Who is a Narcissistic Person?
When does self-centeredness cross over into narcissistic personality disorder? I had no clue until I researched it.
I am pretty sure I have used the word ” narcissist” to describe a self-absorbed person. It is tossed around, especially when it comes to relationships of all kinds—family, romantic, workplace, even friendships. It can be an ex who constantly puts his desires and needs above yours, or maybe it’s a manager who continually cuts you off when you speak in meetings and takes credit for your accomplishments.
But what does a true narcissist, someone with a narcissistic personality disorder, really look like? Research suggests that anywhere between one and six percent of the population may have this personality disorder, and about 50 to 75 percent of those are men.
Who is a narcissist?
You no doubt have come across jerks in your life but not all jerks are narcissists. Here is the definition of a narcissist:
- someone with a pervasive pattern of grandiosity,
- need for admiration
- lack of empathy
- symptoms begin in early adulthood
These traits can present in various ways.
It’s hard to say exactly, but both upbringing and genetics likely play a role. If someone was given everything they ever wanted by their parents and was always told they are better than others and never given limits that would likely contribute. At the other end of the spectrum, some researchers think that parental neglect can also contribute to narcissism.
Signs they’re a narcissist
If the broad definition of narcissistic personality disorder sounds frighteningly familiar, don’t jump to conclusions about someone you know just yet. A true narcissist will display five or more of the following characteristics.
A narcissist has an exaggerated sense of self-importance
People with NPD believe they are superior to others without the necessary achievements necessary to go along with this. A narcissist will routinely overestimate their abilities while simultaneously devaluing the contributions of other people, and they may act surprised when they don’t get the praise they feel they deserve. Often, if they haven’t achieved success, they find a way to blame others, but never themselves.
I remember my ex talking about real estate as though he was an actual real estate agent. He would talk about many things as though he knew everything about the subject and of course you didn’t, even if you did. He was the authority on everything- well in his own mind.
A narcissist believes they’re special or unique
It’s okay to think you’re a little special. But narcissists take it to an extreme, believing they’re so incredibly special that they can only be understood by other special people.
This extended to professionals they see. They have to prove their uniqueness and intelligence, often compete with them. When we went to therapy together, my ex talked to the therapist as though he was meeting another therapist. He was able to twist things using many of his tools from his toolbox like manipulation, deception, lying etc.
A narcissist requires excessive admiration
Narcissists seem to love you if you are adoring them. This can be particularly true in relationships. They seem wonderful, showering you with large amounts of attention until you stand up for yourself. Then you might see a mean streak you didn’t see before. A mean streak that can be cruel and scary.
I experienced this with my ex but of course, he only did this behind closed doors. Our relationship started off with what seemed like an instant connection or so I thought and I was smitten with him. I continued to give him the admiration he needed, this is a narcissistic supply which is the energy they need to exist.
A narcissist has a sense of entitlement
Narcissists often don’t believe that rules apply to them. They have a great sense of entitlement. They expect everything and are unappreciative when they get it.
I remember my ex needing to have things his way and in fact, was entitled. He always demanded that the radio station in the car be on the channel he chose. In fact, I was not to even touch the dial or any of the controls in the car. If he decided to cook a meal, because he was the best chef, he did not clean up anything afterward because that would be beneath him. For the same reason that he actually only vacuumed the house once in 14 years, again because this was beneath him.
A narcissist lacks empathy
It is well known that narcissists are notorious for being unable to empathize with the pain or struggles of others. On the surface, my ex appeared to be reasonable however when he was alone with me this was not the case, he was controlling, opinionated, and very insensitive.
He always had this way of bringing everything back to himself no matter what was going on. If you were sick, he would tell you his symptoms and how sick he was. If you wanted to talk about a problem you had with a colleague at work, he would go on and on about a problem with someone only his situation would be much worse. He was incapable of showing any true caring, kindness, or warmth.
A narcissist is preoccupied with fantasies of the perfect mate and success
Narcissists tend to think excessively about achieving power, success, and respect from others and especially powerful people. This even affects how they pick a romantic partner. Research has shown that narcissists place more importance on physical attractiveness and status than traits like being kind or caring. This is partly because when their partner looks good, it raises their own self-image.
In my case, my ex looked at things for how they could be advantageous to him. He saw the benefits for himself of having a partner with a stable income so he could have what he wanted whenever he wanted. His perfect mate was one who provided him with the status he wanted, the house he wanted, the car he wanted, and it certainly was not for love.
A narcissist is envious of others and believes others are envious of them
Narcissists are constantly comparing themselves to others, especially very successful people, which can trigger feelings of envy. And if they achieve success in their lives, they feel satisfaction that others are envious or jealous of them.
A narcissist behaves in an arrogant or disdainful manner
Arrogance can be defined as a personality trait where a person has an obnoxiously elevated sense of self-worth. An arrogant person is one who acts as if they’re superior, more worthy, and more important than others. Therefore, they tend to disrespect and put others down.
This was indeed my ex. He always believed he was smarter than anyone else and especially when it came to his job. He also despised women. This took years for me to see but when I did, it was so obvious. He spoke negatively about his female boss and eventually, she caught on to who he really was seeing his arrogance and other ways. She let him go from his position.
He would manipulate things easily so he was able to get his own way. I remember when he bought a very expensive suit for 1000’s dollars, with a tie costing $150 and a shirt over $300. This was completely out of our budget but he was so clever at getting what he wanted. One year he went on a vacation alone, for several weeks to Japan. It cost over $6000. I spent my ” vacation” with 2 children and a dog going to small cottages.
Acting like an arrogant snob while complaining about the stupidity of others is another red flag for narcissism.
A narcissist takes advantage of others
A narcissist’s sense of entitlement combined with their lack of empathy makes them perfect for taking advantage of people for their own benefit. This is one reason people with NPD can be terrible to work for. If you have a narcissistic boss, they may work you into the ground without giving you the respect or compensation you deserve.
It can be true with friendships, too. Remember that friend who was always too busy with her fabulous life to spend time with you? That is until she wanted to have a pool party for her friends in your pool.
I had a friend who was a narcissist once who took serious advantage of me by her lying and manipulation but also by her stealing a lot of money from me. When I figured out who she was I ended our relationship and have never seen her again. Unfortunately, I did not recoup any of a large amount of money she stole from me.
Narcissists often take advantage of their targets financially. I have written an article about this.
I am hopeful that this information will help you and open your eyes to who narcissists are. Perhaps you are starting a relationship and see some red flags, or you are in a relationship and know there is something very wrong or you have left the relationship and are trying to understand what was wrong and how to heal.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like some support. I am here to help you with healing from Narcissistic Abuse.
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Love to you