Narcissism is a personality trait that feeds on the constant need for admiration, a feeling of grandeur, and the inability to put oneself in another’s shoes, combined with low self-esteem and a sensitivity to the criticism of others.
Narcissistic people exaggerate their skills and accomplishments, giving themselves a feeling of superiority and importance. They live their lives wrapped in an aura of limitless success, beauty, and power, with an excessive love of themselves.
When you were a child, maybe there was a time when someone bought you a candy bar shaped like the Easter bunny or Santa Claus, a large piece of chocolate wrapped in flashy paper. Innocent as you were, the first time they gave it to you, maybe you were hoping that there would be more chocolate inside or some delicious filling and, to your bitter dismay, the inside… was hollow!
A narcissistic person can be described the same way. Their presence is magnetic: they’re intelligent, charming, and popular when they’re the center of attention. However, over time you discover that that person is really hollow inside; they’re not as fascinating as you had thought or as they seemed to be at first.
A true narcissist lacks the internal qualities necessary for a healthy relationship like an empathetic point of view, moral consciousness, stable trust, and the ability to be genuine and intimate with another human being.
Being around a narcissist (especially if you don’t notice that they are one) can make you feel worthless and/or emotionally exhausted.
So how can you know if the person you’re around is a narcissist? Do you have to wait until your relationship starts falling apart to find out? Not necessarily…
Below, we offer you some signs that the person by your side has narcissistic tendencies, as well as the negative effects that these behaviors can have on you.
They present themselves as “the most interesting man or woman in the world.”
A narcissist can intrigue you at first with their apparent self-confidence, boasting, or audacity, which is revealed through stories about their success, rubbing shoulders with influential people, or their countless gifts and talents.
He or she may seem fun and magnetizing and maybe they’re always the center of attention and the life of the party, but this can actually be a front: a strategy to satisfy their pathological need for praise and reassurance.
You may discover that their stories are exaggerated (or completely false), their confidence is artificial and fragile, and their need for attention may be guided by the good judgment or needs of others.
You aren’t as good.
Because narcissists have a profound lack of self-esteem, almost everything their lives is orchestrated to hide their weaknesses and give them a temporary sense of power and success. This can come in the form of subtle insults or snide comments about your appearance or behavior with the goal of maintaining their sense of superiority.
They use arrogant body language, marking superiority and distance, as well as speech devoid of emotion, demanding that others revere and idealize them.
They play the victim.
Narcissism is also characterized by extreme egotism. Everything that is outside the narcissist’s experience or which contradicts their beliefs is bad, silly, or crazy. For this reason, a conflict with a narcissist will almost surely end with the blame being put on you.
In the narcissist’s eyes, you are in some way responsible for your sadness, anger, or even immoral behavior. They avoid all responsibility for what they do, shifting it to others and changing everything so that it is more suited to their needs.
Your relationship is one-sided and superficial.
It’s unlikely that you will share emotions or experience intimacy in a relationship with a narcissist. A narcissist likely spends time with you when it’s convenient for them, according to their emotional, physical, or sexual needs, and undermining or ignoring your preferences, needs, and desires. The moment when they are no longer the center of attention is when they stop paying attention to people or things.
If some of these points seem to describe your current relationship, don’t be frightened. In fact, take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on and evaluate your partner, friend, or family member. These warnings can help you to shed light on the problem that you are having and steer you away from further suffering.
If you want things to work, there are many ways to deal with a narcissist that you are living with or in a relationship with, including developing conflict resolution skills and strengthening your own confidence and self-esteem.
In the end, knowledge is power. Being conscious of the signs of narcissism will allow you to be prepared to make informed decisions about your relationship.