Having a narcissist in your immediate entourage is emotionally draining.
Narcissists have a high sense of their own importance and don’t often care about the feelings of others.
This makes them challenging to interact with on a regular basis, so you might be better off keeping your distance.
The tricky part?
Narcissists are charismatic at first glance, so you might not even realize you’re dealing with one until you’re completely sucked into their orbit.
To avoid that, pay attention to the warning signs.
If someone displays these 12 behaviors, they have a narcissistic personality.
Protect your mental health.
1) They look on point
People with narcissistic personalities can be obsessed with their looks and the way they present themselves to the world.
Some go to great lengths to construct and maintain a polished public image.
You can find them spending long hours in the gym or wearing flashy, expensive clothes that grab the eye.
Additionally, they might maintain a heavy social presence and post a lot of selfies to feed their need for external validation.
Obviously, not everyone who looks flawless is a narcissist, and you can’t spot them based on appearance alone.
However, if someone frequently checks their reflection and fishes for compliments, it’s a red flag.
2) They are charming
Charm is a narcissist’s most powerful weapon.
They use it to draw people in, gain admiration, and manipulate others to get their way.
When you first meet them, narcissists lavish you with attention or compliments, but it’s just for show.
Their charm is superficial, and how pleasant they are depends on their mood and on what they can get from you.
If you don’t have much to offer them, they lose interest and redirect their efforts elsewhere.
Similarly, narcissists aren’t consistent.
While you might find their initial attention flattering, you’ll soon notice that they can’t keep up the façade.
As a result, your interactions will become insincere and empty over time.
3) They need to be the center of attention
A person with a narcissistic personality adores to be the center of attention.
They love to be admired by others in order to maintain their inflated self-image.
Furthermore, narcissists can have deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, and external validation allows them to cope.
Their techniques for commanding the spotlight aren’t particularly subtle:
- They make bold statements to spark controversy
- They dress provocatively or unconventionally
- They share outlandish stories
- They perform dramatic actions
- They throw extravagant parties
As you might have guessed, being their friend is exhausting.
4) They monopolize conversations
On the same note, narcissists tend to dominate conversations.
They’re adept at steering them toward topics related to themselves.
Someone with a narcissistic personality may interrupt others or dismiss their contributions in an abrupt or rude manner.
This can be especially annoying and hurtful in a professional setting.
Narcissists are highly competitive and aren’t afraid to take credit for others’ work, so they’re not the best to collaborate with on group projects.
5) They are entitled
Due to their inflated self-image, narcissists possess a deluded sense of entitlement.
They want special treatment just for existing and have difficulty accepting that things don’t always go their way.
For instance, a narcissistic friend may be late meeting you or cancel plans last minute without realizing they’re disrespecting your time.
Similarly, they become impatient when things don’t turn out how they want, or when they must wait for something for longer than anticipated.
And expressing gratitude?
Forget about it.
People with narcissistic personalities take everything and everyone for granted.
If they thank you for doing them a favor, that’s the exception, not the rule.
6) They flaunt rules
Their sense of entitlement can push narcissists to flaunt rules without giving them a second thought.
Besides expecting preferential treatment, they disregard social conventions.
They cut in line, steal someone’s restaurant reservation, invade others’ personal space, and forget their manners whenever convenient.
Not only that, but they are also prone to brag about getting away with bad behavior.
Something to keep an eye out for.
7) They thrive on praise
If someone lives for praise, there’s a chance they have a narcissistic personality.
Narcissists love to be acknowledged and celebrated, so you’ll notice them seeking out positive feedback from others.
What they can’t handle, though, is criticism – even when it’s of the constructive variety.
They interpret it as an attack on their self-esteem.
Consequently, they become defensive or dismissive when confronted with their shortcomings.
This brings me to my next point.
8) They shift blame when they make a mistake
If I had a dollar for every time a narcissist apologized to me… I would have zero dollars in total.
As narcissists can’t handle criticism, they also have trouble admitting they made a mistake.
When you call them out, they shift blame instead of being accountable for their behavior.
They didn’t offend you; you’re just too sensitive.
They’re not responsible for failing to meet a goal; the universe is messing with them.
You get the idea.
9) They boast about their possessions and accomplishments
In my early 20s, I socialized with a group that included someone I now realize was likely a narcissist.
The girl initially won me over, thanks to her seemingly friendly attitude, but interacting with her quickly became a drag.
When she wasn’t openly boasting about her exaggerated achievements or exorbitant purchases, she employed the even more irritating humblebrag.
She also had this habit of one-upping everyone.
If you said you have a headache, for instance, she would complain about how she’s been dealing with a migraine for the past week.
People with narcissistic personalities self-promote to the point of becoming tiresome.
Luckily for me, I eventually stopped interacting with the group.
The older you get, the more you realize that spending time with people you don’t actively like isn’t worth it.
10) They look down on others
People with narcissistic personalities have a complicated relationship with empathy.
Besides using others to get their way, they are also known to look down on people they deem not worthy of their time.
This patronizing attitude can come across in various ways:
- They mock or criticize people they think are inferior to them
- They engage in power plays to assert dominance over weaker individuals
- They are rude to service people
- They offer unsolicited criticism
- They exhibit arrogant body language (eye-rolling comes to mind)
11) They can be consumed by jealousy
If someone is constantly preoccupied with others’ accomplishments, they might be a narcissist.
People with narcissistic personalities envy others’ wins and have a hard time celebrating them.
Since they have an overblown sense of self-importance, it’s difficult for them to accept that someone else might be better.
Or richer, prettier, more qualified.
For them, eclipsing others is a full-time gig.
12) They live in a fantasy world
Finally, narcissists can have a warped image of themselves and the world around them.
They present themselves in a carefully curated way to project an idealized image, hiding their flaws and embracing a personal narrative that paints them as extraordinary.
When faced with evidence of the contrary, they downright reject it, preferring to live in this fantasy world where they are above everyone else.
This means they “forget” or reinterpret details that challenge their sense of superiority, remembering events in a way that aligns with their desired self-image.
Moreover, they set unrealistic goals for themselves, truly believing that they will manage to achieve them.
These are less in the vein of “running a marathon” or “building a solid savings account.”
Think “becoming an A-list influencer overnight” or “earning a billion dollars by starting a business with no expertise.”
In short, narcissists are the type of people who DM a celebrity on social media and are certain that they will get a response.
The word “realistic” isn’t part of their vocabulary.
Sometimes it’s not possible to stay away from people with a narcissistic personality.
They might be a coworker or family member, in which case constantly navigating their unpredictable behavior can lead to emotional burnout.
When that happens, prioritize your well-being and ask for help.
Job one is building a robust support system that ideally includes a mental health professional.
It’s the only way to keep your sanity intact.