Confessions of a narcissistic man

Confessions Of A Narcissist. I thought I was just being me, then I… | by Julia P Dias | The Bad Influence

Being the Bad Guy

Everything Is Personal

Photo by Alekon pictures on Unsplash

Up until about a year or two ago, I was blissfully unaware that our ever-so-peaceful world has been conquered by a vicious species called narcissists. Whereas in previous times we seemed to be happy enough to call someone an asshole, modern times apparently require a more sophisticated diagnosis.

So recently, after briefly introducing themselves as “such an empath,” I hear all kinds of folks complain about how all the narcissists complicate their lives. Interestingly, especially the self-development industry produces a fair share of narcissism victims (whatever happened to “I am the universe?”). Enlightenment is just within reach and then — again!! — the narcissist husband/mother/neighbor/boss destroys everything with their unacceptable behavior. It is a tragedy.

I get it. I’d be so Zen if only the rest of the world let me. Now, I have a habit of checking my own sanity before I dish out unrequested clinical analyses to other people, so I decided to self-diagnose a bit. With so many narcissists out there and somebody close to me recently accusing me of giving them ‘no autonomy,’ I thought maybe, unbeknownst to me, I am a narcissist myself? I’m not a psychologist, but thankfully, the internet is full of resources. The way to find out then is to go through one of the many checklists.

Whereas the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) lists a mere nine criteria that characterize narcissistic personality disorder, other popular publications have been much more generous. To further facilitate easy access, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Margalis Fjelstad assures us that “a person needs to exhibit only 55% of the identified characteristics to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.” That’s promising.

Sleeves pulled up then. Huffington Post says:

Narcissists like nice things.

First hit. I sure like ‘nice things.’ But hang on, we’re getting more specific. It’s all about status. “The really prototypical example: They drive up in a Ferrari, but they won’t tell you what a good deal they got on it.”

My general inkling is that Ferrari owners rarely chat about the bargains they’ve made with their newest model. In any case, should I ever get my hands on a Ferrari, I might be so excited that I’ll forget to shout out that I got a 10% discount on it.

But I don’t have to get hypothetical. I’m riding a super cool bike and keep forgetting to tell people that it’s actually not mine, but my landlady’s. Check.

Narcissists have lots of friends on social media — and not a single bad picture.

By that definition I’d argue that about 95% of digital humanity is narcissist (with the exception maybe of my good old tribe of heavy metal fans, who ONLY have bad pictures). But wait, this was supposed to be about me, so hm. I may be failing to come up with ‘lots of friends,’ but I am very sure I do not have a bad picture on social media. At least I hope so. Check.

Everything is personal.

Welcome to humanity. Have I taken things personal that had nothing to do with me? Um. Yes. By all means, here I am getting pissed about people throwing around the word narcissism, so I guess that is a clear yes for me. Check.

You find yourself resorting to flattery just to maintain the peace with a narcissist.

That is a tricky one. For one, qualifying other people’s reaction to you certainly makes an interesting criterion for pathological diagnosis. In my silly little world, I have come to believe that other people’s reactions are usually more a reflection of what is going on with them, but I stand to be corrected.

Back to me: my friends and family frequently resort to flattery. Even co-workers, previously bosses (although a lot less, them ignorant bastards), and acquaintances. My goodness. I must be scaring people to death. Check.

(The article expands to say that “Maybe the narcissist is a family member, or maybe it’s your boss. In these cases, flattery is the best way to avoid conflict.” Again, in my ignorance I would argue that saying nice things is a worthwhile attempt to avoid conflict with anyone. On the other hand, this is a great way to justify boot-licking.)

Great need for control

Yep, that’s me. Check.

Fear of rejection and ridicule

Body, Mind & Green cautions that you “wouldn’t initially pick this out as a sign of a narcissist […] because most narcissists’ fears are deeply buried and repressed.”

Or maybe because fear of rejection and ridicule is prevalent among all humans? No? Is it just us narcissists? Check.

Emotional reasoning

Emotional reasoning is one of the ways our minds filter information. We all do it to some degree. It simply means that we mistake our feelings for facts. An example would be when I walk along a street at night and see a man approaching me, I feel fear. The moment I’m inclined to believe that the man is dangerous for the sole reason that I feel fear, I have fallen prey to emotional reasoning. This is what most of us do unless we have learned to become aware of our inner programming over and over again until we no longer fall for it.

I don’t think I’m entirely there yet, so: Check.

Deeply repressed shame

“Narcissists […] harbor a lot of shame.” Again, welcome to modern society and no, I shall not fall prey to the temptation to go on a tangent about the Catholic Church here. “Back” to narcissists:

“Keeping their vulnerabilities hidden is essential to the narcissist’s pretend self-esteem or false self. Ultimately, however, this makes it impossible for them to be completely real and transparent.”

Whereas the rest of our sweet society is just that: completely real and transparent. My ass.


Exaggerated need for attention and validation

“Another core narcissist trait is the constant need for attention. No matter how much you tell narcissists you love them, admire them, or approve of them, they never feel it’s enough — because deep down they don’t believe anyone can love them.”

I love attention. Especially when it’s positive. And yes, I have struggled with impostor syndrome and a crippling doubt that anyone could possibly think I’m cool. So much so that for some time, anyone who thought I was cool had to be thoroughly uncool in my eyes. Check.

By the way, this criterion correlates beautifully with Karyl McBride’s ‘Is Your Partner a Narcissist Check List’ that includes the question, “Have you consistently questioned if your partner loves you?” Mind you, if your answer is affirmative it means you are the victim of a narcissist. The irony!

By now, it has become sufficiently clear that I am part of that happy pool of outcasts with narcissist personality disorder. I am thoroughly sorry for any damage I have certainly caused my many victims over the years. Really.

Overt or Covert

As if things aren’t bad enough, there is a subspecies of narcissists that is even more bad news: covert or closet narcissists. You see, apart from the loud enough guys, who terrorize their environment by being overly grandiose, covert narcissists are those sneaky deceitful fuckers, who even refuse to act like a real narcissist only to fool you into believing they are nice people. We shalt not be deceived!

Covert narcissists are the worst types of narcissists, says the Self-Love Recovery Institute. And the Very Well Mind explains: “Covert narcissism is characterized by the same behaviors of overt narcissism that are displayed in less obvious, more subtle ways.”

So, instead of loudly demanding that their spouses be on the cover of Vogue, closet narcissists “might give back-handed compliments or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.

Ah. But who decides that a compliment is back-handed or that I remain quiet about my talents only so that you “offer me reassurance?” Does the flattery you are supposed to use to keep me at peace count as a back-handed compliment? Does humility now lie in the eye of the beholder or is it entirely out of vogue?

Either way, the Healthy assures us that “every expert agrees […] that covert narcissists feel disproportionately mistreated and have an overexaggerated sense of suffering.” Which almost sounds like all those victims of narcissists to me. Oops. I didn’t say that.

Instead, I tried to do the quiz to find out if I’m a closet narcissist, but the page didn’t work. Whichever type I am, though, at least now I am out of whatever closet I was in. Somehow, though, I still can’t shake off that feeling that maybe all this labeling doesn’t really help us improve our relationships, doesn’t really help us deal with our own shit, own our part, and create our lives. But maybe that’s just my narcissist nature blaming everyone else.

Confessions of a Narcissist Magnet

You never know who the narcissist is behind the mask.

Source: Mikhail Nilov/Pexels

I didn't know what a narcissist was until I was 52 years old. Oh sure, I'd heard the term, but I always thought it referred to someone who is self-centered and likes to talk about themselves all the time—a braggart. Or that it was someone who was obsessed with their looks, like Narcissus from Greek mythology.

I had no clue as to the more insidious characteristics of narcissists, even though they were being played out for me every day by my lovers. I may not have known what a narcissist is, but I was hopelessly attracted to them.

I would finally get a clue after a devastating breakup. I broke up with a woman who had treated me badly, but I didn't really want to leave her. I could still remember how wonderful she was at the beginning of the relationship. I thought she was perfect. Over time, however, her behavior toward me became worse and worse. She became disrespectful and critical. It eventually got so bad that I ended the relationship. But, I was miserable. I wanted her back; well, I wanted the woman back who I had fallen in love with at the beginning.

I Had a Pattern With the Type of Women I Would Date

It was then that I recognized I had a pattern. This was the story of nearly every relationship I'd ever had, whether it lasted three months or two decades. I would meet a woman who was wonderful at the beginning but who would become horrible by the end. Meanwhile, I would repeat the same practice of trying everything I could think of to please these girlfriends, but nothing was ever good enough.

I realized the problem lay with me, and I was determined to figure out what it was.

I tried therapy, but the most I got out of it was that my history with women probably had something to do with my mother. That was too vague; I wanted hard facts fast, and I was too impatient to wait for a therapist to wriggle it out of me.

So, I started reading everything I could find on relationships—especially toxic ones. I read books by the dozens and articles by the hundreds. I learned a lot of fascinating things, but I wasn't finding the answer I needed.

I Got to the Root of My Problem

Then, I came across a book entitled: Why Is It Always About YOU? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss. It provided the epiphanies I was seeking. As she described the various traits of narcissists, I recognized past girlfriend after girlfriend. But the biggest epiphany came when I read the chapter that perfectly described my mother. I remember crying out loud, "Oh my god, I've been dating my mother!"

My mother was the epitome of narcissism. She was self-centered, she used people, she had no empathy for others' problems, she kept a coterie of sycophants who always agreed with her, and when things didn't go her way—everyone in the house was miserable. She was a perfectionist who expected high achievement from my sister and me, and we strived to make her proud with our school work and extracurricular activities.

Children Who Grow Up in Unstable Homes Will Struggle to Thrive

Children who grow up in safe homes with loving parents develop the self-love and self-confidence to succeed in the world. To fully thrive, children need love and stability. Unfortunately, children who grow up in unstable homes (where the parents are narcissistic, alcoholic, or abusive) go out into the world vulnerable to all sorts of villainy.

Now that I knew I was addicted to narcissists, I was able to find a therapist who specialized in working with victims of narcissism. She was able to help me recognize all the abuse and abandonment I suffered from my mother, and how I had suppressed my memories of it.

In addition to the therapy, I started consuming everything I could find on narcissism: books, articles, videos, and more.

I Felt Like I'd Been Set Free

It was so liberating to finally understand what was going on in my psyche. I learned that people subconsciously seek lovers who have the same traits as the parent who wounded them so that they can somehow heal that wound. In other words, because my mother was incapable of loving me, I am attracted to narcissists like her who are also incapable of love; and if I can get one of those narcissists to love me, then I will magically heal the wounding from my mother.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Instead, it perpetuates generation after generation. A child of a narcissist either becomes a narcissist or a codependent that is attracted to narcissists. Now that I understand the problem, I can look back through my family tree and trace the narcissism back as far as four generations. Once I understood this, I wanted to end the cycle and hope that it does not continue with my children.

The next step was learning how to avoid narcissists and to become comfortable with women who are not narcissistic. In the past, when I would meet a nice woman who treated me well, it wouldn't feel right. I would feel like there was something wrong with her. What I didn't understand was that I only felt comfortable with narcissists because that was all I knew—that was what I was familiar with. It was time to get comfortable with kind, compassionate, and giving women.

An Early Warning System for Recognizing Narcissists

When I started dating again, I learned that I had an inner warning system that would alert me when I encountered a narcissist—even before they would start exhibiting their self-centered habits. My subconscious mind would recognize them immediately.

I noticed that when I was with a narcissist, I would become exhilarated, almost euphoric. It affected my whole body. I would think, "Wow, this woman really lights me up." This was my trigger, my cue, my red flag alarm... Danger Will Robinson! I quickly learned that when I felt like this, I was probably with a narcissist. At first, I'd continue dating them until I could confirm the narcissistic traits, but over time, I realized my early warning system was always correct, and I moved on immediately.

I know I'm not the only person who has this ability. A few years ago, I saw it in my sister (who also has a history of being attracted to narcissists). She got extremely excited about a guy she was dating. More than I'd ever seen from her before. So, I told her about my internal warning system, and she started paying closer attention to his behavior. After a couple of more weeks, she determined that he was indeed a narcissist. Shortly after that, she met a caring loving man, whom she married.

I wonder how many other people may have this ability, but don't realize it. When I look back through my relationships, there were two women who "lit me up" more than any of the others. In retrospect, I can see that both of them had personalities that were closest in similarity to my mother's. They were also the hardest ones to get over.

Through a lot of work, I now know what I don't want in a lover, and I'm on my way to discovering what I do want.

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

how to recognize and what to do

Not everyone knows that narcissistic personality disorder is not the same as narcissistic personality disorder or high self-esteem. You should know well who a narcissist is and why he is dangerous.

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Love and relationships

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If a guy posts too many selfies on his social media or constantly talks about himself on a first date, he's often called a narcissist. But you should not do this, because narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness.

Signs of a narcissist

So, do not confuse narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The symptoms of the latter are as follows:

  • inflated sense of self-importance;
  • excessive need for attention and admiration;
  • inability to empathize;
  • common relationship problems.

According to licensed psychotherapist Rebecca Wyler, NPD boils down to selfishness - the desire to get everything at the expense of others, as well as an inability to consider the feelings of other people. But remember, narcissistic personality disorder is not black and white. “Narcissism has its own spectrum,” says psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, Fran Walvis. nine0003

9 official criteria for narcissistic personality disorder

The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the US nomenclature for mental disorders, lists nine criteria for NPD, but five of them are sufficient for clinical recognition of narcissism. This list includes:

  • a grandiose sense of self-importance;
  • preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; nine0028
  • a person's conviction that he is special and unique, the desire to deal only with high-ranking people and elite organizations and institutions;
  • need for excessive admiration;
  • feeling of being chosen;
  • the tendency to exploit others in relationships, in other words, to use other people to achieve one's own goals;
  • lack of empathy;
  • envy of a person towards others or belief that everyone envy him; nine0028
  • arrogant and haughty behavior.

But even knowing the official criteria does not always allow one to identify a narcissist. The hardest thing to notice NPD in a person with whom you are in a romantic relationship. On a date with someone we like, rarely do any of us think: “Wait a minute, is this guy suffering from narcissism?”

But at the same time, we all dream of a healthy and long-term relationship that will make both us and our partner happy. So read about how a male narcissist behaves when he is about to have an affair - this information will come in handy. Only a qualified specialist can make a diagnosis, but there are red flags that you should pay attention to. nine0003

Relationship with a narcissist: how people with NPD behave

If you see that any of the above are familiar to you, be careful!

1. Narcissus is charming... But only at first

Everything starts like in a fairy tale. He constantly texts you, in the first month he confesses his love, promises to buy a tram, makes joint plans, showers compliments, says that he has finally found his soul mate, and your meeting is fate. Experts call all this "love bombing". nine0003

“Narcissists believe that they are worthy of relationships with special people and only such women can appreciate them,” says psychotherapist Nedra Glover Tawwab. “But as soon as you do something that disappoints them, they may turn their backs on you.” And, most likely, you won't even know what you did wrong.

Wyler advises: if the guy is too persistent at first, be on your guard. Of course, each of us is pleased to feel unique and unique. But communication and mutual understanding between people are not born in a few days - they must be nurtured and developed. “If it seems like a man doesn’t know you enough to truly love you, he probably does,” Wyler says. nine0003


The narcissist talks at length about how wonderful he is

“Narcissists love to talk about their own great successes and accomplishments,” says psychotherapist Jaclyn Krol. “They do it because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it makes them look more confident.” Clinical psychologist Dr. Angela Grace adds that narcissists often exaggerate their achievements and embellish their talents in order to gain admiration and adoration from others. nine0003

Narcissists tend to be too busy with themselves to listen to other people. This, according to Grace, will become a red flag: firstly, the guy with NPD will constantly talk about himself, and secondly, he will never discuss your interests and preferences. Pay attention: what happens if you try to tell something about your life? Is he asking questions, trying to find out more? Or just waiting for the moment to be the center of attention again?


The narcissist lacks empathy

An inability to understand the other person's feelings is one of the hallmarks of narcissists, Walvis says. Pay attention to how your boyfriend reacts when you tell that you had a bad day at work or you had a fight with your parents. Does he empathize or frankly bored when you say that you are angry or sad? According to Walvis, a lack of empathy is the most common reason why relationships with narcissists end up falling apart, whether it's romantic love or friendship. nine0003

4. Narcissists have no real friends

If you look closely at a narcissist, it will become noticeable: around him are only casual acquaintances, friends with whom he chats, and enemies. People with NPD tend to have no loved ones, especially those with whom they have known and maintained relationships for many years. Therefore, a narcissist may be offended if you want to communicate with your friends. It is likely that he will even try to make you feel guilty: for example, he will begin to say that you devote little time to him. nine0003

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does your partner feel about someone they don't want anything from?
  • Does he have old friends?
  • Does he have a sworn enemy? If not, did he say that he would like to have one?

5. The narcissist feeds on your compliments

It may seem that narcissists are very self-confident. But according to Tawwab, most people with NPD actually lack self-respect. “They need a lot of praise, and if you don’t give it, they will seek it. That's what you're for: to tell them how wonderful they are,” she says. nine0003

“Narcissists use other people—usually those who are highly empathetic—to nurture self-esteem. Because of their low self-esteem, narcissists' egos are easily hurt, and therefore their need for compliments is great,” adds Marriage and Family Psychotherapist Shirin Peykar.

Pay attention: self-confident people do not need constant confirmation of their importance from others. “A person with NPD needs to be praised, but he himself flourishes by humiliating others,” says Peykar. As Weilar aptly puts it, narcissists punish everyone around them for their lack of self-confidence. nine0003

6. The narcissist constantly picks on you

At first it seems like a mild tease, but over time it becomes a constant background, and hairpins turn from good-natured to angry and rude. Suddenly, everything you do is subject to criticism, whether it's about choosing a profession or brushing your teeth.

“The goal of narcissists is to lower other people's self-esteem in order to raise their own, because it makes them feel powerful,” says Peykar. “They love reaction: it shows them that they have the power to influence the emotional state of another person.” nine0003

Pay attention: if your partner throws barbs when you have achieved something, then it's time to run. If a man says that your achievements are accidental or obtained through advantages, then there is a chance that you are dealing with a narcissist. “He wants you to remember that you are no better than him,” Tawwab explains.

7. The Narcissist Gaslights

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse that is the hallmark of narcissism. “Narcissists use gaslighting to make others doubt themselves. For them, this is a way to achieve superiority over others, ”explains Peykar. nine0003

You can read more about gaslighting here, but here are the signs that indicate that you are experiencing it.

Signs that you are a victim of a narcissist and gaslighted:

  • you no longer feel like the person you used to be;
  • you have become more anxious and less confident;
  • you often wonder if you are too sensitive;
  • you feel that everything you do is wrong;
  • when something goes wrong, you always think it's your fault;
  • you often apologize;
  • you feel something is wrong, but you don't know what;
  • you constantly doubt that your answer to your partner is correct;
  • you make excuses for your partner's behavior.

8. The narcissist thinks he is always right and never apologizes

Arguing with narcissists is impossible. “It will not be possible to reach a compromise with them. People with NPD don't see disagreements as disagreements. They just think they are teaching you some truth,” says Tavwab. Peykar thinks you might be dating a narcissist if you think your partner is:

  • can't hear you;
  • does not understand you;
  • takes no part of the responsibility for the problem;
  • never tries to compromise.

Weilar advises avoiding negotiations and arguments with narcissists. “People who suffer from NPD hate the lack of control and struggle. The less you resist, the less power you can give them over you, the better,” she says.

Since narcissists are sure that they are always right, they never "sink" to the point of apologizing - even in situations where they are clearly at fault. For example, your partner doesn't feel the need to say "sorry" if he's late for dinner and doesn't even call to let you know, or cancel your joint plans at the last minute. Remember: normal people are able to understand that they did something wrong and apologize for it. nine0003

9. The narcissist does not want to make commitments

The narcissist expects you to treat him as his partner, and at the same time refuses you the same. You may notice how he flirts with someone, but if you talk about it as a sign of disrespect, you will be accused: “You made a storm in a glass of water, you are completely crazy!” But think about this: you deserve the same devotion that you give yourself.

10. The narcissist panics when you try to break up with him

Once you back off, the narcissist will do his best to get you back. “At first they may bombard you with love. They will say all the right things to convince you that they have changed,” warns Peykar. But very little time will pass, and it will become clear: you are still dealing with the same person.

11. Realizing that everything is over, the narcissist loses his temper

The narcissist will do everything possible to hurt you for leaving him. “Their ego is so badly hurt that they feel only rage and hatred. They believe that only other people are to blame for everything, including the breakup,” says Peykar. nine0003

What will be the result? The narcissist may say bad things to you, immediately start dating someone else to make you jealous, or even try to "steal" friends. The reason, Tawwab says, is that a good reputation means everything to them, and they won't let anyone or anything ruin it.

Okay, I'm dating a narcissist. What to do?

So, you realized that you are in a relationship with a person who has NPD. He constantly criticizes you, humiliates you and emotionally exhausts you. Experts recommend the obvious way out - to move away from it. nine0003

Here's how to prepare for breaking up with a narcissist:

  1. Constantly remind yourself that you deserve better.
  2. Strengthen relationships with friends who support you.
  3. Gather loved ones around you who will help you critically assess reality.
  4. Convince your partner to go to therapy.
  5. See a psychotherapist yourself.

“You cannot change a person with narcissistic personality disorder or make them happy with your love. Don't change for him - that won't help either. He will never empathize with you, and you will always feel empty after interacting with them, says Grace. “Basically, you will never be enough for them, because they will never be enough for themselves.” nine0003

Grace thinks the best thing to do is end the relationship. At the same time, it is not worth explaining anything, much less giving a second, third or fourth chance. Most likely, the narcissist will pester you with calls and messages, and experts recommend blocking him on your phone, instant messengers and social networks so as not to change your mind.

In conclusion, we want to remind you that this article is not intended to diagnose your boyfriend. She describes unacceptable behavior that says that your union is far from a healthy and equal partnership. The presence of one, six or all 12 signs does not indicate that your significant other has NPD. Rather, it is a good reason to overestimate your relationship. You are not responsible for the behavior of other people, but taking care of yourself is your and only your task. nine0003

Are there any daffodils among your acquaintances?

Narcissists: who they are, signs of narcissism, rules of conduct

The article was checked and commented by clinical psychologist and scientific researcher Christina Andreyuk.

  1. Who is
  2. How to recognize
  3. Men and women
  4. Types
  5. Treatment
  6. How to communicate
  7. How to leave

Who is a narcissist?

Advertising on RBC www. nine0003

Narcissism is a feature of the psyche in which a person perceives himself as a unique individual, considers himself better than others, which is not always true. In fact, these traits are present in the character of many people. In a healthy personality, they result in ambition and a desire to please. But under a certain scenario, laid down in childhood, such behavior can turn into a pathology, which is often accompanied by other diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and depression. nine0003

Contrary to popular belief, people with narcissistic personality disorder do not like themselves very much. Rather, they admire their grandiose projection, which allows them to close gaps in their own self-esteem. Such protection allows narcissists to avoid deep feelings and self-doubt. A person with this disorder does not tolerate minimal criticism, he perceives remarks as a personal insult and is able to throw a tantrum if someone refuses to admire him. You can check how narcissistic traits are characteristic of you or your partner using the NPI questionnaire [1]. The more positive answers a person gives to statements from the list compiled by American psychologists and researchers Robert Raskin and Howard Terry, the more narcissistic features appear in him. Meeting people with a true personality disorder is not easy. According to various sources, their number in society varies from 1 to 6%. nine0003

How to recognize a narcissist?

According to the American psychiatrists' handbook "Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" [2], there are nine signs of narcissistic personality disorder. If at least five of these are present, a doctor may suspect a disorder. Usually such a person:

  1. Has an inflated sense of self-importance. He often exaggerates his achievements and talents. Expects people to admire his actions, even if they were minor. If the narcissist organized the cleaning of the yard, then at least the district newspaper should write about it. nine0028
  2. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, or ideal love. To each new partner, the narcissist can say that he is the love of his life or wait for him to fulfill his fantasies. The beginning of such a relationship is a magical, but short period. In work, the narcissist, according to him, is a genius. If he has not been able to achieve great results, he is simply sure that success lies ahead of him, even if it is time for him to retire.
  3. Believes that he is not like others and has few equals. Therefore, the environment must match. The narcissist chooses “special” people as friends and partners, for example, with high social status or model appearance. Thus, he seems to reflect himself through them, because his problems are unique and can only be understood by special people. Narcissists like to be associated with big brands, whether it be in their work projects or clothing choices. nine0028
  4. Requires constant attention, recognition and admiration, even if you just took out the trash or cooked dinner.
  5. Absolutely sure that everyone owes him. Expectations for other people are usually very high. Close people are obliged to fulfill the requests of the narcissist at the first call.
  6. Uses other people to achieve his own goals. For him, it goes without saying. The narcissist is not accustomed to sincerely thank for the services and does it only within the framework of the accepted ethical norm. nine0028
  7. He has difficulty experiencing empathy. Such people are not able to draw a parallel between their feelings and the feelings of others. Therefore, the narcissist does not even think about when he hurts someone. Very often, this behavior is mistaken for abuse by partners of narcissists. In fact, he may be concerned with how to hide the shame of his failure and not lose his greatness.
  8. Often jealous of others and believes that others envy him. In the latter case, it is by this circumstance that the narcissist explains the criticism of others in his address. nine0028
  9. Arrogant towards other people. Such a person absolutely sincerely believes that he is better than others, and other people's shortcomings are an excellent reason to assert himself.

To decide to end a relationship with a narcissist, write down the reasons for breaking up and keep the list with you

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Men and women are narcissists disorder in one form or another, men are more likely to be affected by this disorder than women. The data were collected over a period of 30 years, and the percentage ratio between the sexes did not change much during this time [3]. nine0003

In doing so, the researchers noted two important points. First, male narcissists were more likely than females to exploit others and believe they were entitled to certain privileges. Secondly, men were more likely to seek power. Scientists explain this by the fact that until recently, leadership qualities did not meet the criteria for femininity. According to one of the authors of the study, Emily Grijalva, girls are more often criticized for aggressiveness and authoritarianism. Thus, society unconsciously suppressed manifestations of narcissistic behavior [4]. nine0003

As regards vanity and striving for a bright self-presentation, in this respect there was no significant difference between men and women.

Types of narcissists and how they are formed

There are different approaches to the formation of narcissism, including studies that allow for genetic influence, but this is not a decisive factor in the formation of personality.

In 1914, Sigmund Freud stated that children somehow go through a stage of primary narcissism. He believed that this was an intermediate stage of growing up, but later he singled out other forms of narcissism, to a greater extent associated with mental disorders. nine0003

Neuro-Freudian Karen Horney argued that the development of such character traits may be due to the fact that parents in various ways pushed the child to create psychological protection. For example, they could delegate the embodiment of their ambitions or rejected the real manifestations of the child, instilling a sense of inferiority.

The contribution of parental figures to the formation of narcissistic disorder is also noted by psychotherapist and researcher Otto Kernberg. He compares narcissism with a false prop that a person erects in order to receive from others the admiration and confidence that he did not receive from his parents in childhood and cannot give himself in adulthood [5]. nine0003

In the book of psychologist Elinor Greenberg "Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: the pursuit of Love Admiration and Safety" [6], the author divides narcissists into three types:

  1. Open, or grandiose. Embodied stereotype. A bright character illustrating this feature of development and behavior. His whole being screams, "Look at me." This childish behavior indicates that a person is stuck at an age when adults pay a lot of attention to the child, praise him excessively, suggest that he is special, forgetting to teach him empathy. nine0028
  2. Hidden or depressive. Such people can grow up in families where one of the relatives, including mother or father, was a narcissist. At the same time, there was a high level of competition for love and attention. On the one hand, children copied the behavior model of narcissistic parents, on the other hand, such a child formed protective mechanisms, since an adult narcissist would certainly assert himself at his expense. Growing up, such people may not openly say that they are special. They would rather choose a person, a book, an object and exalt their virtues. Thus, the narcissist puts them on a par with himself. In personal relationships, such people do not like direct conflicts. Their weapon is passive aggression. A favorite technique is to promise and not deliver, and then blame the other person for everything. They tend to be insecure, and ambivalent behavior often leads them to depression. nine0028
  3. Perverse or toxic. Such people go even further. They love not only admiration, but also submission. Narcissists of this type love to wreak havoc around themselves, the same that reigned in their childhood in relationships with their parents. These narcissists often give their partners an emotional rollercoaster of humiliation and praise. They take pleasure in destroying other people's careers, destroying people morally and spiritually.

Mixed representatives of these types also exist. nine0003

Treatment for narcissism

Most often, narcissists don't even suspect that something is wrong with them, because they don't tend to blame themselves for anything. So if such people were seen by a specialist, then the reason for this could be related problems: depression, bipolar disorder, or excessive alcohol consumption. There is no cure for narcissism yet. Psychotherapy has a positive effect on such patients. Properly structured classes can help a person establish relationships with loved ones, learn to withstand criticism, stop despising themselves and others, set realistic goals and achieve them, and not dream of sky-high heights [7]. nine0003

Although there is no cure for narcissism yet, psychotherapy has a positive effect

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How to communicate with a narcissist?

Building an even relationship with a narcissist is not always easy. Some prefer to just cut them off. But what if this is not possible? Let's say that person is a family member or ex-husband/wife with whom you have children in common.

  • The first thing psychologists advise is to try to detach yourself emotionally. Ignore toxic statements and manipulations. It is useless to expect sudden changes in behavior from such people. According to research, narcissists do not tend to learn from their own mistakes simply because they are sure they did not make them [8]. nine0028
  • Your personal boundaries are your guard against the actions of a narcissist. “This won’t happen to me anymore”, “I won’t fall for these manipulations” - phrases that will help to avoid an unpleasant conversation or intrusive requests of a narcissist. You can't wait for a response.
  • The shortest answers, conditionally "yes" and "no", are your main allies in a dialogue with such a person if he began to resort to manipulation. By minimizing communication, you give him much less reason to hook on to some phrase and launch an attack. nine0028
  • Stick to the topic of conversation and don't get sidetracked. Perhaps your counterpart will try to knock you out of the saddle with accusations or get personal. In this case, the phrase “We are going off topic” will help bring the discussion back on track.
  • Compliments. If you really need to get something out of a narcissist, don't be stingy with praise. Most likely, he will even enjoy fulfilling your request. Yes, this is manipulation, but who said that only a narcissist can use this technique? nine0028

How to get away from a narcissist

The end of a relationship is never easy. With a narcissist, breaking up can be doubly difficult. For him, the fact that he was abandoned is an intolerable insult. That is why he will try by hook or by crook to bring the partner back. During this period, he will become sensitive and gentle, will swear eternal love and will do this until his victim loses his vigilance. Often, therefore, relationships with a narcissist develop into a cycle of breaks and reunions. Nevertheless, if you decide to put an end to your communication, psychologists recommend the following:

  • Write down the reasons why you want to leave. It's best to keep this list around in case the narcissist decides to drag you back into the relationship by talking about eternal love.
  • Give up illusions. It is difficult for such people to change, especially without the help of a specialist. Do you have time to wait until he finally learns to show empathy and respect?
  • Break all contacts. Ask a friend to pick up your belongings from the narcissist. Block this person in all phones and messengers. If you have children in common, at first ask someone close to you to be with you at general meetings. nine0028
  • Let go of your feelings. Breaking up, even with a toxic person, is always hard. Give yourself time to get over this situation. Just don't expect the narcissist to suffer in return. Most likely, during this period, he will try to restore his shattered ego and will choose not the most pleasant ways for this: either he will tell everyone what a bad person you are, or seek solace in the arms of someone else.

There are nine signs of narcissism, but you can already suspect it by five signs

© Martino Pietropoli / Unsplash

Kristina Andreyuk, clinical psychologist, researcher. Research interests: mentalization, manipulative behavior, personality disorders

In addition to family relationships, external factors can also enhance narcissistic traits. Media and social networks broadcast often unattainable ideals, and self-improvement services are imposed by advertising. All this can affect the psyche.

In "normal narcissism" people try to please others, to achieve success in work, which helps them to adapt in society. However, in the case of pathology, a person's ideas about themselves are distorted. In this case, the emphasis is on the grandiosity of his figure. He experiences difficulties in forming adequate ideas about other people, abuses manipulations, grossly violates the boundaries of the interlocutor and ignores his comfort. Narcissistic features can manifest themselves in pathological perfectionism, hypochondria, constant attempts to correct their "flaws", including, for example, transforming one's appearance as the most noticeable attribute of self-presentation for others. nine0003

On the surface, narcissists give the impression of being rather pleasant people. According to research, many socially active narcissists have charisma, know how to hold an audience, are not afraid to express themselves, appear self-confident, and have high claims regarding academic and professional achievements. These qualities often show up in job interviews and help narcissists get into leadership positions. However, such bosses may use too subjective criteria when evaluating employees, focusing not on their professional achievements, but on the degree of admiration, devotion, and the absence of doubts about the correctness of the leader's decisions. nine0003

Close relationships are difficult for narcissists. In partners and friends, they are primarily looking for confirmation of their exclusivity, superiority (which reinforces vulnerable self-esteem). Often, such people confuse the attachment that accompanies healthy partnerships and collaborations with the addiction that can shackle and inspire fear. The demands of constant adoration and recognition of their grandiosity, which the narcissist often implements in the form of excessive control over the thoughts and feelings of a partner, in most cases, sooner or later are not fully satisfied, which leads to conflicts and increased manipulative behavior. nine0003

If you have found any manifestations of narcissistic traits in yourself and want to change them, then it will be useful for you to develop the skills of self-reflection, mentalization (understanding mental states), work on the development of emotional intelligence, empathy (for example, discuss with friends the films you have watched, read books in terms of understanding the inner world of the characters, their motivation, etc.

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