Advice For Dating A Vulnerable Narcissist

By Robert Porter|Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

If you’re dating a vulnerable narcissist, you may already be aware of how fragile the ego of a narcissist can be. Vulnerable narcissism is much different than the traditional form of narcissism, or grandiose narcissism that most people are familiar with. When you’re dating someone with vulnerable narcissism, they are typically more emotionally vulnerable.  The root traits of narcissism are there, but you may find vulnerable narcissists tend to have more vulnerable traits. You may face challenges being in a relationship with a vulnerable narcissist, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it work with some effort. Take a look at the following advice for dating a vulnerable narcissist to give your relationship the best shot.

Recognize The Traits Of A Vulnerable Narcissist

While many people are familiar with the characteristics of a grandiose narcissist, it is essential to recognize that not all people with narcissism present in the same way. There are two main types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. While the root of narcissistic traits is the same, there are ways that they differ. Common traits of a vulnerable narcissist include:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • More introverted than grandiose narcissists
  • Difficulties managing trauma or failure
  • Worry about how others perceive them
  • Turn on themselves when hurt
  • Feel shame when rejected
  • May experience depression
  • May withdraw from social situations
  • May be envious of others
  • May experience rage-filled outbursts
  • Tend to blame others

Understand Your Partner’s Emotional Fragility  

Wondering How To Navigate Dating a Vulnerable Narcissist?
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If your partner is a vulnerable narcissist, it’s important to recognize that they may be more emotionally fragile than others. Their self-esteem may depend on what others think of them more than other types of narcissists. These narcissists can be hypersensitive to the things that people say to them. Your partner’s fragile emotional state means that they may consistently seek positive affirmation or reassurance from you, or they may have narcissistic rage.

It’s also important to understand that your partner may have challenges interacting socially. Vulnerable narcissists tend to be more introverted, and they often shy away from people. This could mean that your partner may actively try to avoid social situations. Your significant other could be fine with hanging out with you, but they might not be willing to go eat out at a restaurant. This is just one example of how a vulnerable narcissist might avoid a situation that they could deem to be socially awkward.

Criticism Can Lead To Your Partner Shutting Down

A vulnerable narcissist may have difficulty taking criticisms from others, as they are hypersensitive and easily hurt their feelings. If you criticize your partner, a vulnerable narcissist, they may shut down or lash out at you. In the case of most vulnerable narcissists, they may end up retreating within themselves. These types of narcissists are introverted by nature and have various social anxieties that cause them to be self-absorbed and feel afraid of not matching up to others expectations. You can see how different this is from the reaction of a grandiose narcissist.

For this reason, you may need to think about how you’re talking to your partner. It may be helpful to try your best not to come across like you’re attacking your partner in any aspect of their life.

Set And Maintain Boundaries

In any relationship in your life, setting boundaries is important. Decide what you will and will not accept in the relationship and be very clear about it. If something makes you uncomfortable, you can speak up and let your partner know that you feel that way. You have a right to your feelings and to be respected. A vulnerable narcissist may lack empathy and may try to challenge your boundaries, but it’s important to remain firm from the beginning. It may be difficult to maintain these boundaries, but setting and keeping these boundaries will show your partner your limits and values.

Try Not To Take It Personally

When dating a vulnerable narcissist, it may seem difficult to not take their behavior personally, especially if you are on the receiving end of their manipulation, deception, or lack of empathy. However, it’s important to remember; their behavior doesn’t have anything to do with you. Hold them accountable for how they are treating you. If you take their behavior to heart, they may realize that they have control over you.

Create Healthy Distance

If you find yourself overwhelmed at times in your relationship with a vulnerable narcissist, remember it is perfectly okay to create a healthy distance between you at times. The purpose of this is not to hurt or punish them but to create space for you to protect yourself from any of their negative behaviors. It’s okay to let them know you need to take space to honor your own needs. This is all part of maintaining firm boundaries.

Stand Up For Yourself

A narcissist naturally has a grand sense of self-importance, and they may be incredibly self-absorbed. It may be easy to begin to lose your sense of self or your purpose when your partner is always taking center stage. While it’s important to acknowledge your partner's feelings, remember that your own emotions matter just as much. When dating a vulnerable narcissist, put yourself first, stand up for yourself, and let yourself be heard.

Wondering How To Navigate Dating a Vulnerable Narcissist?

Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Help

Maintaining a healthy romantic relationship with a vulnerable narcissist can be challenging. It may be helpful to seek support from a relationship therapist. They can provide tools and guidance that may help your partner manage their selfish nature and provide resources for you to cope with their behaviors and strengthen your relationship.

Online therapy can be very effective for individuals experiencing mental health concerns. An online therapist can help you and your partner work through these issues while also working on any relationship concerns you may have, all at your own convenience, in the comfort of your own home. Reach out to a licensed professional today to start your journey to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.

Counselor Reviews

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling initially, but I truly believe that it makes a difference in our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to, and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think differently. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”

 

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