- Narcissists share certain key behaviours.
- One of the most common traits associated with narcissists is a lack of empathy, as well as an inability to relate to the emotions of others.
- While narcissists may appear to have an inflated sense of self-importance, this often stems from low self-esteem and insecurity.
Sometimes it seems like we live in a world plagued by people with an inflated sense of self-importance – like that one Facebook friend who brags about every minute of her life, or the coworker who drones on and on about how wonderful he is.
But it can be hard to decipher whether these people simply lack self-awareness or if they suffer from a deeper problem, like narcissism.
Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles and a licensed clinical psychologist, shares some of the qualities that might make you, or someone you know, a narcissist.
You blame others for your problems
Durvasula says one common quality of narcissists is never taking ownership when they make mistakes. They will blame anyone they can instead of admitting their wrongdoing.
You’ve been told you lack empathy
This is often recognised as the hallmark quality of narcissists. People with narcissistic personality disorder are often incapable of relating to the feelings of others.
If you do something kind for someone, you expect endless thanks
When narcissists buy someone a gift, they expect an inappropriate amount of gratitude. This quality applies in the workplace, too. “Let’s say they help you, mentor you or advance you,” Durvasula says. “They will expect you to thank them and be grateful for that for the rest of your life.”
You’ve been told you’re charming or charismatic
Narcissists tend to have highly superficial personality traits, Durvasula says, including charm and charisma. “But what you’ll often see is that charm and charisma end up being used as a rationale,” she says. Even if a narcissist treats someone badly, the person will often rationalize the narcissist’s behaviour and think they couldn’t possibly have done something so bad because they’re so charming.
You’ve been told by former significant others that you came on really strong at first
Durvasula says one sign you might be dating a narcissist is if everything seems too incredible at first. You might feel like you’re part of a sweep-you-off-your-feet, cinematic romance. “I always tell people: Pay attention when there’s too much on the front end,” says Durvasula, who wrote, “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist.” “I know it seems fun and romantic, but it’s probably a train wreck waiting to happen.”
You’ve cheated on your significant other in the past
Durvasula says narcissists often lack boundaries, which leads them to engage in inappropriate workplace affairs or cheat on their significant other.
You lack self-confidence
At their core, narcissists lack self-esteem and have a pathological need to be admired. “They’re very ambitious and competitive, and a lot of people make the mistake of thinking they’re confident,” Durvasula says. “They’re actually not confident.”
You think you’re more important than everyone else
Grandiosity is a hallmark feature of narcissism, as it allows many narcissists to hide their lack of confidence. “In our culture, we associate grandiosity with confidence,” Durvasula says. “If you walk around saying you’re great, people will actually think you’re great.”
You think the world doesn’t see how truly amazing you are
Not all narcissists are grandiose. In fact, Durvasula says some are vulnerable and are driven by shame and others’ perception of them. They might even come across as depressed. “They often think that the world passed them by, or that they have been forgotten or something like that,” Durvasula says.
You think you’re above it all
A common feature of narcissists is the mindset that they’re so important, they shouldn’t have to deal with certain everyday things like waiting in line at the grocery store.
You like to give advice, even when it’s unsolicited
According to Durvasula, narcissists tend to deliver advice even when it’s unwanted. “They will often deliver it in a way that feels criticising, demeaning and invalidating,” she says.
You have a perfectly curated appearance
“[Narcissists] often look great, they’re in the best suits, the best outfits – they’re beautifully put together,” Durvasula says. This perfect appearance plays to their inherent need for validation. And we buy into it. “Our assumption is that somebody who looks that good’s got to be doing something right.”
When you accomplish something, you crave validation from others — especially on social media
Narcissists love to tell the world how amazing their life is. Durvasula says this applies with social media, too. They will post about their amazing trip to Hawaii, their big house, or their expensive car. “They like anything that makes them look good,” she says.
You often have fits of anger
Durvasula says narcissists have a tendency to explode into rage, especially when they don’t get their way. They’re typically very angry, deeply sensitive people and this anger often emerges when they don’t receive the special treatment they think they deserve. “They can be very caustic and really angry, and it always seems to be bubbling under the surface,” she says.