Most people think a narcissist is simply someone egotistical and arrogant. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a narcissist, you know how painful it can be. Unfortunately they’re not always as obvious as you would expect from the get go. We are all narcissistic to a certain extent, while the pathological narcissists have a serious negative impact on everyday life and relationships with others.
Painful relationships are blessings in disguise. If you’re still trying to prove your worth, you attract narcissists. Moreover, you purely don’t realize that you are in a relationship with a narcissist. Their bad behavior is not short-lived. The best way out of a narcissistic relationship starts with awareness and is followed by taking responsibility for your choices and learning how to love yourself enough to leave.
Having said that, here are 13 tell signs to help you spot one in your life or discover that you are indeed a narcissist.
1. They feel they are superior to you.
Narcissism is the expression of the ego. The main indicator of narcissism is an unwillingness to unravel the false ego-self to live authentically. In fact, they live in fantasies of unrealistic success, power, appearance or even ideal love.
The truth is they are very insecure and have a hard time accepting their failures or the things they perceive to be less than perfect. Narcissists will always try to impress others and try to make themselves look like a superstar and act superior to those around them. So, they believe their views are inherently superior to your perspectives. But what they truly value is the attention they desire to receive.
2. They often break rules and have poor boundaries themselves.
Narcissists enjoy getting away with violating rules and social norms. They love to be the exception to the rule. They repeatedly break promises and obligations. They ignore your thoughts, feelings, possessions, and physical space. They show little remorse and rather blame you for their own lack of respect.
They have no respect for your boundaries, either. Any time you say no or set up a boundary on their bad behaviors, it’s just a challenge to them. They are usually very stubborn and hate being told what to do.
3. They have a deep need for admiration and validation.
They often expect preferential treatment from others. Thus, they expect you to cater to their needs without being considerate in return. In their mind, the world revolves around them. They believe that they are so special and unique that they can only be understood by or associate with other special or high-status people just like them. And if you are not on the same page with them, you are not that special. End of story.
They often become envious of other people’s success and accomplishments. They also believe that others are jealous of them. They typically feel entitled to something better and think they’re not getting the recognition they deserve from others.
Thus, they seek excitement and drama to give them access to adoration and notoriety. They get upset and condescending when you do not share the same feeling. This tells you either directly or indirectly that you are not that important, or not as good as them.
4. They are emotionally abusive.
They don’t give you a chance to take part in a two-way conversation. You struggle to have your views and feelings heard. When you do get a word in, if it’s not in agreement with them, your comments are likely to be corrected or dismissed. They are often quick to judge, criticize and ridicule you even out in public.
Communicating with them is basically a series of endless conversations where you express an opinion and they immediately jump on it. They just can’t relax because they always need to be in charge of everything, including you. This is where the emotional abuse kicks in. They start to pull apart your thoughts and challenge your view of reality, particularly when they believe they are intellectually superior and smarter.
5. They can be very charismatic and seductive.
When they’re interested in you for their own gratification, they make you feel very special and wanted. However, once they lose interest in you, most likely after they’ve gotten what they want, or become bored, they will drop you without a second thought.
Many narcissists enjoy provoking negative emotions to gain control, feel powerful, and keep you insecure and off-balance. They might throw a tantrum if you disagree with their views or fail to meet their expectations. They become argumentative and typically respond with fight or flight.
6. They are skilled manipulators.
They use other people to meet their unreasonable self-serving needs or cover up self-perceived inadequacies and flaws. They even make decisions for others to suit their own needs. Another way narcissists manipulate is through guilt. They hijack your emotions. They might bring up one thing they’ve done and blame you for not being appreciated to fulfil their unreasonable needs.
They will often call you crazy and slowly start to convince you that you are. They are known for what’s called gas-lighting that is the form of abuse to create anxiety and confusion, breaking down your own trust in yourself and your ability to discern what’s real and what is good for you.
7. They fear what others think of them.
People with narcissism are hyper-sensitive to criticism. Needing so much to protect their overblown but fragile ego, their defence system can be surprisingly easy to set off. They become overly self righteous and reactive if they are not recognized or if they can’t get their way. If you do something that they don’t like, it means you’re against them or you don’t understand them.
They also like to impress others by making themselves look good externally. This, so-called trophy complex, makes them use people, status or money to make themselves look good on all levels in order to substitute for the perceived inadequate real self.
8. They fail to take responsibilities for their behaviors.
Narcissists tend to blame on everyone but themselves. They’re good at making excuses and not taking responsibility for mistakes they make. Narcissists don’t accept that they create their own experiences. Their responses are triggered by unhealed wounds, so they’re trying to relieve pain, subconsciously, through harmful emotional abuse of others.
9. They are often the unsuitable partners.
You will notice that once you stop feeding their ego, start getting real and calling them out on their bad behaviors, they will quickly abandon you and jump ship. That’s because a narcissist won’t put the feelings of the partner above their own.
There’s also the undeniable self-esteem boost that comes when they find out another person, other than the partner is attracted to them. That explains why they often come with a serious pattern of broken relationships usually with infidelity. Faithfulness is a tricky thing for them because they just would not pass up the affirmation of another person’s approval and admiration.
10. It’s not your job to save or fix them.
The grandiose people, because they feel superior, they’re very unlikely to seek treatment. Rather, they hold a grievance against the world, which will eventually cause for a deep craving for admiration and lead the narcissistic to lead a life searching for fleeting ego boosts. The narcissist is unwilling to unravel the false ego self, which is a necessary part of the healing process. Unfortunately, they are genuinely damaged and not open to healing.
11. They are the lookout for your vulnerabilities.
They love the spotlight and have a sense of entitlement. As they are constantly looking for admiration and appreciation they can go to extreme lengths to achieve that.
They cannot genuinely care about your feelings. It is difficult for them to understand how they can hurt others. They harp on your personal insecurities or struggles. Personal insecurities or struggles that you might not have otherwise been aware of seem to be a constant source of tension and are often addressed critically and insensitively. Once they hone in on what’s important to you, they will use these things against you.
The underlying message that gets communicated through such hostility towards you is something like “I am not bad, wrong or a problem, but you are.”
12. On the contrary, they do not show their vulnerabilities.
While they try to project and maintain the false image, this kind of hollow self portray eventually force them to prevent any feeling from reaching consciousness. Since the false self is perfect, of course, a lot of feelings have to be suppressed.
Thus, narcissists do not feel emotions like vulnerability, empathy and compassion, or on the surface level, if at all, and cover them up with rage, blame, manipulation and disdain for others. Deep inside, they know that something is not quite right but sadly they cannot empathize with other people’s feelings. Instead, they hold them in contempt and ridicule. They cannot show their true feelings because it would shatter their ego and their entire identity.
The reason that feelings of anger and rage are so typically expressed by them is that they externalize in the very moment the far more painful anxiety or shame related emotions hiding just beneath them, especially when others bring their deepest insecurities too close to the surface.
13. They make it clear they know everything.
After all, they know more about everything than anyone else, and they’re not afraid to show it. In fact, they can be expected to argue, educate, and inform you about virtually every topic you bring up in conversation. They certainly don’t shy away from disagreements or opportunities to teach you about their way of thinking and make sure you know that their way is the better one.