How Do You Identify a Narcissist?

It might seem pretty easy to spot a narcissist- they are the ones who are ALWAYS the center of attention and will try to “best” anyone else who tries to talk about their own accomplishments. If someone says they won an award at work for their research, a narcissist will say they were nominated for a Nobel Prize or Congressional Medal of Honor Award. They are quick to exaggerate their accomplishments, education, or extol their virtues, sometimes even when it is apparent that it can’t possibly be so. They have a strong need to appear superior, be the best, at anything and everything.

In actuality, they are not always easy to spot. If they were just “big jerks”, bragging and boasting, it would be easy. But most of the time they come across as charming or charismatic, drawing people to them like magnets. They can be exciting and entertaining, attractive and sexy. Unless you look for tell-tale signs, you could easily mistake them for an extrovert, the true “life of the party”.

Tell-Tale Signs

Narcissists have a marked need for attention: They have to be the center of attention in order to garner their “fix” of admiration, praise or flattery. Seeking admiration is like an addiction for them. As people get to know them, they get fewer and fewer fixes from them so they frequently change their social circles in order to search for new acquaintances to get their next fix of admiration from. Watch to see if they are constantly seeking compliments.

A narcissist is an extremely selfish:, self-centered person who regards others as having no value at all to him if they are not doing something for him. He uses people to make himself look good; he will not give rejecting someone a second thought if they stop providing his needed fix. He constantly devalues and makes derogatory remarks about others in order to make himself appear superior.

They like to create drama: They often appear very charming when you first meet them, indeed they will “charm the pants off of you”, should you fall for it. If you are in a dating relationship with one, he will disappear in about four months. They tend not to be faithful in mind or body. They will have many dates if they are attractive; but no relationships. If they are not attractive; they may have many “friends” of the opposite sex that seem to only be mentioned when the narcissist wants to hurt you. Marriage will only be sought if they feel it is beneficial to them.

Unpleasant Verbal Behavior: While narcissists love to talk about themselves and love the sound of their own voice, they don’t always sound pleasant to others. Researchers found that subjects who scored higher in narcissism engaged in more unpleasant verbal behaviors such as arguing and cursing more—and using more sexual language than their more modest counterparts. Narcissists’ language and conduct are geared toward one goal: to maintain power in an interaction. A psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin found that strategies in the narcissists’ toolbox included bragging, refocusing the topic of conversation, making exaggerated hand movements, talking loudly, and showing disinterest by “glazing over” when other people spoke.

Never Apologize: No matter how obvious it is that they misbehaved or caused a problem, how much hurt or destruction they may have caused, they will not apologize…ever. In fact, it is not unusual to have them turn around the situation and make it your fault.

Flashy and confident: They dress flashy (female narcissists dress flashy and provocatively) with expensive clothes; they have the ability of being able to stand-out in a crowd down to a science. They are usually impeccably groomed and will hang out at the trendiest bars and clubs. They will name-drop and flash cash or resort to other measures to appear powerful and superior. They are firmly convinced that they are smarter, better, or more talented than other people.

Disrespect: Listen carefully to their conversation. They will show disrespect and callous disregard for others yet will be overly sensitive and overly defensive if someone questions them. Narcissists repeatedly will put people down, especially strangers and people they view as inferiors.

Narcissists love competition but are very poor losers: Observe how the person handles defeat; a narcissist will demean their competitors even if there are social consequences for doing so.

A narcissist is a poor listener: If others are speaking, he tries to bring the conversation back to himself or his topic of choice. He will not remember your likes and dislikes despite repeatedly telling him, because he doesn’t care. But he will expect you to know his likes and dislikes.

Other Signs

  • They have fantasies of doing something great or being famous-and expects to be treated as if the fantasies had come true
  • They have very little interest in what other people are thinking or feeling
  • They cannot “put themselves in another person’s shoes” (lack empathy)
  • It is highly important to them to live in the right place and associate with the right people
  • They take advantage of other people to achieve their goals-they will exploit others without remorse
  • They feel “put upon” when asked to take care of their responsibilities to their family, friends, or work group.
  • They disregard rules or expect them to change because they are special
  • They become irritated when others don’t automatically comply with their demands
  • They think that criticism directed at them is because others are jealous of them
  • Other people around them either love them or hate them; there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground
  • They frequently explain why someone who is better known than them is “really not that great”
  • They spend a lot of energy convincing you that the world loves them



6 thoughts on “How Do You Identify a Narcissist?

  1. how does one such as myself get out of a household in which the N is my mother and the enabler father have convinced everyone I am batsh*t crazy? my dad claims his work won’t let him get counseling… they keep claiming they want counseling but then renig, much lie other things in their lives. I can’t move out; I have health issues and no means. I am 31… maybe an aspie. Hypervigilant at the least. please advise, if you feel comfortable doing so. my father is also an aspie… he is her flying monkey. and she is too smart to leave bruises. she prefers emotional and psychological scarring. I’ve hadto become a raving b***h just to get her to stop. I’m a very reclusive person by nature… was that too much? I can’t retain instructions… and I think I havea cognitive processing deficit because words take so long in my head. But I am of above average intelligence. I just worry about our dogs and cat. they own’t understand if I leave. They’ll be upset. But if I can figure out a way to sustain myself… sigh. I wish the state lady had caught this. But no, she called me paranoid when the other guy hadn’t called me paranoid at all. I asked him about it. I am trying to be a writer but I can’t concentrate in this house. What options are available to a person like me? the state won’t help me because I have mentally trained myself to be like a neurotypical so well they claim I don’t have Asperger’s. I’m screwed for the time being. So, any advice?

  2. I’d caution people not to take this list as gospel. My ex (independently diagnosed as Narcissistic by two different therapists) fit NONE of the above criteria at first. His “signs” didn’t start emerging for over a year, after we were married and I was “Caught.” He came across as quiet, but confident, intelligent, rational, supportive, kind, etc… He was “Mirroring” my own idea of the perfect guy back to me. The smarter Narcs know just how to do this. They “read” you and put on the facade of the perfect mate. That’s going to be an individual thing. He is likely behaving completely differently with his new victim and may seem like an entirely different person to her. That’s because he IS. Her idea of the perfect mate is different from mine, therefore, he will put on a new personality that appeals to her and become a new person. It isn’t sustainable forever. Their true character eventually wins out, but not until you are ensnared in their web. This list is certainly useful, but I would add that you should be VERY cautious with anyone who seems too “perfect” as well.

  3. Great article, wow after my nacs girlfriend of 4 years dump me recently I been devastated, but now I know exactly what’s her problem is, and I feel much better to keep moving forward. Thank you very much JC

  4. I would expand on the narcissist expecting compliance to observe that the narcissist often expects you to read her/his mind, and for you to have already done or planned what they are thinking of. (They want you to anticipate their needs.)

    If you find yourself in this situation or doing something like this (appeasement), FLEE! Short of that (in a work situation, for example) simply tell them that you cannot read their mind and they have to communicate their expectations, wants, requirements very clearly, and at work at least, in writing!

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