In a world increasingly influenced by social media, our appearance plays a significant role in presenting ourselves to others.
But what happens when a narcissist glimpses your newfound confidence and stunning appearance?
Brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride of emotions and manipulative tactics that unfold when a narcissist sees you looking good.
Narcissists have distinct personality traits that shape their interactions with others. How they react to someone else looking good or expressing positive emotions is often layered and influenced by their narcissistic tendencies.
This article delves into the complex dynamics of a narcissist’s reaction to your improved appearance.
From jealousy and envy to attempts at stealing your limelight or launching smear campaigns, narcissists have a unique way of responding to your newfound happiness and self-assurance.
By exploring the narcissistic mindset, this article seeks to empower you to navigate your relationships with greater clarity and less risk.
12 Things That Happen When a Narcissist Sees You Looking Good
#1 They Try to Take Credit
If you’re dating a narcissist and you look fantastic in a new outfit and grinning from ear to ear because of the promotion you just got, the narcissist will try to take credit for it.
Instead of complimenting you on your appearance, they will try and get everyone’s attention back on themselves.
They might say, “Doesn’t she look great in the outfit I chose for her?” or “She finally took my advice, and look how happy she is now.”
The narcissist isn’t necessarily doing this to put you down or undermine you simply because it’s how they see life. As far as they’re concerned, anything positive happens because of them and their inherent superiority.
Furthermore, the narcissist craves attention and will do whatever it takes to secure it, even if that means stealing it from someone else.
#2 They Envy You
Narcissists need to be the best, the most beautiful, and the most successful all the time.
When you look good, you threaten this fragile self-image, awakening the green-eyed monster. Your success is the narcissist’s failure, and they’ll want the attention you’re getting because you look good.
Don’t forget that the narcissist lives in a world of fantasies in which they are the center of attention.
Someone else’s beauty, wealth, happiness, or success undermines these fantasies and reminds the narcissist of their shortcomings.
They see you exhibiting something they feel is lacking in themselves, so they envy you for it and want to claim it for themselves.
#3 They Feel Insecure
When a narcissist sees you happy, they immediately feel their control slipping.
They don’t want you to be happy unless it’s because of them. If you’re happy because you were praised at work or your friend just got engaged, they’ll feel rejected because you aren’t focused on them.
The only time a narcissist feels comfortable seeing you happy is when it benefits them. If that’s not the case, they feel threatened because it means they’re not controlling your emotions anymore.
Your happiness and positive state also highlight their feelings of inadequacy, causing them to question their worth and promoting insecurity.
#4 They Spread Rumors About You
When a narcissistic ex sees you happy, they’ll try to undermine it by making you miserable.
To do this, they’ll spread rumors about you, telling your friends that you cheated on them or that you’ve had plastic surgery which is why you’re looking so good.
They will post negative comments on social media, making you out to be a narcissist or saying you’ve edited your photos to make yourself look better.
The narcissist wants to be the most attractive and the happiest, so they will do whatever it takes to knock you down a peg or two to reclaim that poll position.
#5 They Try to Outdo You
The narcissist needs to be better, however good you look, successful, or happy you are. They’ll open a business if you’ve just got a new job. If you get a new outfit, they’ll replace their whole wardrobe.
The narcissist’s sense of entitlement means they always think they deserve better than you, so they need two for every compliment you get.
Let’s say you posted a particularly flattering selfie on social media. A narcissist will respond by posting an even better one, often choosing an exotic location for the shot so they’ll get more likes than you.
#6 They Downplay Your Achievements
Not only will a narcissist engage in one-up-manship when they see you looking good, but they’ll also try to downplay your achievements.
They may make nasty comments about your profile picture, like, “Nice picture, but we all know it’s just another desperate attempt for attention,” or “Trying to mask your insecurities with a little Photoshop, perhaps?”
Narcissists can’t bear to see someone else get positive attention because they firmly believe it should all be bestowed on them.
#7 They Make a Move
A narcissistic ex will be drawn to your positive energy and success, not because they want to share it with you, but because they want to take it away.
If they see you looking happy, they want to destroy that positivity to make you emotionally dependent on them.
Narcissists are drawn to confident, attractive people who possess characteristics that validate their sense of importance and boost their self-esteem.
If you’re happy, successful, and looking good, you suddenly become attractive to the narcissist – even if they previously rejected you.
Now you’re looking your best and enjoying the limelight. You present a whole new challenge to the narcissist.
Taking you down now will be so much more gratifying and impressive than it was after they’d gaslighted you into believing you weren’t worthy of love.
#8 They Try to Steal the Limelight
While researching this article, I found a piece about the narcissist status pursuit.
In it, the authors noted that narcissists either engage in self-promotion or rivalry, depending on the social context and what benefits they can potentially get from the situation.
When a narcissistic ex sees you happy, they’ll use both techniques to steal your limelight.
For example, if you’ve just had a new haircut and posted a picture of it on social media.
They’ll post an image of themselves wearing a stylish new pair of shoes, accompanied by a comment like, “We all know who the real trendsetter is.”
This combines self-promotion with a derogatory comment and helps to place the narcissist’s status above your own.
#9 They Try to Share the Limelight
If stealing the limelight doesn’t work, the narcissist will try to find a way to share yours.
That could come in the form of a backhanded compliment like, “It’s no wonder she’s looking so good given that she’s got me to inspire her,” or “I’ve helped her discover her inner beauty, and now the whole world can appreciate what I could see all along.”
In other words, the narcissist will manipulate the situation so they can share your limelight.
Unfortunately, this won’t be enough for them. Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, notes, “Extreme narcissists live in a pattern of jealousy and the refusal just to accept that another person is thriving.”
They’ll feel irritated that they need to share the limelight with you and look for a way to take you down a peg or two.
#10 They Undermine You
Narcissists believe they’re superior to everyone else and, therefore, deserve attention and praise.
If you’re getting attention because you’re looking good, they need to try and wrestle it away from you, undermining your achievements.
We have already touched on this, but narcissists will go a lot further than a few nasty comments to get what they feel they deserve.
When a narcissist sees you looking good, they’ll start trying to destroy your image and reputation. This behavior can take many forms but often involves them contacting mutual friends and spreading malicious stories about you.
Rumor-mongering and smear campaigns can quickly undermine your credibility and even your sanity.
They might say, “She thinks she’s looking good with her new image, but anyone can see it’s just a desperate cry for attention.
Now you can understand why I had to break up with her – I couldn’t give her the attention and validation she needs to compensate for her lack of self-confidence.”
This is pretty mild for a narcissist, and some will go to more extreme lengths to undermine you, including accusing you of using drugs, cheating, acting crazy, or neglecting your children.
#11 They Try to Make You Jealous
If a narcissistic ex sees you looking good, they’ll feel jealous of the attention you’re getting and will retaliate by trying to make you feel the same way. This enables them to regain control of the situation and snatch the limelight away from you.
If you’re looking good and enjoying life after a breakup, you make the narcissist feel insecure, which they hate. They’ll use whatever tools they have to seek revenge for this discomfort, including making you jealous.
The narcissist will flaunt their own happiness, posting pictures of an exotic holiday or making a big deal about a recent work achievement, saying something like, “Just received another prestigious award for my outstanding contributions in the field! Grateful for my unstoppable drive and unwavering commitment to success.”
Alternatively, they may start dating someone new and post comments designed to make you jealous. These may say things like:
“I can’t help but share the incredible connection I’ve found in my amazing new relationship. My partner is everything I’ve ever dreamed of – beautiful, successful, and utterly devoted to me – something I’ve never experienced before.”
“Feeling incredibly blessed to have finally found my soulmate. We’re inseparable, creating a love story others can only dream of.”
#12 They Pick a Fight
When you’re looking good, the narcissist wants to undermine that newfound self-confidence so they can reassert their dominance and regain control.
They may say something particularly inflammatory like, “Who do you think you are, parading around like you’re something special?
Your appearance may have changed, but it doesn’t change that you’re still the same insignificant person inside.”
These derogatory remarks are designed to provoke a reaction from you while giving their own self-esteem a much-needed boost.
They’re trying to remind you of their perceived power over you so they can continue to control and manipulate you.
How Do Narcissists Feel When You are Happy and Feeling Good?
Understanding what goes through the narcissist’s mind when they see you looking good can help us better understand why they react the way they do.
Narcissists will only be happy to see you looking good if it benefits them in some way or makes them look good.
In any other scenario, they see your happiness as a potential threat. Their inflated ego means they think you should only be happy because of them, not because of something you did for yourself.
Your happiness means they’re losing control of your emotions and will struggle to devalue you, which is something they need to do to validate themselves.
Picture the poor narcissist whose ex looks fantastic – they suddenly see a different reality, in which they are no longer in control of your emotions and run the risk of being outdone by you.
They are jealous of your happiness, insulted by your ability to be happy without them, and threatened by the attention you’re receiving.
Why Are You Attractive Again for the Narcissist?
To the narcissist, appearance is everything, and if you look good, they’ll want a piece of the action.
The narcissist will be attracted to you again because your new image means you can improve their image and boost their social status. They aren’t attracted to you – they love what you can do for them.
By looking good, you’ve reestablished yourself as a desirable source of narcissistic supply.
You’ve picked yourself up after being devalued and discarded and have become something the narcissist can start idealizing all over again.
Retaining control over you at this stage will be a challenge because your self-confidence is high, but that only makes the game more exciting and the final victory so much more gratifying.
Does a narcissist like compliments?
Well, it’s a bit of a tricky situation. You see, narcissists crave compliments like a fish craves water, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be satisfied with just any compliment. Oh no, they have higher expectations than that.
Compliment a narcissist, and instead of basking in the glory of your words, they’re likely to find it lacking.
They’ll wonder why you only said, “You did a great job organizing that charity event the other day,” when they believe you could have gone on for paragraphs about their unparalleled competence and sheer brilliance. They’ll think, “Come on, where’s the over-the-top praise I truly deserve?”
While narcissists enjoy receiving compliments, they have an insatiable thirst for validation and recognition.
No matter how many compliments you shower upon them, it’s never enough to quench their relentless need for constant admiration. They always want more, and they’ll never be fully satisfied.
Does a narcissist care what you look like?
They see good looks as a way to secure attention and promote their social status, so they only seek connections with those whose appearances they believe will further their pursuit.
Studies show that narcissists “attach more importance to the physical attractiveness and status of potential mates” than they do more important qualities, like trustworthiness and loyalty.
They see your attractiveness as a way to “enhance the self through identification and admiration,” so they care very deeply about your appearance.
If you neglect your appearance, the narcissist will be the first to find fault, seeing it as an insult to their grandiose self-image.
Do narcissists find people attractive?
Narcissists only find specific types of people attractive, being exclusively drawn to those who will boost their social status and personal image.
A good-looking partner can help improve the narcissist’s self-image and make them appear more successful, which is why they’re attracted to them.
They want and expect others to envy them, so they pursue relationships with people whose appearances will provoke envy in others.
Whether they genuinely feel attracted to that person is doubtful, as the narcissist is always focused on themselves.