5 Famous Celebrities Who Dated Narcissists Share Their Experiences And Powerful Life Lessons

This article refers to narcissistic traits and behaviors only, not the full-fledged personality disorder. The term “narcissistic” refers to the spectrum of narcissism and is a descriptive term for educational purposes only, and is based on the research on narcissistic traits.

Dating a narcissistic person can be grueling because they lack empathy and an unwillingness to take accountability for their actions. A narcissistic person can exhibit the traits and behaviors of narcissism which can be on a spectrum without necessarily being a full-fledged narcissist. It’s hard enough dating a narcissistic or toxic person when you’re not in the spotlight: but when you’re a public figure, everyone can see you unraveling due to the chronic abuse and mistreatment you’ve suffered. Yet understanding what these public figures went through can remind us of the red flags, the price we pay when we become entangled with narcissistic people, as well as the complex humanity and trauma responses of people we regularly expect perfection from. This can also help people feel validated in their own experiences and increase compassion for ourselves and others. If celebrities with unbelievable fame and resources can go through it, so can we. Note that the term narcissistic in this article only refers to observable behaviors and traits, does not refer to the full-fledged disorder and is not used as a diagnostic term but rather a descriptive term for educational purposes only. Here are five celebrities who have experienced narcissistic or otherwise toxic dating partners or spouses:

Britney Spears.

Those of us who experienced the golden age of Britney will never forget this mega-famous pop star at her prime. For some people, Britney was their first ever favorite song, concert “VHS” tape, CD, and poster. She and Kevin Federline met in 2004 where sparks flew as their eyes met across the room in a “love at first sight” fashion. After a very brief three-month romance, they got married. This is a red flag in itself, as there was likely some love bombing and fast-forwarding going on; she and Kevin also had children shortly after the wedding. It is important to note that before Kevin met Britney, he was already engaged to Shar Jackson, who was about to give birth to her second child. Yet Kevin abandoned her and her unborn child for Britney Spears. Britney’s own marriage to Kevin Federline seemed to push her toward self-sabotage and reckless behaviors. Britney filed for divorce only a few weeks after her second son and had a number of public breakdowns, and understandably so: the stress of being with a toxic individual can be overwhelming and make you act out of character. As Britney noted in a now deleted Instagram post, Federline would refuse to see Britney even though she was pregnant with his second child at the time. She said, “But geez {Kevin} wouldn’t see me when I flew to New York with a baby inside me and Las Vegas when he was shooting a video!” She received advice from someone which she took seriously. “I got a text saying, ‘If you don’t divorce Kevin he will publicly do it to you.’ Since I hadn’t seen him in a while, I already knew it was over {and} I had my baby.” Britney was also fed up with the fact that Kevin would regularly go out partying and leave her alone to raise their kids. Kevin allegedly continued a pattern of cheating and deceptive behavior that was evident in his past relationship with Shar; he was reportedly cheating on Britney with an exotic dancer according to Today.

Parental alienation is another tactic narcissistic and otherwise toxic personalities use to gain control, pitting their own children against the victimized parent. Spears has faced numerous difficulties in co-parenting with Federline, who she feels has brainwashed and turned the kids against her. Federline even released private videos of her to depict her as an unfit mother. Spears’ lawyer, Mathew Rosengart told People in a statement, “Britney has faithfully supported her children and she loves them dearly,” the statement said. “Whether he realizes it or not, Mr. Federline has not only violated the privacy and dignity of the mother of his children, he has undermined his own children, whose privacy he should protect. Putting aside his ITV interview, Mr. Federline’s ill-advised decision to post an old video of his 11 and 12-year-old children was cruel, bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. It was abhorrent. In addition to demeaning himself and violating societal norms, he has now also created various legal issues for himself including, but not limited to, implicating cyber-harassment and cyber-bullying statutes, among other things.” Many fans have called out Kevin for exploiting Britney Spears’ money for years after the divorce; he continues to make bank weaponizing interviews about her and the kids.  “It saddens me to hear that my ex-husband has decided to discuss the relationship between me and my children,” Spears told NYPost.

Lessons from Britney’s toxic relationship:

Don’t trust the “spark” at the beginning of a love bombing romance without thoroughly vetting your partner. Do not rush into marriage and children quickly, especially if you have considerably more resources than your husband (you never know whether he’s exploiting you or planning on doing so). Marriages with a toxic partner only harm any children you bring into it. Ask yourself the important questions to assess both the motives of yourself and your partner when it comes to marriage and raising children. And remember that the way a relationship starts is likely the way it’s going to end as well: if a man is abandoning his previous partner and baby to begin a relationship with you, it’s probably not going to be a happy ending as it’s an indication of his deep-rooted character and capacity for empathy. These types don’t change for anyone, not even if you’re the biggest pop star of all time. At the same time, show yourself self-compassion. If you acted out of character in a toxic relationship and reacted to chronic patterns of manipulation, you’re not alone.

Selena Gomez.

This one may be debatable to the fanbase, but it’s clear that at the very least what Selena Gomez went through was a toxic relationship that she identified as emotionally abusive. Her on-and-off tumultous romance with Justin Bieber made headlines for seven years, and only two months after the final break-up between them, Justin headed for the altar with a new wife. Throughout their relationship, allegations of Justin cheating were confirmed by Selena herself. She posted on Justin’s Instagram in August 2016, “Funny how the ones that cheated multiple times, are pointing the finger at the ones that were forgiving and supportive, no wonder fans are mad.” She wrote this Instagram comment in the midst of a heated conversation with Justin where she suggested he stop blaming his fans for questioning one of the relationships that he got into shortly after one of his break-ups with Selena. In an interview for NPR, Selena Gomez disclosed that when the relationship finally did end for good, she didn’t get a “respectful closure” from Justin and that she was a victim to a certain type of abuse which she later clarified was emotional abuse. In her interview with Zane Lowe, she talked about having higher standards after these experiences and channeling her pain into her music, saying, “The agony. The confusion. The self-doubt…I am worth something. I’m not going to settle, I’m going to wait. Because there is something out there that is going to give me that feeling that I deserve and that I want.”

But even after Selena had already moved on, Justin’s emotionally abusive behavior toward her continued. During his 29th birthday, Justin appeared to taunt Selena by sharing party favors engraved with the message that he was glad he didn’t “get” what he thought he wanted, which fans deemed a passive-aggressive reference to Selena. This is a classic gaslighting tactic of toxic people post-breakup – instead of moving forward with their life, they decide to flaunt their new relationship to their previous partner, gleefully painting themselves as “not the problem.” Yet Justin’s perspective of both of his two major relationships are very similar, revealing that it is likely Justin’s destructive patterns, rather than the patterns of his partners, that are the root of the problem. Referring to Selena, he said, “When stuff would happen, I would lose my freakin’ mind, and she would lose her mind, and we would fight so hard because we were so invested in each other. Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. People have made it seem in movies that it’s this fairy tale.” When it comes to his new wife Hailey, he told Vogue, “I’m the emotionally unstable one,” and confesses that marriage didn’t solve his problems like he expected they would. Hailey also told Vogue, “The thing is, marriage is very hard…That is the sentence you should lead with. It’s really effing hard.” Many fans have pointed out the hardships of this marriage and have criticized the way Justin callously treats his new wife – from appearing to slam a car door in her face to failing to dress up at a business event held in her honor. It’s clear that Justin’s issues didn’t magically disappear just because he moved on to a new partner.

Life lessons from Selena and Justin’s romance:

Narcissistic and otherwise toxic people engage in jealousy induction and create “love triangles” to pit people against one another. They will appear to move on quickly to other people while still drawing attention to their past partners. They do not enjoy seeing their past partners move on and heal. Their toxic patterns continue regardless of who they move on with. Do not be afraid to let go of an abusive, on-and-off relationship – you may just be freeing yourself from more years of turmoil. Don’t trust narcissistic or toxic people to address their real problems: they will likely cast their abusive behavior as “everyday problems” when in reality it’s not about how hard marriage is. If one partner is lacking in empathy or consideration for their partner, the marriage will be difficult regardless of who it’s with. Selena did a terrific job channeling her experiences and emotions into creativity and success: it would be wise to follow this example after you’ve ended a relationship with a toxic or emotionally abusive person.

Amber Rose

Rapper and model Amber Rose, who dated Alexander Edwards, Kanye West and Machine Gun Kelly, has been very honest and transparent about the fact that she has a pattern of dating narcissistic people. As she told Complex, “I had to go see a therapist, and she was just like, ‘You attract narcissistic sociopaths.’ And I am not mentioning no names. But a few of them have been that…Like, nah, you’re not gonna control my every move, you’re not gonna tell me what I need to wear, you’re not gonna tell me where I need to go or who to be friends with. I don’t have time for that s–t.” She also wrote in an Instagram post referring to her ex Alexander Edwards who allegedly cheated on her with 12 different women, “When {you’re} in love with a narcissist, your brain tells you to run when your heart says stay. Unanswered questions. Gaslighting. Stonewalling, Deflecting, Projecting. I wish it was easy for me to ‘fix him,’ but that’s not for me to do. The pain cuts so deep, especially when there are children involved.” Her other ex, Kanye West, is also infamous for his abusive and controlling behavior toward Kim Kardashian.

Life lessons from Amber Rose:

Amber is refreshingly honest about her life and relationships and brings up vital points. Know your patterns. If you tend to become entangled with narcissistic people, it’s important to seek help and healing to disrupt the trauma repetition cycle. Adding marriage or children to the mix will only make it harder to leave – so never try to save a toxic relationship with further commitment.  The traits of narcissism make infidelity more likely according to research. Even a one-time affair should not be dismissed as there is no guarantee it won’t happen again. Serial cheating and deception is abuse.

Sandra Bullock

When actress Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for her film The Blind Side, she thanked her husband, “reformed bad boy” Jesse James in her speech. He appeared to have tears in his eyes as Bullock thanked him. James, a former high-school football star who was notorious in his youth for getting into bar fights and stealing cars, appeared to have redeemed himself as an entertainment bodyguard who opened up a motorcycle shop. Yet he also had two failed marriages when he met Sandra Bullock, and tattoo artist Kat Von D had accused him of sleeping with a whopping 19 other women throughout their mere one-year relationship. In fact, his most recent pregnant wife, Bonnie, accused him of cheating just this past year, calling him a “truly disgusting being” and sharing she was deeply hurt by his actions. The world later found out that Jesse James had cheated on Sandra with a stripper, and that this 11-month long affair began when she began filming. When Jesse James was asked about the affair, he confessed it was likely because of “ego, loneliness, distrust, which probably led to resentment.” But catch that last word: resentment. During one of the most celebratory moments of Sandra’s life, James decided he would sabotage it with his infidelity. Likely, he was resentful and envious that the attention was not on him. Cheating was a way for him to nurse his own ego when his more successful wife took center stage. Considering that five other women came forward with cheating allegations against Jesse, it’s clear that his patterns are narcissistic and have nothing to do with Sandra and their relationship.

Life lessons from Sandra Bullock’s marriage: “Bad boys” are tempting to date but cannot usually be reformed. Narcissistic and psychopathic people can certainly put on a charming show, but their pleas for forgiveness and pity ploys are hollow and empty. They tend to be pathologically envious of their partners and cannot stand when the focus is not on them. They will actively sabotage the moments in your life where you are celebrating and flourishing. If a man has two failed marriages and a past history of crime, it is worth evaluating why before you get involved. Even if he claims his childhood trauma “made him do it,” consider whether he’s actually made the substantial steps to change. If he’s not comfortable with you being in the spotlight, he’ll likely lash out due to his ego.

Priyanka Chopra

Before Quantico star Priyanka Chopra met her soulmate Nick Jonas, she tended to date narcissistic men. In a podcast interview with Dax Shepard, she said, “In relationships, I kept making the same mistakes. I was with similar guys [who were] a little bit narcissistic. I just needed to figure out what about me evoked that. Like, why did I attract it?” Chopra says. “A lot of the patterns in my relationships was my feeling gaslit. I gave that kind of power to the people that I was with, where I was like, ‘You come first.’ … I always looked for someone who I could be vulnerable with, never realizing my vulnerability gave this incredible power to my partner.” Chopra observes that she always had long relationships back-to back with her partners, not all of whom were happy for her or her success. Nick Jonas was considerably different from her past partners, as he was not only a gentleman, he showed pride in both her success and her beauty. He was and continues to be her biggest cheerleader.

Life lessons from Priyanka Chopra:

Don’t give your power away to narcissistic people by shrinking or dimming your light to make them comfortable. Marry the man who wants to see you win. If you’re a successful and smart woman, research shows that you will likely encounter some extra difficulties in the dating world. So it’s important to find a “Nick Jonas” type who is strong enough in his own masculinity not to have his ego wounded when his wife is in the spotlight. Nick Jonas was devoted in his pursuit of Priyanka and never stopped giving her the “honeymoon” stage. Most women flourish in relationships where their partner is extra attentive and – let’s be honest – loves and pursues them just a bit more than she loves and pursues him (although she clearly does love him a lot). You deserve a healthy partner who continues to court you at every stage of the relationship.

Shahida is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a published researcher and author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking Trauma Bonds with Narcissists and Psychopaths. Her books have been translated into 16+ languages all over the world. Her work has been featured on Salon, HuffPost, Inc., Bustle, Psychology Today, Healthline, VICE, NYDaily News and more. For more inspiration and insight on manipulation and red flags, follow her on Instagram here.

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