Will An “Is My Husband A Narcissist” Quiz Online Help Me Figure Out If My Spouse Is Truly A Narcissist?
By Nate Miller
Updated March 16, 2020
Everyone can be selfish. Everyone has, at one point or another, been inconsiderate, been arrogant, pushed others around, and generally decided that the only person that mattered was ourselves. However, most of us have felt guilty about that behavior at one point or another, and we don't tend to do it all the time. For those of use for whom that behavior is the norm, we typically call them self-absorbed, arrogant, or even the most extreme - narcissists.
Dealing with a narcissist can be difficult in general. Being married to a narcissist can be extraordinarily challenging. All of the behaviors and understandings that are required to develop deep and trusting affection and stable habits are just gone. There are so many ways for your interactions to go bad, and your home is likely full of criticism, judgment, and even fear.
Determining whether or not your husband is a narcissist is not easy, and requires the help of a counselor to even begin dealing with. While the word is shorthand for arrogant, narcissism is a diagnosable disorder. When you are grappling with this question, it can be tempting to turn to resources like online quizzes that proclaim to help you determine if your spouse is a narcissist. However, psychological issues are not that easy to diagnose, and narcissism is so complicated in its expressions and causes that professional help is vital to identifying it and addressing it.
If you believe you are married to a narcissist and were considering using a quiz to verify that belief, this article is for you. Read on to learn about where narcissism comes from, what it looks like, what you should do if you think he is, and overall why a quiz is insufficient.
What Causes Narcissistic Behavior
When it comes to understanding the source of personality issues like a fear of vulnerability or a tendency to dishonesty, there is usually some underlying trauma to unearth. When diagnosing a psychological disorder, there are occasionally distinct brain functions that are lacking that can be addressed with medication and treatment.
What causes a complicated disorder like narcissism, however, is a little unclear. Because it occurs on a spectrum, how it comes to be expressed can be strongly affected by a variety of personal and environmental factors. While it is likely that there is a genetic component to it, we have not identified a 'narcissism gene.' Similarly, external factors can increase your likelihood for developing narcissistic personality disorder, but it is unlikely to manifest unless you had at least some predispositions towards narcissism.
Nevertheless, the following indicators do seem to be consistent factors that at least increase the likelihood for someone to develop narcissism. If you know that these experiences were part of your husband's development up to now, it may be worth exploring further.
Dysfunctional parenting: This can take a few different forms. Maybe his parents were excessive in their praise to the point of pampering him, with constant compliments. Or maybe they were excessively critical, and an inflated sense of self developed as a defense mechanism. It can even occur if parents are just generally negligent.
Criticism and abuse to the point of trauma: This can come from outside the home too. When someone grows up with a challenging neighborhood, school, or friend groups where their self-esteem is constantly challenged or even broken down, narcissism can develop for protection.
Extremely high expectations: These can come from anywhere (parents, friends, school, work), and they can take surprising forms - receiving constant compliments, for example, creates an expectation of also being compliment-worthy. Wherever they come from and however they arrive, the effect is the same. The narcissist learns to believe that everything is expected of them, so they must be capable of everything.
How to Tell if Your Husband is a Narcissist
As discussed, true narcissism is not just selfishness or rude behavior. It is a psychologically diagnosable disorder that occurs on a spectrum. While the ultimate experience is challenging either way, it is important to distinguish someone who is inconsiderate from someone who is truly and completely self-absorbed.
The list below is not exhaustive, and determining whether or not your spouse is truly a narcissist can only be done by a professional. However, these factors may indicate that you are dealing with this issue, and can help you figure out what to do next. At the very least, if you observe several of these happening to a high degree, you can trust that you aren't crazy, there is something truly troubling going on.
This list is also a good example of why an online quiz, while thought-provoking, cannot answer this question for you. All of these behaviors may occur from time to time, but that doesn't mean that narcissism is the cause. An online quiz is also likely to miss important nuance. Some of these ideas are easy to understand, but others can be harder to identify. Even if the quiz was written by a licensed psychologist, no one can identify narcissism without meeting the individual in person and learning more about them.
Lack of accountability. In the narcissist's mind, successes are the natural result of their extraordinary ability and general greatness. Thus, any mistakes and failures must be the fault of other people. Sure, we are all susceptible to focusing on the mistakes of others over our own in difficult situations. But if that's the way your husband responds to every issue, that may be because they are incapable of even seeing their own responsibility for bad things happening.
Willingness to blame others. This issue is typically coincident with the previous issue. Blaming others is easy to do, and in some situations it's completely appropriate. However, most of us understand how unpleasant it is to be blamed and understand it is counterproductive to solving the problem. For a narcissist, however, the objective is not 'solve the problem,' the objective is 'protect my reputation.' When that as your goal, blaming anyone and everyone else is a great tactic.
Obsessed with having control and power. Narcissists believe they are more capable than everyone else. This naturally leads them to believe that they should be the decision maker on just about everything, and that their greatness at work should always be recognized. This shows up as being keenly interested in always having the last say and having control over decision making.
True self-absorption. It's one thing to be ignorant of or resistant to caring about other people and their issues. This can happen with anyone depending on the circumstances and may be a passing phase of bad behavior. But if everything you or your children do is interpreted as how it reflects on him, then he may truly only be concerned with himself.
Emotional maturity. What inspires your partner to do nice things for you? Is it because they really love you, or because other people are around? Does your husband have a tendency to exaggerate insults and hold grudges unnecessarily? Does he care about how bad news will affect the family, or just himself? In general, does your husband seem to understand that your relationship is a partnership, not a one-man show? When your partner does things that others do out of love or appreciation, but you believe or know that he is doing it to increase his standing with others or protect his ego, that's a bad sign.
Manipulative dishonesty. This can take many forms. The most obvious would be lying to you in order to control your perception of reality, to never let you know too much about what they are doing and what they know. More subtle versions can include massaging the truth, or seemingly harmless falsehoods like telling a story in a way that makes them look better than reality. However it shows up, it's a problem.
Ability to listen, or even interest in doing so. Open and honest communication is fundamental to any healthy relationship. It's how we connect with our loved ones and reinforce our bonds of affection. For a narcissist, however, conversation is just another opportunity to self-promote and deal with personal problems. When you talk to your husband, does he listen, or seem to care? Does he turn the conversation to himself quickly? A general inability to engage meaningfully in conversation can be a sign of narcissism.
Children are merely a means to an end. Narcissists have a hard time valuing anyone else's actions besides their own. This includes their children, amazingly. How they interact with them can be very telling. If he never come to events unless he is directly interested in the activity, or if he pushes the children to do things that make him happy even if the kids don't like it, take note.
Bossing you around. As stated, a relationship is a partnership, and both people's autonomy and capability need to be respected. If your partner believes that their opinion is inherently more valuable than yours, this dynamic is unlikely at best. Narcissists like to tell other people what to do and see no problem with doing it. They may even be surprised that it bothers you. If your husband has a tendency to be pushy about their way of doing things, this can be problematic.
How to Respond to a Narcissistic Husband
First, take some solace in learning that you aren't crazy. If you are truly living with a narcissist, your life has likely been extremely challenging up to now. Narcissists create hostile environments for other people. They are manipulative and controlling, they neglect your emotional needs, and they place enormous pressure on their spouses to meet their needs and constantly praise them. This is exhausting, and it is important to take some time to appreciate that you weren't imagining it.
Recognize that they are unlikely to ever change. Dealing with a narcissist and getting them to change their ways is extremely difficult. Even getting them to admit that they are a narcissist is a challenge. You should focus on taking steps to protect yourself and change the relationship in whatever ways you need to protect yourself and your family from further damage - including ending the relationship.
Process that you have been a victim of abuse. Even if your partner never struck you, they have been doing regular damage to your self-esteem, your belief in your own judgment, and your general ability to live a happy life. While the extremity of their disorder may vary, that doesn't change that it has limited the ability of your life to flourish. This is also why it will likely be necessary to end the relationship.
Seek professional counseling. If you truly suspect that your husband is a narcissist, you owe it to yourself to get professional validation. Once this is done, you can start working with them to figure out an action plan for moving beyond this issue. They may recommend trying to work with your husband on this, and that is up to you. Whatever happens next, you want an objective professional to help you navigate your new awareness.
If Your Husband is a Narcissist, a Quiz Ultimately Won't Tell You
Living with someone who is truly a narcissist is hard enough, and comes with its own work. Doing so and not knowing that you are dealing with narcissism can be excruciating. Narcissism takes many forms and occurs on a spectrum, but the end result for loved ones is always a challenge. By taking the time to review your husband's behavior and treatment of you and others, you can learn a lot about what's really going on.
The internet is full of quizzes that try to help us understand complicated issues and identify types of people in our lives. An online quiz about narcissism can help you begin to understand the different ways it shows up. However, it will not ultimately help you confirm that your husband is a narcissist. At best, you should consider it a light starting point to your exploration of this topic.
Dealing with narcissism is tricky, and should always be done with professional help. Even understanding what your relationship issues are and whether or not narcissism should be considered takes some experience. The counselors at ReGain are well versed at handling relationship issues of all kinds, and helping you navigate the results of whatever you find.
Narcissists are not necessarily hopeless, but helping one improve takes a lot of work, and it may not be worth it for you in the end. If you have been struggling with a narcissistic partner for some time, it is perfectly acceptable to decide not to do it anymore.