Pride Vs Narcissism – 3 Ways to Spot the Difference

If you are close to someone who seems self-centered and preoccupied with image and achievements, you may have wondered if they are a narcissist.

Understanding pride vs narcissism helps you know whether or not you’re dealing with a disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder affects over 6% of adults in America. It’s a growing concern among the general population and is especially upsetting when someone you love may be affected.

How can you tell the difference between a proud person and a narcissistic one?

Read on for 3 ways to spot the differences in pride vs narcissism.

1. Their Needs Come First

This trait can manifest in several significant ways. It stretches far beyond immediate and material needs.

The physical and emotional needs of a narcissist are their top priorities. This is often at the expense of others.

This is different from pride, which stems from feelings of accomplishment. This can include success in situations that helped others. A proud person doesn’t necessarily place their needs above everyone else’s.

Money and Materialism in Pride vs Narcissism

To a narcissist, having expensive things and a lot of money is important. If they don’t have a lot of money, they still act like they do.

They tend to spend money that should be used for something or someone else on nice things for themselves.

Debt or another’s needs don’t deter a narcissist in their pursuit of material fulfillment.

This need for material gratification isn’t necessarily a prominent trait of a proud person, even though they may enjoy success and the fruits of their labor.

They Must Be the Center of Attention

A narcissist’s need for the undivided attention of others and lack of empathy leads to the physical and emotional neglect of anyone else.

The concerns, joys, or stories of other people are viewed as fairly insignificant to the narcissist. Emotional needs of loved ones are dismissed or ignored as the narcissist takes the spotlight.

Compromise Is Not an Option

Because as narcissist believes that they cannot be wrong, they are mostly unwilling to compromise in any given situation. If they do give in, it’s begrudgingly and inevitably leads to blame and conflict.

Pride can be put aside when compromise will make a situation better.

The Blame Game

Narcissists don’t see anything as being their fault. Simply put, if something has gone wrong or is not as planned, it must have been because of someone else’s shortcomings or mistakes.

When it’s a matter of pride vs narcissism, blame is a major indicator that someone is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions or words and maybe a narcissist.

Others Must Be Less So They Can Be More

Narcissists are notorious for belittling or insulting others in order to boost their own image or sense of self-worth.

They frequently resort to tearing others down or minimizing any sort of accomplishment that they feel might threaten their superior status.

Proud people tend to feel pride because everyone has done well, especially if they were a part of it. They don’t feel the need to look like the best while making others look bad.

2. They’re Excessively Arrogant and Self-centered

While a prideful person feels good about themselves for being involved in something meaningful or for succeeding after working hard, narcissist feels good about themselves for no real reason.

Their sense of accomplishment and worth is inflated without any basis. They feel others should view them in this same light, regardless of how they act or what they’ve done.

Appearance Is Everything

While it’s normal and acceptable to take pride in one’s appearance, narcissists take it to the extreme.

They are obsessed with looking their best at all times. Their preoccupation with having the right clothing, makeup, hairstyle, and accessories go far beyond good hygiene and style.

Narcissists also tend to take a lot of pictures of themselves and spend inappropriate amounts of time on social media promoting their image.

They constantly seek the admiration of others and live in such a way that they can receive compliments and flattery frequently.

Every Story Is Centered Around Them

Narcissists will be sure that they remain the main topic of a discussion, even if the story isn’t one with a favorable ending.

It’s frequent that they’ll share countless stories of themselves, their accomplishments, their victories, and their comebacks. It isn’t unusual for your role to be the listener as they extensively detail their importance in every situation.

Often the stories narcissists tell about themselves are repeated multiple times. The theme is often about how they saved the day or how they got the better of someone.

Tales of Victimization

A narcissist can turn a story of defeat into a self-centered one as well, effectively making themselves seem like victims if things did not go their way.

If there was a failure, a fallout, or a tragedy, a narcissist will never take the blame. The negative event is usually seen as occurring because someone didn’t understand them, appreciate their help, or realize their value.

Pride can make it difficult to admit defeat or failure, but proud people don’t resort to pointing the finger when something doesn’t work out.

Zero Tolerance for Criticism

In the over-the-top arrogance of a narcissist, there is no room for criticism.

While criticism is never pleasant, a narcissist is especially averse to it. They immediately interpret criticism as a suggestion that they’re not good enough or that they are less.

Criticism is personal to the narcissist. To them, it is never constructive or for their own good.

A prideful person may not necessarily enjoy criticism, but they are able to process and learn from it, especially if it’s beneficial to their cause or group.

3. Pride vs Narcissism: Improvement or Destruction

One of the key ways to tell if someone has pride issues or has Narcissistic Personality Disorder is to note the outcome of their work and romantic relationships.

A proud person usually has worked hard to better their lives or improve a situation. Their work relationships are productive and they generally function well in a romantic relationship.

They see relationships and work as an investment. Their time and energy go into making sure success happens.

Narcissists, on the other hand, tend to leave behind a trail of destruction. They exploit others and burn out relationships, then walk away when they no longer see a benefit.

Many of their jobs and relationships start out well because of their perceived charisma, charm, and confidence. These relationships deteriorate quickly, however.

Work relationships and progress suffer as narcissists prioritize themselves at the expense of their company or coworkers.

Narcissists destroy relationships because they refuse to take responsibility for mistakes. Others must shoulder physical, emotional, financial and work burdens while they move on.

Knowing the Difference

Dealing with someone’s pride can be frustrating at times. However, pride is significantly different from clinical Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The key differences in pride vs narcissism can be distilled into one general comparison.

Pride comes from achievements and concern with success, especially after much hard work. Narcissism is about self-obsession and having an unfounded sense of greatness and entitlement.

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

4 thoughts on “Pride Vs Narcissism – 3 Ways to Spot the Difference”

  1. Oh narcissists are unfathomable. They constantly butt in when someone is speaking and everything is about them. They completely hog the limelight, criticize, belittle and mock people, yet if you do it back to them, there’s hell to pay. They also talk non-stop without taking a break. They are like nails on a blackboard.

    • It’s difficult not to feel I can relate, and maybe most of also can relate, with some of the narcissistic traits here mentioned. It paints narcissist at the wrong side, the opposite of what’s right, and I think we are more complex than that.
      You can be a humble, empathic person and still care a lot about your look.
      Also “Work relationships and progress suffer as narcissists prioritize themselves at the expense of their company”. Excuse? Am I not going to put myself first in a corporation in which I work for money? And for which I am a mere number? Does that make a narcissist?
      Isn’t it nice to elevate others highlighting their good things and receive compliments and honest flattery because they think something good about you too? Is that toxic?
      Sorry, but I call bullshit

  2. The emotions of others are totally (not fairly) insignificant to the NSP.

    It needs to be clarified that there is a very large spectrum of NSP’s.

    The ‘Great Elite’ is the most dangerous and doesn’t exhibit all the characteristics listed above, e.g. they may not appear vain and are the most covert and devious, making it difficult to detect them. However, they are also the most malignant.

    Best advice – drop them and run for your life!


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