20 Signs of A Narcissist: How To Recognize Narcissism

Narcissists are people who use their relationships to feel good about themselves. To love a narcissist is to agree to constantly feed their egos. Click To Tweet

Narcissists are people who love themselves too much. More accurately, they are in love with a fantastical, godlike, grandiose version of themselves. This endemic pattern of grandiosity, along with a lack of empathy, is the hallmark of a narcissist.

Narcissism is part of the ‘dark tetrad’ of personality that also includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Sadism.

20 Signs of A Narcissist

Most of the time, it is easy to spot the narcissist in the room. They are typically the loud ones, gasconading a crowd with their captivating, often magical, life stories.

[Gasconading = boasting about one’s accomplishments, qualities, or possessions.]

Most of the narcissistic traits serve as easy-to-spot red flags to keep in mind before engaging with them. We selected the twenty most telling clues about them to make it a cinch to isolate them, even if they aren’t the traditional loudmouths.

signs of a narcissist
How To Spot A Narcissist?

If you’re not sure whether someone you love has narcissism, the signs listed here will help you figure it out. However, if you’re still unsure, take them to a psychologist or mental health counselor who can run tests to confirm if they have NPD.

Here’s a list of 20 telltale signs to spot a narcissist:

1. They lack empathy and remorse.

2. They are condescending towards others.

3. They have high but fragile, self-esteem.

4. They bully, demean, and intimidate others.

5. They seek constant attention and admiration.

6. They can’t handle the mildest of criticisms.

7. They have an inflated sense of self-importance.

8. They do not respect other people’s boundaries.

9. They are highly selfish and self-centered people.

10. They have superficial, self-serving relationships.

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11. They can’t stand others making decisions for them.

12. They do not assume responsibility for their mistakes.

13. They are envious and believe others are envious of them.

14. They take advantage of others without feeling shame or guilt.

15. They feel they’re better, smarter, and more competent than others.

16. They are people who use their relationships to feel good about themselves.

17. They overestimate their intellectual superiority and physical attractiveness.

18. They are arrogant and hostile, and find it almost impossible to utter the word “Sorry.”

19. They live in a fantasy world created by reality distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking.

20. They have a strong sense of entitlement. That is, they expect to always get favorable treatment, and their demands get automatic compliance.

What Is Narcissism: An Ultra-Short Introduction

A narcissistic personality disorder affects about 1% of the general population.

The concept of narcissism can be traced to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

In psychology, it was the British physician Havelock Ellis, who first referred to narcissism as a mental disorder in 1898.

Sigmund Freud, in his 1914 essay On Narcissism, popularized it as a concept in psychoanalytic theory. According to Freud, narcissism is a normal stage in child development but is a disorder when occurs after puberty.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the criteria to be met for clinically diagnosing someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).


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According to the DSM-5, there must be a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, as well as five or more of the following: grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; beliefs of being special and unique; demands for excessive admiration; a sense of entitlement; interpersonal exploitativeness; lack of empathy; envy of others; arrogant, and haughty behaviors or attitudes.

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There is a “milder” form of narcissism called the Narcissistic Personality Type. These people show most or all of the characteristics of the NPD but stay within the normal range of personality. These may be referred to as covert narcissists. They are sharply in contrast with grandiose narcissists.

While the typical narcissist is extroverted, the covert narcissist is more of the introverted type. But they come with the same trouble as the typical ones — they lack the capacity to regulate their self-esteem.

Both are people manipulators.

When a narcissist senses a break up of a romantic relationship, they present a strong semblance of behavior change. They even start to love-bomb their partner. But pretty soon, they reveal they’re just as repulsive as they always were. Because of this, many narcissists stay stuck in on-again, off-again relationships.

The narcissists stay ready to lay all blame on others for each of their mistakes. They get unhinged when others point out their faults.

They resist making any change in themselves. Though sometimes, they might appear to have changed positively. But as soon as stress appears in their lives, the narcissist in them leaps out of the shadows.

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse. In this, a narcissist tries to victimize vulnerable people into intellectual and emotional slaves. To quench his thirst for constant affirmation and superiority, he then blames them for their own victimhood.

An interesting type of this behavior abnormality is Unconscious Gaslighting.

How To Protect Yourself From A Narcissist

Remember, even if it’s easy to identify signs of narcissism in someone, it’s hard to prove that someone is a narcissist with 100% certainty unless he or she takes a personality test or goes to a psychiatrist.

When you find out a person you know has narcissism, it’s time to shield yourself from their manipulations and self-serving behaviors. Three effective ways to protect yourself from a narcissist (who you can’t avoid, like an office coworker or a long-term partner) are:

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Finally, if you want a narcissist to dare not hurt you, be self-confident. The best defense against a narcissist is to believe in yourself and put yourself first, not them. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion regardless of what bad things a narcissist says about you.

Final Words

In a nutshell, narcissism is a personality disorder marked by inflated self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. They are master manipulators, and we can’t emphasize this enough.

Narcissists want positive feedback about themselves, and they actively manipulate others to solicit or coerce admiration from them. Accordingly, narcissism is thought to reflect a form of chronic interpersonal self-esteem regulation. — Encyclopedia Britannica

In general, it is better to stay away from people who may be narcissists. Narcissists tend to manipulate people and often do not care for others’ feelings. The most important thing is to spot them from afar and keep a safe distance between you and them.

In any case, unless you’re an expert, you cannot heal people with this personality disorder; so don’t waste your time trying. Instead, refer them to a mental health practitioner. And maintain your distance and sanity.

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How To Spot & Handle A Grandiose Narcissist?

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.


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