Characteristics and Traits of a Narcissist
Narcissists see themselves as high achieving, independent of whether or not they are high achieving. From their perspective, they are the most important person in the room. They are arrogant and angered by anyone that they perceive to not be catering to their spoken or unspoken “needs.”
Do You Have a Narcissistic Wife, Husband, Girlfriend, or Boyfriend?
Being partnered with a narcissist can start out great. It can feel like you've hit the partner jackpot. It can be very confusing when relationship nirvana turns into an exhausting existence filled with criticism and self-doubt.
Narcissists often draw partners with stories of how great they are or their gregarious personalities. They may be high achieving, beautiful, or handsome; but they are also artificial and excruciatingly self-centered. It can take some time for you to question the validity of their stories, recognize their exaggerations, or become aware that they only really care about themselves. By then, you may be caught up in their web or blinded by your first impressions.
Narcissistic partners will criticize you for not taking care of them in the unreasonable ways that they want to be taken care of, while none of your own needs are worthy of the narcissist's consideration. (If narcissists seem to be considering you, it's an act to pull you in or rehook you, but they don't have the ability or desire to keep up the act.)
Oxford dictionary's definition of a narcissist:
"a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves."
Mirriam-Webster definition of a narcissist:
"an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance"
Narcissist Symptoms and Characteristics
Narcissists can be very charismatic.
Narcissism is a personality disorder. The signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality include the following (not all are necessarily present in an individual):
- extreme arrogance
- needs admiration
- attitude of entitlement
- lacks empathy
- exaggerates their achievements and talents
- fantasizes about extreme power, success, beauty. . .
- doesn’t care about other people’s thoughts and feelings (although they might appear to care if it serves them in some way)
- can’t stand criticism
- exploits others
- envious of others
- thinks other people envy them
- expects to be treated as special
- wants to associate only with people they consider to have high status
- takes advantage of people
- becomes angry if they feel they have not been properly attended to
Narcissists Can Fool You with Nice or Tears
Narcissists can wear the camouflage of nice or tears. Drew Keys, author of the book Narcissists Exposed: 75 Things Narcissists Don’t Want You to Know,* offers these cautionary notes:
“When narcissists are nice, they are virtually always doing it for something they want, or because it benefits THEM to do so. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that someone who does nice things cannot be narcissistic. It’s not at all true; in fact, a significant percentage of narcissists enjoy playing saint. In addition, even very toxic people can be nice, at least on occasion.”
“When do narcissists cry? Narcissists cry for themselves. Because they lack empathy, when they cry, they are crying for what they personally wanted and didn’t get, for the upset, loss or disappointment they feel, or to get your pity so you’ll do more for them and give them more attention, more support, and more leniency.”
Narcissism, Malignant Narcissism, and Sociopathy
There is a great deal of overlap between narcissism and sociopathy. Both are extremely self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Both lack empathy and consideration of anyone other than themselves.
I have long thought of narcissists as more benign and sociopaths as more malignant. Narcissists can hurt and destroy you as a by-product of their self-centeredness. Sociopaths set out to hurt and destroy you.
"Malignant narcissist" is a relatively new term that you hear a lot in media. It could be used to cover those people who are nearing the sociopathic end of a narcissist-sociopath continuum but don't meet the psychology text-book (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fo Mental Disorders, DSM-5) criteria of sociopathy because they don't have a criminal history going back into adolescence.
You may also be interested in my post, How to Spot a Sociopathic Liar.
*As an Amazon Associate Partner I may receive a small affiliate commission for purchases made through the link above. I have placed the book link for your convenience. My commission does NOT impact your price in any way.
- Ann Silvers