I get it.
You’re in a relationship where your partner constantly makes you feel insecure, guilty, or even trapped.
Or maybe your boss is manipulative, and you struggle to set boundaries when they bombard you with extra work.
It could also be that a parent or friend continuously makes you doubt your reality.
Whatever’s going on – you want to pin the tail on the narcissist.
Whether to get out, understand them, protect yourself better, or pure curiosity. Here are 9 behaviors that indicate you’re dealing with a classic narcissist:
1) They’re concerned with their appearance
A narcissist is highly concerned with their appearance. They worry about how others see them and will go to great lengths to project an image of superiority.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Narcissists are often also concerned with the appearance of those around them.
Have you ever seen a group of incredibly successful, good-looking people together and wondered how they’re all friends?
I’m not saying all successful and attractive people are narcissists. But a narcissist is unlikely to mingle with anyone they think is beneath them.
If they see you as an extension of themselves or someone who reflects upon their image, they’ll be extremely critical and even try to change you to fit their picture.
And while narcissistic people are fast to dish it out,…
2) They don’t like receiving critiques
Narcissists have a difficult time receiving negative feedback. Whether that’s about their appearance, work, or cooking.
They have an excessive need for admiration and validation but are highly sensitive.
If you criticize a narcissist, they may:
- Get angry.
- Become defensive.
- Launch personal attacks.
- Be dismissive.
- Become hostile.
Despite their outward display of confidence, a narcissist fears being exposed or seen as flawed.
So if you ever critique a narcissist, you’ll notice that…
3) They throw tantrums when things don’t go their way
This is mainly because they have a strong sense of entitlement and believe they deserve special treatment, attention, and recognition.
When a narcissist is used to getting their way, they can get angry, frustrated, or even become manipulative when they suddenly don’t.
Here’s an example:
I used to work alongside a supervisor with narcissistic characteristics. She was used to everyone agreeing with everything she said and complying with her every demand.
Just before our Christmas party, she pitched a new project idea.
Her team expressed some concerns about potential project challenges, and instead of siding with her, I agreed with them.
I also provided some alternative approaches, and her team liked these.
She got enraged, raised her voice, and told her team to rather work under me if they felt that way about her.
Want to know what’s worse? She acted hostile towards me until February!
Not that it bothered me, but still.
That’s classic narcissistic behavior. Narcissists are prone to emotional outbursts when they face any challenge to their authority or ideas.
The worse part is that she didn’t even apologize after cooling down. Most narcissists don’t. Want to know why? It’s because…
4) They rarely feel guilty
Narcissists find it difficult to feel genuine guilt for their actions. They lack empathy and often lack insight.
But this doesn’t mean they never apologize. They can be pretty skilled at faking remorse or guilt to manipulate or maintain beneficial relationships.
You’ll notice some subtle defense mechanisms when a narcissist apologizes. These include:
Vulnerable people can find it tricky to figure out their true intentions. And narcissists know this.
5) They’re entitled
Do you know someone who:
- Refuses to wait in lines?
- Always complains when they don’t receive the treatment they think they deserve?
- Believes the rules don’t apply to them?
Entitlement is a common characteristic of narcissists. They often believe they have a right to special privileges or recognition without necessarily putting in the effort.
A narcissist may expect you to cater to their needs, have unrealistic expectations, and even exploit others for personal gain. All because they view themselves as deserving.
To make matters worse, we live in a culture that encourages entitlement.
And while not everyone who displays entitlement is narcissistic, if someone is used to the idea of people jumping through hoops to please them, they can start to expect it.
Entitlement can show in many ways. Narcissists are likely to:
- Yell at service providers.
- Expect people to change plans for them.
- Act cold or rude around people they feel are below them.
- Disregard rules.
- Blame others.
- Expect automatic special treatment for their spouse or kids.
In short, a narcissist disregards the rights and feelings of others while expecting special treatment for themselves.
6) They’re unpredictable
It can be tough to be around a narcissist. You never know what they’ll do or say if things don’t go their way.
If someone generally feels like a minefield, they’re probably a narcissist. A narcissist can go from overjoyed to cold rage in minutes.
I once matched with a really charming guy. Our first date was at a restaurant with a general and paid VIP section. He was beyond friendly with our waitress, but I didn’t think much of it.
After all, it was just his personality!
We were on dessert and our last round of drinks when a booth cleared in the VIP section. My date called our waitress and jokingly asked her if we could move there.
She politely said no.
He immediately turned hostile, and after she brought our bill, he (loud enough so she could hear) told me that she didn’t deserve a tip. I was so embarrassed!
Needless to say, the date ended, she got her tip, and I haven’t spoken to him since.
A narcissist has a fragile self-esteem. This makes them unstable and hypersensitive to rejection. Their reactions to anything threatening their self-image can range from anger to withdrawal.
The only thing they worry about in moments like these is to protect their inflated ego.
And it doesn’t stop with unpredictable moods. There’s also a lack of predictability when it comes to their actions. It can be infuriating to make plans with a narcissist.
They don’t care about how their up and down behavior affects your ability to plan your own life, and…
7) They don’t respect boundaries
Narcissists will always put their wants and needs before yours. They disrespect boundaries in several ways. A narcissist may:
- Invade your room without permission, disregard your request for alone time, or intrude on your personal life.
- Use tactics like guilt-tripping, gaslighting, or coercion to cross your boundaries and gain control over you.
- Invalidate the needs and limits you set.
- Purposefully test your boundaries to see your reaction and establish how far they can go.
If someone frequently crosses the line and shows no remorse, chances are you’re dealing with a narcissist.
8) They’re paranoid
Now, you might be wondering how paranoia is a narcissistic trait. The thing is, I’m not talking about “someone is watching me” paranoia.
At the heart of a narcissist’s paranoia lies their fragile ego. It amplifies their vigilance and fosters suspicions. They’re constantly worried that a threat lurks behind every interaction and gesture.
A narcissist might believe that:
- Everyone is jealous of them.
- Everyone wants to deliberately deceive and harm them.
- Everyone wants to take advantage of them.
Besides their weak self-esteem, paranoia stems from projection and a desire for dominance.
Narcissists can project their own undesirable traits onto others. In this case, manipulative and deceptive tendencies.
When they encounter situations where they don’t feel dominant, a narcissist can also slip into more paranoid thinking to maintain a sense of power. Truth is, they’ll do anything to stay in control because…
9) They’re controlling
Narcissists are known for exhibiting controlling behavior to maintain power and dominance and have things their way.
And this extends to their immediate environment, mind, and you.
At first, it may seem sweet. You might think the narcissist wants to:
- Treat you when they arrange everything, always.
- Keep you safe when they ask for updates on where you are or who you’re with.
- Spoil you when they buy you clothes or book appointments at the hairstylist or nail salon.
But the only thing they have in mind is stripping you from your individuality and controlling your every move.
Want to know the really disturbing part? They’ll do all this even when they’re not really that interested in you.
It’s all about molding you to fit their picture while they need you to further inflate themselves.
In committed relationships, a narcissist will have opinions about your friends and career. They’ll also make all the important decisions around kids, vacations, or big purchases.
Living under narcissistic control can be exhausting.
And you shouldn’t feel guilty for ending a friendship or relationship with a narcissist.
Staying in one is also a personal choice.
The unfortunate reality is just that a narcissist is unlikely to change.
Just because someone displays some signs of narcissism doesn’t make them one. It’s crucial to think about the broader context and observe patterns.
Today, the term is constantly thrown around on social media. Often by narcissists at people who aren’t.
It’s normal to occasionally be self-centered, entitled, or controlling. This doesn’t make someone a full-blown narcissist.
Be smart and get out if a relationship is toxic. But be cautious to label people.