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What are the signs of a narcissist and how can you detect it? For many of us, it’s hard to tell if we’re dealing with a narcissist. Especially if it’s someone we have romantic feelings for.
You may notice that this person is unreasonably self-involved at times but make excuses in that particular circumstance. Eventually, it will wear you down and just become more and more unreasonable.
So how can you tell the signs of a narcissist before you spend too much time with them in hopes of “helping” or “fixing” them?
First of all, let me tell you that it is never your responsibility to fix anyone.
Getting into a new relationship with someone and thinking “Well ‘this’ and ‘this’ could use some work but…” Or “I’m such a good person that they’ll want to change for me””.
Or even “I am such a caring and tolerating person that it really won’t be too much for me”.
Guess what? They most likely won’t change no matter how amazing you are.
And yes, it ABSOLUTELY will be too much for you no matter how accommodating and caring you are.
Personally, I’ve dealt with a narcissistic/sociopath before and let me tell you, they’re a never ending pit of consumption and it’s always about them – even YOUR OWN feelings.
So, here are some helpful signs of a narcissist so hopefully you have a better chance of detecting this type of personality sooner rather than later.
Let’s start with the most general signs of a narcissist – An elevated sense of self-importance
It’s one thing to have a lot of respect for yourself and to set boundaries. It’s a whole other instance to feel like your thoughts and feelings should always be everyone else’s priority.
When you have a healthy level of self-respect, of course you’re going to put yourself first and that’s great!
Narcissists often choose to abuse people who perhaps don’t have the best self-esteem or who are “too nice”.
They feel they’re entitled to an unreasonable level of self-importance which can be based on personal success, or nothing at all.
Narcissists aren’t always the CEO who drives a Lamborghini to work and brags about his/her accomplishments all day.
They think they’re amazing and everyone else should know just how amazing they are.
The reality is that they’re usually very empty people. Their disorder comes from a place of pain. Typically they’re not emotionally intelligent enough (or willing) to address the root of the problem.
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They have to be the center of attention in conversation
Imagine walking into a room full of people in a social setting. You’re focused on finding your friends, enjoying the event or heading straight for the appetizers (guilty).
Alternatively, a narcissist’s focus is fulfilling scenarios (that they’ve previously thought up) that will bring you the most attention or “wow” people.
People without narcissistic disorder would find this behavior exhausting or childish.
This definitely ties in with what we talked about in regard to the elevated sense of self-importance.
Often narcissists want flashy things in order to help manipulate situations so people see how “amazing and cool” they are.
Flashy material items are just props in their fake “awesome” lives.
This might be one of the most noticeable signs of a narcissist. The control aspect makes sense as they always need to be getting some sort of external gratification.
In order to ensure they’re always getting that they have to be able to control a variety of situations. This is the only way to always get what they want.
They will want to control the smallest of things just to make it about them.
Let’s say you’re tired of the mistreatment and decide to stand up for yourself. When you finally put your foot down and call them out on how unreasonable they’re being, they’ll make it about themselves by giving you an inadequate reason about why they must have it that certain way.
For example, when you’re neck deep in this person’s relentless behavior you could find yourself saying something like “Let me get this straight. You don’t want me to listen to the music I like anymore because why?”
They’ll make up a pathetic reason and try to make you feel bad. The more they can make you feel shame or guilt, the more they’re in control.
This could be an extreme example (it actually happened to me once), as other narcissists might have “bigger fish to fry”.
Whatever the scenario may be, they’re upset and being unreasonable because you did something that wasn’t about them.
Hopefully, if this sounds familiar to you, it’s not on the same level.
They Lack Empathy
As if the control issue wasn’t bad enough, lack of empathy is also at play. Narcissists are mentally incapable of feeling empathy toward others.
They will mimic empathetic behavior, but chances are, they’re just doing that to control the situation. It’s not always in a social setting though.
Living with a narcissist is exhausting, confusing and lonely.
They Can’t be Blamed
As obvious as this sign might be, keep in mind that narcissists are very manipulative.
Unless it was completely obvious that something was their fault, they will most likely be able to convince you that they aren’t to blame.
Just like being able to fake empathy, they will fake responsibility for something they’ve done just to shut you up and get on with their day.
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Think rules don’t apply to them
If everything is about them and they are more important than other, then of course it makes sense that they would think the rules don’t apply to them.
In this case, it will be something more serious than running a red light or crossing the street without a crosswalk.
A narcissist could intentionally break rules that would make the average person uncomfortable. They won’t have any trouble doing it either.
They’re a Perfectionist
Personally, I’m not sure if being a perfectionist is an absolute trait of a narcissist.
Like other mental disorders, I think there is some degree of a spectrum to be considered and some narcissist will be more predominant in certain areas than others.
They’re Charismatic – People love them!
Narcissists love the fact that they “have a silver tongue” and may not be afraid to tell you that either.
They know they’re charming, after all, it’s kind of a prerequisite of manipulation and control.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust anyone who you find very charming, just be aware of how they use their charm and don’t let your guard down too easily.
If you read over these last 9 signs of a narcissist and thought “some of these make sense to my situation but some of them don’t”, that’s completely normal. Not all traits are just as predominant in all cases.
It might be hard to pinpoint the character of another person in your life. So knowing your own feelings should be a much easier indicator.
When you are being abused by a narcissist, you’ll have a variety of signs as well. You’ll find yourself questioning everything and you may even only feel like the abuser would find you of value.
These both play into the mental/emotional conditioning that occurs when you’re caught up with someone who is abusing you in this way.
It can even evolve into Stockholm syndrome and in many cases (especially when the abuser is your spouse), it most certainly will.
If you’re unfamiliar, Stockholm syndrome happens when the victim feels a strong connection with their abuser over time.
The victim will live to please the abuser. They will often believe that the abuser truly loves and/or cares for them.
They will justify and even defend the actions of the abuser because of the conditioning they’ve been put through.
I’m not a psychologist, so I suggest you look it up if you’re interested on the full explanation of this syndrome.
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I hope this article helped you gain a better understanding of how a narcissistic person behaves. Being aware of what certain behaviors mean or could lead to is a helpful tool that can seriously impact your life.
If you’d like to share your experiences or would like to hear more about this topic, feel free to leave a comment and let me know!