In popular culture, it’s often believed that a narcissist is a person who is totally, completely in love with him/herself. In reality, a pathological narcissist is merely in love with an idealized image that person has created, and they project it in order to avoid feeling, and being seen as, a broken, messed up person. Deep down they often hate themselves, though it’s highly unlikely that they’ll admit it.
How do you recognize someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
1) Conversations. Narcissists love to talk about themselves and don’t give you a chance to actually participate in the conversation. Your vocal contributions are often dismissed, ignored, or even corrected. (S)he has a tendency to interrupt and quickly shift the focus back to him/herself.
2) Rule breaking. Narcissists often see themselves exempt from rules/laws. They enjoy getting away with things like cutting in line, breaking appointments, and disobeying traffic laws. They hold little regard for the welfare of others.
3) Violates boundaries. Narcissists don’t care about other people’s thoughts and feelings, possessions or even physical space. They overstep and use others without consideration or sensitivity. They ‘borrow’ things with no intention to return them. They break promises and obligation often. They show little remorse and blame the victim for their own lack of respect.
4) Attention-seeking. They aim to impress others constantly. This ‘trophy’ complex can be projected physically, socially, professionally, romantically, religiously, etc. Narcissists use objects, people, status and accomplishments to represent themselves, and these displays are often exaggerated. They are constantly trying to prove themselves worthy of others’ attention and admiration. They have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and believe others can’t live without them.
5) Entitlement. Narcissists expect preferential treatment from others. They want their needs catered to, instantly, without being considerate in return. Everything seems to revolve around them.
6) They’re charming. Narcissists are often very charismatic and persuasive. When they show interest in you (for their own personal gratification), they have a way of making you feel special and wanted. But once they lose interest (boredom?), they’ll drop you without much thought. They can be super sociable and engaging, as long as you’re giving them all of your attention and fulfilling their desires.
7) Negative attention. Narcissists love spreading negative emotions to get attention, feel powerful, and to keep you insecure and off-balance. They are easily upset when they feel you aren’t giving them enough attention. They’ll throw tantrums if you disagree or don’t meet their expectations. They are extremely sensitive to criticism, but love to criticize, ridicule and blame you.. for everything. They are emotionally abusive. By putting you down, they feed their ego and falsely ‘feel better’ about themselves.
8) Master manipulators. Narcissists use their romantic partners, friends, children and colleagues to meet their unreasonable self-serving needs and cover up their inadequacies and flaws. They often use guilt to hijack your emotions and entice you to make unreasonable sacrifices. They hold you prisoner mentally, until they are ready to throw you away like their past victims.
9) They leave a trail of wreckage behind. Having a history of many bad relationships and/or work experiences should be a red flag. Why didn’t these things work out, and where is (s)he placing the blame. Narcissists will play the part of the victim and will admit to little or no wrongdoing in order to stir your emotions and make you feel bad for them and drop your guard. Don’t believe it for one second!
These people are completely toxic and incapable of having healthy relationships with others. You cannot change or ‘fix’ them. And the longer these people are in your life, the worse the situation gets. Every time.
The only healthy choice you have is to get yourself out of there and completely remove this person from your life.
If you have kids with him/her, it’s going to be much more complicated than simply up and leaving. Depending on their age (s), there will probably be child support payments, unwanted visits, and lawsuits, but escaping emotional imprisonment with your children is, in the long run, worth every battle.
Do you know a narcissist? What was your experience with him/her?