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Why Has My Boyfriend Changed So Much? #AskAthena

‘I always feel like I need to remind him that I exist, and that my needs are important too.’

Our mind-health Q&A columnist Athena Lazarides is a qualified psychologist and the author of You’ve Got This. She’s on a mission to help you clarify your problems so you can move onwards and upwards in life. You can see her work here.

Hey Athena,

I love your column. I thought I should write in because I feel that my boyfriend is so selfish.

I feel like my life revolves around him – what he loves, what he looks like. He is so insecure – I have to make him feel better all the time.

We do what he wants to do, and if we do something I pick and it isn’t 100% perfect, he complains!

I always feel like I need to remind him that I exist, and that my needs are important too. If I say something about how I feel, he often shuts me down or tells me I’m being crazy. I feel that he pretends to care about me – but actually all he cares about is himself. I feel so sad and heartbroken. How could I have fallen in love with him? Why has he changed so much? He never behaved like this at the beginning of our relationship.

-Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds as though you’re having an incredibly difficult time with your boyfriend, which is making you feel lonely, heartbroken, angry and stuck. The best step forward is to evaluate why you are in this relationship. What’s keeping you there? I know there must be a multitude of factors that you didn’t write about, so it’s important to reflect on what your motives are for staying in the relationship. This is not a judgment to say you should leave, but rather a question to determine what you’re gaining from this relationship and what role you’re playing. This is best worked out with a licenced psychologist. That said, there are some red flags here, indicating that your boyfriend is displaying narcissistic tendencies*. I’d like you to read the following questions and tick the ones (if any) that are indicative of your boyfriend.

Does your boyfriend:

  • Require constant admiration?
  • Behave in an arrogant manner?
  • Expect special favours (from you and others), and assume unquestioning agreement with these expectations?
  • Have a sense of entitlement?
  • Take advantage of you or others to get what he wants?
  • Expect to be recognised as superior?
  • Exaggerate his achievements and talents?
  • Become preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance and/or beauty?
  • Recognise the needs and feelings of other people?
  • Envy people or believe that other people are secretly envious of him?
  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance?
  • Lack empathy?

If you ticked more than six of the questions above, it is highly likely that your partner is displaying narcissistic propensities. Just know that you are not alone in this. Your needs are worthy of attention and action; you do not need to make people need you in order to receive love. You are worthy of being in a partnership that’s based on mutual respect, love and empathy. I highly recommend seeking individual counselling to help support you in the process of understanding yourself and your partner better.

Take Care,

Athena Laz.

* Please note that this is not a diagnosis. You and your boyfriend will need to work with a licenced psychologist who can do a full intake assessment in order to make a valid diagnosis.

If you have a question for Athena, e-mail or tweet her. You can follow Athena here and see more of her work at Athenalaz.com. You can also receive her free audio course, designed to help you move from being stuck to being successful in five simple steps.

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