Last Updated on April 16, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
Narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), is on the rise.
Incidents of NPD more than doubled in the 10 years prior to 2009. However, there is clear evidence that we are in the midst of a growing narcissism epidemic as NPD becomes more widespread than we ever could have imagined 10 or 15 years ago.
If you think that one of your friends or family members might be a narcissist then there are clear and distinct behaviors to watch out for.
Here are ten unmistakable signs of a narcissist:
1. Having To Be the Best
For narcissists, life is a competition and they want to be the winners every time. Narcissists strive to be the best, the most right and the most skilled in everything they do.
They’ll often exaggerate claims to show how they’re the best, and will be ready and waiting to top your story if you start to talk about your own achievements.
Similarly, narcissists can also feel superior by being the worst, so they’ll often claim to be the worst treated or have the worst injury. This helps narcissists to attract attention and sympathy, and allows them to seek recompense or as a way to get even for how they feel they’ve been treated.
2. Constant Need for Attention
One of the most unmistakable signs of a narcissist is their constant need for attention.
For narcissists, the world revolves around them, so they will seek out validation of this by sending frequent messages, posting on social media, and finding ways to grab attention.
In group settings, if the discussion doesn’t involve them, narcissists will quickly interrupt and find a way to steer the conversation back to themselves.
Another clear sign that you’re dealing with a narcissist is their strong need for perfection. As well as striving for their own perfection, they expect the same of others and will want all events and situations to play out exactly as they had planned.
Putting these impossible demands on themselves, others and life in general means that narcissists are constantly dissatisfied and miserable.
4. Desire to Be In Control
As a way of ensuring that their life matches their perfectionist objectives, narcissists often like to be in control.
So, whether it’s focusing conversations on themselves or controlling a relationship to provide them with what they want, you’ll often find a narcissist making the decisions and putting their needs first.
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They then expect everyone to act according to their plans, and won’t know how to react if an interaction or event doesn’t go as they expected.
5. Seeing Things in Black and White
Narcissists will often see the world in black and white. In their view, everything is divided into clear and separate categories of good and bad, or right and wrong.
Because of how they are unable to mix these constructs, they will often remember events as completely terrible or absolutely amazing, with no ability to accept that most situations involve both positive and negative parts.
And, due to their need for perfection, if something unplanned occurs, narcissists will declare that everything has been ruined, even if the overall outcome is actually a positive one.
6. Refusal to Accept Responsibility
Narcissists love to be in control of the situation and will happily take all the credit whenever everything works out exactly as they had planned.
However, if things turn out less than perfect, one of the surest signs of a narcissist is that they’re quick to blame other people for anything they see as bad or negative.
If something goes wrong, it must be someone else’s fault. Whether it’s the fault of a whole group, such as all teachers, or an individual, such as their boss, a narcissist will always find someone else to lay the blame on.
7. Lack of Empathy
Narcissists are very self-involved and they lack empathy, with little thought for how people around them might be feeling and a distinct inability to empathize with others.
They also rarely feel guilt or remorse for their actions and judge the success of a situation solely from their own perspective, with no consideration for how this might negatively affect another person.
And, if something doesn’t directly affect them then they will show no general concern, with no ability to perceive how those involved might be affected or how they are feeling.
8. Playing the Victim
Although narcissists lack empathy, they understand how garnering empathy from others is useful for achieving their own objectives and coming out on top of a situation.
Due to how self-involved they are, narcissists will often see actions or comments they weren’t expecting as personal attacks on them. They will then use these ‘attacks’ as proof that they have been wronged, expertly playing the victim to convince others that they deserve sympathy or an apology.
Because of their lack of empathy and a strong need to play the victim, narcissists also tend to hold onto grudges for a long time.
Forgiveness requires a degree of understanding as to why someone acted in the way they did, which narcissists are incapable of doing. And, bearing a grudge also gives narcissists the perfect ammunition to blame others for their troubles.
9. Reveling In Drama
Rather than helping to keep relationships peaceful and respectful, narcissists will often seek out ways to divide people and create discord.
Not only do these divisions and problems allow them to take control of people and situations, it also helps them to create the kind of drama they revel in.
If there is no drama happening then the narcissist cannot be the center of attention, so they will happily create this drama in order to shift the focus back to themselves.
And, by causing problems for others, the narcissist may also be able to exact revenge on someone they feel has wronged them.
10. Constant Search for ‘The Next Thing’
Because of the way that narcissists look outside of themselves to solve their problems, they are always in search of something new to make them feel better.
Whether it’s a desire to buy a new car, move home or start a new relationship with someone else, they’re rarely satisfied with what they’ve got.
But narcissists aren’t just fickle or motivated by possessions. They genuinely believe that their happiness depends on making these changes.
It’s not uncommon for a narcissist to constantly be searching for ways to change their life around with little consideration for how they might affect others around them.
In fact, if they experience any kind of negativity from others as a result of their constant changing, they are likely to see it as a personal attack on them and their happiness.
Recognizing These Signs of a Narcissist
By learning how to recognize these clear signs of a narcissist, you’ll be better able to identify whether one of your friends or family members might be narcissistic.