Do Narcissists Accuse Others of Being Narcissistic? Yes, This is Why!

Imagine your partner accusing you of being a narcissist, saying you must always be the center of attention, constantly seek admiration from others, and lack empathy for their feelings.

Being called a narcissist is never pleasant, but it’s especially hurtful when there’s no truth.

Sadly, narcissists accuse others of being narcissistic because they tend to project their shortcomings onto others.

They also like to make others question their reality, using gaslighting to make them believe something that isn’t true – like the fact that they’re a narcissist. 

Today, I’d like to focus on why narcissists accuse others of being narcissistic and how best to react to such accusations. I’ll also discuss how to interpret such accusations as hidden confessions, revealing the inner workings of the narcissistic brain. 

Why Do Narcissists Accuse Others of Being Narcissistic?

Narcissists often accuse others of being narcissistic to deflect attention away from their own behavior and shortcomings. 

This psychological phenomenon is known as “narcissistic projection.”

By projecting their traits, feelings, and behaviors onto others, narcissists can avoid taking responsibility for their actions and maintain a façade of superiority and innocence.

Accusing someone else of being narcissistic serves several purposes for the narcissist:

#1 Deflection

When a narcissist accuses you of being narcissistic, it shifts the focus of the conversation onto you and away from them. This shift allows the narcissist to deflect attention and distract you from their behavior. 


Let’s look at an example. You just got a promotion at work, but instead of congratulating you on your achievement, your narcissistic partner accuses you of always wanting to be the center of attention, saying,

“You’re such a narcissist, you never care about anyone else’s success or happiness. Everything has to be about you all the time.”

The narcissist knows how harmful the term narcissist can be, and so they use it to label you and undermine your achievements.

Not only does such an accusation dismiss your success, but it also projects their own need for attention onto you. 

This accusation manipulates the conversation, shifting the focus onto you and making you doubt the validity of your emotions and achievements. 

It’s a classic example of the narcissistic accuser syndrome, illustrating how narcissists use accusations to deflect and control situations, maintain dominance, and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

#2 Gaslighting 

I talk about gaslighting a lot because it’s one of the narcissist’s favorite forms of manipulation.


When a narcissist accuses you of being a narcissist, they gaslight you. They want you to believe that you’re the one exhibiting the very behaviors they are guilty of.

They use this tactic to distort your perception of reality, erode your self-esteem, and maintain control over the narrative.

Let’s say you’ve just argued with your narcissistic partner about how much time they spend with their friends.

They turn the tables on you, saying, “It’s narcissistic how you’re always trying to control me and dictate who I can spend time with. You’re the one with the problem here, not me.”

By shifting the blame and accusing you of the very behavior they are exhibiting, the narcissist is using a classic gaslighting technique. They want to make you doubt your concerns and question your own actions. 

In reality, their accusation is a projection of their need for control and disregard for your feelings.

By labeling you as controlling, they hope to manipulate the situation to their advantage and avoid addressing the real issue – their behavior and how it impacts the relationship. 

This kind of manipulation can leave you feeling confused, frustrated, and doubting your own perceptions, all of which are the intended outcomes of their gaslighting tactics.

#3 Projection 

When narcissists falsely accuse you of being narcissistic, they exhibit narcissistic projection

Narcissistic projection is a defense mechanism that allows the narcissist to avoid acknowledging their flaws, insecurities, and negative behaviors. 


By projecting these onto someone else, they create a distorted image of reality where they can maintain their self-image as faultless and superior. 

For example, imagine you just spent the evening watching your narcissistic partner dominate a cocktail party.

They don’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise, coming up with ever more elaborate and exaggerated stories to keep the spotlight focused on them. 

When you get home, you mention how uncomfortable this behavior made you, but instead of acknowledging it or your feelings, they point the finger at you, saying,

“You’re always seeking attention and trying to make everything about you. It’s like you have to be the center of the universe.”

This is a classic example of narcissistic projection, and you see why some people wonder, “Are accusations actually confessions?” We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, let’s focus on projection and what it achieves for the narcissist.

Narcissists use projection to divert attention away from their own failings and limitations.

By accusing you of their behavior, they shift the blame onto you, manipulating your perception of the situation so they can maintain their false self-image.

As self-confessed Sam Vaknin explains, projection “also involves forcing the target of the projection to conform to its contents: to actually become someone else and behave in ways prescribed by the narcissist.”

In essence, projection gives the narcissist a sense of control over both their self-image and your behavior.

The act of projection allows the narcissist to externalize their negative traits so they can continue to believe in their own perfection.

It also means they can escape accountability for their actions by casting you as the one responsible for the behavior they exhibit.

While accusations of narcissism from a narcissist may be confusing, they provide insight into the defense mechanisms and manipulation narcissists employ to shield themselves from their internal conflicts.

It’s a strategy that deflects blame and perpetuates their grandiose self-image.

#4 Maintaining Superiority 

Even when working with a narcissist professionally, I sometimes wonder, “Are narcissists accusing you of what they are doing?”

I remember one session where a narcissist said, “You always seem to turn every conversation into something about you. It’s like you’re the one who needs constant attention.”

maintaining superiority 

At first, I was taken aback by this accusation, as it seemed completely out of context with our discussion. However, upon reflection, it became clear that this was a textbook case of a narcissist clinging desperately to their sense of superiority. 

The narcissist was guilty of precisely what they were accusing me of—making the conversation about themselves and seeking constant attention.

Their words were a mirror reflecting their own behavior but twisted in a way that aimed to shift blame onto me.

This incident highlighted the lengths a narcissist will go to to protect their superior sense of self.

By accusing me of their own behavior, they attempted to control the narrative and maintain their façade of superiority.

In doing so, they hoped to deflect attention away from their own actions and insecurities while undermining my confidence and leaving me questioning my own behavior.

This dynamic underscores the complexity of narcissistic behavior and the subtle ways they manipulate their surroundings to protect their fragile self-image.

Accusations of narcissism are often a projection of the narcissist’s own traits, revealing not only their tactics but also the deep-seated conflicts they’re struggling to mask.

#5 Avoiding Introspection

Narcissists often struggle with self-awareness and introspection. Accusing others of being narcissistic allows them to avoid looking inward and facing their flaws.

This behavior stems from their deep-seated need to protect their fragile self-esteem and maintain their inflated self-image.


For example, a narcissist goes out Christmas shopping, but the gifts they buy for themselves are far more valuable and thoughtful than anything they bought for anyone else.

When you draw attention to this fact, they accuse you of being materialistic and selfish, implying that you’re a narcissist because you only care about gifts and material possessions.

Acknowledging their imperfections or negative qualities is a terrifying prospect for a narcissist.

Their entire identity is built upon grandiosity and superiority, and any crack in this facade could shatter their carefully constructed sense of self-worth.

As a result, narcissists use numerous defense mechanisms to shield themselves from the painful reality of their imperfections.

By externalizing their flaws, the narcissist avoids confronting these flaws within themselves.

This allows them to distance themselves from their negative qualities and maintain the illusion that they are faultless.

Accusing others of narcissism also negates any potential criticism. By labeling someone else as narcissistic, the narcissist attempts to shift attention away from their own shortcomings.

If someone were to confront them about their behavior or challenge their superiority, they could counter by pointing fingers at others and redirecting the focus of the conversation.

This tactic also plays into the narcissist’s manipulation of perception. They understand that if they can plant the idea of narcissism in the minds of those around them, they create a diversion that draws attention away from their own behavior.

This manipulation of perception further bolsters their self-image and shields them from any potential threats to their ego.

Is it Common for Narcissists to Call You the Narcissist?

The narcissist’s inability to recognize their flaws and reflect on their shortcomings means it’s fairly common for a narcissist to accuse you of having narcissistic tendencies. 

Is it Common for Narcissists to Call You the Narcissist

Any hint of imperfection challenges the narcissist’s self-perception, so instead, they farm them out to other people, pressuring them into behaving in a way that reinforces those accusations.

The people around the narcissist effectively become containers for the pieces of the narcissist’s persona they want to disregard.

Are Accusations from the Narcissist Actually a Confession?

Accusations from a narcissist can sometimes be seen as a form of confession, although not in the traditional sense.

When a narcissist accuses someone else of a behavior or trait that they possess, it often reveals more about their own insecurities, flaws, and behaviors than about the person being accused.

Narcissists struggle with self-awareness and often lack insight into their own actions and motivations.

Accusing others of the very things they do allows them to avoid facing their own shortcomings and vulnerabilities by shifting the blame onto others.

When a narcissist accuses you of being a narcissist, they’re subconsciously acknowledging their own behavior. By projecting their traits onto you, they indirectly express a form of self-recognition, even if they’re not fully aware of it. 

In short, while narcissists’ accusations might offer a glimpse into their own psychological dynamics, they are not straightforward admissions of guilt or self-awareness.

Instead, they are complex manifestations of their defense mechanisms and manipulation tactics.

What to Say when the Narcissist Accuses You of Being the narcissist?

There’s a lot of noise and constant communication in the modern world, making it difficult to acknowledge the power of silence.

Silence can be the most effective way of dealing with a narcissist who accuses you of narcissism, but if keeping shtum isn’t in your vocabulary, you could opt for one of the following responses: 

Deflect the accusation with humor by saying, “Oh, the irony! If I were half as self-absorbed as you suggest, I’d probably be flattered by your attention.”

Try to get to the bottom of the accusation by saying, “I’m interested in understanding your perspective. Could you share some examples of what makes you think I’m acting narcissistic?”

Set some boundaries with the following response: “It’s important to me that we communicate respectfully.

If we have concerns about each other’s behavior, let’s find a constructive way to discuss them.”

Encourage them to open up with the words, “I believe in our ability to communicate openly. If there’s something specific on your mind, I’m here to listen.”

Hold your ground by responding to the accusation with the words, “I appreciate your thoughts, but let’s keep our conversation respectful and productive.”

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