Narcissists: How To Spot Them
I’ve survived an abusive relationship with a narcissist and now can spot them a mile off. Finding out you’re in a relationship with a narcissist is like finding out you’ve been driving in circles for hours… eventually, you have to get off that course to find a route that works.
The narcissist in your life keeps taking while you keep giving… and this is a seemingly impossible situation when the narcissist approves payroll. Next week we’ll address how to cope when you realize you’re working for a complete narcissist. This week you’ll learn how to spot one.
Severe narcissism is pathological. It’s a disorder that if goes unchecked, rages out of control and controls the majority of a person’s life. Usually the type of narcissism we come across is termed “mild” in the psychological community.
Here are common signs of narcissism:
- They make everything about them.
“Enough about me, what do you think about me?”
Narcissists don’t just love talking about themselves; they’re nearly incapable of talking about anything else.
Narcissism at its core is really a listening dysfunction. The narcissist doesn’t listen to much of anything about anyone else; it’s all about himself/herself.
When you’re talking with a narcissist, they’re not really listening; they’re just waiting for a break to say the next thing about themselves.
Everyone is guilty of this from time to time, but a narcissist does it consistently without fail.
Even if a narcissist asks you about your day it’s usually just an excuse to talk about their day.
In the extreme, narcissists get angry when other people interject their opinions.
The narcissist is always right even when their conclusion is illogical.
- They want control and power, and they want to lead.
Narcissism looks like confidence so it often lands the narcissist in a position of leadership.
God help us all.
That doesn’t mean every confident leader is a narcissist; the way you can tell the difference is to look at leadership styles.
People with confidence and charisma plus being overly controlling and grandiose is the formula for narcissism; others are just confident and charming.
- They make over-the-top statements a lot.
Narcissistic behavior is all about using grandiose statements to attract attention, earn other people’s confidence and gain admiration.
The narcissist believes he or she deserves more than other people; it’s really difficult for this person to admit he or she has a lot to learn (if anything at all).
They also like to name drop… a lot. If they have a personal connection to a celebrity, everyone will know about it.
- They cheat.
In relationships and in life, narcissists have a poorly calibrated moral compass when it comes to holding themselves to a standard (though they have no problem holding you to the standard!).
Cheating feeds the narcissist’s sense of power and self-validation.
- They don’t take no for an answer & manipulate their way to getting what they want.
Narcissism has two faces; the charming type we discussed and the type that seems opposite: vulnerable, hyper-sensitive and anxiety-prone.
This “sleeper” type of narcissist has grandiose fantasies he or she keeps to himself/herself.
They know how to use their perceived vulnerability to exploit others.
Extroverted narcissists use charm and flattery to get what they want.
Introverted narcissists evoke empathy and pity.
Both types will exploit others to gain emotional, sexual, social, and physical validation.
- They swear and/or are verbally aggressive.
Profanity and sexually explicit language tend to draw the spotlight; narcissists like to shock people into attention.
They’ll swear more than normal on a regular basis, cuss profusely when arguing and use exaggerated gestures to emphasize a point.
This is all grandiose manipulation.
Narcissists will say just about anything to maintain power in a heated moment.
- They’ll argue with you constantly.
Narcissists are always right. Always.
They may seem to be charming at first, but as your relationship progresses they’ll stop saying what they think you want to hear.
That’s when arguments grow more frequent and intense.
Don’t try to win an argument with a narcissist; they have no room for logical arguments and won’t respond.
The only time they will pay attention to reason is if it suits their own purposes.
- They can’t hold down a relationship.
Their relationships peak after a few months and dwindle from there.
That’s because they can only keep up the façade of being a normal person for “so long,” and because the narcissist will usually not be able to exploit the same person for an extended period of time. They’ll be found out.
After a few months their argumentative tendencies, need for control, infidelity, and overall shallowness spell the end of the relationship.
- They’re vain.
Narcissists are more likely to wear expensive & flashy clothing.
They’re shallow and care more about the packaging than the substance.
That’s another reason their relationships are here today, gone tomorrow.
- They avoid discussing emotion.
That’s because they don’t want to be vulnerable because it weakens their power over you.
If a narcissist brings up his emotions, it’s because they’re manipulating you.
Don’t trust that what you’re hearing is the truth; it’s likely part of a larger picture that ends with you being used for some purpose eventually.
- Their eyes glaze over and become distant when you’re talking.
They may nod and say “yeah,” and act like they are listening but you can tell by their eyes they are not.
The reason their eyes glaze over is that they’re focusing on their own thoughts.
They’re thinking about what they’re going to say, or what they need at the grocery store, or what vacation they’d like to go on next year.
To listen to you would be to give you control.
- They hate to lose and love to break the rules.
Go ahead & lose their invitation to game night; narcissists are terrible sports.
They get angry when they lose and rub in wins.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
You’ll see the difference between normal competitive impulses and the narcissist because it’s excruciating to compete with the narcissist no matter the outcome.
They’re in it for domination, not fun.
They’ll also cheat here – break the rules, and cross boundaries.
They don’t tip, they run late (because their schedule matters – not yours) and they make fun of people behind their backs.
I feel like I need to do an energy cleansing ritual after writing that… or go complete the “I forgive you” line-writing exercise I did during my divorce from the (narcissistic) ex-husband. Bleah!
In our next blog edition, we’ll go over how to deal with a narcissistic boss.
If you’re in a narcissistic personal relationship, our best guidance is: do not deal with it.
Not just that… don’t try to fix it.
The narcissist is not going to respond to you the way you want no matter how much you love him (or her).
Be calm, call them out, and assert yourself, your autonomy, and do not undercut the validity of your emotions.
If you’re having a tough time learning how to do all that, we can help. Download the GILD Coaching Boundaries Assessment and find out where your boundaries need some reinforcement. The first step toward making sure a narcissist isn’t overstepping is having healthy boundaries in the first place.