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8 Subtle Signs Of Narcissists

8 Subtle Signs Of Narcissists

subtle signs of narcissists

Do you know the subtle signs of narcissists?  They can be hard to spot!

Or like me, you cared about the person so much that you overlooked the minor red flags and how they’re shown.

Likewise, you could also be too deep into the relationship until you start seeing little signs here and there.

But once you discover that you’re in fact dealing with a narcissist person, you will never look at them the same again.

The mask has fallen and you cannot unsee it!

For many in the dating world, you need to be aware of the subtle signs of narcissists.

Let me show you the red flags through personal stories of my own.


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Subtle Signs Of Narcissists


This goes at the top of the list for a reason.  Narcissists are notorious for being selfish.  

They believe the world revolves around them or that it should.

Selfishness rules everything a narcissist does.

That is how they make all their decisions.  They ask themselves “What’s in it for me?”

Even if the situation has absolutely nothing to do with them, many narcissists will turn others attention toward them by using the following tactics:

  • Twisting words around
  • Manipulating
  • Playing the victim
  • Taking the limelight for other’s accomplishments

It doesn’t matter if the relationship with a narcissist is a friendship, intimate relationship or family member, the narcissist is always wanting something more out of you.

The problem with such selfish behavior is that it disregards any feelings, wants, and needs of the other person in the relationship.

The narcissist keeps taking, while you keep giving because it’s too much work to argue with someone who doesn’t see their selfish behavior at all.

When someone cannot self-reflect like a narcissist, conceitedness will continue unchecked.

Over the years of my marriage there were many instances where my ex husband acted selfishly with little regard for the feelings of our relationship or our children.

While those instances are not bad in and of themselves, but over time the selfishness only got worse.  

I was left bitter because of his selfishness.  

I knew his needs were being met in the relationship.

I did everything!  The cooking, cleaning, paying bills, yard work, doctor appointments, therapy appointments, two kids with disabilities and a part-time job.

Yes, he went and worked a full time job.  But that was it.

While I’m not complaining about having to do my own share of my motherly responsibilities, I draw the line the brunt of everything with the family is falling on my shoulders.

It’s too much stress for one person.  I needed the support and help from my husband.

But he never helped.  Even when I was crying and begging for him to help… He wouldn’t.

Later during our two-year separation he discussed the subject with me as to why he never helped me with household chores and childcare.

I never heard an “I’m sorry” for it.  Instead I was met with the response… “You were so good to me.  You let me get away with murder and I figured you had everything under control.”

This was a reaction I did not expect to hear. This told me that… One, he is flattering me to get out of issue.  Two, he knew I was drowning every day and wouldn’t take hold of my hand to keep me from drowning.

That’s the worst part.  HE KNEW! The whole time he knew I was suffering but because of selfishness he was reaping all the rewards.

I cooked for him.  Did his laundry.  Cleaned up his messes.  Did yard work for him. Raised the children. It was basically like having three children. 

Except the child is a grown man who acts like a teenager when it comes to everyday adult responsibilities.

When your spouse sees you suffering.  You’ve spoken of your suffering with them and they do nothing to offer emotional or physical support, that is the ultimate degree of disrespect.

It’s selfish and disrespectful to allow your spouse to continue to suffer just because you needs are being met.

I wasn’t his spouse, his equal.  I was his substitute mother.

Related Articles: The Best Self-Help Books For Emotional Abuse Recovery

Lack Of Remorse

Remember, everything stems from selfish behavior.  Because of their selfishness they also lack remorse.  

They don’t care about how hurt you are.  They care about meeting a need for themselves.

I will never hear an “I’m sorry” for their behavior. 

They will destroy your life and still continue to hate you even though they are the ones that caused the issue and did the damage. 

The lack of remorse is astounding!

In the last two years my ex has shown no remorse for what he’s done. 

He doesn’t care about the psychological, emotional, financial, and physical damages he’s caused to the kids and I.

He can threaten us with suicide and try to kill himself in front of us, yet he still lacks the remorse to not only apologize, but to get help.

You can’t help everyone and I couldn’t help my ex either.  

When he would scream, blame me for everything wrong in his life and throw things around, there were never any apologies.

When he didn’t pay any child support for six months after I left, there was no remorse. 

He didn’t care that I was living on a part time income with two young children.

I never got apologies for him stalking me, threatening me, breaking into my house. 

To him, there’s nothing wrong with that type of behavior.

The worst part about their lack of remorse is that you never get closure from that.

Your mind can’t conceive how someone who supposedly loves you can do such horrendous things to you and not be sorry.

That’s hard to get closure from.

Lack Of Empathy

It’s so hard to distinguish between their lack of remorse and lack of empathy. 

Lack of empathy is the reason for their lack of remorse.

I’m an empath.  I feel things to my core.  The thought of someone (especially my own spouse) having little empathy is unfathomable.

While I didn’t see it at first, with time my ex exhibited a lack of empathy on many occasions.

Of course, we already talked about some of his selfish behavior, but there’s so much more!

 There had been times after a fire or medical call (he was a volunteer fire fighter and EMT) that I had noticed a lack of empathy about the situation as a whole on his part.

He’d come back from serious medical calls that for normal people would be deemed traumatic.  

With those type of traumatizing experiences, most people don’t want to talk about it.  They need space to process on their own what they have seen.

But he was different. With serious medical emergencies he would tell me full details about injuries sustained and what happened to someone in great detail.

He would tell me details as if he’s sitting down and having a morning conversation about the weather.  

There was no tone of voice or expression that indicated he had empathy for the victims and patients he worked with.  

I remember seeing a lack of empathy in his eyes as he’s telling me these things.  

I thought at the time… “How could he do this? Just tell me all these horrible things he just witnessed and yet not be upset about it.  He even kind of chuckled about things.”

On top of this lack of empathy, the fire fighting and EMT stories were always turned toward what HE did during the incident, taking pride in his work.

I realized then that it wasn’t about helping people for him.  He did it because he wanted the praise and glory.

The biggest example I can give you of lack of empathy from a narcissist is this…

After I left my ex I was completely cut off financially.  Everything was ripped away from me even health insurance.

I was struggling to support the kids on my part-time income and needed money for food and diapers when he wasn’t paying a dime in child support.

I went to him asking for money and he told me he would only give me $400 a month for two children. 

(We had not yet been to parenting court at that time).

I told him that $400 wasn’t enough for two children.  He coldly looked at me and said, “Well you shouldn’t have left then.”

That sentence right there changed my world.  He didn’t have any empathy toward me or the children. 

He didn’t care we were living out of one bedroom at my mom’s house. 

He didn’t care I only had a part time income.

It was a horrible revelation to come to terms with, but it was the nail in my coffin that I needed to finally convince myself I was done with him.

Related Articles: Are You Dealing With A Narcissist, Sociopath or Psychopath?

Lack Of Responsibility

Narcissists do not understand responsibility and what it means.  When you’re responsible for something, that means you do something about it.

If you hurt someone’s feelings, you apologize.  If you ran your car into someone else’s car and damaged it would be your responsibility to pay for the damages.

This isn’t the case with narcissists.  In any given situation, the narcissist does not see how they need to take responsibility for something because to them they are never wrong.

They hold themselves in high regard.  Perfect people who don’t need to change or take responsibility.

After I left my ex two years ago, he went on a shopping spree.

He bought a new truck.  He’s maxing out credit cards with no regards as to when and if he will pay them back.

And while he’s doing this I’m living off a part-time income with two growing boys and receiving no financial support from the father of my children.

Once we went to court he was court ordered to pay child support.

That’s what I had to do to make him responsible for supporting and seeing the kids. 

I had to have the court system involved because he refused to take responsibility for his children.

Controlling Behavior

This I did not see at first.  But the signs of control were there in the beginning.  I just failed to notice them. 

Like every new relationship, it’s exciting. 

The butterflies are there and you want to spend a lot of time together getting to know one another.

Throughout dating and marrying my ex I never understood the concept of control.

From the beginning we were inseparable.  He’d race home from work just to be with me.  He went everywhere I did like a shadow.

At the time I thought it was sweet of him to want to spend that much time together. 

But now looking back I realize that I wasn’t allowed space to do things on my own or even encouraged to pursue things solely on my own. 

Yes, I loved being with him.  But two people also need to breathe and remember who they are as individuals even when in a relationship.

Wherever I went he always wanted to be there.  Almost smothering in nature.

Controlling behavior comes in so many different forms.  It is abuse and sometimes abuse is subtle and not noticeable at the time because their treating you well.

But with controlling behavior there is always a motive as to why.  

In this instance of control, he wanted to know everything I did and everywhere I went.  

Even when out with my mother shopping for a day he would always want to know where I went, what I did, how much money I spent (I always kept receipts) and especially when I would be home.

That was crucial!  He needed an estimated time that I’d be back.  Normally, I’d always get home before the deadline to return.

But if I didn’t return on time then he would do constant check ins (like four plus an hour) and ask me where I was so he could track me on Google maps to see what time I would be arriving.

Yes, he clocked my time away from the house.

It’s scary when you have someone put that much pressure on you to be home at a certain time for really no reason at all.  

It scared me because it is excessive to track your partners movements, and this was happening within the first year of our relationship.

The control was subtle.  But it was there.  You just have to know what to look for and that can be tough.

Toward the end of our marriage, I had a tracker on my phone. 

Wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or see anyone except my mom and he tried cutting me off from friends and family.

After separation, the control continued.  He would drive by my mother’s house or stop by unannounced to beg me to come home.

He was still trying to control my actions even though we weren’t together anymore.

Soon enough he couldn’t stand that I was talking to my aunt on the phone for an hour so he text me 6 times and called me 4 times.

I didn’t answer and he couldn’t get ahold of me so he came over and broke into my mother’s home when he was warned to completely stay off the property.

And what was the reason he was trying to get ahold of my so desperately?  I still don’t know the answer to that.  It’s all just about control. 

He needed to know my day-to-day movements because narcissists thrive on control.

Related Articles: Signs Of Financial Abuse During Divorce

Sense Of Entitlement

Remember when I told you before that my ex lacked responsibility and remorse for anything in our marriage?  

Well that’s because he feels entitled about it.

You see… I was doing everything except working outside the home.  He never helped with anything nor wanted to because he felt he was entitled to all the nice treatment I gave him because he worked outside the home and I didn’t.

I specifically remember one time asking him for more help around the house and him saying to me… “Well, I work all day and bring home the money.  What else do you want from me?”

He felt because he worked full-time that he’s entitled to skip on other adult responsibilities because he has me to do them for him.

Nobody should be in an unequal marriage with someone pulling all the weight of everything and the other reaping all the benefits.

But that’s what narcissism is all about.  They think they’re better than everyone else and they deserve the best of everything in life.

Living in a make-believe world

I have read many articles about narcissism.  Call it part of the healing process for me.

One thing that particularly catches my attention that’s been pointed out by other survivors of abuse is a narcissist preoccupation with fantasy.

This doesn’t mean they daydream a lot.  It means they are involved in fantasy type thinking in which they are powerful, prestigious, attractive, successful individuals, and more.

This is do to their distorted and self-deception.

Living in a fantasy world is more than just thinking about it.  

Many narcissists have dirty secrets of their fantasy life they do not want to disclose.

For instance, some narcissists are habitual cheaters.  They lie and cheat to constantly have a narcissist supply and a fun real life fantasy adventure.

Other narcissists drown themselves in porn or indulge in binge drinking and excessive partying.

For my ex, it was porn!

Porn was and still is everything to him. 

Don’t get me wrong, I personally do not have anything against porn.  However, there is such a thing as moderation.

When someone is viewing porn multiple times a day, everyday… That’s a problem!  It’s a porn addiction!

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have caught him watching porn even when are children are present.

No they didn’t see anything on the phone because he always shut it off in time.  But I knew!

I knew he was watching porn every morning as soon as he woke up. 

Sometimes if he were home, he would isolate himself in the bedroom just to watch porn while I took care of the house and kids.

It hurts when you spouse does that. 

Knowing your spouse would rather watch porn then be with you is a hard thing to get over.

Along with porn, my ex also had an obsession with WWE. 

Wrestling is a full fantasy world.  The wrestling and injuries are real but the story lines run like a soap opera.

While this doesn’t seem like a terrible thing, it is when my ex was talking about wrestling and watching it every day.  It becomes to much at some point.

Although I supported his liking of it, it was weird to me having full conversations about wrestling story plots and his opinion on all of them.

He treated this make believe world like it was real.

It was the only thing that kept his interest and what he loved to talk about and analyze. 

But where does it get to the point that you have no real life subject matter to talk about? 

He was only ever happy talking about wrestling or watching it.

Post Separation Abuse: Recognizing The Signs And Seeking Help

Trigger Warning: The content in the paragraph below talks about sexual abuse.  Please skip this paragraph if you are triggered!

Expects sex or only wants sex when they want it

Sex is different for a narcissist. 

For most of us empathetic people, sex is connected with a deep connection with someone or love.

For narcissists sex is seen entirely different. 

They don’t have the same deep connection when having sex with someone. 

They simply are only into it to satisfy their own needs physically.

When you have sex with a narcissist, there’s a certain lack of connection missing. 

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but there’s something blank in their expression.

Their expressions of pleasure do not seem like a shared pleasure you’re doing together. 

Instead, it feels like having sex with a complete stranger sometimes due to the lack of emotional connection.

I have heard from other survivors of narcissistic abuse that often times their ex’s would manipulate and force sex upon them whether they want to have sex or not.

Early on in my marriage, I experienced this element of abuse.

One day I woke up to my husband rubbing me down there. 

I was overly groggy and wasn’t aware enough to understand what was happening. (Thanks Tylenol PM).

I drifted in and out of sleep as he continued to have sex with me.

I spent the entire time going in and out of consciousness and he did not care.

He needed sex and he needed right then so my consent didn’t matter to him.

He went off to work and I kept sleeping.  It wasn’t until I woke up later that I understood the gravity of what just happened.

I remember lying there and thinking, “This is my life now.  I’m married and this is what it’s like to be married.”

Trust me, I thought of leaving after that event but I couldn’t.  I made a vow only a short while ago. 

I felt I needed to make things work so I stayed of course.

But I made sure to text him at work and tell him what he did was not ok.  I felt used and I never wanted to feel that way again.

I have already went through one sexual assault and now a marital rape and I was determined to never have it happen again.

I explained to him that if he wants to have sex he needs to make sure that I am fully conscious and aware and can consent.  

I did not receive an apology for it.  Instead, after telling him what he did was not ok he said to me… “You’re making me feel like I raped you.”

There are two thoughts that entered my mind…. First: He played the victim and didn’t apologize to me. 

Second: He knows it was rape or he wouldn’t have said it.  He knows what he did, but refuses of course to take responsibility.

Now please let me be clear with you.  You do not owe sex to anyone including your boyfriend or husband.

Sex is all about consent.  When someone cannot consent because they’re not fully awake, that is rape!

The only thing I got from him was a bouquet of flowers.  They were lovely don’t get me wrong.  But I was given flowers as an apology for my husband raping me.  Put that into perspective.  

Flowers as an apology for violating your wife is not an apology! 

It’s more saying, “hey sorry I did wrong but here’s some flowers to make it better so you’re not mad at me anymore and will forget all about it.”

I never forgot!  Of course, we moved on from it and it didn’t happen again.  But it shouldn’t have happened at all.

Now, I have to live with that moment for the rest of my life along with all the emotional, psychological, and financial abuse I’ve gone through as well.

Broken Promises

Narcissists love to make promises they can’t keep.  

It allows them to keep control of the situation and also to keep control of you.

If they are constantly making promises to change and yet your noticing a partner that doesn’t change…

Then it’s on purpose!

You were given apologies time and time again and nothing changes.  

It can be simple things you ask for change on and they can’t do it.  Why?

Because they are one, incapable to change.

Two, you were given apologies to shut you up! 

No offense! But it’s true.

Apologies are good for is…

-Making them look like someone who is capable of change to keep their persona alive (masking)

-Using an apology only to have you believe them so they can continue control over you while keeping you around with fake promises

Since the beginning of my relationship with my now ex-husband there were constant apologies and those apologies always followed with broken promises. 

My ex never helped around the house or helped me minimally with the children.  From time to time he would give baths, but not much else.  

Yes, he did work.  But when he was home he spent the entire time on his phone and watching TV (usually wrestling).

I’d always ask for help, but never got it.

Instead, I managed a part-time job, to special needs kids, and a household, plus all appointments. 

Basically, I was drowning. On top of this, I still cared for his needs of cleaning up his mess and even garbage he’d leave around the house.

I felt more like a slave than a partner.

For 8 years, we had the same fight where I would beg him and cry for extra help around the house or with the kids and every time, those promises were broken.

He used the excuse of “I’m just lazy that’s why I don’t do anything.” 

I wanted permanent change!  The longest he helped me with keeping up with anything around the house and the kids was 2 weeks.

I’m sorry, but that’s pathetic.  He is not capable of change.

During the separation and during a love bombing phase he told me that I let him “get away with murder” with the house and kids.  He knew!

He knew the whole time how I was struggling and continued to use me to do everything for him.

I cannot tell you the amount times, but every three months I reached a boiling point where I just couldn’t take it anymore and I would breakdown and cry to him for more help.

And every time, I got broken promises. 

It hurts so bad to know the person who’s supposed to be your partner in life was taking advantage of your kindness and hard work.

He knew all along.  He knew what he was doing.

The most audacious fact of it all, is that he didn’t care.

He didn’t care I was suffering and barely treading water.

But there is only one thing that came out of all those broken promises.

He taught me how to be a single mom.

I realized I didn’t need his help and that I can do it by myself.

But when we were together it is the point that I shouldn’t have to do it alone.

Related Articles: How To Get Out Of A Narcissistic Relationship

 Final Thoughts

This article for obvious reasons was very hard for me to write.

I’ve experienced everything firsthand on how much damage a narcissist can do to your life.

A good man will elevate his woman as a person and watches her grow.

He doesn’t sit around and watch her suffer.

I think out of all these subtle examples I’ve given you; the lack of empathy bothers me the most.

I am a severe empath.  I can’t watch ASPCA commercials!

It’s inconceivable to me how someone can lack the extreme amount of empathy he lacks.

Please, use the above guide to help you understand the small subtle ways a narcissist works when it comes to the symptoms they display.

Over time, those symptoms and red flags will become more apparent.

They can’t keep on their mask forever.

If you know a narcissist, I’m sorry.  I know your suffering and the damage he or she has done to your life is inexcusable.

Like you, I looked past these red flags or saw them too late.

Use the above guide to help you identify these red flags of narcissism earlier to prevent anymore of your time, energy, and  

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