Why are narcissists so exhausting? 

If you have a narcissist in your life, you know how much work it can be to interact with this type of person. No matter what you do, you can never keep them happy.

After a while, you probably find yourself exhausted from the narcissist’s games. You spend hours trying to meet their every demand, only to constantly fall short.

Or, no matter what you do, you can’t stop them from criticizing your every move. All of this leaves you quite tired.

So, what makes narcissists so exhausting? We’ll explore the answer below. 

Characteristics of narcissism: Why they wear us out 

The very traits of narcissism can leave even the strongest person feeling weary. Remember, narcissism can be a full-blown personality disorder, making it a diagnosable mental health condition.

Narcissists are excessively self-focused and have an inflated sense of their own importance. Therefore, interacting with them can be particularly draining, especially for those who regularly spend time with a narcissist. 

Several traits of narcissism can be downright exhausting.

Need for constant attention and validation 

Narcissists have an insatiable appetite for attention and validation. They will go to great lengths to seek out admiration and approval, which they do to enhance their self-worth.

Narcissists’ need for attention can make them come across as incredibly needy. Unfortunately, this neediness is draining for the people around a narcissist.

If you’re in the narcissist’s circle of close friends or relatives, you will be expected to provide continuous positive reinforcement to the narcissist. This will likely cause you to neglect your own needs in favor of validating the narcissist.

This one-sided dynamic understandably leads to feelings of both frustration and fatigue. You may even begin to feel hopeless, as no amount of praise will ever be enough for the narcissist. 

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Manipulative tactics

Narcissists are known for being skilled manipulators. They use strategies like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and playing the victim to control others.

Being subjected to ongoing manipulation is mentally and emotionally taxing. When the narcissist manipulates you, you’ll find yourself questioning your own reality.

You’ll wonder if your own feelings and perceptions are even accurate. Truthfully, you can trust your intuition, but the narcissist’s mental gymnastics can leave you confused. 

It’s really no wonder you’re feeling so tired! 

Lack of empathy

A lack of empathy is one of the key features of narcissism. Because of their lack of empathy, narcissists have a hard time understanding or caring about the needs and feelings of others. 

This means that most interactions with a narcissist are one-sided and unfulfilling. You’ll spend a significant amount of time and energy meeting the narcissist’s needs and providing support.

However, since they lack empathy for you, you’re unlikely to receive much in return from the narcissist. This creates an emotional imbalance that is tiresome to sustain. 

Entitled behavior

Narcissists have a strong sense of entitlement. They believe they are worthy of special treatment and expect others to meet their demands.

This results in self-centered, demanding behavior and a lack of appreciation for what others do for them. 

When you’re dealing with a narcissist, their sense of entitlement can make you feel like you’re always giving and never receiving. After a while, this leads to depletion and burnout, especially if they never appreciate your efforts.

Inability to cope with criticism 

Narcissists cannot handle criticism, even if it’s kind and constructive. Even the smallest criticism will lead to a disproportionate reaction, full of rage and anger.

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If they don’t lash out in anger, narcissists will respond to criticism through other tactics, like denial or undermining the person giving the criticism. They do this because they are hypersensitive to anything that threatens their sense of superiority. 

Their inability to accept criticism can make open, honest communication nearly impossible. You’ll have to walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting or triggering their insecurities.

This leads to constant vigilance, which is stressful and will wear you out over time. 

Emotional volatility 

You can’t always predict how a narcissist will react in a given interaction. They swing between periods of charm and affection, and episodes of anger and disdain.

This unpredictability can leave you riding an emotional rollercoaster, never sure what will happen next. You’ll find you’re constantly on edge, waiting for the next angry outburst.

All of this leads to a lack of stability in the relationship, which makes it difficult for you to relax. Ultimately, you’re emotionally unsettled, and probably exhausted from constantly being on your toes.

Intense self-focus

Narcissists are narrowly focused on themselves and their own needs and interests, with no regard for the needs of others. Most conversations with a narcissist quickly become a monologue about the narcissist’s achievements, problems, goals, and interests. 

This extreme self-centeredness is emotionally draining. You have no room to share about your life and experiences, and you feel you’re never acknowledged or valued.

This one-way street makes it impossible for you to get the social support you need from a narcissist. 

Unrealistic expectations

Narcissists simply do not have realistic expectations for the people in their lives. They think you should prioritize their needs over your own, even when it means sacrificing your own well-being.

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They don’t just expect you to meet their every need; they also think you should be able to anticipate their needs and provide unwavering support, regardless of the cost to yourself.

Meeting the narcissist’s unrealistic demands isn’t just exhausting. It’s also quite demoralizing. You’ll feel as if you can never win, trying to live up to impossible expectations. 

Jealous behavior

In addition to all their other quirks, narcissists are highly competitive and jealous, even when it’s not necessary to behave in such a way. Narcissists cannot control their envy, which can cause them to exhaust others with their games. 

In close relationships, they are notorious for diminishing others’ accomplishments and “one-upping” those around them to maintain their sense of superiority. 

This constant competition and jealousy create a toxic environment in which one is always on edge, waiting for the next putdown.

Final thoughts

If you’re feeling exhausted by a narcissist in your life, you’re certainly not alone. Narcissists wear people out due to their constant need for validation, lack of empathy, and self-centered behaviors. 

The characteristics of narcissists require significant mental and emotional effort, which understandably leaves you feeling drained. The good news is that once you understand why narcissists are so exhausting, you can develop strategies to protect yourself. 

Establishing firm boundaries, seeking support, and practicing self-care is helpful if you’re feeling burned out. Remember, you’re under no obligation to participate in the narcissist’s games, even if they try to convince you that you are. 

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