Last Updated on April 18, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
It is not always obvious when a person has a narcissistic boyfriend… as narcissistic traits are not always immediately obvious. While there are different levels of narcissism, most narcissists are able to blend in with the rest of society.
Symptoms of a narcissistic boyfriend include illusions of greatness, inability to emotionally connect with others, feeling as though he is special and unique, and strong feelings of jealousy. It is not uncommon for them to be jealous of all previous intimate relationships that their partner may have had.
There are three major levels of narcissism ranging from mild to psychopathic. Each level increases in severity but, surprisingly, it also becomes harder to spot the signs of a narcissistic boyfriend in the more severe levels. This is due to the skills of the more narcissistic men to simulate (outright fake) the social norm.
Types of Narcissism in Boyfriends
The least severe type of narcissist boyfriend typically has delusions of grandeur (illusions of greatness). He is usually very jealous and may be somewhat possessive.
This type of boyfriend may also appear emotionless and will not be empathetic. He probably feels he deserves “the best” of everything and he expects it to be given to him without question. It is normal for him to also brag, expect constant praise, and become easily hurt.
A mid-level narcissist boyfriend may try to seek total control over situations and people, especially in relationships. This may be due to mild paranoid tendencies that rouse his need to assert dominance over those he believes wish to hurt him in some way.
He would rather be respected, obeyed and looked up to then be liked by others. At times, he may physically attempt to assert dominance in relationships. His level of jealousy can be intense.
Psychopathologic narcissism is the most severe level, and this type of boyfriend is usually the most dangerous. He will likely feel no relationship to the world around him, be completely self-serving and typically exhibit a lack of emotions.
Despite this, he is usually expert at faking normal behavior, and no one may realize his narcissistic tendencies until he becomes violent. If this level of narcissist is jealous of someone- watch out.
What is Pathological Envy?
Pathological envy is a complex emotion. It is brought on by the realization of some lack, deficiency, or inadequacy in oneself. It is the result of unfavorably comparing oneself to others: to their success, their reputation, their possessions, their luck, or their qualities.
It is misery and humiliation and impotent rage. It can also be the result of unfavorably comparing himself to his partner’s previous relationships.
The narcissist has a spectrum of reactions to this destructive and cognitively distorting emotion:
Subsuming the Person of Envy through Imitation
Some narcissists seek to imitate their role models or someone they are jealous of. It is as if by imitating the person of his envy, the narcissist BECOMES that person.
So, narcissists are likely to adopt their boss’ typical gestures, the vocabulary of a successful politician, the views of an esteemed tycoon, even the expressions and actions of the fictitious hero of a movie or a novel.
Destroying the Frustrating Person
Other narcissists “choose” to destroy the person that causes them to feel of inadequate and/or frustrated. They display obsessive, blind hostility and engage in compulsive acts of rivalry often at the cost of self-destruction and self-isolation.
Sam Vaknin, narcissist and author of Malignant Self-Love, writes:
“There are those narcissists who idealize the successful and the rich and the lucky. They attribute to them super-human, almost divine, qualities…
In an effort to justify the agonizing disparities between themselves and others, they humble themselves as they elevate the others.
They reduce and diminish their own gifts, they disparage their own achievements, they degrade their own possessions and look with disdain and contempt upon their nearest and dearest, who are unable to discern their fundamental shortcomings. They feel worthy only of abasement and punishment. Besieged by guilt and remorse, voided of self-esteem, perpetually self-hating and self-deprecating – this is by far the more dangerous species of narcissist.
For he who derives contentment from his own humiliation cannot but derive happiness from the downfall of others. Indeed, most of them end up driving the objects of their own devotion and adulation to destruction and decrepitude…”
The most common reaction is ‘cognitive dissonance’. It is to believe that the grapes are sour rather than to admit that they are craved. These people devalue the source of their frustration and envy.
They find faults, unattractive features, high costs to pay, and immorality in everything they really most desire and aspire to, and in everyone who has attained that which they so often can’t.
This is also the most common reaction to being jealous of a previous relationship, whether it is their ex’s happiness with a new partner or their partner’s ex’s.
Avoidance – The Schizoid Solution
And then, of course, there is simple avoidance. To witness the success and joy of others is too painful, too high a price to pay. So, they stay at home, alone and incommunicado.
Pathological envy is not the same as romantic jealousy. Romantic jealousy is the product of a violation of trust or perceived violation; a breach of romantic exclusivity of intimacy. It also involves damage to the self-esteem and self-perception of the partner, as he compulsively compares himself unfavorably to the “competition”.
Consequently, narcissists are even romantically jealous of intimate partners their spouse (or partner) had before the marriage and even after the divorce.
In romantic pairing, certain activities are exclusive and, therefore, confer meaning (render the relationship unique and thereby significant.) Sex is the most common of such pursuits, but it could be anything the parties agree on: intimate conversations, travelling together, reading poetry, or skiing.
Such activities enhance bonding and make a relationship special. When one of the partners violates this exclusivity by having engaged in the same undertakings with another, past or present, the relationship is rendered meaningless (“non-special”).