Narcissism characteristics are hard to spot. A narcissist never displays who they truly are at first. They pour on the superficial charm and mirror the personality traits you look for in a partner.
But, as the saying goes, “Nothing lasts forever.” All the charm and qualities you fell in love with begin to fall away until you are left with who a narcissist really is. They show their true colors to you in private.
Nothing is more important to a narcissist than the image they want to project. They give you false illusions and hopes while future faking. Behind closed doors, once they have you ensnared with their charm, you will begin to see the narcissism characteristics on full display.
If you’re asking if you’re involved with some with narcissistic qualities, this article will help you distinguish whether your partner, friend, coworker or even parent is a narcissist.
15 Narcissism Characteristics To Look For
A superiority complex is when your partner displays a sense of entitlement about everything. Those of us who are not narcissists feel we need to work hard for something we have. Through hard work, we find a sense of accomplishment.
But for narcissists, they believe they are entitled to everything! They feel that the world and their partners owe them things without having to earn them. They demand respect, but do not want to earn the respect of others through hard work.
They are born with a sense of entitlement and do not understand why they are not given specific privileges in life.
Preoccupation With Fantasies
It’s perfectly normal to daydream from time to time. But when those fantasies are not based on reality and you become preoccupied with them, it can negatively affect your personality.
Narcissists spend a lot of time living in a fantasy world, visualizing themselves as famous, dreaming of success, or simply being the center of attention. Many narcissists will seek out attention, whether online or in person, to receive the “supply” they need.
While not all narcissists are preoccupied with living in a fantasy world, but with all the other narcissism characteristics living out a fantasy can lead to their life spiraling out of control.
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Lack Of Empathy
The opposite of empathy is apathy. Apathy is defined as having no deep emotions and not feeling or even relating to the same pain as others.
A narcissist does not have deep emotions. They are not capable of feeling the emotions of loved ones and understanding how they feel. This is because the emotions they have are superficial.
Instead of a narcissist falling deeply in love with someone over time, they claim love after only a short time with their new narcissist supply. Think of it as the way you had a crush on someone in grade school. It’s that superficial!
They don’t understand the deep emotions of others and cannot empathize with their partners. It’s all a superficial facade of claiming they understand your feelings when they really don’t.
It’s very hard to comprehend that this is one of the narcissism characteristics that’s universal with all narcissists. In a perfect world, we all would have empathy toward one another.
Manipulation is a masterful tactic of a narcissist. They don’t care about your needs or what you want, it’s all about what they want.
The reasons behind using manipulation are simple: selfishness and control. Someone who has narcissistic tendencies always thinks of themselves first. Your needs are pushed aside.
That’s when manipulation comes into play. In order to get what they want from you, they manipulate the situation and thoughts to make you submit to what they think is best.
Once you let a narcissist manipulate you, it signals to them that they can get you to do anything they want.
This makes exerting control behaviors in the relationship that much easier.
Projection is all about mirror their own faults, shame, and guilt onto someone else. People with this disorder can never, ever face the truth about themselves!
They will lie about themselves and who they are, along with the ugly things they do. This is why projection happens. They reflect their insecurities on others, especially those close to them.
Instead of admitting fault and owning up to their own behavior, they blame the other person for the exact behavior they are doing. For instance, if a narcissist is cheating, they will likely accuse you of cheating even though you are not.
They want to find you guilty or to catch you in a lie so they feel less guilty about their own behavior. Plus, they want ammo to use against you to remain in control of the relationship.
Lack of Intimacy
Intimacy is often used as a weapon in a relationship. This allows them to control the situation and keep wanting them more. Think about it. If you are without affection and attention from someone, what is that person most likely to do?
You do everything you can to show the narcissist more affection and love.
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Out of all the narcissism characteristics, gaslighting is the worst! It’s the cruelest punishment for their loved ones.
Gaslighting is all about making someone question their own reality. Because narcissists constantly lie and manipulate, they will make their partners become confused and left wondering if something really happened.
This can be anything from something you saw to a conversation you had with them. They will flip the script, lie, and give their own version of events.
It causes you to constantly ask, “Did that really happen or am I going insane?”
Never Taking Responsibility
This characteristic doesn’t need much explanation. They lie about everything to cover up their behavior and to keep up appearances. Since they believe they are above and better than anyone else, they never take responsibility.
Even if the narcissist is called out with evidence of their bad behavior and lies staring them in the face, they will still lie and gaslight the situation by telling you it is not what it seems.
From there, you’ll hear entirely fabricated stories to cover up their lies. As more and more narcissism characteristics come to the surface, you will find yourself in a web of constant lies. So much so that you don’t understand what is true and what is not.
No one ever has the right to control your behavior and who you are as a person. It’s never OK to force someone to behave a certain way and control other aspects of their life, like finances, clothing choices, who they see and more.
It’s all controlling behavior that’s unacceptable and many narcissists need to have control over another person and situations and is common among narcissism characteristics.
You’re Walking on Eggshells
You know when your partner is upset. Maybe they give you the silent treatment or even have dramatic shifts in mood. With narcissists, you constantly feel like you’re walking on eggshells or on edge, waiting for the next rage or the next time you upset them.
This is a feeling derived by instilling fear. Overtime, your partner has told and shown you that anything deemed as wrong will cause an argument, silence, belittling, and rage. And it’s all directed at you.
Because of this feeling of constant fear, you are always thinking of what the narcissist needs or wants. Your own needs are then pushed aside to make sure the narcissist is always happy no matter what.
Whatever it takes to find calm and ease your fear of mistreatment at the hands of them. Although this is not a one of the narcissim characteristics, it is still included in this list because it is a byproduct of the narcisstic abuse that many victims experience.
Your Needs Are Ignored
You’re such a caring and loving person who does whatever it takes to show others the love you have to give. How do I know this?
Because narcissists always seek out those who are empathetic and put in the extra effort. Think of it like a shark looking for its next meal!
When you’re striving to meet the needs of another person, it’s natural for your own needs to come second. The problem is that a narcissist has made you believe that you need to meet their needs constantly instead of meeting your own.
You’re probably aware that when you don’t meet your own needs, you open yourself up to more narcissistic abuse. Why?
You are tired, run down, and mentally exhausted. When you feel this way, you are more susceptible to suggestions from a narcissist.
If they tell you something is your fault or you’re no good, you’re likely to believe it because you’re so mentally exhausted you’ve given up fighting for your self-esteem and self-worth.
That doesn’t mean it’s your fault! Narcissistic abuse did this to you, and it’s actually quite common to want to make the narcissist happy that that’s all you can see. You no longer realize what your needs are and you don’t take care of yourself properly as you once did.
No Change In Behavior
Let’s get one thing straight-narcissists DO NOT change!
I’m sorry to hit you with the brutal truth. There is no way to convince a narcissist that their behavior is inappropriate and crosses the line into abuse. That’s because they do not understand the feelings of others and, therefore, do not see a problem.
To a narcissist, they are never wrong. But instead of changing, it is one way to hook you back into their life to fill their need for narcissistic love supply…
Promises, promises, and more promises! The problem with promises that are made by a narcissist is that there’s no follow through.
When normal, caring people make promises, it means something. They make the effort to change, and when they originally make the promise and it’s not kept, their apologies are sincere, and they keep trying.
That’s not the case with narcissists! They make promises at your weakest moment when they think they are about to lose control and love supply provided by you. They make promises, swearing they will completely turn around, but they won’t.
They fool you into thinking that promise would be kept because they would turn things around and “show” you how they have changed or are at least making an effort.
But that display of completed promises only lasts a short time. Sometimes a week or two, sometimes just a few short days. It will last until they think they have you convinced that they are changing.
This cycle plays on repeat, and that is how you’re always reeled back into the relationship with promises they never meant to keep.
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They Play The Victim
Other than gaslighting, this is probably one of the worst narcissistic characteristics!
For people with any moral compass, we admit our faults and see how we can change to make a situation better. We don’t deny accountability.
But narcissists do! And they can deny accountability and play the victim role because they think they are above everything.
There’s another factor that comes into play as to why they play the victim: they love the attention! When someone is the victim of a situation, they get sympathy from people.
However, that sympathy eventually wears off, which is why their stories of the same situation become more dramatic. They have to continually lie in order to receive the attention they crave.
Narcissist rage is real and you can’t miss it once you see it. This hallmark of narcissism characteristics is rage is not anger in response to a situation or a person who hurt you.
These rage episodes happen out of nowhere and are typically an extreme overreaction to something insignificant.
Those without narcissistic characteristics are able to look past small annoyances and move on from them in a civilized manner without reacting with anger.
Narcissists can go into a rage over ridiculous things like their eggs being overcooked or not getting their way with something.
The rage is typically unexpected, which makes it even more terrifying because you are caught off guard by the outbursts. Once you see a narcissistic rage episode happen, you will remember it.
While a narcissist has these rages because they cannot control their emotions, it also serves a double purpose, whether with intention or not.
It instills fear in the victim of the abuse. Then, the victim of narcissistic abuse is always worried that another rage will occur for the smallest reason. Therefore, they go out of their way to make sure their abuser is happy to prevent another episode of rage.
Final Thoughts About Narcissism Characteristics
Narcissistic abuse is very real. Only in the last few years have people begun to have a conversation centered around the damaging effects that narcissists have on others.
The most important part about this type of abuse is understanding the signs. Many narcissists do not impose physical abuse on a victim. Therefore, the wounds are not displayed on the outside of the body for everyone to see.
Instead, the wounds run deeper into a victim’s mind and soul, and they leave scars behind that make it hard to move past the abuse, even in future relationships.
The work part is that narcissistic abuse is intentional! They know what they’re doing. They go out of their way to create panic, fear, and confusion and exert control over another person only to make themselves feel better. That’s the part that hurts the most.
For us empaths, this is the cruelest thing imaginable. How can a person who claims to love you do such irrevocable damage to another human being only to feed their ego and self-esteem? Because of this, many people try to change the narcissist thinking that change is possible.
Unfortunately, most narcissists cannot be changed because they do not see the problem and will not seek to change their narcissistic characteristics through extensive therapy and possible medication. Narcissism does not disappear from someone’s psyche. It’s a personality disorder that is lifelong.
The existing problem remains: how do we know how many narcissists exist in the world? Many narcissists exist without our knowledge because few try help their personality disorder with a formal diagnosis. You can’t make someone get help when they don’t want it for themselves.
Identifying narcissists remains up to us. We have to identify the signs and different abuse tactics these monsters dish out. Once you identify and realize you’re in the grasps of a narcissist, it’s hard to unsee. You can’t keep turning a blind eye to the abuse.
Now that you know the narcissistic characteristics, it’s time to do something about it. Reach out to friends and family and start thinking of an exist strategy for the relationship. Your relationship is basically the Titanic, and the narcissist is slowly sinking you!
It’s not your fault that you were preyed upon because you are such a wonderful and caring person. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. A narcissist knew this and preyed on your vulnerabilities.
Don’t be fooled, though! An abusive situation does not have to exhibit all the above abusive behaviors to be abuse. One abusive tactic above is enough to be considered abuse. Because each sign, in its own right, is abuse!
You don’t have to stay. You deserve better!