On the journey to find love, it can be easy to find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of emotions. Your hopeful heart leads the way and sometimes your brain takes a backseat. However, there may be moments when the path of love takes an unexpected turn. Have you ever questioned whether your partner’s charming demeanor may be hiding a darker side? There is a possibility that you may have fallen in love with a narcissist. Luckily, there are ways that you can tell if you are dating one. 21Ninety sat down with an expert to better understand the red flags you should look out for.

Characteristics of a Narcissist

Abigail Makepeace is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has a lot of background in relationships.

When asking her what some of the things one should look for when first meeting someone you’re interested in dating, she says there are a few signs to look out for before getting too deep in. When talking to someone, look to see if they have a strong need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and also a strong sense of entitlement.

If you’ve already gotten past the stage of getting to know someone and are now in a full-fledged relationship, you can still look out for yourself. Makepeace says that you have to look for certain telltale signs in your partner.

“Narcissists have a strong need for admiration and constant praise. You may find that you are having to often give them compliments that you don’t necessarily even mean, but sense that to stay in good favor with them that you must continue this exchange,” she explains.

“Also, you will feel belittled by them and they often downplay your emotions. Another sign is that after or during an argument or fight a narcissist will often turn your attention to them being the victim instead of ever acknowledging that they were wrong,” Makepeace added.

Leaving A Narcissist

Once you’ve made the decision to leave a narcissist, it’s very possible to have a hard time healing afterward. Makepeace says that it will take work but you can overcome it.

“I think the most important step is to acknowledge what you have experienced but to do so with a lot of self compassion,” she began.

“Narcissists are manipulative and people often experience a lot of shame once they are no longer in the relationship. It can be easy to blame yourself for the experience, especially because you are coming out of a relationship where you were likely continually blamed for all the problems. Breaking out of the cycle of self blame and tapping into self compassion is difficult but absolutely key!”

She also says that boundaries are important to getting your power back. Having a support system is also ideal for getting over a narcissistic ex.

“Lastly, reminding yourself that much of the dysfunction that you went through in your relationship wasn’t your fault nor something you should feel responsible for, can really help to find your own balance.,” she concluded.