Skip to main content

7 Characteristics of a Narcissist

7 Characteristics of a Narcissist


Narcissism is a buzzword you may have heard lately to refer to people who are so self-centered that they are toxic to the people around them.  It isn't always easy to identify a narcissist, but there are some clues and characteristics that will get you started. If you are dating a narcissist, or if your friend is showing narcissist tendencies, you may want to consider backing out of the relationship.

Here are 7 characteristics of a narcissist you should consider to be red flags. 


They seem perfect at first.

One of the hallmarks of narcissists is that they are friendly, likable people when you meet them. They will often be the first person to volunteer help or to make themselves useful in a tricky situation. Other people may comment on how fun and positive they are.

Watch out for someone who showers you with praise when they are just getting to know you. In a romantic relationship, a narcissist will often bring up love very early and try to get you to commit before you are ready. This can be mistaken for romance but is really a technique to gain control.


They talk about themselves almost all the time.

Narcissists are obsessed with themselves, and that means they are their own favorite subjects. Narcissists view the world and everything in it through a filter that shows how every topic and situation relates back to them, so their responses to what you say will always put their own perspective back in the spotlight. They have very little, if any, ability to empathize with others, so they will probably never be able to understand your point of view.


They are sensitive to perceived criticism.

Narcissists constantly seek to be built up, and they can't stand to be criticized. They tend to obsess over it and they are always waiting for someone to say something reproving to them. This means that they will often take innocuous remarks as criticism and will blow up.

When you say anything to a narcissist that feels to them like you are disapproving of their actions, they will typically respond by lashing out and attacking you. Partners and relatives of narcissists learn quickly not to call them out on inappropriate behavior because they don't want to be hurt.


They give backhanded compliments.

Narcissists are always looking for ways to make themselves feel superior to others, and one way they do this is through backhanded compliments. They will use language carefully so that what they are saying sounds positive at first but is then turned into an insult. For example, narcissists might say that you look great in an outfit that hides your wide hips or tell you that they admire how far you've come in your job in spite of your limited intelligence.


They manipulate your feelings.

Narcissists seek control of everything and everyone around them. They love to be able to manipulate other people's feelings because controlling others helps them get what they want. Narcissists are experts at using words and actions to make others feel bad about themselves or even to be angry at someone else.

In families or friend groups, narcissists will often talk badly about other people within the group in order to create conflict. They like to have everyone around them at odds with each other because it allows them to more easily control the situation.


They are arrogant.

Narcissists think that they are better than everyone else, and they often feel entitled. They believe that they deserve the best job, the most money, and the nicest things. If they aren't getting the things they want, they will quickly blame it on someone else.


They cannot stand rejection.

One sure way to make narcissists angry is to reject them. This is why it can be so dangerous to break up with a narcissist. They tend to believe so strongly that they are superior to you that they can't stand the idea that you might not want to be with them or around them. When narcissists are rejected, they will sometimes initially react by turning on the charm that they had at the beginning of the relationship. If that doesn't work, they can become furious and even violent.


Narcissism is a scary mental health problem that damages relationships and people. There is help for narcissism but only if the person affected recognizes the problem. Because most narcissists cannot see their own failures, it is usually safest to avoid them when possible. If you meet someone new and see these 7 warning signs, be very careful about taking the relationship further.


***If you believe you or someone you know are being impacted by narcissistic emotional, physical, sexual, verbal, financial, or religious abuse please reach out. Intrepid Mental Wellness specializes in treating symptoms such as depression and anxiety that may result from toxic relationships. You are not alone - please call to learn more at 719-505-4404. ***

You Might Also Enjoy...

9 Tips for Managing Your Anxiety Right Now

Are you feeling overwhelmed with anxiety? Whether recent life changes have caused it or it's something you've been struggling with for a while, it can be challenging to know how to manage your anxiety. These nine tips can help you get started.

How to Use Food to Manage Your Mental Health

Moods are not created in the mind alone, but in partnership with the body. Ask anyone who has eaten ice cream to cheer themselves up, and they'll tell you that's true. What we feed the body can have an enormous impact on how we feel.