12 Traits Of A Narcissist You Should Watch Out For

Source:  http://books.google.com/ngrams

These days, it seems like everyone has a friend, family member, or partner that they consider to be a “total narcissist.”

As you can see from the graph above, the term has increased in popularity.  


But just because the term ‘narcissist’ is everywhere these days… it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more narcissists.  


In this post, you are going to learn 12 traits of a narcissist that will help you to identify if you have one in your life!

Before I share 12 traits of a narcissist, let me share some cautions about the label:

  • It is healthy to have some degree of narcissism… YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY.  If you don’t think that you are important enough to devote time and attention to yourselves, that is a problem.  You don’t want to be totally dependent on others to define you.  
  • There’s a difference between having narcissistic tendencies– which we all have- and being a full-blown narcissist.  
  • In order to have a narcissistic personality disorder, you must meet the criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.   Spoiler alert:  Most people you know won’t meet the criteria to be diagnosed with pathological narcissism.  
  • In most cases, the more narcissistic a person presents, the more victimized they were in childhood.  Their emotional needs probably weren’t met in childhood and therefore they carry a great deal of relational trauma.  They developed a defense against the emotional neglect to defend against feelings of loss and vulnerability.   This is not to excuse their behavior but to name how it came to be.

With those caveats out of the way, here are 12 traits of a narcissist:

1. Look up charming in the dictionary and you might just see a picture of them.

If you are at a party, most narcissists will easily make friends.  They tend to be charismatic and quickly win people over.  


They’ve developed this ability for their own purpose:  They need admiration.  They need constant validation that they are one hell of a human being.  


However, this charm and appeal get old quickly. 


When you need to count on them, they never are. 

Their need to be loved and admired trumps whatever your needs may be.  


Therefore, a classic sign of someone with narcissism is charm AND the lack of long-term friends.  They start off with a bang, but their ability to create strong bonds just isn’t there.

2. They want what they want when they want it

You are watching a football game and they expect you to be the one to get up and get them whatever they want.  RIGHT.  THIS.  SECOND. 


Because of their self-centeredness, they aren’t very good at seeing anyone’s needs beyond their own.  


Try this:  The next time you are hanging out with them and they ask you to fulfill their need- for example, getting them chips while watching TV-  say ‘No.’ 


Perhaps even add, “Good idea!  I want chips too, can you get me a bowl?”  Watch for their reaction. 


If they get angry and don’t understand why you don’t ‘hop to it’s a sign that there are some narcissistic traits in the person!


3. They have a strong sense of entitlement and superiority.

You may be with a narcissist if they expect only the best treatment from others. 


They desire the best job with the best title. 


Or, they desire to go to the front of the line. 


The world should be their oyster and if it isn’t, they may just take it out on you or the people that don’t treat them like they are the greatest person that walked the earth.  


You can spot this behavior fairly easily. 


Pay attention to how they treat service workers– such as wait staff or a housekeeper… when no one is looking. 

Do they demand extras and are harsh if their demands aren’t met? 


Because service workers are in jobs that serve the public, they can get away more easily with their superior and entitled behavior. 


This kind of behavior demonstrates one of the 12 narcissistic traits.  

4. Talking about themselves is a favorite pastime.

Start a clock with the narcissist starts talking. 


They wax poetic about their accomplishments and exaggerate their achievements for long periods of time.  


If the conversation is a one-way street that is dominated by how great they are, this is definitely a trait of narcissistic behavior.

5. They aren’t there when you need them

Another one of the 12 traits of a narcissist is a lack of follow-through. 


They may promise to give you the world… but on the day you need the help, they are nowhere to be found.  


They pledge their support, but don’t hold your breath on the follow-through! 


This narcissistic trait is fairly easy to gauge. 


If they chronically, fail to keep their word, don’t stick to following through with important tasks, or fail to accomplish their agreed-upon tasks, you may want to depend on them less… way less.  

# 6 of 12 traits of a Narcissist

12 Traits Of A Narcissist You Should Watch Out For
They take responsibility for things… only if they turn out well

When things go well, expect the narcissist to stand in the spotlight and receive accolades. 


When things go poorly, expect that you are thrown under the bus. 


They are willing to use you as a stand-in for their mistakes and they don’t have a problem doing this in a very public way.


In fact, expect that the more publicly that things go poorly, the louder they will blame you or others. 


They have no shame in calling out other people that caused the problems. 


The facade of perfection is too great a threat for the narcissist.   


Warning: Those closest to the narcissist are the first to be blamed.  Why?  Because the narcissist knows that you are not likely to leave them.  

7. Control is their middle name.

Of the 12 traits of a narcissist, needing control is the most important.  


How are the narcissists going to get their need for admiration met? 

Only if they are able to take control of the situation.  


They can’t get what they want from you unless they are able to mold you to their liking. 


For example, they feel entitled to tell you to make dinner for them. 

Or, to take the blame for something that you didn’t do. 

They need to find a way to be seen in the best light.  


Controlling the situation is essential.  How do they accomplish this?  See the next narcissistic trait…

8. Manipulation is the tool a narcissistic person uses to gain control.

You can bet that when their bids for control aren’t met, there will be consequences to pay. 


For example, they may: 

  • Display upsetting and unsettling behavior so that you will be uncomfortable enough that you back down.  
  • Gaslight and confuse you.

#9 of 12 traits of a Narcissist

12 Traits of a narcissist
They think rules don’t apply to them.

Surprise surprise, rules don’t apply to ‘special people.’ 


And boy, do they know they are special and unique.  


Rules and boundaries? 

They know of none… except of course for their own rules, regulations, and boundaries… which you are expected to follow.  


They take pride in the fact that rules don’t apply to them. 

After all, it’s an outward indicator of just how special they are.  


What happens if they get in trouble for not following the rules?  


It’s someone else’s fault, of course.  


Expect to be blamed for things that you didn’t do or had no knowledge of.   

10. They are quick to point out that no one is as good as they are.

How can someone with narcissistic traits feel entitled to manipulate and control others?  


They create their own self-centered worldview in which people or better than/less than others. 


They, of course, put themselves on the top of the superior/inferior hierarchy.  


Their way of degrading others and making jokes about others is a way to maintain their worldview which gives them permission to continue their behaviors.  


If you are close to someone with this narcissistic trait, pay attention to your own self-esteem.  


Since you’ve been hanging around them, are you feeling bad about yourself?  


Do you notice that your feelings of self-worth have diminished? 


If so, this relationship is toxic for your own well-being. 

11. They have some mad gaslighting skills!

Think about it, if you are getting blamed for things you have no part in, doesn’t that make you question yourself


Or, if things aren’t right in the relationship, but you are told everything is fine, doesn’t that make you doubt your instincts?  


When you start questioning your own sanity, it’s time to turn to a trusted friend and share your concerns. 

Someone who gaslights you expects you to keep quiet.

The more shame you feel, the quieter you become, which creates social isolation, and the worse the gaslighting gets.  


Let’s be clear: Someone that has this narcissistic trait is emotionally abusive.  

12. They have lots of acquaintances that admire them and no long-term friends.

How can someone be so fun and funny and yet have no friends? 

Friendship takes work. 


Friendship is something that is earned, not given


When the narcissist isn’t there when you need them, you most likely start calling on someone else… someone that is reliable and you can count on. 


When someone in your life has a pattern of not being there when life gets tough, it’s time to think about if this is someone worth investing time in…  

After all, it’s easy to be there for the good times, but a true friend is there for all times.  

Hopefully, if you are like you are in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist, you’re talking with a trusted friend about your concerns… or you are ready to give therapy a go!

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


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