How Do You Recognize A Narcissist? 12 Signs To Watch Out For


Does your partner always look delighted in the mirror before you step out the door?

Do you feel that a friend can only talk about themselves and always needs attention?

Or do you perhaps have a colleague or ex-partner who always blames you for everything and who also only has good words about himself?

Do you want to know how to recognize a narcissist? In this article you will discover the 12 most important signals to watch out for!

Purpose of this article: In this article I share the most important characteristics with which you can recognize a narcissist.

How can you recognize a narcissist?

Narcissism is a personality disorder in which a person has an inflated, extremely high self-esteem and feels special or even superior.

A true narcissist radiates that they are the most important thing in their lives and in that of all the people they meet.

He or she is often arrogant towards others and goes to great lengths to maintain their high self-esteem. Their behavior also demands attention and admiration from others.

Narcissistic woman admiring herself in the mirror

Yet it is sometimes difficult to judge whether someone is a narcissist.

For example, someone who always posts everything on Instagram and thinks it is very important how they are photographed has a narcissistic streak.

Narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissism is a personality disorder that involves a spectrum: you can have it to a greater or lesser degree. So someone can be very narcissistic, or just have a few traits.

Depending on this, it is also clearer to others whether someone is a narcissist and the people in his or her environment are also more or less affected by it.

Four friends looking at a phone together

A true narcissist with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will exhibit more of the traits and also show them more strongly and in multiple different situations.

At first glance, narcissism only seems to be a problem for others, but the narcissist themselves, because they have a hard time showing empathy for others, always has a lot of trouble forming relationships with other people.

Whether it is a partner, parent, child, brother, sister or friend, a narcissist is often unable to form and maintain a deep relationship. The narcissist needs to compare himself with others and to feel better, more beautiful or more special than the other.

Three males, one of which is gold, one silver and one bronze

This is of course very difficult for the people around him or her, but it also gets in the way of the narcissist himself. Furthermore, a narcissist is very dependent on admiration from others.

A narcissist needs others to look up to them, that they do better than others on tests, that they are the most beautiful, the best, the fastest… As soon as they do not experience this, it can have negative consequences on the well-being and happiness of the narcissist. having a narcissist.

Even failing to live up to their high fantasies (being a bank manager, having the perfect relationship) can leave them feeling misunderstood and misunderstood, which can lead to a lot of frustration and sadness. bring.

Man looking up with his hands up frustrated

Often the symptoms in a narcissist begin to emerge in early adolescence. At this age, many adolescents have narcissistic tendencies, but many outgrow this as they mature.

So always keep in mind that children and young adults cannot already be labeled as narcissists! They are still very much under the influence of hormones and constant changes, and many adolescents have narcissistic tendencies because of this.

Very normal for their age and for the changes they are going through, give them time. 

In a large group this will disappear when they become adults. However, in someone with a narcissistic personality disorder, these traits linger and the narcissism remains visible in different contexts, such as at work and in relationships.

Woman proudly pointing at herself at work for being a narcissist

The Narcissist and Others

People around a narcissist often describe him or her as arrogant, demanding, manipulative, and self-centered. Not really nice features.

Often people with a narcissistic personality disorder are convinced that they deserve special treatment and should therefore be treated differently from others.

Because they feel they are entitled to this, they sometimes go to great lengths to get that special treatment or prestige. And this is often at the expense of others.

Yet it is not the case that a narcissist has no friends or social contacts. A narcissist has a  great need for social contacts, to get confirmation that others look up to them and find them special.

Man playing guitar and friends laughing around him

Often on the surface, narcissists are friendly and charismatic, but as you get to know them better, the negative qualities start to surface.

In their contacts, narcissists often also seek out people they find unique or special. They emphasize very much that you are special, just as intelligent as they are, just as special and that you understand each other.

A narcissist really wants to associate with special people, people he or she looks up to. Through this association, they increase their own self-image.

Do you work with a narcissist or do you have a friend who exhibits narcissistic traits?

Two colleagues looking at each other and talking to each other

Then you have probably noticed that criticism does not go down well with him or her. Light criticism or corrections can cause a lot of shame and a feeling of humiliation in a narcissistic person. They will probably bite off strongly.

So be very careful what you say to a narcissist or to yourself for a strong reaction.

Narcissists have very little empathy for you and others, so they don’t put themselves in your shoes well. And unfortunately there is little chance that he or she will change.

How do you recognize a narcissist? 12 important signals

One of the signs or characteristics of a narcissist is that he will never admit to himself that there is something wrong with him or her and thus will never recognize that he is a narcissist (see characteristic 9).

Woman holding her hands above her eyes and looking far away

It is therefore up to you as a bystander to recognize him or her in the following characteristics:

1. They are nice at first sight

A narcissistic person needs a lot of confirmation from others and is therefore also looking for social contact.

He or she will often be nice and charismatic in the beginning.

2. They often have a leadership position

A narcissist needs to feel superior to others and will work very hard to achieve the highest possible position.

Group of four people sitting at a table and a woman standing at the head of the table with her hands on her side

3. They like to talk about themselves

When you have a conversation with a narcissist, it is almost always about him or her. Every time you talk about yourself or something or someone else, he or she will try to bring the conversation back to them.

They always want to emphasize their own special qualities and special position towards you.

4. They are status oriented

Status is very important to narcissists and narcissists will go to great lengths to have status and to be admired.

In addition, they often openly admire other people who in their eyes deserve respect and status and compare themselves with them.

Chart with ascending heights and ranking above it

5. They are constantly seeking attention

Narcissists are always actively seeking attention in their environment. They act funny, comment on everything and show themselves to others in all sorts of ways.

If they don’t get enough attention, they become cranky and sometimes even depressed.

6. They care about their appearance

“Is my hair in shape?” A narcissist will check this regularly. And if possible, ensure that they have modern clothing from hip brands. You won’t easily catch a narcissist that they don’t walk out the door in a neat way!

7. They are popular on social media

The craving for attention can not only be seen in real life, a narcissist will also demand a lot of attention on social media. They post a lot, think it’s important that others see what they’re doing and that they look good, fun, special and unique.

For a narcissist, the judgment of others is very important and they derive a lot of self-esteem from the reactions that others post on his profile.

Different social media icons

8. They leave a trail of emotional destruction

The narcissist is not good at relationships and emotional bonds. On the surface, things often go well, but as bonds deepen, relationships often become intense and intense.

The other in the relationship or friendship has a hard time and can count on little empathy and attention. A narcissist can cause a lot of grief and misery in their neighborhood.

9. They have no idea they are narcissistic

Most difficult of all, a narcissist will never recognize that he or she is a narcissist and has an overly high self-esteem. This insight would make him or her vulnerable and that is something a narcissist never allows to happen.

A narcissist truly believes that they are special and deserve special treatment. So no matter how hard you try to make them see that they don’t treat you fairly and see themselves as better than others, they’re not going to change this.

Woman shrugging her shoulders

10. They make you feel guilty

Because narcissists have the image of themselves as very special, they will always try to blame other people for mistakes and problems. An argument in a relationship with a narcissist? In the end, it will always turn out that you will be blamed by him or her.

Also in the workplace, a narcissist will always try to avoid being blamed if something goes wrong. So watch out for narcissistic colleagues.

11. They have big fantasies about success

Narcissists are convinced that there are very beautiful things in store for them in the future, in terms of success in work, appearance, money and status.

Woman wrapping her fingers and looking up with her eyes closed

They dream a lot about this and are convinced that they deserve it because of the efforts they put in or simply because they consider themselves special and special. Often they talk openly about their dreams and ideas and expect you to support them in this.

12. They are willing to achieve success at the expense of others

Some narcissists let nothing or no one stand in the way of achieving their goals. They make you take the blame, they are sneaky or lie and quickly take on the victim role.

A narcissist always knows how to turn the situation in such a way that they come out better than others and also need this to feel special and exalted.

Those were the 12 characteristics. In the following video,  Ben Bradley gave a fun, short example of narcissistic deception in TEDx:

How do you know you are dealing with a narcissist?

Why do some people become narcissistic and others not? And why are the narcissistic traits in one adolescent only a phase, while in another it develops further?

There are still many questions about this in psychology, because the causes of narcissism are unfortunately not yet completely clear.

It is assumed that genetic factors (nature) as well as circumstances and upbringing factors (nurture) play a role.

The things children experience at a young age often have a major influence on their development and are thought to play a major role in the development of personality disorders such as narcissism.

Parents playing with their two children

You recognize a narcissist. What now?

Possible consequences of a narcissist in your life include the following:

Some of the narcissists are actually very unhappy with his situation. A narcissist often has very high demands for his or her life, regarding work, relationships, financial situation, etc.

When failing to meet these high standards, a narcissist can become very dissatisfied and feel deprived. They believe that they really deserve all this.

Woman holding her legs and looking away sad

The lack of a high status, a lot of money or the most beautiful woman/man can make him or her very unhappy, which can lead to other problems such as depression or addiction.

Treatment of narcissism

Narcissism is therefore an official personality disorder, so you would expect that visits to the psychologist can be a good first step in treatment.

However, narcissists face a major problem that greatly hinders their treatment: they have such a high self-esteem and lack of self-reflection that they fail to see and recognize their weaknesses and perhaps even a problem.

Woman sitting on the couch with her arms crossed and she angrily looks at someone else

So there is often a big threshold for them in seeking help (and thereby admitting that they are not perfect) and often they do not feel that they need help either. As already mentioned in the characteristics, narcissists often have no idea that they are a narcissist and will never admit it.

It is true that in some cases narcissism goes together with other (personality) disorders or psychological problems, in which the narcissist regularly seeks help.

For example, a narcissist may end up in an addiction or become depressed as a result of his personality disorder.

They may still seek help for these problems. In this case, a narcissist will always try to make sure that they are being helped by a special person, who is also special and will understand him or her.

Often they will praise the specialist completely in order to associate with him or her and accept the help.

Specialist writing things down with a pen

However, it is very difficult for the therapist to work with the narcissist, because expressing criticism is not an option and in many cases leads to fleeing behavior and termination of the treatment.

Still, there are several types of psychotherapies, both individual and group, that can help people with narcissistic disorder relate to others in healthier ways. In therapy they learn to give in to others more and to show empathy and seek their happiness in other things.

Much research has been done on narcissism therapy. In this study, they looked at EMDR therapy.

Recognizing Narcissistic Boyfriend or Girlfriend

Narcissistic traits are usually easy to spot. However, hidden narcissism in a girlfriend or boyfriend can be harder to identify.

Do you find out that you are in a social relationship with a narcissistic person? Then you have to take very good care of yourself! A person who has a strong narcissistic personality disorder is usually unable to form healthy relationships.

Man obsessively looking at his girlfriend

Their high self-esteem often comes at the expense of others, and the people closest to them are the first to die.

A narcissist can pull you down, blame, make you feel bad, or even humiliate you if it makes them feel better about themselves.

By lowering your self-image and his or her image of you, she succeeds in having a higher self-image of herself.

In a relationship with a narcissist you often draw the short straw.

Woman looking sad at the floor resting her head on her fist

But as said before, not every narcissist is the same and the characteristics and severity of the characteristics differ per person.

So it may be that your friend is mainly vain, wants to be popular and needs a lot of attention and that you can still have a good relationship with this person.

You just have to always keep in mind that you continue to choose for yourself and that you remain strong in the relationship. As soon as you notice that your friend is actively or passively making you feel less confident about yourself and constantly doubting yourself, you will have to ask yourself whether this is the right person for you…

Woman looks away from her boyfriend and in deep in thought

Recognizing a Narcissistic Mother

In the parent-child relationship, parental narcissism can be a major problem. Children of narcissistic parents often have an insecure attachment to this parent. As a baby, they do not receive enough attention and love from the parent (who is mainly concerned with themselves), so that they do not actually feel safe in the home situation.

Many children of narcissistic parents deal with low self-esteem and the feeling of never being good enough.

The relationship between narcissistic mothers and their daughters can be especially difficult because of this.

In this relationship, there is often a lot of comparison, with the mother constantly knocking the daughter down to make herself feel better.

Mother looking angry at her daughter and wanting to feel better

Children of narcissistic parents often suffer from low self-esteem and insecurity. They feel that they never do well and can never do well enough to satisfy their parent.

What to do with a narcissist?

After reading this article, do you have the idea that you are dealing with a narcissist in your environment? Then there is a very good chance that you will have to accept this and take more distance from that person.

A narcissist is not open to criticism and therefore probably will not change for you. Choose for yourself and try to keep the contact superficial and stay strong.

Do you notice that this is not enough? Share your experiences below with other fellow sufferers.


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