Are you in a narcissistic relationship? A self-test.


​This article is for all the moms out there who are still living with their children’s father, but are very unhappy and keep wondering whether or not to separate.

I want to be absolutely sure that we understand each other. That you know what I’m talking about and what I mean by a narcissistic or even toxic relationship.

I don’t want to paint a rosy picture of single parenting – because it’s not. But it’s 1000% better than what you currently have if you’re in a presumed narcissistic relationship.

Even if your soon-to-be-ex is going to overwhelm you with lawsuits – you may find that you can develop a very high self-esteem and strength you never imagined. And you’ll also very likely find yourself resenting why you didn’t leave sooner and let them bully you for so long.

But are you even in a narcissistic relationship? The word is on everyone’s lips these days, and it’s being bandied about all too hastily. I have prepared two questionnaires – completely subjective and absolutely unscientific – so that you can see for yourself whether you are living such a relationship or whether the cause for your dissatisfaction with your partnership has other reasons.

Part 1 of the test:

Question Applies Does not apply Don’t know
I live a deep, intimate intimacy with my partner. He is absolutely loyal and well-meaning towards me.      
We laugh a lot together. He is a funny, loving man.      
I can tease him affectionately without him subsequently mocking me or condemning me with stern severity.      
We also argue with each other from time to time. But they’re thunderstorms that clear things up, not catastrophes after which he doesn’t talk to me for days and I’m miserable as hell.      
I can always criticize him about things that are important to me.      
When his mother grumbles at me or hurts me, he stands in front of me and defends me.      
I know that I am very important to him and that I am his top priority.      
He often asks me what I need or want.      
He supports me in my plans, even if I need a lot of courage to do so. He helps me to grow beyond myself.      
He takes a clear stand and has absolute integrity.      
He is always looking for solutions and is decisive.      
I have never seen him complaining or whining.      
I have never seen him completely lose it or lose his temper.      
He is always there for me and gets involved with household and family tasks. Although I still do the lion’s share, I can always ask him to take over something without him berating and devaluing me.      
Envy and suspicion are alien to him.      
His family and friends, with very few exceptions, are friendly and empathetic people across the board that I enjoy being with.      
In his presence, I am allowed to be who I am – strong or weak, funny or boring, fat or thin, smart or naive. I am always ok.      
He is a loving father who is completely absorbed in playing with his children and is great at empathizing with their needs.      
He loves me – I feel that every day. Every now and then I see his loving gaze resting on me.      

The more “Does not apply” you checked, the more likely your partner is a suspected narcissist. Oh, I can see how skeptical you are looking right now! Do you think that men like the ones described above don’t exist? Only in the movies?

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Then do this part:

Control test

Question Applies Does not apply Don’t know
My partner is often angry with me, even if I have no clue what I did wrong.      
Often we argue about things that I consider small, and I am very surprised how he manages to blow them up into a huge argument. Most of the time he storms out of the room or leaves the apartment afterwards, and I don’t know when he’ll be back.      
My husband hates innovations and new ideas.      
My partner is very extroverted and charming – when dealing with others. As soon as the apartment door closes, he is in a bad mood or falls silent.      
If there are problems, it’s always someone else’s fault.      
Sometimes he looks at me with such contempt and even hatred that I am shocked.      
My friends are more sympathetic to me than my own husband.      
He only makes jokes about others in a derogatory, cynical way. He cannot laugh at himself.      
Sometimes he tells me things that others supposedly said of me, most of which are not nice. For me, these feel like a punch in the gut. I have the feeling that he just wants to find out how I’ll react.      
His friends and family sometimes use very sharp language to talk to me. I feel attacked, but I can’t put my finger on the meanness.      
I now only walk on tiptoe so as not to start an argument.      
I feel weak, yet I am not a victim type. I used to be a strong, confident woman, but now I’m just a shadow of my former self.      
He is very well-read and all-knowing. He likes to lecture me, laugh at me, or one-up me when I can’t or don’t know something as well as he does.      
He is often like a strict judge with me and the children and has no patience.      
He is always the victim.      
If I ever make a decision or take the initiative, he completely freaks out and complains that he wasn’t involved.      
If I’m successful at work, I’m not allowed to talk about it. He then either laughs at the way I tell it, or he deflects and criticizes me, saying that I only want to talk about myself.      
If anything is coming up on the house, or we’re making a major, major purchase, he doesn’t involve me in the decision. He just does it and presents me with a fait accompli.      
It’s so damn exhausting with him! I just don’t have any energy anymore.      
He does not know what I want. He doesn’t ask either. I can assume that I will get something from him for Christmas or my birthday, which is less fun for me than for him. In any case, it has little to do with me and what I like.      
He often calls me names or devalues me.      
He mocks me when I read a lot and like to buy books. When I book courses and continue my education, it’s almost like a threat to him.      
He assumes no responsibility.      
He can’t really empathize with the kids.      
He won’t come to school events if he has another work engagement at the same time. Not because it’s so important for his career, but because his children’s activities are not something he wants to do.      
Appearances are very important to him. He scolds me if I am not pleasing to him, or if the children are not pretty and successful in school.      
Everything I once confided in him in my weakest hours, he has already used against me. Full of scorn and hatred, he hurls my own words around my ears and kicks my Achilles’ heel.      
He often wallows in self-pity.      
He is a reckless driver.      
He does his own thing without any regard for me or the kids. He would never cancel an appointment if I was sick. Not even his private appointments.      
He often accuses me of things I never said or meant and insinuates the worst intentions.      
Holidays with him are extremely stressful. Everything I try or plan to do to make these days nice gets a response of “There’s no need for that!” and he gets in a bad mood. Or he picks a fight and makes a big fuss.      
I feel helpless and get sick often.      
I am often confused and feel guilty. It takes two to argue, right? So surely I must have done my part?      
He lies to me and passes off others’ ideas as his own.      
He cheats on me and makes me believe that I’m replaceable at any time.      
He criticizes others for the same behavior he shows towards me (“What an idiot, the way he treats his poor wife!”)      
He is stingy. He holds tightly on to the purse-strings and criticizes how I deal with the household money.      
I’ve never seen his pay slip, let alone his bank account.      
I’m supposed to be there for any unpleasant things he doesn’t like, while he never comes with me to shop or shop because he hates it.
I can’t remember the last beautiful, carefree day we had together.      
I’m always on guard when he’s around.      
He often claims the opposite of what he said or promised yesterday or last week.      
He’s bad in bed as he only thinks about himself and wants me to pleasure him. He really doesn’t care if I feel like it or not. At some point I’ll go along with it, because the trouble afterwards isn’t worth it to me. It’s all over after 5 minutes anyway, so I just close my eyes and get going.      
If we argue and I cry, he gets very angry, blames me, hurts me deeply and then punishes me with silence for several days. Eventually I get so mellow that I apologise. Not because I would understand what I did wrong. But simply because I want peace again.      
In some lucid moments he reflected and promised improvement. But nothing has ever changed. Our couples therapist calls him “counseling resistant.”      
The mood in the house is depressed and rarely cheerful.      
I have no idea how we ended up in this state. He used to be my absolute dream man!      
I am deeply saddened and unhappy and do not know how to proceed.      

The more ticks you have under “Agree”, the more likely you are in a narcissistic relationship.

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


But beware – I am not a psychologist!

Maybe your husband has a completely different disorder, but that shouldn’t matter to us here . We have found a name for it that helps us to describe the indescribable and to get everything down to a common denominator.

I don’t want to focus on HIM, but on YOU. I have therefore described above a possible behavior that many pathological narcissists have in common (probably even all psychopaths).

It’s much more important to me that you realize what kind of life you’re leading.

I don’t want to say that if you get at least 10 ticks under “Agree” in the control test, you should immediately take to your feet, but – just between us, my dear – actually every single point is a reason for separation in itself. Or?

You didn’t deserve this! No woman deserves that.

Nobody.Has.The.Right.To.Treat.You.This.Way. NO ONE!

If this scene looks familiar, then you have no choice but to leave. You already know that, don’t you?

“But what about the children?” I can already hear you asking.


Because of the children, you should plan your move out as soon as possible. You have to show them that this kind of “love” is wrong, that you don’t allow it – especially because you don’t want them to look for and repeat such a relationship as the only form of love in later life.

Show them that you are worth more as a person. That there is a life of harmony and joy and flaws, and where everyone is accepted for who they are.

Yes, it will be difficult out there , no question.

But do you find your life easy now?

Of course, the familiar is known and the unknown, the new, is “dangerous” at first. And it really takes courage, which you probably have to activate somewhere deep inside, because it has been so badly buried over the past few years.

Does it get worse if you leave him?

In the first place it will be different . The problems will change. So the central question is:

What problems do I want to have?

What, for example, is definitely gone: the dependence on one’s moods, the silence within one’s own four walls, this feeling of misery, the eternal and grueling “being on guard”. The daily tension, paying attention to every word so that no arguments break out. The showing off, the taunts in front of mutual friends, the humiliation when he cheats on you and everyone knows. Never having to have sex with him again to keep him happy. (Yay! That alone would make it worth the hesitation about moving out, wouldn’t it?)

That’s the minimum now and the effect kicks in immediately as soon as you’ve undressed. And yes, there’s even a jackpot waiting for you, but it’s only available if you’ve persevered and survived at least the first two or three years:

The deeply satisfying feeling of having made the right decision.

Have I convinced you now?

“Wait” – you might say now. “I’ve heard so many horror stories from other single parents – I’m really scared of what’s going to happen to me. And I don’t want to experience this horror that my best friend has already been through.”

I can understand that well.

But every breakup situation is unique.

You won’t know until next year what experiences you’ve had with the breakup. Nobody can predict it for you.

There are also no guarantees in life. That’s the way it is.

But one thing is certain: you will not have a chance to change your life for the better if you do not find the courage to take the first step.

You alone are responsible for your life, no one else can make this decision for you.

However: If you have even the slightest suspicion that your partner could be violent towards you or the children, then by all means get outside help to plan the move! Women’s emergency hotline, police, or Caritas counseling centers – there are a number of local counseling centers that you can – and should – contact.

So – what next step will you take?

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