People film their exes in narcissistic meltdowns. The therapist explains what causes them.

  • Narcissists throw tantrums when they feel caught in a lie or embarrassed.
  • The therapist explained that these tantrums can manipulate partners into silence.
  • More and more people are documenting their former assaults as a way to highlight relationship abuse.

Dating a narcissist it can start really well, almost suspiciously. Narcissists are known for behaviors such as love bombingwhere the partner is showered with love at the very beginning of the relationship.

But eventually, the mask slips. And when you start arguing with a narcissist, you may witness childish tantrums that may include yelling and even throwing things, Leah Aguirrea licensed clinical social worker in San Diego, told Insider.

“It’s like you would see in a child, someone who can’t regulate their emotions, who can’t react in a way that’s appropriate for their age,” Aguirre said. “They don’t really have any self-awareness about what this looks like, how other people might see it.”

More and more examples of these “narcissistic tantrums” is making the rounds on TikTok.

In a viral video that has had over 20 million viewsTikTok user @roialandvavei’s fiance is pictured sitting fully clothed in the shower after he allegedly told her that someone else had gotten pregnant.

Other videos feature partners writhing on the ground or following their partners when their space was requested.

While narcissistic tantrums are nothing new, Aguirre spoke to Insider about why these videos are making the rounds online.

Narcissists manipulate their partners through tantrums

Aguirre said narcissists throw tantrums when they feel cornered. Because narcissists thrive on having inflated egos, “when someone calls them out or points out a discrepancy between something they’ve said, there’s usually going to be a tantrum,” she said.

To the watching partner, it can feel like an impossible situation to be in.

“Often people who are in any kind of relationship with a narcissist feel helpless,” Aguirre said. “The only thing they can do is calm down or get along,” because the tantrum will often feel pointless and an overreaction.

She said this can keep a partner in violent relationship, as they learn to walk on eggshells or avoid provoking a narcissist in order to keep the peace. Because narcissists often do gaslight to their partners and deny wrongdoing, the cycle can continue for years.

Most people who throw tantrums are not true narcissists

True narcissism, however, is quite rare. Aguirre said that only a small percentage of people actually have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and that “it’s impossible for everyone around us to be narcissistic.”

True narcissism consists of other traits that the abuser does not necessarily have, such as a need for excessive praise or extreme competitiveness.

She said sometimes people use “narcissism” to mean “emotionally immature“, where some qualities may overlap with narcissism, but the partner still has some empathy.

Although she said that narcissism is a continuum and that anyone can have some narcissistic qualities, diagnosing people with full NPD may overlook other explanations.

For example, people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may experience mood swings that resemble tantrums but are caused by attachment problems.

“In general, many personality disorders stem from a lot of complex childhood trauma and abuse,” Aguirre said.

While that doesn’t mean a partner has the right to be abusive, more often than not, the causes of meltdowns and rages are “definitely more nuanced than just ‘This person is mean or has no conscience,'” Aguirre said.

Younger people are more open about abuse

Aguirre said she’s noticed that her younger Gen Z clients are “less tolerant of manipulative, abusive, misogynistic behavior.”

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that these stories are spreading on TikTok, where the users are mostly 18-34 years old. Aguirre said spreading information online about how to spot an abusive relationship can be helpful, especially from the eye 41% of women and 26% of men will experience some form of stalking or physical violence from a romantic partner during their lifetime.

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