8 behaviors that signal you’re dealing with a “nice” narcissist (one of the toughest types to spot)

Narcissists aren’t always easy to spot – those of us who have had the unpleasant experience of knowing one will agree. Why?

Because they don’t always come off as arrogant or self-absorbed.

Sometimes, they come wrapped in charm and kindness, making them even tougher to identify.

They’re what we call ‘nice’ narcissists. They appear friendly and considerate, but it’s all a part of their subtle manipulation.

In this article, I’m going to break down 8 behaviors that indicate you might be dealing with one of these ‘nice’ narcissists.

This way, you can spot them early on and save yourself unnecessary stress.

1) They’re always the hero

A ‘nice’ narcissist often has a knack for spinning tales where they’re always the hero.

It’s a subtle way to keep the focus on them, all while maintaining the ‘nice’ persona.

Remember, narcissists love attention.

But ‘nice’ narcissists are clever. They won’t demand the spotlight outright. They’ll simply weave narratives where they’re the savior, the star, the person who always comes to the rescue.

It seems charming at first. Who doesn’t love a good story?

But when you notice that every tale is about them and their greatness, it’s time to pause and reflect.

You might just be dealing with a ‘nice’ narcissist.

2) They’re generous… with strings attached

Ah, the ‘nice’ narcissists and their generosity, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with this one.

They love to give, but there’s usually a hidden agenda.

I had a “friend” like this, let’s call her Jane. Jane would always pick up the bill at restaurants. At first, it seemed like a nice gesture, right?

But I started to notice a pattern.

Jane would always remind us of her generosity at opportune times, subtly implying we owed her favors in return.

It was as if every kind act had an invisible price tag attached. This is classic ‘nice’ narcissist behavior. Generous on the surface, but underneath it’s all about creating a debt of gratitude, keeping them in control.

3) They have a charming charisma

Charisma can be a magnet that draws people in, and ‘nice’ narcissists know this all too well.

They can be incredibly charming, making you feel like you’re the most important person in the room.

Did you know that charisma is not just an inherent trait but a learned skill?

Psychologists believe that many ‘nice’ narcissists work on their charisma to appear more likable and influential.

They use their charm to subtly manipulate situations to their advantage, all while maintaining their ‘nice’ image.

Be cautious of this behavior – it’s one of the key signals you might be dealing with a ‘nice’ narcissist.

4) They subtly shift the blame

‘Nice’ narcissists are masters of redirecting blame without you even realizing it.

They have an uncanny ability to shift any fault or responsibility away from themselves, often onto others, while maintaining their ‘nice’ persona.

It could be as simple as a project going wrong at work, and somehow, the blame subtly lands on someone else.

Or perhaps a personal disagreement where they artfully maneuver the conversation so that you end up apologizing, even when it wasn’t your fault.

This tricky behavior can be tough to spot, but once you see it, pay attention and get out as soon as you can. 

5) They rarely show genuine empathy

We all need empathy – it’s a human need. It’s that comforting feeling of being understood, of being seen.

But with ‘nice’ narcissists, genuine empathy can be hard to find.

They might say the right things and make the right noises, but when you’re in need of real emotional support, they often fall short.

It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that their needs usually come first.

This lack of empathy can leave you feeling lonely and unsupported, even in their presence.

Remember, everyone deserves to be truly heard and understood.

If you’re consistently not getting this from someone who otherwise seems ‘nice’, it might be a sign of narcissism.

6) They have a sense of entitlement

Here’s something I’ve learned from my own experience:

‘Nice’ narcissists often carry a sense of entitlement.

They may not demand it outright, but there’s an underlying expectation that they deserve special treatment.

I remember a time when I was planning a surprise birthday party for a friend who has this trait.

Despite all my efforts to make everyone feel included and considered, he was upset that the party wasn’t exactly to his liking. It was his day, sure, but his expectations were unreasonably high and he failed to appreciate everyone’s efforts.

This sense of entitlement, expecting others to bend over backward to meet their desires while neglecting others’ feelings, is a classic sign of a ‘nice’ narcissist.

7) They are highly sensitive to criticism

‘Nice’ narcissists may seem confident and secure, but beneath the surface, they can be exceptionally sensitive to criticism.

Even a gentle suggestion or constructive feedback might be met with defensiveness or even outright hostility. 

A family member (for obvious reasons I won’t be dropping names) is the definition of this. In fact, he’s not only highly sensitive and defensive to criticism, but also to compliments that he doesn’t perceive as “good enough”. 

For example, one time I told him his new lawn mower was so much more powerful than the regular ones on the market. It was said in good faith but for some reason, he felt offended that of all the lovely things he had, I chose to comment on the lawn mower. 

As you can see, it’s a tough balancing act.

On one hand, you don’t want to offend them or cause a scene.

On the other, it’s important to address issues that need to be discussed.

Ultimately, everyone should be open to feedback – it’s how we grow and improve. If someone consistently reacts negatively to criticism, despite their otherwise ‘nice’ demeanor, you might very well be dealing with a narcissist.

8) They lack genuine interest in others

Here’s the crux of it all:

‘Nice’ narcissists often lack a genuine interest in others.

They may smile, nod, and ask about your day, but it’s rarely about a real interest in your life.

More often than not, it’s a way to keep up appearances, maintain their likability, or steer the conversation back to themselves.

If you notice that someone always manages to turn the conversation back to themselves or shows little genuine curiosity about your life, it’s a red flag. True relationships are built on mutual interest and care – don’t settle for less.

Final thought: It’s about understanding

The complexities of human behavior are fascinating, and narcissism, even the ‘nice’ kind, is no exception. It’s not about villainizing these individuals but rather understanding them.

Recognizing these behaviors isn’t about passing judgment or labeling someone as ‘bad’.

It’s about protecting your own mental and emotional well-being. It’s about setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and ensuring your relationships are built on mutual respect and understanding.

Navigating relationships with ‘nice’ narcissists can be one such obstacle.

But with awareness, understanding, and resilience, you can maintain your sense of self-efficacy and navigate these tricky waters with grace and strength.

Picture of Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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