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Narcissistic Personalities in a Relationship

By Lynn MacPherson ; Updated June 13, 2017

Good relationships can make life more fulfilling and interesting. Bad ones, on the other hand, can be extremely stressful and time consuming. Although good relationships do require work, some relationships are basically unhealthy and will not improve by investing more time and effort. One type of relationship that can fall into this second category is narcissistic personality disorder.


We often use the term narcissist loosely in our society to describe self-centered individuals. However, a person with narcissistic personality disorder has a more intense form of self absorption than just your typical self-centered individual. Expecting a give and take relationship with someone with this type of disorder may entangle you in an unhealthy, one-sided relationship.


A personality disorder, according to the staff at Mayo Clinic, is a condition where an individual has traits that cause him or her to behave in socially distressing ways that in turn limits their ability to function in other areas of their life. Mayo Clinic describes Narcissistic personality disorder as a disorder in which the affected individual has an inflated sense of their own importance and an irrational need for admiration.


Symptoms listed by Mayo Clinic for Narcissistic personality disorder include believing that you are better than others, exaggerating your achievements or talents, expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans, setting unrealistic goals and being jealous of others. Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional can also be a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder along with an inability to recognize other people's emotions and feelings.


Appropriate boundaries can aid in relationships that are unbalanced. However, professional help is recommended for those who truly have narcissistic personality disorder as it can cause problems in several areas of life. Reaching out to a trusted health care provider or mental health provider for treatment is recommended if you suspect you may have this disorder.

Diagnosis and Prognosis

According to the National Institute of Health, a psychological evaluation taking into account the history and severity of symptoms are used to diagnose personality disorders. Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder often involves psychotherapy, which may help the individual in the way she relates to others. The outcome often depends on the severity of the disorder.

Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships do involve give and take, but the giving and taking is usually somewhat balanced over a long period of time. The exception to this can be if you choose to have a relationship with someone for the purpose of helping them. A good example of this would be helping an elderly person or someone going through a crisis. Obviously, the giving and taking would not be equal in instances like these. However, trying to have a helping relationship with someone who needs professional mental help may prove to be time consuming with little or no results.

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