Do Narcissists Have Insecurities? How Can You Find Out?

Narcissists are unpleasant people, we know.

What’s remarkable is that they become toxic on purpose. They are defending themselves against anyone who might try to exploit their insecurities.

Narcissism exists on a spectrum. Some may have grandiose levels of narcissism, while others may have covert motivations to flaunt their superiority.

Experts, however, feel that most narcissists are deeply insecure beneath their outward confident behavior and authority facade.

Those with vulnerable narcissism may feel insecure and vulnerable most of the time, while the grandiose ones may be more confident in their abilities and secure in themselves.

Still, narcissists are insecure people in general, and they have some vulnerabilities that they would rather hide than face.

Are narcissists insecure people?

Narcissists are insecure, and narcissism is driven by a compensatory adaptation to hide their low self-esteem. They fear that they may be exposed as weak or fragile if they repress their desire for control, validation, and recognition. Their inflated sense of self-importance, lack of empathy for others, and need for praise enable these desires.

Their great effort to paint a confident and self-assured persona to the world is a coping mechanism. It helps them overcome their fear of being exposed for who they truly are — weak and fragile.

Do narcissists have insecurities

What are the signs of narcissist insecurities?

Narcissists walk and talk as if they are incredibly confident, and mask their underlying insecurity caused by low self-esteem.

Here are the signs of insecure narcissists:

1. They have to look important to feel important.

Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement.

They see themselves as larger-than-life versions of themselves and think they deserve special treatment wherever they go.

Now, to be important-looking, you have to look important.

So, narcissists carry themselves as super-confident and self-assured in public.

But as soon as you scratch the surface, you get to see their masked underlying feelings of insecurity that drive their deep need for admiration and validation.

We may see it in reverse too, that narcissists try to compensate for their insecurities and low self-esteem through their grandiose and arrogant behavior.

2. They cannot empathize naturally with others.

Narcissists lack empathy. They are more concerned with their own needs and desires than those of others.

This can lead others to see them as insecure people who do not want to spend their time or resources to understand or be generous to others.

They can’t help it. They may read your thoughts or emotions, but do not understand how to respond to those.

They know this, and this creates a sense of inadequacy or insecurity that they are not good enough in interactions that require social empathy.

Their best solution is to copy people on how to emote well in social situations, and then, put on the empathy act effectively.

So, narcissistic empathy is often unnatural empathy.

3. They are uneasy in their relationships.

Narcissists never feel fully comfortable in their relationships.

They are always trying to control the other person, forcing them to obey their orders and satisfy their demands for praise.

Their unease comes from their continuous efforts to manipulate the other person and their mental breakdown when they find themselves failing.

Narcissists have difficulty maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships because they tend to prioritize their own needs and desires above those of their partners.

They also have difficulty showing empathy or understanding the perspectives and feelings of others.

This can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings in their relationships, and may ultimately contribute to the breakdown of these relationships.

Still, some narcissists may be able to form and maintain relationships, but these relationships may be characterized by manipulation, control, or other unhealthy dynamics.

4. They are perfectionists who are unhappy with their success.

Narcissists experience anxiety and dissatisfaction as a result of their perfectionist tendencies.

It happens because they often set high standards for themselves and others, and may feel anxious or upset if they or others do not meet these standards.

They may also be dissatisfied if they are unable to achieve the level of success or recognition that they believe they deserve.

However, while most narcissists aim for perfection, some train themselves to be more focused on achieving their goals without bothering about meeting ideal standards or expectations.

Narcissists may achieve great things, but they may not feel the natural warmth that comes with it.

Actually, they find it hard to feel good about any achievement unless someone praises them for it.

  • First, they do not understand whether their achievement is of exceptional standards that people expect of them.
  • Second, they have never genuinely praised anyone for a similar achievement, so would anyone care?

They have often misled and gaslighted others to create an inflated sense of self. And now, they always fear being judged and belittled.

So, they will probably declare their achievement in a low-key way and judge its value by people’s reactions before celebrating it.

Their perfectionism, as well as their inability to enjoy success, show their desperate need for external praise and approval to maintain their self-worth.

How To Manipulate A Narcissist

5. They put up a show to appear superior.

Narcissists put up a good show to appear confident and secure, even if they are struggling with inadequacy or insecurity in their personal or professional lives.

Narcissism is often explained as a defense mechanism.

People who develop narcissistic personalities may have experienced adverse childhood experiences, typically from narcissistic parents, that may have contributed to their narcissistic traits.

Research suggests that certain experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or trauma in childhood, may increase the risk of developing narcissistic personality traits.

However, not all people with narcissistic traits will have had troubled childhoods, and that other factors, such as genetics and environmental influences, may also play a role in their being narcissists.

6. They are suspicious and distrustful of others.

It is rare for narcissists to be trusting and open in their relationships. They are likely to be suspicious of everyone they know.

Actually, they are overly sensitive to perceived slights or threats to their ego or sense of self-importance.

So, their lack of trust is a way to keep themselves prepared for any actual event of cheating.

This can be more guarded and distrustful if they feel their authority or status is being challenged or threatened in some way.

Narcissists are also likely to distrust others if they feel they are not receiving the admiration or validation that they believe they deserve from those persons.

They are more under suspicion if they feel like someone is trying to psychologically manipulate them, or trying to take away their autonomy or freedom.

types of narcissists

7. They are unable to express their actual feelings.

Narcissists find it difficult to acknowledge and handle their emotions.

They tend to prioritize their needs and desires above trying to understand the thoughts and feelings behind those needs.

This makes it hard for them to recognize or understand their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

This, in turn, makes it difficult for them to form or maintain close, authentic relationships, and to engage in empathetic and compassionate communication with others.

In relationships where they feel secure, some narcissists may be more in touch with their emotions and able to express them in a healthy way.

While most others do not get the chance to feel secure enough to reveal their hurts and weaknesses in a relationship.

Final Words

Low self-esteem is a trait shared by the majority of narcissists, and the fear of damaging it further appears to be the root cause of their insecurity.

Relationships with narcissists can be challenging and may not always end well, but the fate of such a relationship is determined by the power imbalance in that relationship.

Nevertheless, we must remember that narcissism is a complex personality disorder caused by a mix of genetic, environmental, and social factors. This can help us understand narcissistic behavior.

Still, the fact that narcissism has multiple origins is not a justification for their behavior and does not absolve them of responsibility for their acts.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).

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