I know you’re probably not a Narcissist. The problem is your wife, girlfriend, or fiancee might believe you are.
There are good reasons they might think this. If a man knows this, with some help and insights, there are ways to stop it from continuing.
That’s why I wrote this article, to share those with you.
(Are you still worried that you might be a narcissist? Take my brief survey to find out).
What I’m going to tell you in this article
- Why women often call men a narcissist during periods of relationship conflict.
- Three reasons why the woman in your life is probably calling you one!
- Four ineffective responses most men have to being labeled a Narcissist.
- Five effective things you can start doing today to get her to stop calling you a narcissist
- How you really feel to the woman in your life and why you feel like a Narcissist to her
- Five essential character attributes a man must cultivate to flourish in a long-term relationship
- How to grow in these five key attributes
Why women often call men a narcissist during periods of relationship conflict
All long-term relationships experience stages that include conflict, disillusionment, and frustration. These are times when it’s a real struggle to overcome feelings of mutual gridlock. Each partner feels deeply frustrated and exasperated with the other, and neither partner appears to be doing anything to improve it.
In these relationship stages, a woman will often call a man a Narcissist.
No man likes to be called a narcissist! Most of the ones called such are decent men who have worked hard their whole lives not to be a controlling asshole. They are men who strive to be a loving provider, protector, and generally good guy.
Naturally, they get really bothered by this!
Being called a Narcissist hits our sense of masculinity and relationship pride like taking a big whiff of ammonia up the nose. We feel very frustrated, angry, and hurt to hear this.
Sometimes it’s by her own curious google searching. Other times it’s because of sharing her frustrations with friends who point her toward Narcissism as an explanation. Other women hear it from irresponsible counselors or therapists who suggest a diagnosis for a person they’ve never met (which I personally believe is professionally inappropriate).
Regardless, a woman experiencing relationship conflict often stumbles upon this idea that her husband/boyfriend/fiancée is a Narcissist. It’s a ready-made explanation for the complex emotions she’s encountering.
The more she hears about Narcissism and common Narcissistic attributes, the more she becomes convinced that she’s in a relationship with one.
Attributes such as…
- An excessive sense of self-importance
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant such
- Monopolizing conversations
- Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
- Becoming impatient or agitated if not given special treatment
- Feeling easily slighted
- Take advantage of others to get what they want
- An unwillingness or inability to recognize the needs of others
- A lack of empathy
- Difficulty regulating emotions
But I don’t do those! I’m not a Narcissist!
Brother, I know you’re probably not a Narcissist. Very few people would be diagnosed as having “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” or “NPD”.
I speak to men worldwide day after day experiencing marriage and relationships conflict. I know the chances of you being one are infinitely small!
Because a true Narcissist seeks to discover if they’re genuinely a Narcissist about as often as a crooked politician seeks to know if they’re a dirty politician.
Allow me to be blunt for a moment.
You’ve got to get over being called one. Today. Right now. To move forward, you’re going to need to allow your inner knowledge of self to be enough.
Keep reading, and let me explain.
Three reasons why the woman in your life is probably calling you one!
#1. She doesn’t feel seen, heard, valued, or appreciated
Every woman wants to be seen, heard, valued, and appreciated. She wants to feel like she matters – to you and the world.
I’m betting if you’re like most of the men I encounter, you truly desire these things for her.
Unfortunately, most of us receive little meaningful instruction on how to love a woman effectively and in a way that offers her these things in a way she can deeply feel and appreciate.
So let me fill in some blanks.
When the woman in your life shares how she feels, it is because she wants you to know how she’s feeling! She desires that you see and hear her. Her sharing hard and unpleasant feelings is a way she makes bids to connect with you as a man. She’s sharing herself with you. This is a path to her feeling emotionally connected, which is necessary to have a passionate, romantic, and intimate relationship.
She wants to feel your strength and that you’re able to receive how she’s feeling.
She’s not looking for you to fix her or how she feels.
She’s describing her experience of her life to you from her vantage point and perspective and wants three specific things from you that I’m 100% positive she’s not feeling if she’s calling you a Narcissist…
Acceptance, Validation, and Love.
It would be fair to just reduce those three things down into just one – love. But for her, love is felt as acceptance and validation.
But that’s now how you hear it is it?
You hear her expression of her experience as badgering, nagging, complaining, critique, judgment, low regard, resentment, animosity, contempt, and more.
Because you hear it this way, you believe these are coming from her, and you shut down your heart while spinning up your defenses.
When you do that, you lose, and often you lose the very thing you’ve wanted all along – an intimate, deeply connected, emotionally authentic, and passionate connection with her.
She feels that as a rejection of her bid for connecting with you and your strength. She feels unseen, unheard, unvalued, not unaccepted, invalidated, and unloved.
#2. When she shares her feelings, she feels like you try to change her mind and emotions to match yours
As I mentioned above, your woman shares with you because she wants to connect with you to feel your strength and, in that connection, to feel accepted, validated, and loved.
She’s been expecting that as a mature, confident man, you’d have the strength to handle her wide emotional range. She’s been longing for you to be so solid in your frame that you’re unperturbed by her emotions.
Instead, she encounters what feels like an adolescent boy triggered by her words and responds with defensiveness, anger, rage, and contempt – even if only within. By the way, she’s intuitive enough to know what you’re internal vibe is even if you keep your mouth shut!
A triggered and defensive man has one pressing need that happens so fast he’s not usually even able to notice it.
He feels a need to end the unsettled feelings he feels brewing within. This manifests as a need is to “set the record straight” and defend against the perceived threat of attack. This comes in the form of sharing “his side of the story” or sometimes just offering even a clear and straightforward explanation, alternative viewpoint, or something similar.
Even if not accompanied by hard emotions and done so calmly, all of them are often missing the point.
She was sharing her story with you. She wanted something… your acceptance, validation, and love – not your explanation, defense, or correction.
When you respond with those, she feels that you are NOT accepting, validating, or loving her. Worse still, she feels that you’re also trying to change her story and, therefore, how she feels. This is a significant contributor to her budding belief that you’re a narcissist.
#3. She sees you get easily slighted, defensive, angry, resentful, or hurt
Whether you feel it’s unfair or wrong, the woman you’re in a relationship with wants you to be a calm, secure, confident man who can handle her wide emotional range.
She wants to feel and be in the presence of a man who knows himself well enough to not need constant coddling, reassurance, and affirmation.
Most women want to be in a relationship with a man who feels like a lighthouse, not a rudderless raft adrift at sea.
Hopefully, you can deduce the connection between your way of being and any lack of desire for intimacy with you she may have. When you’re easily triggered by her expressed emotions, you don’t feel like a lighthouse to her. You feel like a child.
To her, this reactiveness feels like you’re simply unable to handle the emotional and relational volley that a woman desires in a romantic partner. It’s a total buzzkill. It’s also making her very ripe for the attention of another man who appears more confident.
Worse, to her, it feels like the narcissistic traits she reads about.
Your emotional response can even feel like a form of punishment to her. It feels as if you demand unquestioning compliance to your way of thinking. She feels that you will pull away from her if she doesn’t capitulate to your tantrums.
When you’re triggered with hard emotions, to her, they feel like you’re trying to manipulate her to get her to change her feelings, so you feel better.
Your resentful defensiveness feels like an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
The truth is, brother, you need healing.
We all do, and until we get some of those areas healed, we can’t hear her because we are too busy feeling our own complex emotions inside of us.
Not only are we feeling those complex emotions, but we’re also nearly always blaming her for them. Mature men don’t behave this way.
Four ineffective responses most men have when being called a Narcissist
#1. Trying to prove her wrong
Men often respond to their partner calling them a narcissist by googling, taking tests, asking friends, or even getting psychiatric evaluations done to prove her wrong.
None of these work or are worth the time. In fact, they seem like just one more way he doesn’t hear or understand her.
She’s not usually interested in proving he is a Narcissist. She’s interested in feeling a new reality with him (or wanting to move away from him toward a new one).
He’s looking for proof he’s not a narcissist. She’s looking for evidence that he loves her.
She’s trying to convey to him how she feels in his presence to see if he’ll respond with love. He responds with documentation.
When we treat her words as an attack requiring a defense, we’ve missed the point and the opportunity for loving her.
#2. Defending and explaining themselves even more
The next thing most men do when they’ve been labeled a Narcissist is to try to have more calm, slow, rational explanations where they deliberately explain to her in painstaking detail how they’re not a Narcissist.
They believe she’s just mistaken and needs some mansplaining.
As good, noble, and patient men, they believe they just need to slow down and be more thorough. This is especially common among the lawyers, doctors, engineers, and information technology professionals I work with.
They review every point she made and offer a counterpoint response to her words, explaining her errors and how each issue is unfair, wrong, or misunderstood.
They’re pretty incredulous afterward, despite their painstaking effort to cover every point when she doubles down on her assertion that they’re a narcissistic, controlling asshole.
This is highly ineffective for one main reason; to her, it appears he is more concerned with her understanding him and how he’s not a narcissist than what or how she feels or is experiencing. She’s usually right!
She was looking for him to open his heart and see how she felt. Instead, he shut his heart, opened his brain, and responded with something all about him. All his defense does is confirm that he doesn’t care how she feels.
He probably really does, but because his focus is on himself and not her, it won’t feel like it to her.
#3. Dismissing her as being ridiculous
When women express themselves with words, there are always emotions behind the words.
What she’d long for him to recognize more than the words she says are the emotions that gave rise to them.
As men, when we quickly dismiss a woman making an accusation like ‘you’re a narcissist!’, we’re dismissing the words. To her, though, it feels like we are ignoring the emotions.
The truth is because we don’t know better, we are doing so.
We don’t realize that there are emotions behind her words. No one ever teaches us that. We’re listening to the words because that’s how men communicate with one another.
We’re not being intentionally dismissing; we’re just being men!
Regardless, ignoring a woman’s words is to dismiss her feelings.
Dismissing a woman’s feelings is to dismiss her person.
#4. Being hurt, pouty, angry, isolating, or punishing
When many men feel hurt, they resort to immature responses such as walking around pouty, hurt, and angry. They turn cold to their partner, leaving her isolated and even punished for what she said or felt. This is hurtful and isolating to her. What began as her desire to experience love and connection has led to her experiencing disconnection and rejection.
This is ineffective at resolving conflict and breeds resentment, hostility, and contempt in the relationship.
This immature and unhealthy pattern, left unchecked, becomes a significant predictor of divorce or relationship dissolution.
Men that do this don’t know better, more effective, and mature ways of handling their emotions.
If you find yourself saying, “yeah, but… what about me?” and “hey, that’s not fair…” you’re precisely the man that needs to grow in his emotional maturity and understanding of women. Or, you can just remain hurt, go find a new woman, and end up right back here.
Most men don’t have a partner problem but an understanding problem.
Brother, if this is you, I know you’re feeling pain.
You must learn that your pain is sourced within you and not coming from her. Learn more effective ways of handling your emotional distress (such as my free course: The Emotionally Resilient Man -more on that later)
Five effective things you can start doing today to get her to stop calling you a narcissist and immediately improve your relationship
#1. Shut up and actually listen
Brother, if you want a relationship with deep emotional connection, abiding romance, and intimacy, you must learn to listen. Not for merely the words, but learn to listen to the words’ emotions and feelings.
You must learn to stop going up into your head, your story, and your perspectives when she shares hers. She needs you to be present with her, hearing her story, perspective, and emotions.
You can’t do this if you’re focused on yourself! If she’s coming to you with her emotions and story and your mouth moves in response, you most likely have room to grow here.
#2. Empathize with her
If you learn to shut your mouth and focus on what she’s feeling, you’ll begin to create opportunities for yourself to empathize.
To have empathy is to be able to imagine her point of view. You can’t do this without an open heart, and you won’t have an open heart if you are afraid of her.
The truth is, most men are terrified of their female romantic partners!
They are scared that her different perspective is a threat to their wellbeing. They’re afraid that the difference in perspective might lead her away or to conclude that they’re not lovable.
You must learn to overcome this fear (I can help!) to have empathy and make her feel heard.
#3. Accept that her experience is hers and valid
Many men struggle with empathy because they think accepting their partner and her point of view means accepting the words she expresses as factually accurate.
They misunderstand that it’s not about the words; it’s about the emotions.
They also fail to realize that what and how someone feels is not negotiable to others. We each feel what we feel. Feelings aren’t right or wrong; they just are.
No one has the right to tell another person what they feel or should or shouldn’t feel. To do those things would indeed feel very narcissistic and is often why a man is called one.
Your partner’s experience of their life is theirs, not yours. It’s not open to interpretation or debate.
Accepting the experience of others – like your wife, girlfriend, or fiancee doesn’t mean you have to take on their point of view as your own.
It just means you accept that they have their own unique life experience, including how they experience you!
It means you need to imagine what it feels like to experience the story as she is or has experienced it and that you validate that she experienced it in this way.
You won’t do this well if it’s more critical for you to be correct than to hear and empathize with her.
#4. Stop defending, explaining, and arguing
If you want to stop being called a Narcissist, you’ve got to let go of the need to be right, the need to explain, and the arguing that results from your urgent need to defend yourself.
All of those represent a lack of emotional safety within yourself. A man who is not emotionally safe within himself has no emotional security to offer the woman in his life.
“Yeah, but… I can’t help it Sven!”
Yes, you can. You’ve just never been shown how. No one has ever helped you with your own shame, fear, anxiety, and insecurity that lurks under the surface. As a result, you’ve not gained emotional resiliency.
It’s there, I promise! It just needs some guidance, and love to get it working again.
#5. Learn to hold yourself and your partner in high regard
To build a great romantic relationship, a man must hold himself and his partner in high regard. This means becoming a man who chooses to view himself and others by the person’s innate virtue, value, and worth instead of their behavior.
A man that holds himself in high regard is a man that knows, accepts, and approves of himself. He’s pleased with himself regardless of who else is. A man who does such is a man who has no need to defend, argue, or explain.
It’s impossible for a man who holds himself with such high regard to hold his partner in low regard. He’ll naturally conclude that she is also worth being esteemed by the same innate virtues, value, and worth he is.
This high regard for self becomes the basis for giving the same to his partner and what she’s wanted all along – acceptance, validation, and love.
How you really feel to the woman in your life and why you feel like a Narcissist to her
To briefly summarize, here are things women say or feels, and how they match the Narcissistic attributes she finds about online:
- Having an excessive sense of self-importance >> “I don’t feel as important to you as you are to you!”.
- Expecting to be recognized as superior >> “I don’t feel like you can ever get over your superiority enough to see and value me!”
- Monopolizing conversations >> “You never listen! You always make everything about you!”
- An unwillingness or inability to recognize the needs of others >> “Don’t you care about me and how I feel?”
- A lack of empathy >> “You don’t care about me. All you care about is you!”,”You never listen!” “
- Having a sense of entitlement >> “You always have to have it your way!”
- Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant such
- Monopolizing conversations >> “You always make everything about you!”
- Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations >> “Ok, fine… you’re right. I guess I’m just an idiot and don’t matter”, “You make me feel stupid.”
- Becoming impatient or agitated if not given special treatment >> “You don’t have to be such a baby every time I don’t want to sleep with you!”
- Feeling easily slighted >> “You always take things so personally!” “You make me feel unsafe” “I don’t feel safe with you.”
The five essential character attributes a man must cultivate to flourish in a long-term relationship.
Many men wonder… “Is there hope? Is it too late? Can my marriage or relationship be salvaged?”.
Others toss around the idea, “Maybe it would just be easier to start over again… this one feels impossible to fix or salvage”.
Brother… there is indeed hope. I’ve helped hundreds of men worldwide overcome this season of their relationships and go on to the best experiences of themselves, their partners, and relationships they’ve ever had.
I’m going to be straight with you… only a tiny minority of men out there are willing to do the work it takes to cultivate these. It takes a special kind of man to do so.
The men I’ve worked with that have completely turned things around have needed more than hope for the future. They’ve all had five key mindsets they’ve used to lead their relationship out of this turmoil, beyond being called a Narcissist, and on to better relationships than they thought were possible.
Every man I’ve witnessed turn his relationship around possessed the humility to stop seeing himself as a victim and her as a villain. Instead, he owned his lack of maturity, misunderstanding, and blame.
He has laid down all the “yeah buts…”, stopped waiting for her to be or do differently. He’s repented of the ideas that women should be easier and that she’s being difficult.
Instead, he turns his focus inward. He narrows his gaze to only himself. He’s concluded that the only person he has control over changing is himself.
Want to be a man that can lead his partner beyond thinking you’re a narcissist? Start with humility. You won’t change your relationship without it.
Unconditional positive regard
As mentioned above, unconditional positive regard, or “high regard” is a deliberate act of the will whereby a man decides to treat himself and others by values that he sees as secure and unchanging despite behavior.
It’s a choice to not treat himself or others based on transactional love but a more profound sense of value, worth, and significance that transcends fickle changes in behavior.
This regard becomes a solid foundation for accepting self and others and giving a woman acceptance, validation, and love.
Want to be a man that can lead his partner beyond thinking you’re a narcissist? Start holding her in such high regard that you offer acceptance, validation, and love. Start viewing yourself with such high regard that you lose the need to defend yourself.
Ownership and personal agency
A key attribute necessary to flourish in a romantic relationship and move past the conflict stages of being labeled a Narcissist is ownership or personal agency.
You can’t move forward in your life and relationship if you’re feeling like a victim, especially if you feel like a victim in response to your partners’ emotions, feelings, and points of view. That would make her a villain, and seeing her as a villain isn’t going to earn you goodwill, vulnerability, connection, and intimacy.
Instead, you must choose to own yourself, your emotions, and the responsibility to move the relationship in a positive and upward direction. You must lead the way to where you want to go. No one is coming to rescue you! You must either rescue yourself and own the responsibility for improving or experience the resulting death and disconnection that will result if you don’t.
To read more about what ownership looks like, read my article: An Ownership Manifesto.
Want to be a man that can lead his partner beyond thinking you’re a narcissist? Start taking ownership of yourself, your emotions, and your future.
Healthy, mature, adult men are self-reliant. That doesn’t mean they move off-grid and grow vegetables, but that they learn to be the source of their own sense of wellbeing.
A man that doesn’t have a self-reliant source of wellbeing is, by default, reliant upon someone else for their wellbeing. In a romantic relationship, that’s usually his female partner.
Brother, neediness is a stinky cologne!
When a woman is responsible for your wellbeing, she’s no longer able to feel like you love her, only that you need her. Turning into your “happiness gadget” objectifies her. It makes her believe you’re exercising the narcissistic attributes of having a sense of entitlement and requiring constant, excessive admiration and that you have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
Needy men can’t provide for others because they start with a deficit.
Want to be a man that can lead his partner beyond thinking you’re a narcissist? Learn to be self-reliant! Address your neediness and seek maturity.
Emotional resiliency does not mean becoming unfeeling or having no emotions. It does not mean not showing emotion.
To be emotionally resilient means to have the skills necessary to soothe yourself, rebound, and return to your normal state of wellbeing when something moves you away from your normal state of rest.
Mature masculine men are emotionally resilient men. Anything else in a man will be viewed as narcissistic and childish.
Want your partner to stop thinking you’re a narcissist? Learn to be more emotionally resilient!
How to grow in these five key attributes
Let me tell you a sobering reality… Suppose the woman in your life is calling you a Narcissist. In that case, it’s improbable you have these five character attributes in a meaningful measure – at least not in the context of your relationship. You’re not alone! Most men haven’t learned to cultivate these!
Here’s another sobering truth… Men don’t acquire these attributes by simply acquiring information through books and articles, even this one!
Instead, men acquire these attributes through transformation. Specifically, transforming into their very best selves.
After witnessing hundreds of such transformations, it’s become abundantly clear that men experience the most meaningful and radical transformations in the company of other men who have or are going through the same.
Get connected with other men.
The first step I’d recommend to anyone on a journey to overcome relationship conflict is cultivating deep, meaningful relationships with other men who possess these. Men need community because masculinity is imparted through the initiation of other men. It’s not imparted by men from women, blogs, or books.
If you don’t have such a community, I personally invite you to join me in mine. It’s called Mentoring.Men, and it’s a private global brotherhood of initiated men who have, are, and continue to overcome significant relationship challenges common to all of us.
We’re a tribe of men, lovers, husbands, fathers, and friends, all striving daily to be their best and experience fullness. Men who relate more profoundly and intelligently than any men you’ve ever experienced, I promise! Mentoring.Men is a community of men on a journey of cultivating more humility, unconditional positive regard, ownership, personal agency, self-reliance, and as a result – deep, passionate, romantic, intimate, and flourishing relationships.
Get Emotional Resiliency
Included with Mentoring.Men membership is my free course – The Emotionally Resilient Man.
This free course will guide you through the basics of learning to become more emotionally resilient, less reactive, and more prepared to be an empathizing spouse – all in the company of other men like you!
It will give you the foundation to build on and help you understand where to go from there.
Get one-on-one help
If you feel you need more than merely a brotherhood, I invite you to get in touch for a complimentary free mentoring session where we’ll dive right into what’s going on in your life and relationship.
You’ll experience feeling deeply connected to another man who will care, listen, and offer encouragement and suggestions.
No sales, no special offers, no kidding!
To schedule a free session with me, just click here to get started.