relief.

“At least I had validation—even for a brief moment—that I wasn't crazy or a horrible person,” she says.

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“On one of our first dates, he compared himself to Alexander the Great and Napoleon, saying, ' I was born at the wrong time.Admiration behaviors represent narcissism's charming, self-assured, and entertaining qualities, and are associated with greater short-term satisfaction in relationships.Rivalry behaviors are the sum of narcissism’s exploitative, selfish, and insensitive characteristics, and are the driving force behind unhappiness in long-term relationships with a person who has NPD. “When we first started dating, he showered me with compliments, told me how important I was to him, and put me up on a pedestal,” she says.The 32-year-old had a choice: keep scrubbing the plates in the sink, or clean up the mess she knew was awaiting her in the living room. Linda’s husband had also heard the cat throw up, and he expected his wife to drop the dishes and get down on the carpet.

When she didn’t, “he freaked out and started throwing dishes into the sink and screaming at me about how I was an idiot,” Linda tells SELF.

But “my narcissist [husband] laid a huge guilt trip on me about making this Christmas special and spending it with just us.