The term narcissism has started to live its own life recently. People tend to use it when they describe someone who is self-focused and vain. But narcissism can become a much more serious issue and its effects on other people can be devastating and heartbreaking.
True narcissism has nothing to do with self-love, at least not a genuine one. What sometimes seems to be self-love for those around narcissists, is actually a thick shield that protects them from noticing their deeply hidden insecurities. Very often narcissists are a living house of cards whose grandiose illusion of self-importance is to cover the numerous lies they tell themselves.
Interestingly, narcissists have absolutely no self-awareness and are always convinced that their illusions are right and it is you who is wrong.
Narcissism can be a trait but it can also be a personality disorder. Those on the high end of that spectrum suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder, which includes several symptoms, whereas those on the lower end of the spectrum have probably just a couple of symptoms and typically not as severe.
According to the 5th edition of “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), the following symptoms are the signs that a person suffers from NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). Please note that it is enough to meet five of these criteria to be diagnosed with NPD.
- A grandiose logic of self-importance
- A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, and idyllic love
- A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
- A desire for unwarranted admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally oppressive behaviour
- No form of empathy
- Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
- A display of egotistical and conceited behaviours or attitudes
These are the official criteria to diagnose someone with an NPD. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to realise that you might be manipulated or abused by a narcissist in everyday life. Narcissists can easily get you entangled in their very sophisticated mind games that will often leave you with the feeling of confusion and emotional pain.
If you are wondering right now if you deal with a narcissist in your life, whether it is your mother, father, partner or someone else, here are some most typical signs to look out for that will help you realise the truth. Not all of these signs will necessarily be present all the time, but you can use it as a guide to check against your instincts if you’ve been noticing some of the below signs showing up repeatedly as a pattern.
13 SIGNS THAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH A NARCISSIST
1. They lack empathy.
One of the main traits to look out for is the absolute lack of empathy in narcissists. They are not interested and they don’t care what you think or feel. They certainly will not consider your thoughts and feelings in their words or actions.
They might even get annoyed when you try to share your problems with them. Although quite soon you might realise that sharing anything valuable with narcissists is completely pointless as they might use it against you sooner or later.
2. Nothing is their fault.
Not only do narcissists have absolutely no empathy but they also think that they are always right about everything. Since nothing is their fault, they take no responsibility for their words or actions, ever.
There is always something wrong with other people, never with them. They are perfect and they are the victims.
They can’t allow themselves to look beyond this illusive cover of perfection. If they did, their fragile ego would collapse and they would have to face how miserable and insecure they truly are.
3. They constantly need attention and validation.
Narcissists constantly seek attention and validation from the external world. But even when they get it, its effects don’t last long. Nothing is ever good enough. No matter how many times you support them and show them your kindness, they hear your words in one ear and they release them through their other ear.
It happens so because deep down they don’t believe they are lovable. They don’t believe they deserve love and happiness. They are deeply insecure and fearful people. Their fragile egos need constant approval from the external world but nothing ever lasts and nothing is ever good enough.
4. You walk on eggshells around them.
I remember that when I used to visit my parents’ house, I used to be so stressed that I felt like I couldn’t breathe freely. Only when I left and went back to my place, I was able to take a deep breath and feel comfortable again. I later came to understand that this was because I could not express my thoughts and feelings freely. I was always judged, criticised and invalidated.
I felt that my needs and wants do not matter if they are not aligned with my narcissistic parent.
If you feel like you constantly walk on eggshells around a certain individual, it is a big sign you deal with a narcissist.
If you feel you can’t express yourself because they criticise every word you say, you most probably are around a narcissist.
Remember that your feelings and thoughts are valid and you have the right to express them. If someone cares about you, they will listen to you, even if they don’t agree with you.
Narcissists are very different. They want you to always be on their side. If you are not, you are their enemy. It is as simple as that.
5. They are very manipulative.
Manipulation is one of the tactics that narcissists use to have you under control. They are so good at twisting the events that you might be completely unaware and confused about what is going on. They thrive on your confusion. They love seeing people around them fall into the traps of their lies.
All that matters to them is getting what they want. They want to have their needs met no matter the cost and manipulation is one of their favourite strategies to achieve this goal.
6. They gaslight you.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person makes you question your sanity, perception of reality, or memories.
Narcissists love using this method to control you and to manipulate your perception of reality.
This nasty abuse will make you feel very confused and lost. You will second guess yourself a lot. Making a simple decision will become a challenge.
You might even start defending your narcissistic abuser and come up with all sorts of lies to protect yourself and survive the abuse. It is really heartbreaking to realise that the person you love and care about (if the narcissist is your parent or partner) uses such horrible tactics to control you.
7. They hate being criticised (even in a constructive way).
Their ego is extremely fragile. They live in the house of cards built of their delusions and lies. They are scared to death that someone might see through the nasty games that they play.
So if you dare to suggest that they might be wrong about something, be sure that they will attack you with their rage.
They cannot stand even the slightest criticism. They are not even able to have a conversation about anything you might disagree with them about. They become aggressive and violent when someone suggests they might be wrong.
8. Nothing ever gets resolved.
Since they cannot stand being criticised or even listen to someone with a different opinion, nothing gets ever resolved. Everything must be the way they want it to be. They are not interested in anyone else’s opinion.
They are scared that the fact that someone else is right and they are wrong would mean that they are actually not perfect. They are not ready to do it as they don’t want to reflect on themselves, their behaviour and their words. Looking within and increasing their self-awareness scares them more than anything else. Their ego is too fragile to take that risk.
9. They have a great need for control.
They always want to control every situation. Deep down narcissists are very unhappy people. They are never satisfied with how their life unfolds and they will do their best to control everything and everyone as much as possible.
In their mind, they have a perfect script for everyone, what everyone should be saying and doing. It is impossible to guess what that mysterious script is and therefore it is extremely easy to say or do something that will trigger the narcissistic rage. They hate when you do or say something they don’t approve of. When you go off that imaginative script, it is hard for them to predict what will happen next and they truly hate that.
10. They hate to see you happy.
Another tell-tale feature of narcissism is the inability to be happy for someone else’s happiness. Narcissists hate happy people. They can’t stand seeing you happy. Misery makes them alive, especially someone else’s.
You might have noticed that every time you try to share some good news with them, they say something that immediately makes you regret sharing anything with them.
It is best to keep the conversations on a shallow level. Avoid sharing anything that matters to you as they will drain happiness out of you.
11. They are unable to be a part of a team.
Narcissists are terrible communicators and they don’t have the capacity or will to think about you or your needs and wants. They don’t care about the effects of their actions or words on you or anyone else. Neither teamwork nor communication is their thing.
12. They are never vulnerable.
Vulnerability is a foreign concept to narcissists. Since they are detached from their emotions, they never show you their true feelings. They might not even know how they truly feel. Accessing their emotions would mean that they would have to look deep within behind the mask of delusions that they have created and that it is simply too dangerous for their fragile ego.
13. They lead a double life.
Did you ever try to talk to someone close to you about your problems with your narcissist? Did they believe you? Probably they didn’t, at least not at first.
Narcissists are extremely good at manipulating people so those that are not so close to them usually don’t see their true colours. It is only the closest people that see who the narcissist really is.
That’s why narcissistic abuse can make you feel terribly lonely and isolated. Gradually you might even start questioning your own sanity.
Dealing with a narcissist might leave you traumatised for years, especially if the narcissist is one of your parents or your partner. You will end up feeling confused and lonely as most probably people won’t believe your story. In the end, they see a completely different person than the person you deal with behind closed doors.
I hope this article will help you notice the red flags sooner than later. Once you do, start setting up some healthy boundaries. Creating more separation between you and that person is crucial for your mental health and well-being.
Narcissists are not able to feel normal human emotions. They don’t care what you feel and most probably they won’t change. If you realise the abuse you have suffered, make yourself your priority because they certainly won’t care about how you feel. I know because I have been there. The only thing that they care about is themselves and the image they create for the public to see.
If you need any help in regaining yourself after narcissistic abuse, message me and we will see how I can help you.