No one truly understands the life of a single mom, besides single moms themselves. We’ve often been through waves of grief, loss, and major readjustments in life to get to the point where we begin to feel normal again. We have suffered identity crisis, and may have suffered depression. So, when we decide to start dating (sometimes when we believe we are ready, but may not be) we are particularly susceptible to being taken advantage of.
When we are putting ourselves out there again for the first time in years, we don’t know what to expect. We likely haven’t been in the field in a while. And our first concern is our children, not simply our own happiness. Because of this, we might overlook red flags that we would notice otherwise. Or might be willing to let some things slide for the fact that finding someone to share a life with you and your children seems overwhelming.
This is why single moms are especially susceptible to narcissists.
Narcissists strive to maintain their inflated sense of selves. Associating with people they feel make them look good (like stepping in for a single mother) can make them feel important, wanted, and looking good to the outside world. While most people want relationships to fulfill their need for connection, narcissists use relationships to fulfill their need for self-enhancement. A relationship and mostly importantly, how it appears to others is just one more way to build their ego. They are simply trying to impress.
Are you falling for a narcissist? Look for these signs:
While they seem like they are listening, what they are actually doing is fact finding so that they can continue to work on their single goal of winning you. Once they win you over, they are no longer sympathetic to your life issues. When they talk, the conversation always turns back to them. Your concerns and feelings aren’t validated because they aren’t important to a narcissist—they are simply an inconvenience.
Red flag: When you are in the middle of pouring out your heart, they turn the conversation back to themselves over and over again.
Narcissists often make grandiose promises in front of others, such as offering to help you, but don’t follow through. Their ambition is based more on how great they want to be perceived as, rather than what they are willing to work for to accomplish. They move the relationship very quickly; boiling you over with attention and emotion so that, while you are distracted, you will be easily manipulated.
Red flag: They repeatedly make offers in public that they don’t follow through with in private.
Too Good to Be True
Narcissists have such a high image of themselves that they believe they are naturally special, part of an elite group that only deserves the best. They will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals and feed their inflated sense of self. They obsess over status symbols. The right car. The right phone. The right house in the right neighborhood. The right family. Because they view all situations in terms of what it means to them, and no one else, they will manipulate people to get what they want when they want it.
Red flag: They are focused on impressing you with “things”, even if they played no part in attaining them for themselves.
Disapproval is a No-No
Although they appear confident, they care more about maintaining their idealized image of themselves and can’t tolerate any kind of disapproval. They take your valid concerns as criticism. When you talk about serious issues, all they hear is you tearing them down. And while they are allowed to criticize you, you can never be remotely critical of anything they’re doing. If you express an opinion, it’s like a challenge to them to jump on it and make you question your own beliefs, instincts, and sanity. This is an abusive method known as gaslighting and is very effective at gaining a position of authority over someone.
Red flag: They make you question long held beliefs, question your natural instincts, or even your level of sanity.
Rules Don’t Apply
Narcissists truly believe that they are better than others and therefore it is beneath them to wait in line, wait for your call, or wait to have the things they want. There is a deep sense of entitlement. Rules don’t apply to them. They think of themselves as above others, so they feel perfectly fine to break in line, cheat, and ignore rules in general. They are above reproach, and never at fault.
Red flag: They get agitated while waiting in line.
All narcissists strive for the feeling of being untouchable, like they are bulletproof, and above those around them. Unfortunately, these same feelings can be attained through substance and alcohol abuse, overspending, sexual addictions, or other addictive behaviors. So, many times, a narcissist will also be heavily addicted to something, but will be convinced to the core that they don’t have a problem. After all, they are “allowed” to do things that others aren’t. So, taking you out to dinner and constantly drinking too much is within their right. Should you decide to say anything about it, you will be seen as attacking them, even though you have every right to be upset.
Red flag: They have a serious addiction but refuse to admit that they’re doing anything wrong.
Knowing the signs to look for is half the battle with a narcissist. Should you discover that you are dating one, don’t be swayed by the initial rush of attention and feelings they pour onto you. Instead, take a step back, sweet friend. Think about what your life will look like a few years down the road. You want someone in your life who will love you sincerely, and have your best interests at heart—not someone who is incapable of loving another because their number one goal in life is self-gain. You deserve better, and so do your children.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that focuses on seeing no single mom walk alone. The organization serves more than 50,000 single mothers annually from around the United States and more than 2,000 in Greater Baton Rouge through their support group network, outreach event, educational classes, online communities, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com