316 The Parade, Kensington SA 5068
Ros Yuen Psychology

Narcissistic Relationship Counselling Adelaide

If your partner or loved one has Narcissistic Personality Disorder or strong narcissistic traits, help is available.

What is a Narcissistic Relationship?

If you love someone who is a narcissist, the relationship can be confusing, draining and at times completely overwhelming. Whether they are a partner, family member or someone else in your life, their approach to relationships is simple: it’s all about them. They believe they are more special or valuable than other people, and are often unable to recognise or respond to the needs, interests and challenges of those around them.

When people talk about narcissistic relationships, they are often referring to romantic relationships in which one person is exhibiting narcissistic behaviour. But narcissism can affect a wide range of relationship structures, including families, friendships and workplace relationships. 

At Ros Yuen Psychology, I offer a range of therapies to help individuals, couples and families who have experienced relationship difficulties and emotional pain as a result of narcissistic behaviours.

Narcissistic Relationship Adelaide

What are the Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

Most of us will sometimes exhibit traits that could be called narcissistic. But there is a difference between occasionally being selfish or insensitive, and the inability some people have to balance these traits with any care, empathy, or sensitivity. When people occupy this far end of the narcissism spectrum, they tend to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder would consistently meet at least five of the below nine criteria:

Narcissism counselling Adelaide

Are you Experiencing Narcissistic Abuse From a Partner or Family Member?

It is useful to think of a narcissist as someone who always needs to “feed the ego”. If a relationship provides sufficient food, it works – at least for the narcissist. But when the food runs out, the impact on the other person in the relationship can be devastating.

If you are concerned your partner or a family member might be narcissistic, here are some traits and tendencies to look out for. 

 Signs of narcissistic traits in a partner

Whenever we look for a spouse or life partner, we look for a caring, committed person. Twenge and Campbell, who have written on narcissism, believe that people also look for the “fun” and energetic elements in a relationship – and an exciting, confident, charismatic and outgoing partner to deliver them.

The narcissist’s secret to success in securing romantic partnerships is that they are good at delivering the sizzle upfront, but then fail to deliver the caring part, which is the central pillar of a healthy relationships.

Psychologists often describe this up-and-down process as a cycle of narcissistic abuse. 

  • Idealising and love bombing: At the start of the cycle, the narcissist “bombs” their partner with compliments, gifts, affection, and excessive attention. It may feel genuine and validating, but is a form of manipulation used by the narcissist to control their partner and discourage them from leaving. 
  • Devaluing: The narcissist then devalues their partner, often through emotional and verbal abuse. Coercive control is also often used by narcissists to manipulate and control their partner. For the non-narcissistic partner, this is highly confusing, degrading and often results in low self-esteem.
  • Discarding: At this point, the dejected partner can no longer provide any “food” for the narcissist’s ego. This often prompts the narcissist to move on and replace their partner with a new supply. One trophy partner can be exchanged for another so long as the relationship delivers status, esteem and attention.

The cycle sometimes leads to an additional step where the narcissist attempts to draw their original partner back, often through crying, pleading, lying, projecting and guilt trips.

narcissistic relationships Adelaide

Signs of narcissistic traits in a family member

Living in a family with one or more narcissistic members may also be very painful and confusing. Children who grow up with a narcissistic parent or sibling are subjected to dysfunctional dynamics they may struggle to make sense of, or even identify.

While the cycle of narcissistic abuse outlined above is often used to describe romantic relationships, similar patterns of up-and-down behaviours often occur in these families.

Adelaide Narcissism counselling
  • The family member love-bombs you: A narcissistic parent or siblings may also use excessive affection and attention to gain trust. 
  • They’re self-centred and always right: The family member will make every situation about themselves, even under extremely tragic or difficult circumstances. Their love is often conditional; they expect others to always agree with them or praise them. If you don’t, they may make you feel unworthy of their love.
  • They make you question your reality: Gaslighting is a common manipulation tactic for the narcissistic family member. They twist the truth to make you think events happened differently to what you remember, or to undermine your feelings. This may leave you feeling silenced, confused and always unsure of what to expect.
Ros Yuen Psychology
Ros Yuen Psychology

Looking for support with narcissistic abuse or recovery?

Ros Yuen Psychology

Frequently asked questions about narcissism

Yes, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is defined as a mental health condition. It is one of several personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a key diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals in many countries, including Australia.

However, a person may exhibit narcissistic traits without having a disorder. If the narcissistic traits are severe enough to disrupt many areas of their life, including their work and relationships, they may meet the criteria of NPD.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is named after Narcissus, a famous figure from Greek mythology. According to the story, Narcissus was a beautiful young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.

NPD is quite rare, and more common among men than women. The exact cause is not known, but several factors are often cited, including genetics, neurobiology, and environmental factors like the influence of parenting, negative childhood experiences and the wider culture. 

Some research has suggested that narcissism is more likely to flourish in cultures with an individualistic focus, where the interests of the individual are prioritised, instead of collectivist or group-minded cultures.

People with NPD can develop intense emotional bonds that may appear to be love to others, and can feel like love to them. However, these bonds are compromised by a complete lack of empathy for the other person. 

Without a foundation of empathy, a relationship with a narcissist can feel devoid of trust and true meaning. Instead, it may be like a rollercoaster ride – with dizzying highs, devastating lows, and constant bumps along the way.

If a narcissist says they love you, their actions and behaviours over time will put this to the test. They will need to self-reflect and put in the work to prioritise you, even when it won’t directly help them. This will involve listening to you, showing you appreciation, respecting your needs and boundaries, and taking responsibility when things go wrong.

Partners of narcissists often express how they feel “used up” and “sucked dry”. Also, many cases of violence occur when a narcissist feels rejected, criticised or abandoned. People are often devastated to realise that after years or even a lifetime of trying, the narcissist never cared for them at all. 

If you are dating a narcissist, staying in the relationship will leave you ultimately feeling unfulfilled and you should consider exiting for a healthier, more stable partner.

This can be an extremely difficult decision to make, and in the meantime support is available to you, including relationships and couple counselling.

If you are in a relationship affected by narcissism and you are considering trying counselling, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. 

Ultimately, the success of this process will depend on the level of commitment from both parties. You will be asked to identify patterns in the relationship, and take responsibility for behaviours that may need to change. The ability of the narcissistic partner to do this will depend on the level of their narcissism. 

The best option may be to arrange counselling sessions for yourself, either instead of couple counselling or before you invite your partner. 

If you decide to undertake couple counselling, it should be evident after a number of sessions how committed your partner is to the process. If they are an extreme narcissist, they most likely won’t be able to self-reflect or change.

It’s likely your inner world is plagued with fear, confusion and uncertainty during this time. You are not alone, and help is available, from individual and couple counselling to government services. If at any point you need immediate assistance, you can contact 000 and/or the helpline 1800RESPECT.

If You're Looking for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery, I can Help

If any of the descriptions of narcissistic relationships above resonate with you, you are not alone. There is help and support available.

My qualifications include degrees in science, sociology, psychology and a doctorate in gender and education, as well as experience as a clinician in numerous clinical settings, including relationship counselling. 

Adelaide Narcissistic Relationships
Narcissistic Relationship Counselling Adelaide

Narcissism counselling can help you build more fulfilling relationships

Psychologists like myself are trained to identify personality disorders. They also have objective measures to help them confirm a narcissistic personality. 

I can help you decide on the right course of action for yourself, whether that’s individual counselling or relationship counselling with a partner or family member.

Every individual deserves the opportunity to pursue personal growth, live free of abuse and build more fulfilling relationships. 

Ros Yuen Psychology
Ros Yuen Psychology

Ready to seek help?

Use our online booking service below or give us a call to discuss counselling options.

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316 The Parade, Kensington SA 5068
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(08) 8363 3974