Okay. Let’s be real about narcissists. I bet you know one or two. In the US, narcissists make up 4% of the population. This means that for every 25 people you meet, one of them is a narcissist. And, if you are a single mother, you have most likely met many more than that! Why? Narcissists often look for people who might be needy—who is needier than a single mom? Surely not all of us are needy, but the current statistic states that 95% of single moms live below the poverty line. This often leaves single moms in need of financial and physical support caring for themselves and their children. This is a tough combination.
So, what does a narcissist look like? At first blush, the signs are subtle. When they tell stories about their lives, they often recount the numerous (and it will be numerous) times they have been hurt. When they do this, they are tugging at your heart, and it may make you feel like you can, or even have to, help them. While most of us (if not all) have been hurt before, it is not typical that the only thing in our past is pain and hurt.
Another thing to take note of is the relationships that they maintain. Many times the scorn and heartbreak extends to their families—everyone has done something wrong to them, and they don’t talk to anyone anymore. People say that the way that a man treats his mom is how he will treat his wife. Well, the same principle applies here. The way that someone treats his or her parents can provide the key to how they treat others. Surely there are broken relationships, but oftentimes people will not have ostracized their entire family. This line of thought applies to everyone else in the lives of narcissists. Observing how they treat coworkers, neighbors, and friends can provide key insights into who they are. Narcissists want you to feel like you should, or must, help them.
There are other signs to be aware of, too. Narcissists will often present themselves as remarkably, undeniably important. Their huge dreams are going to happen, they have an amazing job, and their fantasies and dreams are hyper important and powerful. Narcissists think that they are the most and the best without a doubt. They believe they are more unique and more special than anyone else, and they need you to see them as unique and special in an exaggerated way. They feel, and make you sense it, that they are entitled to your love and affection.
When they make you feel like they are entitled to your love and affection, narcissists take advantage of you. They often either lack the empathy or are not willing to see that anyone else has needs and feelings. Narcissists will create drama in your life to assure that they remain the center of your attention and admiration. They present themselves as the center of the universe, and you are along for their ride. Loving a narcissist is hard work.
Narcissism can sound like an older teenager, but it will usually pass when the teenager grows up. Typically, narcissism begins in young adulthood. You can learn more about narcissism in Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door where she details how you can spot a narcissist early in the relationship.
You can also read more about growing up with narcissistic parents here: Narcissism Decoded
If you have a narcissist in your life, or have had a relationship with one and are in recovery, you may want to reach out to a qualified therapist in your area. I have an office in Fort Collins Colorado where you can begin your own road to recovery. You can contact me at: