If you notice these 9 behaviors, you may be dealing with a communal narcissist

Narcissism doesn’t always come in the form you might expect. We often think of narcissists as self-obsessed individuals, but a communal narcissist is a different breed altogether.

This type of narcissist emphasizes their contributions to the community, their altruistic actions and their good deeds. But, don’t be fooled, it’s not about the community, it’s about them.

They are masters of using their ‘goodness’ to manipulate and control others. And once you’re aware of the signs, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

In this article, we’ll look at nine behaviors that might suggest you’re dealing with a communal narcissist. I’m about to give you some valuable tools for spotting this subtle form of narcissism, so let’s dive in.

1) They constantly highlight their good deeds

Communal narcissists love to play the good Samaritan. They’re always the first to offer help and they make sure everyone knows about it.

But here’s the catch – while it may seem like they genuinely care about helping others, in reality, it’s all about them. They use their ‘good deeds’ as a way to gain admiration and feed their ego.

It’s not so much about the act of helping itself, but the recognition they get from it. Their good deeds are a means to an end – a tool for manipulating how others see them.

So, if you notice someone who is always eager to showcase their charitable actions or selfless acts, you might be dealing with a communal narcissist. But remember, it’s not just about their eagerness to help, it’s about their need for recognition and validation.

2) They crave admiration for their benevolence

A few years back, I worked with someone who seemed to be the epitome of generosity. Let’s call him John. John was always the first to volunteer for community service events, and he made sure everyone knew about his participation.

One day, we were organizing a charity event at work. John volunteered to take the lead, which seemed like a noble act. He spent weeks planning the event and made sure everyone knew how much time and effort he was putting into it.

But as the event drew closer, I noticed something odd. John wasn’t just excited about the event itself; he was more excited about the praise he was receiving for his efforts.

During the event, instead of focusing on the cause, he kept fishing for compliments and boasting about his role in organizing everything.

That’s when I realized that John’s altruism might not be as genuine as it appeared. His constant need for admiration and validation was a clear sign that he might be a communal narcissist.

If you know someone whose acts of kindness seem more about gaining praise than helping others, you could be dealing with a communal narcissist.

3) They have a grandiose sense of their own altruism

Communal narcissists don’t just think they’re good – they believe they’re the best. They see themselves as superior to others in their benevolence and selflessness, often exaggerating their acts of kindness to epic proportions.

Interestingly, research shows that narcissists are particularly prone to what psychologists call “self-enhancement biases”. This means they tend to inflate their own abilities and achievements, while downplaying those of others.

If you encounter someone who consistently overstates their charitable deeds or altruistic actions, making them seem far more significant than they actually are, you may be dealing with a communal narcissist. These individuals are experts at making mountains out of molehills when it comes to their own generosity.

4) They use their ‘goodness’ as a weapon

Communal narcissists are skilled at turning their supposed altruism into a tool for manipulation. They often use their ‘good deeds’ to guilt others into doing what they want or to deflect criticism.

For instance, they might remind you of that time they helped you out when you’re reluctant to do them a favor. Or, they might bring up their charity work to deflect attention from their shortcomings.

It’s a clever strategy because it makes it difficult for others to question their motives without appearing ungrateful or cynical.

pic1980 If you notice these 9 behaviors, you may be dealing with a communal narcissist

5) They are overly concerned with their image

Communal narcissists are often obsessed with how they are perceived by others. They carefully curate an image of themselves as selfless, caring individuals, and will go to great lengths to maintain this facade.

They are hyper-aware of their reputation and will often react aggressively to any threat to their image. This could be criticism, disagreement, or even just someone else getting more attention than them.

Their obsession with image isn’t just limited to their altruism either. Every aspect of their life is carefully crafted to project an image of perfection and moral superiority.

6) They lack genuine empathy

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of dealing with a communal narcissist is their lack of genuine empathy. Despite their outward show of care and concern, they often struggle to truly empathize with others.

Their acts of kindness are usually self-motivated, driven more by a desire for admiration than a genuine concern for others. They might express sympathy, but when it comes down to it, they are often unable to truly understand or share the feelings of others.

It’s a painful realization, especially when you thought you were dealing with someone who deeply cared about the welfare of others.

If you’re dealing with someone who seems to show compassion but lacks genuine empathy, you may be dealing with a communal narcissist. Remember that true kindness is selfless and comes from a place of genuine empathy for others.

7) They view relationships as transactions

I once had a friend who seemed to have an uncanny knack for being there when I needed help. But over time, I realized that every act of ‘kindness’ came with a price.

She would remind me of her help whenever she needed a favor or wanted to sway an argument in her favor. It felt like our entire friendship was a balance sheet, where she was always making sure she came out on top.

It was a hard pill to swallow, but it made me realize that communal narcissists often view relationships as transactions. Every act of kindness is an investment that they expect to yield returns.

8) They are competitive about their altruism

Communal narcissists are often extremely competitive, even when it comes to acts of kindness. They’ll go out of their way to outdo others in their displays of generosity.

They might donate more to charity, volunteer more hours, or offer help more frequently – not out of genuine kindness, but to assert their dominance and superiority.

They see altruism as a competition and they want to be the ‘best’ at it. It’s another way for them to feed their ego and gain admiration from others.

9) They struggle with genuine intimacy

At the heart of communal narcissism is a deep struggle with genuine intimacy. Despite their outward displays of warmth and care, they often have difficulty forming deep, meaningful connections with others.

Their relationships tend to be superficial, driven more by a need for admiration than genuine affection. They struggle to show vulnerability, to truly give and receive love in an unselfish way.

This is perhaps the most tragic aspect of communal narcissism. Behind the facade of selfless kindness lies a deep inability to truly connect with others.

Understanding, not condemning

Communal narcissism is a complex issue, deeply rooted in an individual’s psyche. It often stems from deep-seated insecurities and a desperate need for validation and admiration.

It’s important to remember that while their behavior can be damaging and manipulative, it’s often a reflection of their own inner turmoil. They are trapped in a cycle of needing approval and validation to feel worthy.

So, if you identify these behaviors in someone you know, remember this isn’t about blaming or condemning them. It’s about understanding their actions and finding ways to protect yourself from potential harm.

Dealing with a communal narcissist can be draining and confusing. But with knowledge comes power – the power to recognize the behavior, understand where it’s coming from, and take steps to protect your own emotional well-being.

As renowned psychologist Carl Jung once said, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” So let’s strive for understanding. Because in understanding, we find compassion. And in compassion, we find our humanity.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.