Narcissism has become a buzzword in recent years, but what exactly does it mean to be a narcissist? While we may casually describe friends or family members as narcissists, true clinical narcissism is a serious personality disorder that can wreak havoc on relationships and emotional well-being.
Unlike simple selfishness or vanity, narcissism stems from a place of inner maladaptive thinking and disordered behavior patterns.
“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The tricky thing about narcissists is that they often masquerade as highly confident, charming, and outgoing people on the surface. Beneath this veneer, however, lies an extreme sense of superiority and entitlement paired with an exploitative, envious, and unempathetic view of others.
They possess a false self-image as a coping mechanism for emotional fragility and rely on constant validation from outside sources to uphold it.
This leads them to engage in subtle toxic behaviors that the unsuspecting might not even recognize as abusive or problematic.
“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin
Left unaddressed, these “red flags” can escalate over time into extremely damaging psychological manipulation tactics that erode a person’s sense of self-worth and autonomy. That’s why it’s so important to be able to identify the signs of narcissism early before you become ensnared in their web.
In this post, I will walk you through 77 common narcissistic behaviors spanning emotional, conversational, and interpersonal contexts. You’ll learn how they think and operate so you can spot their harmful patterns from a mile away. From an exaggerated sense of self to a marked lack of accountability, I’ll shed light on the full spectrum of narcissistic red flags.
Whether you suspect narcissism in your own relationships or simply want to arm yourself with knowledge, recognizing these subtle signs is the first step in safeguarding your self-esteem and psychological well-being.
The more educated you become on the nuances of narcissism, the better prepared you’ll be to identify them and make empowered choices in how you interact with them. This knowledge could truly change the course of your relationships and life trajectory.
1. Grandiose Sense Of Self-Importance
Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They believe they are special or unique and can only be understood by, or should only associate with, other special or high-status people.
“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.”
― Shannon L. Alder
They cultivate fantasies of extraordinary success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
They expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations. They take advantage of others to get what they want and tend to be selfish and not consider other people’s needs or feelings. They expect people close to them to automatically go along with what they want. Their needs and desires are paramount.
2. Preoccupation With Fantasies Of Unlimited Success, Power, Brilliance, Beauty, Or Ideal Love
If someone in your life displays an excessive preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, they may exhibit signs of narcissism.
They live in a dream world of unrealistic overestimation of their own abilities and powers.
For example, a narcissist may believe they will become a famous actor or singer despite a lack of talent or dedication to developing a skill. They feel they are entitled to glory without putting in effort or work. These delusions of grandeur and entitlement are a way for narcissists to escape feelings of inner emptiness, insecurity, and lack of self-esteem.
They expect people to worship and applaud them, and they surround themselves with sycophants and followers to obtain the admiration they crave. However, no amount of praise ever seems enough to satisfy a narcissist’s need for ego boosting.
In relationships, narcissists envision an idealized version of love that makes them feel superior and feeds their need for power and control.
When real people inevitably fail to live up to these unrealistic expectations, narcissists become disappointed, critical, and even contemptuous of their partners. For them, relationships revolve around what other people can do for them, not mutual caring or intimacy.
3. Belief They Are Special And Unique And Can Only Be Understood By, Or Should Associate With, Other Special Or High-Status Institutions
They think their achievements and accomplishments are exceptional, even when they are ordinary or mediocre. They tend to exaggerate or overstate their talents, skills, and success.
Due to their perceived specialness and uniqueness, narcissists believe only other “special” or high-status people can truly understand them. They tend to associate and connect only with people they think are on their level or who will continuously admire them. They are prone to name-dropping and forming superficial connections with influential or famous people to boost their own self-esteem.
Their connections are largely one-sided, with the narcissist dominating the interactions and conversations. They become bored or impatient with those who do not continuously admire or submit to them.
4. Need For Excessive Admiration
As a narcissist’s partner, you may feel like you constantly have to compliment them and reaffirm your admiration for them. Your worth becomes tied to keeping the narcissist’s ego well-fed through frequent praise and validation. Failure to do so can result in emotional outbursts or the silent treatment.
They also surround themselves with people who shower them with admiration. They cultivate relationships where the other person looks up to them and makes them feel superior. These relationships are not mutually caring — they exist solely to boost the narcissist’s ego through compliments and praise.
In the workplace, their need for attention causes them to only promote those who flatter them, not those who are high-performing.
They see people as extensions of themselves rather than as separate individuals with their own needs, desires, and feelings. Don’t expect a genuine, reciprocal relationship with a narcissist — you will always come second to their need for ego gratification.
5. Sense Of Entitlement
A sense of entitlement is one of the most common signs of narcissism that often goes unnoticed. They believe they deserve special treatment and favors from others.
They expect people to do things for them and believe the rules that apply to others do not apply to them. They get angry when others do not give them preferential treatment.
6. Interpersonally Exploitative Behavior
They always blame external factors for their problems and failures and never take responsibility for their actions.
They are unable to sincerely apologize for mistakes and wrongdoings. They believe they are never at fault and that the rules do not apply to them.
7. Lack Of Empathy
A narcissist lacks empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. They struggle to see things from other people’s perspectives and show little interest in the emotions and experiences of those around them.
“Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can’t deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say what ever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and conartists that don’t believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn’t in their favor..”
― Shannon L. Alder
They lack remorse for harmful actions and don’t accept responsibility for the emotional pain they cause others.
Conversations with narcissists typically revolve around them. They frequently steer discussions to focus on their own interests, accomplishments, and concerns while showing little curiosity about others.
They are disinterested in emotional intimacy and depth in relationships. They don’t ask follow-up questions or express a desire to truly understand others. Connecting with people on an emotional level requires empathy, vulnerability, and compromise — all of which they avoid.
8. Envy Of Others Or A Belief That Others Are Envious Of Them
They frequently express envy of others or believe that others envy them. They see others’ success and accomplishments as a threat as if there is only so much glory and achievement to go around. Rather than feeling inspired by the success of peers, narcissists feel diminished by it.
At the same time, they believe that others envy and admire them. They think they are the object of constant jealousy. People may admire their confidence but not wish to emulate their arrogance and selfishness.
“Often the narcissist believes that other people are “faking it”, leveraging emotional displays to achieve a goal. He is convinced that their ostensible “feelings” are grounded in ulterior, non-emotional motives. Faced with other people’s genuine emotions, the narcissist becomes suspicious and embarrassed. He feels compelled to avoid emotion-tinged situations, or worse, experiences surges of almost uncontrollable aggression in the presence of expressed sentiments. They remind him how imperfect he is and how poorly equipped.”
― Sam Vaknin
They surround themselves with sycophantic followers who lavish them with praise to feed their need for constant compliments and applause. Anyone who does not provide a narcissistic supply, or who offers realistic feedback, is pushed away.
The belief that all eyes are on them and that competitors and peers resent their imagined success is a projection of the narcissist’s own envy and resentment of others.
Their fragile self-esteem depends on believing they are the focus of everyone else’s attention, for good or for bad. In reality, most people are too focused on their own lives to be overly concerned with narcissists.
While everyone experiences feelings of envy at some point, narcissists chronically envy others and believe envy is directed at them. Their need to see themselves as superior and special fuels these distorted perceptions. Recognizing this pattern of thoughts in yourself or someone else can be an indication of narcissism.
9. Arrogant, Haughty Behaviors Or Attitudes
They often display arrogant and haughty behaviors that reveal their sense of superiority over others. Their inflated ego leads them to believe they are inherently more important or talented than those around them.
“You will never get the truth out of a Narcissist. The closest you will ever come is a story that either makes them the victim or the hero, but never the villain.”
― shannon l. alder
They incessantly talk about how much money they make, prestigious awards they’ve won, lavish vacations they’ve taken, or amazing talents they possess. These boastful claims are often fabricated or greatly exaggerated to elicit admiration.
10. Lack Of Ability To Recognize The Needs And Feelings Of Others
They simply do not recognize or understand the needs and feelings of others. They lack the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and show compassion.
Narcissists dwell on fantasies of power, success, attractiveness, and achievement. They live in a dream world where they envision themselves as highly successful, attractive, and admired. These fantasies help them cope with feelings of inadequacy and imperfection.
11. Obsession With Oneself
If someone in your life exhibits an obsession with themselves, it could be a sign of narcissism. Narcissists constantly dwell on themselves, their appearance, perceived accomplishments, and desires.
“pathological narcissists can lose touch with reality in subtle ways that become extremely dangerous over time. When they can’t let go of their need to be admired or recognized, they have to bend or invent a reality in which they remain special despite all messages to the contrary.”
― Bandy X Lee
They are primarily focused on themselves. They redirect conversations to focus on themselves and relate everything back to their experiences, interests, and desires. They are rarely interested in learning about others or hearing different perspectives.
12. Exaggeration Of Their Talents, Gifts, And Achievements
One way this manifests itself is through exaggerating their abilities and accomplishments. They may boast about successes they haven’t really achieved or talents they don’t truly possess. For example:
- Claiming to have a high IQ or exceptional talent that has never been formally tested or demonstrated.
- Saying they received a prestigious award or honor that cannot be verified.
- Bragging about career or financial successes that don’t match reality.
By exaggerating their gifts and achievements, they receive the lavish adulation they desire, even if it’s not grounded in truth. They believe their own distortions and expect others to accept them without question.
Challenging a narcissist’s exaggerations and lies will often lead to rage, aggression, or passive-aggressive behavior. It threatens their grandiose self-image. Rather than admit to the deception, they will attack the person questioning them to avoid feeling flawed or inferior.
13. Expectation Of Constant Praise
They expect people to lavish them with compliments and applaud their every accomplishment and achievement.
If you do not provide a narcissist with the level of praise they feel entitled to, they may become angry or try to manipulate you into complimenting them.
“Being a control freak is a weakness, not a strength. If you can’t allow others to shine, you’re exhibiting signs of narcissism and showing a lack of self-confidence. It is isolation through ego.”
― Stewart Stafford
While most people enjoy receiving compliments, narcissists take it to an extreme. If you do not provide a narcissist with praise, they may try to fish for compliments or directly ask you why you did not compliment them.
14. Taking Advantage Of Others To Achieve Their Own Goals
They demand much from others but offer little in return. Narcissists expect constant support and favors but are unwilling to reciprocate for those around them.
They see no need to balance give and take in relationships because their needs are paramount. They drain the time, energy, and resources of others but provide almost nothing in exchange.
15. Exaggerating Their Uniqueness Or Importance
Their posts are constantly singing their own praises and pushing their perceived awesomeness on everyone. They incessantly post selfies and share their every little accomplishment or “good deed”.
“Some people, in an attempt to mask their shortcomings dig lies so deep, they end up drowning in a sea of their own delusions!”
― Carlos Wallace
They dominate conversations and steer them back to themselves. You can’t get a word in edgewise as they ramble on about their achievements, adventures, and accomplishments. If you do talk about yourself, they quickly turn the focus back to them.
16. Excessive Need To Be Loved By Others
If your new love interest constantly craves attention and never admits fault or imperfection, you could be with a narcissist.
Therefore, anything less makes them feel worthless. They’ll manipulate you into complimenting and admiring them by saying things like “Don’t you think I’m amazing?” or “Tell me how great I am.”
They curate social media profiles to make themselves seem like the most interesting and accomplished people on the planet. Their posts are all about garnering likes, comments, and followers to feed their egos. In reality, they lead rather empty lives behind the scenes.
17. Unreasonable Expectations Of Favors And Advantages From Others
A narcissist believes they should be your top priority. They expect you to be at their beck and call, giving them your full attention whenever they want it. If you’re busy with work, family, or friends, they become jealous and resentful. They don’t respect your need to have a life outside of the relationship.
“So many abusers survivors feel they were loved so little, as if the abuser was the most important person to receive love from. They forget that God loves them deeply and that is the only person’s love they need to validate their worth.”
― Shannon L. Alder
If you don’t cater to their every whim, they accuse you of not loving or appreciating them enough.
While they have unrealistic expectations of you, they lack empathy for your own needs and desires. Your dreams, wants and feelings are insignificant to them. They don’t care if you’re tired, sick or stressed. You’re expected to always put their needs first, even if it means sacrificing your own well-being.
When you inevitably fail to meet their unrealistic demands, narcissists blame you rather than accept any responsibility. You didn’t call enough, or buy expensive enough gifts.
They make their unmet needs your fault so they can continue seeing themselves as perfect. This cycle of unrealistic expectations and blame ultimately damages your self-esteem and happiness.
18. Taking Credit For Others’ Achievements
A narcissist is always looking to manipulate the situation to make themselves look good. One of the ways they do this is by taking credit for other people’s hard work and achievements.
Watch Out For The Narcissist That:
- Claims your ideas as their own in front of others. They may reword what you said ever so slightly to make it seem like an original thought.
- Never gives you proper credit for tasks you do or contributions you make. They’ll find subtle ways to redirect the praise and accolades to themselves.
- Rarely says “thank you” or shows gratitude for your help or support. In their mind, they deserve all the rewards and don’t need anyone else’s input or assistance to achieve their goals.
- Makes excuses for their lack of achievements by claiming you were holding them back or didn’t contribute enough. The narcissist is never at fault in their own mind.
The narcissist’s constant need to steal the spotlight from others by claiming unearned accolades will ultimately wear you down and leave you feeling unappreciated and frustrated. Don’t let their manipulation and deceit overshadow your own accomplishments and self-worth.
19. Lying For Personal Gain
A narcissist will lie for their own personal gain without hesitation. They lie to make themselves look good, to get what they want, and to manipulate people and situations. Some examples of a narcissist lying for personal gain:
- They lie to get money or gifts from people. They make up hard luck stories to play on people’s sympathy.
- They lie to cover up their mistakes and imperfections. They can never admit when they’re wrong. It’s always someone else’s fault.
- They lie to get out of obligations and commitments. They stand people up for dates and events without reason or remorse. Their time is more valuable, in their minds.
- They lie to isolate their partners from friends and family. They spread malicious gossip and rumors to turn people against each other. All so they can exert more control.
20. Stealing Credit For Others Work
They see the achievements of people around them as a reflection of their own self-worth, so they have no problem hijacking them.
When others are recognized for their contributions, the narcissist will make statements to downplay their role. They may claim the other person “just followed orders” or “simply did what they were told.” They have a hard time acknowledging that other people have talent, skills, and initiative.
“so often victims end up unnecessarily prolonging their abuse because they buy into the notion that their abuser must be coming from a wounded place and that only patient love and tolerance (and lots of misguided therapy) will help them heal.”
― George K. Simon
They will actually reconstruct events in their own mind to place themselves in the center. They believe their own fabricated version so strongly that they can be highly convincing to others. But the people who were actually involved know the truth.
When collaborating with others, the narcissist always has to be the focus of attention. They interrupt, talk over people, and redirect the focus to themselves. They take over presentations and meetings to ensure they are seen as the leaders.
But by being aware of these credit-stealing tactics, you can avoid feeding their ego and self-absorption. Don’t let them minimize your own important contributions and accomplishments. And stand up for yourself and others when they rewrite history in their favor.
21. Refusing To Recognize Others’ Perspectives
A narcissist has trouble seeing things from other people’s perspectives. They tend to be very self-centered and primarily concerned with their own interests and desires. If you’re with someone who exhibits these traits, be on alert.
A narcissist believes their way of thinking is the only right way. They have trouble accepting that other people can have equally valid but different opinions or experiences.
“When we meet and fall into the gravitational pull of a narcissist, we are entering a significant life lesson that involves learning how to create boundaries, self-respect, and resilience. Through trial and error (and a lot of pain), our connection with narcissists teaches us the necessary lessons we need to become mature empaths.”
― Mateo Sol
If you share an opposing view, they may react with anger and try to convince you that you’re wrong. Rather than having a constructive discussion, they see your difference in opinion as a threat.
Compromise and finding common ground may be difficult. Their need to be right overpowers their ability to listen and be open-minded. Over time, their refusal to acknowledge any viewpoint but their own can leave you feeling unheard, disrespected, and resentful. Standing up for yourself and your own perspectives becomes exhausting.
Some signs your partner may struggle with this include:
- Dismissing your thoughts or experiences as silly or irrational.
- Needing to have the last word in arguments.
- Not genuinely listening when you share your feelings or opinions.
- Lecturing you on why their way of thinking is better rather than having a two-way discussion.
- Lacking interest in learning about your views and perspectives. The conversation always circles back to them.
22. Undermining Peers To Make Themselves Look Better
A narcissist will frequently undermine their peers to make themselves look superior by comparison.
They build themselves up by tearing others down. They frequently criticize, belittle, and embarrass people — especially those they see as a threat. They get a kick out of making others feel small so they can feel big.
“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”
― George K. Simon
You may notice this manipulative behavior if your date constantly puts down their exes, friends, family members, or coworkers.
To undermine their peers, they will spread rumors, lies, and gossip to damage their reputations and self-esteem. They are master manipulators and work behind the scenes to make others look bad.
Has your date told you stories about people that sound far-fetched or don’t add up? Do they share private details about others that make you uncomfortable? These are major red flags that they will do the same to you.
23. Sense Of Privilege
They think regular rules don’t apply to them and they’re entitled to whatever they want.
They don’t feel like the agreements or commitments they make to you necessarily apply to them. They will break promises without remorse and feel justified in doing so.
They need constant ego boosts and affirmation of their superiority to feel good about themselves. If you don’t, they will try to manipulate you into giving them praise.
Whether it’s the best table at a restaurant, skipping to the front of the line, or not having to follow the rules — narcissists think they deserve special privileges that don’t apply to everyone else. They believe they are superior, so normal rules and social norms shouldn’t apply to them.
24. Willingness To Overwork Employees For Personal Gain
A narcissistic boss will have no qualms about overworking employees to achieve their own personal gain. They see people as objects to use for their benefit rather than human beings.
Under a narcissistic leader, there are typically unrealistic expectations around work hours, availability, and deadlines. They don’t care if you have a family or life outside of work.
“A narcissist, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of an empath. Emotionally, narcissists are like brick walls who see and hear others but fail to understand or relate to them. As a result of their emotional shallowness, narcissists are essentially devoid of all empathy or compassion for other people. Lacking empathy, a narcissist is a very destructive and dangerous person to be around.”
― Mateo Sol
You’re expected to drop everything at a moment’s notice to do their bidding. If you dare speak up about needing reasonable work hours or time off, you’ll face retaliation.
They often set impossible targets and metrics to measure productivity. When employees inevitably can’t meet these unrealistic expectations, the narcissistic boss blames and punishes them, rather than reevaluating the flawed system. Productivity is demanded at the cost of work-life balance, health, relationships, and everything else.
They have a hard time trusting others or giving up control. As a result, they tend to micromanage and rarely delegate important work or decisions. Even competent, trustworthy employees are not given opportunities to grow or advance their skills. The narcissistic boss believes only they can do the job right.
25. Tendency To Be Controlling In Relationships
A narcissist craves control in relationships and will do whatever they can to gain the upper hand over you. They want to dictate how things go in the relationship on their terms.
Some signs a narcissist is controlling:
- They constantly criticize you and try to change things about you. They pick apart your appearance, personality, interests, goals, and more. Nothing you do is ever good enough for them.
- They snoop through your personal belongings. They invade your privacy by checking your phone, social media, emails, and more without your permission.
- They make all the decisions in the relationship. They don’t care about your input or compromise. It’s their way or the highway.
- They require constant contact and get jealous easily. Controlling narcissists obsess over where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing. They frequently check in and get jealous of any attention you give to others.
- They use emotional blackmail to get their way. They threaten to break up with you or punish you in some way if you don’t do what they want.
26. Inability To Cope With Criticism Or Rejection
When you are with a narcissist, their ego and sense of self-importance are so fragile that any rejection can set them off.
They see any direct attack on their self-worth. If you criticize their behavior or point out a flaw, they will likely react with rage and defensiveness. Rather than reflect on the feedback, they will turn it around and criticize you instead.
“The deal with dating conceited men like him was that she’d hoped some of his excess self-esteem would rub off. Women always secretly hoped this: that dating a narcissist would give them confidence by osmosis. It never worked.”
― Chuck Palahniuk
Similarly, if you reject a narcissist in any way — don’t return a text right away, say no to a request, or want to spend time with other friends — they will see it as a deep betrayal and insult. Narcissists expect constant priority in your life. Anything less signifies that you don’t value them in the way they think they deserve.
Some warning signs of a narcissist’s inability to cope with criticism or rejection include:
- Blaming you for “making” them react that way.
- Giving you the silent treatment or withdrawing affection to punish you.
- Spreading rumors or gossip about you to make themselves feel better.
- Stalking or harassing behaviors to regain control over you.
27. Rage And Anger When Rejected, Criticized Or Contradicted
Some signs of narcissistic rage include:
- Yelling, screaming or verbally attacking you for small mistakes or disagreements. Their anger seems disproportionate to the situation.
- Blaming you for their angry outbursts. It’s always your fault, never theirs.
- Veiled or overt threats to get what they want. They might threaten to leave or cheat to keep you in line.
- Physical violence like hitting, slapping or damaging property. This is extremely dangerous and unacceptable. Seek help immediately.
- Bringing up past grievances, mistakes or things you did “wrong” as excuses for their anger.
- An inability to apologize or take responsibility for their angry behavior. There are always excuses and justifications.
28. Sudden Outbursts Of Anger And Rage When Something Doesn’t Go Their Way
If your partner frequently erupts in anger over small issues, this behavior can be a sign of narcissism. Their rage is a result of their excessive self-importance and need to control you.
“Speaking to narcissists and imagining having a normal human interaction is called delusion.”
Sudden outbursts may manifest as screaming, slamming doors, or even physical violence. These frightening displays of anger are a means to manipulate and intimidate you into submission. Do not engage or try to reason with them in this state. Remove yourself from the situation immediately until you calm down.
Over time, these rage episodes are likely to become more frequent and intense. Walking on eggshells to avoid triggering their anger is no way to live and will only enable their narcissism. You deserve a healthy relationship where you feel heard, respected, and safe.
29. Demeaning Attitude Toward Others
If your partner frequently demeans or looks down on others, this is a red flag for narcissism. They believe they are superior to most people, so they lack basic respect for others.
They often harshly judge and criticize people they see as inferior. They freely offer unsolicited opinions and advice in a condescending manner. They cannot accept others as they are but feel the need to point out perceived flaws and shortcomings.
They are often envious of other people’s success and accomplishments. Rather than being happy for others, they feel jealous and threatened. They may try to downplay or belittle other people’s achievements to make themselves feel better.
30. Tendency To Be Easily Offended
They react angrily or defensively to perceived slights that normal individuals would shrug off.
If you are with a narcissist, be aware that they may overreact to innocuous comments and see them as insults. Casual remarks you make may unexpectedly provoke a heated response.
“Concerning the narcissist- after having been so seemingly incredibly loving and gentle, compassionate and caring- it would be like a light switch had suddenly been turned off and “all of a sudden” they simply did not care. They turned into a cold person, someone without love, compassion, empathy or regard for the subject’s feelings what so ever. It’s like they suddenly and literally stopped being human.”
― Jacqueline Servantess
They are hypersensitive to perceived judgments about their personality, appearance, or performance. They are quick to feel rejected or devalued, even where no insult was intended.
Tread carefully when expressing opinions that differ from a narcissist’s or offering advice they haven’t solicited. Suggestions for improvement may be seen as implying they are inadequate in some way.
They believe they are flawless and superior to others, so any hint of imperfection is difficult for them to accept.
In relationships, a narcissist’s tendency to take offense easily can be wearying. You may find yourself walking on eggshells to avoid triggering an angry outburst over a trivial matter.
Their oversensitivity and disproportionate reactions are a hallmark sign of narcissism and a red flag in dating.
31. Inability To Handle Criticism Without Lashing Out
When dating someone with narcissistic tendencies, criticism of any kind is typically not well received. Rather than accepting feedback and using it to gain insight into how their behavior affects others, narcissists tend to lash out in anger when confronted or critiqued.
If you find that your partner consistently reacts with rage or passive-aggression in response to constructive criticism, this is a sign that their ego may be too fragile to accept any feedback that does not align with their grandiose sense of self.
“Maybe, the lesson we can all learn from the inner sadness of a Narcissist is to see through our own fabrications, our own illusions so that we can be set free to be real once more.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Even if delivered with empathy, care, and the intention to improve the relationship, any comments that challenge a narcissist’s perfect self-image will likely be met with hostility and defensiveness.
Rather than reflecting on the criticism and how their actions impact you, the narcissistic individual will likely turn the tables and criticize you in return.
They may accuse you of being “too sensitive”, claim that your concerns are invalid or untrue, or bring up unrelated issues from the past as a way to avoid accountability. Over time, their unwillingness to accept responsibility for their actions or make any real changes will take an immense emotional toll.
32. Bullying Behaviors
A narcissist will resort to bullying tactics and behaviors to maintain a position of power over you.
Some signs of bullying to watch out for include:
- They will criticize, judge or embarrass you in front of others to make you feel small and dependent on them.
- Veiled or direct threats are used to frighten you into submission and compliance with their demands. The narcissist wants you to feel scared so you don’t challenge them.
- Through harsh criticism, judgment, and the narcissist slowly breaks down your self-esteem to make you question your own judgment and perceptions.
33. Blaming Others For Their Own Shortcomings Or Failures
When confronted about poor behavior or performance, a narcissist will fault external factors like their boss, coworkers, partners, family members, or life events.
They justify their actions by claiming that they were provoked or had no other choice. The narcissist believes they are never at fault, so the blame must lie elsewhere.
If in a relationship, the narcissist’s partner may feel that they can never do anything right in the eyes of the narcissist. The narcissist nitpicks perceived faults or slights to make their partner feel inadequate.
34. Projection Of Shame Onto Others
The narcissist will zero in on your smallest imperfections and imperfections and exaggerate them out of proportion. They will make personal attacks on your character, appearance, achievements, and more in order to make you feel as inadequate as they feel deep down. Do not let their skewed perception of you become your reality.
“Most of the narcissists are geniuses and masters of Psychology. But they are using their knowledge to eradicate, rather than to help humanity.”
― Mwanandeke Kindembo
When confronted with their hurtful behavior, the narcissist will turn the tables to make themselves the victim. They will claim you are attacking or sabotaging them in some way to evoke sympathy and escape responsibility.
Do not fall for their pity ploys or let them twist the narrative to escape the consequences of their actions. Hold them accountable for the pain they have caused you.
The narcissist’s shame and insecurity drive these behaviors, but that does not make them excusable. Recognize projection for the manipulation tactic it is, and do not allow anyone to make you doubt your own worth or take the blame for their faults. You deserve so much more than to be the narcissist’s emotional punching bag.
35. Aggressiveness Following Perceived Slights Or Insults
If your partner frequently perceives benign comments or actions as personal attacks, be wary. They are hypersensitive to perceived slights.
For example, if you arrive a few minutes late to dinner due to traffic, a narcissist may accuse you of intentionally disrespecting them by not valuing their time.
“It is no accident that narcissists and altruists often have a magnetic attraction to one another. Can you see how perfect the fit is? The altruistic feels the need to selflessly serve others and this is just what the narcissist wants. Narcissists want to be worshipped and gratified in every way possible, and this is just what altruists offer, thinking it demonstrates their moral virtue.”
― Ellen Kenner
Rather than giving you the benefit of the doubt or accepting your sincere apology, they attack you and try to make you feel guilty. These overreactions and attempts to manipulate you through aggression or emotional outbursts are major red flags.
They have fragile egos and see the world through a lens of how interactions and events impact them personally. Their go-to response is often hostility, rather than measured, good-faith communication. Do not engage by defending yourself or firing insults back.
Remain calm and reiterate your innocence and good intentions. If the unhealthy behavior continues, spend less time with this person and prioritize surrounding yourself with people who treat you with basic decency and respect.
“The refraining of freedom of speech from the governmental system can cause its citizens to turn into narcissists in their free time.”
― Mwanandeke Kindembo
You deserve a caring partner who gives you the benefit of the doubt and approaches conflict with empathy, not aggression. Be very wary if someone frequently perceives slights where there are none and reacts by lashing out at you.
36. Holding Grudges Against Those They Feel Have Wronged Them
They struggle with forgiving others for perceived slights or offenses. They may hold onto resentment for an inordinately long time.
Rather than forgive and forget, narcissists will bring up past hurts again and again to make the other person feel guilty. They use grudges as a way to maintain control and power over others.
If your partner cannot forgive others or frequently brings up past issues that should have been resolved, this is a sign that they may have trouble letting go of resentment.
“I raised the mystics up to the ladder of knowledge, in order to illustrate that one cannot be a narcissist when you are being praised by others.”
― Mwanandeke Kindembo
They view forgiveness as a sign of weakness, so they would rather fuel their indignation by clinging to old grudges and grievances. Over time, their unforgiving nature and anger can become emotionally draining for their partners and loved ones.
When dating someone, pay close attention to how they treat people who have upset or offended them in the past. A person’s ability to forgive speaks volumes about their character and emotional maturity.
While no one is perfect, a complete inability to move on from old hurts and forgive others is a major red flag in any relationship. If your partner nurtures resentment towards those who have wronged them, even for small slights, this unforgiving tendency will likely cause problems down the road.
37. Veiled Or Overt Threats To Get Their Own Way
Expressing a desire to physically hurt you or actually becoming physically violent is unacceptable. No one deserves to feel unsafe in their own relationship.
Threatening to share your private secrets, fears, or insecurities with others in order to control your behavior is a form of emotional blackmail. Do not tolerate this breach of trust.
“True and real friends don’t feel the need to be praised and worshipped.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson
Refusing to show you affection or meet your needs unless you comply with their demands is unfair and damages the relationship. A caring partner would not use intimacy and warmth as a bargaining chip.
Constantly threatening to end the relationship in order to get their way creates an environment of instability, anxiety, and walking on eggshells. Do not remain in a partnership where you feel you have to earn their love and commitment.
38. Calling Others Names Or Engaging In Character Assassination
A narcissist will frequently call you names or engage in character assassination of others to make themselves feel superior. They may refer to exes, friends, or coworkers in cruel, demeaning terms to lower them in your esteem and raise themselves up as superior.
Pay close attention if a new partner casually calls their exes “crazy” or “psycho” or makes overly critical judgments of others’ character or worth. This behavior shows a willingness to be cruel to make themselves appear better by comparison.
Do not dismiss this as a harmless quirk or think you will avoid becoming a future target of their insults and judgments. Their tendency to engage in name-calling and cruel criticism is a reflection of their need to tear others down to build themselves up.
Over time, living with constant criticism and judgment from a narcissistic partner can severely damage your mental health.
If name-calling and cruel criticism are present early on, they are likely to intensify over the course of the relationship. Protect yourself by avoiding further entanglements with this person.
39. Underhanded Tactics To Undermine Others
When dating a narcissist, be on the lookout for manipulative behaviors aimed at undermining your confidence and self-worth.
Some common tactics include:
- The narcissist will frequently criticize your appearance, intelligence, and accomplishments in subtle ways to make you feel inadequate.
- The narcissist will compare you to exes, friends, family members, or even strangers to make you feel like you don’t measure up in some way.
- The narcissist may ignore you for long periods, give you silent treatment, or withhold sex or intimacy as a way to keep you insecure in the relationship and craving their approval.
- If you experience success or joy from an outside source like a job promotion or hobby, the narcissist may react with jealousy and find ways to undermine or sabotage your happiness. Their goal is to keep you focused only on them.
These tactics, used over a long period of time, can be extremely damaging to your mental health and sense of self. Be very wary if you observe these behaviors in a romantic partner and consider ending the relationship. You deserve to be in a healthy relationship where you are respected, valued, and supported.
40. Complete Self Absorption
They believe they are superior to everyone around them. Signs of extreme self-absorption to watch out for include:
- Has difficulty understanding the emotions or needs of others.
- Is jealous of others and believes others are jealous of them.
41. Inability To Understand Another’s Perspective
They typically have trouble understanding points of view other than their own. They tend to be unwilling or unable to comprehend why others feel the way they do. A narcissist’s impaired ability to appreciate diverse perspectives often manifests in the following behaviors:
- They frequently interrupt or talk over people in conversations. Narcissists assume what they have to say is more important, so they do not listen to understand others.
- They become angry or aggressive when others express disagreement with their opinions or if they do not get their way. Narcissists see dissenting views as a personal attack because they cannot perceive alternative perspectives.
- They lack interest in the lives, activities, or emotions of others. A narcissist’s preoccupation with themselves leaves little mental capacity to consider the inner experiences of people around them in a meaningful way.
42. Lack Of Remorse For Harm Or Injury Caused To Others
A narcissist lacks remorse for the harm or injury they cause to others. They do not accept responsibility for their actions and do not care about the negative impact they have on people around them.
They do not experience feelings of guilt, shame, or remorse. They do not acknowledge the pain they inflict on people around them.
They continue to act in harmful and manipulative ways. Narcissists may apologize or show remorse only when it suits their needs or agenda. But there is no sincere regret for the pain they have caused. Their behavior patterns remain the same.
43. Rationalizing Behavior That Causes Harm To Others
They often justify harmful behavior by making excuses or blaming external factors. They may claim that their hurtful actions were due to circumstances beyond their control or that the other person deserved the treatment. These rationalizations allow narcissists to escape responsibility for the damage they cause.
“You know that unforgivable lie they tell about you. You may struggle with this one because you know, they know the truth. You are a good parent, but the lie must be implanted for them to win. It’s a strategy and they don’t care what it does to you or the kids because they have no empathy. It comes down to, they simply do not care about anyone but themselves. They must win.”
― Tracy A. Malone
Stand up for yourself by calling out this behavior and refusing to accept the excuses. Explain how their actions make you feel and that the rationalizations are unacceptable.
44. Not Learning From Mistakes Or Punishment
If your partner never seems to learn from their mistakes or face consequences for their harmful actions, this is a major red flag.
They typically lack insight into their own behavior and how it impacts others. If you try discussing how their behavior made you feel or confronting them about a transgression, they are likely to blame you or claim you are overreacting.
Rather than learning from their errors, narcissists tend to repeat unhealthy patterns and behaviors. They do not seem to grasp why their actions were wrong or hurtful, even after repeated explanations. Because they believe they can do no wrong, narcissists see no need to change their ways or make amends.
If you find yourself in a relationship where your partner never sincerely apologizes or modifies their behavior based on your feedback, you may be dating a narcissist.
Do not expect them to suddenly have an epiphany and change. The healthiest option is to accept this flaw in their character and end the relationship. You deserve a partner who will treat you with empathy, respect, and care.
45. Inability To Take Accountability For Wrongdoings
A narcissist will rarely apologize for their mistakes or hurtful behavior. They don’t care how their actions might affect them. If they do apologize, it’s usually to get what they want and the behavior is unlikely to change.
When confronted about something they did wrong, a narcissist will deflect and redirect the conversation to avoid taking responsibility.
They will bring up your perceived faults and flaws instead or create drama and chaos to distract from the real issue. Deflection is a tactic used to prevent them from feeling like a failure or imperfect in any way.
46. Reckless Disregard For The Safety Or Rights Of Others
Someone with narcissistic traits shows a reckless disregard for others in pursuit of their own desires.
For example, they might invite you over but spend the whole time focused on themselves, never asking about you or showing interest in who you are. They’ll talk over you and change the subject back to themselves. Your feelings or needs just don’t seem to register on their radar.
“Narcissists have a tough job because perfection is viewed as either all or nothing: If you are not perfect, you are imperfect, and if you are imperfect, you are nothing.”
― Theodore Millon
They also break promises or cancel plans at the last minute with weak excuses, leaving you hanging. Your time and commitments mean little to them versus their whims or selfish priorities. They lack basic courtesy and respect.
47. Repeating Inappropriate Behaviors Even After Facing Negative Consequences
If your partner repeatedly does things to upset you even after you’ve asked them not to, it’s a major red flag.
A narcissist will continue their hurtful behavior with no shame or regret. They don’t care how their actions impact you or your feelings. No matter how many times you explain that something they said or did was hurtful, they won’t change. They’ll turn the blame back on you, saying you’re too sensitive or dramatic.
They don’t feel remorse because they don’t fully understand how their behavior affects others. Don’t expect heartfelt apologies from a narcissist. The most you’ll get is an insincere “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Over time, you start to feel like you’re losing your grip on reality because a healthy partner would understand and respect your needs. But a narcissist will continue the same behavior again and again, eroding your self-esteem in the process.
While it’s a painful decision, your emotional health and safety should be the priority. You deserve to be in relationships where your needs are respected and your feelings are validated. Don’t settle for less.
48. Regularly Breaking Rules Or Laws With Excuses Made For Their Behavior
They constantly break rules or laws and make excuses for their behavior.
Their excuses typically blame someone or something else to avoid accountability, like “I was provoked,” “I had no choice,” “It’s not my fault,” or “You made me do it.”
Regularly breaking rules shows a lack of empathy for how their behavior might affect others. They only care about their own needs and desires. If caught breaking a law, they may try to charm their way out of it or blame the system. They genuinely believe they are above the rules.
Some examples of rule-breaking behavior in narcissists:
- Cheating in relationships or business dealings
- Disregard for traffic laws or parking rules
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Physical or verbal abuse
49. Repeatedly Crossing Others’ Boundaries
If your partner constantly disrespects you and oversteps, it shows a need to control.
Some signs your narcissistic partner repeatedly crosses boundaries:
- They snoop through your personal belongings without asking. They have no sense of privacy or trust.
- They show up unannounced at your work or home. Their need to keep tabs on you overrides normal social etiquette.
- They bombard you with texts and calls when you’re apart. Excessive messaging is a way to exert control and demand your attention.
- They share private details about you with others to embarrass you. Oversharing personal information is a violation of intimacy and shows a lack of discretion.
- They make important decisions that affect you without consulting you first. They assume they know what’s best and you have no say.
- They demand passwords to your accounts and devices. Requiring access to your private accounts and communications is a major invasion of privacy.
50. Habitual Lying Or Deceit
They have a habit of bending the truth to suit their needs and manipulating situations to their advantage.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where the narcissist makes you question your own sanity or perception of events. They might deny something they said or did to make you doubt your own memory and start believing their version of reality.
Narcissistic lying and deceit can be a sign of deeper manipulation and even abuse. Trust your instincts — if something feels off, it probably is.
51. Fraudulent Behavior For Profit Or Personal Gain
A narcissist will go to great lengths to get what they want, even if it means bending the truth or outright lying. Watch out for signs that your date is engaging in fraudulent behavior for their own benefit.
Have you noticed them lying on loan or job applications to get approved for things they normally wouldn’t? Do they lie about their accomplishments or credentials to make themselves seem more impressive? A narcissist will falsify information without remorse to get ahead.
They may also commit fraud in business deals or contracts to maximize profits. Things like tax evasion, insider trading, embezzlement, or Ponzi schemes should be red flags.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get roped into any “can’t-miss” investments or “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities they claim to be offering.
In a relationship, they may lie or manipulate you to gain control or get what they want from you. Be wary of excessive flattery, lavish gifts, or grand gestures early on as these can be signs of a narcissist love bombing you to win you over. Once they have you hooked, fraudulent behavior will emerge.
52. Use Of Aliases Or Withholding Information About Themselves
When dating someone new, be on the lookout for signs that they may be a narcissist. One major red flag is if they frequently use aliases or are cagey about details of their personal life.
Do they go by different names in different areas of their life? Do they avoid talking about their family, work, or past relationships? Narcissists like to keep parts of themselves hidden from view. They may use nicknames or pseudonyms to compartmentalize people in their lives. Or they just don’t want you to know the full truth about them.
Some examples of this behavior:
- They insist certain friends call them by a nickname but ask you to use their full name.
- They never mention family or claim not to be close with them but drop hints that suggest otherwise.
- They say they’re self-employed but remain vague about what they actually do for a living.
- They share very few details about past relationships or blame the failure of them solely on their ex.
- They get angry or defensive if you ask innocent questions about their background or personal life.
53. Conning Or Manipulating Others For Personal Gain
A narcissist will manipulate and con others for their own gain without remorse. They see people as objects to exploit, not human beings with feelings.
Watch out for these warning signs:
- They take advantage of your kindness and generosity. Narcissists prey on empathetic, compassionate people. They have no qualms about using your goodwill for their benefit.
- Healthy self-esteem comes from within, but narcissists rely on constant ego-stroking from those around them. They expect you to cater to their needs for applause.
54. Pursuit Of Success At Any Cost, Without Regard For Ethics
A narcissist will stop at nothing to achieve their goals and visions of success. Ethics and how their actions affect others are of little concern. Their needs and desires come before all else.
A narcissist believes that achieving their aims and ambitions justifies the means. They have little concern for honesty, ethics, or how their behavior impacts others. Lying, cheating, and manipulating are fair game. You may notice frequent “white lies” and broken promises. The rules don’t apply to them.
55. Making Decisions Without Regard For Consequences
When dating a narcissist, they will frequently make important decisions without considering how their actions might impact you or your feelings. Their needs and desires are the only ones that matter in their minds.
- They will plan elaborate vacations, dinners out, or other activities without asking for your input or seeing if the timing works for your schedule. Your obligations and priorities are unimportant to them.
- They may make large purchases like a new car or home without discussing it with you first or making sure you’re on board with the financial commitment. They expect you to simply go along with whatever they want.
- They often accept new jobs, plan moves to a different city or state, or make other life-changing choices with no regard for your thoughts or feelings on the matter. They dismiss your concerns and expect you to cater to their needs.
- In a relationship with a narcissist, be prepared for them to frequently make unilateral decisions that impact you both. They believe their vision is the only one that counts. Don’t expect your opinions or desires to hold much weight or influence their choices. Over time, living with someone who disregards your agency can significantly damage your self-esteem and independence.
56. Refusal To Accept Blame Or Accountability For Mistakes
A narcissist will never admit when they’re wrong or say sorry for hurting you. They see apologies as a sign of weakness, so they avoid them at all costs.
They always blame others for their mistakes and shortcomings. If confronted about something they did wrong, they’ll deflect and make excuses, often turning the tables to blame you instead. Don’t expect a sincere apology — you’ll never get one.
This refusal to be accountable shows a lack of maturity. Healthy, caring partners can admit fault, say sorry when needed, and work to do better next time. A narcissist, on the other hand, will always insist they’re right to avoid feeling flawed or inadequate in any way.
Their ego is too fragile to handle the blow that comes with accepting blame, so they project it onto others to protect themselves.
This “blame game” is emotionally damaging and prevents real intimacy from forming. A relationship with a narcissist will lack trust, honesty, and the security that comes from mutual understanding and forgiveness.
57. Frequent Drama And Crises As Excuses For Their Behavior
They thrive on drama and chaos. Their lives seem to be a never-ending series of crises and emergencies. There’s always some excuse for their bad behavior. They may start arguments or pick fights just to get attention and make you feel sorry for them.
- They constantly stir up issues or manufacture problems to get sympathy. Regular drama and turmoil in their lives give them an excuse to act out and demand your support.
- Once the drama has passed, they go back to their usual selfish behavior. The crises were just a means to an end to get what they wanted from you.
- Over time, the constant chaos and crises take an emotional toll. You feel stressed, worried, and worn down. Your own needs and life get pushed aside as you rush in to help them, again and again.
58. Exaggeration Or Fabrication Of Physical Or Psychological Symptoms For Sympathy
If your partner frequently exaggerates or fabricates illnesses or injuries to garner sympathy and attention, this is a major red flag. Narcissists crave constant validation and praise, and physical or mental ailments are an easy way to achieve that.
Has your partner ever claimed to have a mysterious illness with vague symptoms that no doctor seems able to diagnose? Do they post frequent social media updates about their various afflictions and health scares, reveling in the outpouring of concern and well wishes?
They may manufacture or exaggerate health issues to avoid responsibility, gain control over you, or manipulate you into giving them special treatment.
Their maladies always seem to flare up when there are chores to be done, events to attend, or obligations to fulfill. Yet somehow they make a quick recovery once they get the attention and dote they desire.
59. Feigning Illness Or Injury To Avoid Work
Have you noticed your partner frequently calling in “sick” to get out of work or family responsibilities? They are prone to exaggerating or faking illnesses and injuries to manipulate others into giving them attention, and sympathy, or to get out of things they don’t want to do.
Watch out for a pattern of your partner suddenly coming down with mysterious illnesses or injuries right before big events, holidays, work responsibilities, or any time they want to avoid accountability.
They may claim to have the flu, migraines, back pain, or other hard-to-prove afflictions that come on quickly and then disappear once they’ve gotten the attention and nurturing they crave.
Don’t fall for frequent sob stories about their latest malady or make excuses for their irresponsibility. While everyone gets sick at some point, narcissists will milk any minor ache or pain into a full-blown crisis and expect you to drop everything to care for them. They have no qualms about lying or exaggerating to shirk duties and get you to baby them.
If this sounds familiar, you may be dating a narcissist. The next time your partner has a sudden illness or injury, suggest they see a doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment plan rather than demanding your constant attention and care.
Their reaction can reveal their true motivations and the legitimacy of their claims. Healthy, responsible partners don’t make a habit of deceiving others or avoiding obligations through dishonest means.
60. Claiming Excessive Empathy Or Emotional Depth To Manipulate Others
When dating someone with narcissistic traits, be wary of their claims of extraordinary empathy or emotional depth. This is often a manipulation tactic.
They lack emotional depth but will pretend otherwise to appear charming or bond with their targets. They may say things like:
- “I’m extremely empathetic. I can sense what you’re feeling.”
- “I’m very emotionally intuitive.”
- “I have a deep capacity for emotion that most people don’t understand.”
Don’t be fooled. Their empathy and emotion are superficial and self-serving. They use emotional claims to:
- Gain your trust and make you feel like they “get” you.
- Excuse their lack of interest in your feelings by asserting their own “emotional overload.”
True empathy and emotional depth are shown through listening, validating others, and compromising when needed. They lack these qualities. Their emotions center around themselves, not others.
Be wary if someone frequently talks about how empathetic or emotionally deep they are. Look for actions over words. How do they treat others? Do they listen to you and show interest in your feelings? Or is the focus always back on themselves?
Don’t ignore your intuition. If someone seems overly emotional in a way that makes you uncomfortable, there may be a reason for that uneasiness. Observe them closely before becoming deeply involved. Their lack of interest and true emotion will become more apparent over time.
61. Pretending To Care For Someone To Serve Their Own Interests
A narcissist’s concern for others is often superficial and conditional. They may pretend to care about you or show empathy, but their true motivation is self-serving.
For example, they may act worried if you’re sick or upset, not because they genuinely care about your well-being, but because your distress is inconvenient or may make them look uncaring. Their concern disappears once you’re feeling better and no longer reflecting poorly on them.
They also frequently pretend to care about others to gain access to resources or opportunities that will benefit them.
They may show interest in your hobbies, career, or accomplishments not because they actually care, but because they believe associating with you will raise their own status or open doors for them in some way. Their caring facade will fade once they’ve gotten what they wanted from the relationship.
62. Fake Apologies Or Gestures Of Remorse That Are Not Sincere
If your new partner frequently says “sorry”, but their behavior doesn’t actually change, it’s a sign they may not be sincere.
They are charming at first but lack true intention. An apology without changed behavior is manipulative. They may say “I’m sorry you feel that way” instead of taking responsibility for their actions.
Watch out for empty gestures like an expensive gift after hurting you, then return to the same behavior.
They want to keep you hooked, so they pretend to care when they’re called out. However, they lack self-awareness and the ability to reflect on how their actions impact others.
63. Excessive Need To Always Be Right Or In Control
If your new love interest always has to be right and in control, it could be a sign you’re a narcissist.
They believe they are superior to others and that their way of thinking is the only logical way. They frequently interrupt conversations to correct unimportant details or prove others wrong.
When you share an opinion or story with them, do they immediately argue against it or correct insignificant points? Do they frequently say things like “Actually, that’s not right” or “Well, technically…”? Narcissists can’t stand to be wrong and will go to great lengths to prove they are smarter or more capable than everyone else.
In a relationship, their need for control and to always be right will eventually start to wear you down.
You’ll find yourself constantly defending your thoughts and walking on eggshells to avoid setting them off. The healthiest relationships are based on mutual respect, not an imbalance of power where one person is always insisting on getting their way.
64. Making Unfair Or Unreasonable Demands Of Others
They expect people to drop everything for them whenever they want. If you don’t comply with their demands immediately, they become angry or play the victim.
For example, a narcissist may call you up out of the blue and demand you come over right away. If you say you have other plans or commitments, they respond with rage or accusations that you don’t really care about them. They believe their needs should come before anyone else’s.
If they want something from you, they expect you to give it to them without question.
You may feel obligated to meet their demands to avoid conflict or tantrums. But giving in to their unrealistic expectations only feeds their sense of entitlement and ego.
Let them know their behavior is unacceptable, and don’t feel guilty about saying “no.”
While it can be difficult, don’t let a narcissist take advantage of you or make you feel guilty for having your own life and priorities. Their demands for your time, energy, and resources are unreasonable and selfish.
65. Expecting People To Automatically Comply With Their Expectations
In a narcissist’s mind, they should always come before everyone else in your life. They expect you to drop everything for them whenever they want your time and attention.
Your needs, desires, and priorities are insignificant to them. If you don’t put them first, they feel betrayed and unloved.
They often expect you to cater to their every whim without complaint. They may demand expensive gifts, lavish trips, or other signs of your devotion as “proof” of your love and loyalty.
If you don’t give them what they want when they want it, they become angry, and accusatory, and may threaten to leave you for someone else who will treat them “the way they deserve.”
66. Becoming Angry Or Punishing When Expectations Are Not Met
The narcissist will react angrily or punish you for not giving them what they want when they want it. If you’re late to a date, don’t respond to a text right away, or don’t lavish them with enough praise or affection, they will retaliate.
This could be through angry outbursts, passive-aggressive behavior, guilt trips, or temporarily withholding affection.
Their ego is so fragile that any perceived slight or imperfection in the relationship is unacceptable. Rather than communicating their needs in a healthy way or compromising, they will try to control you through punishment to get their way.
67. Strong Preference For Surrounding Themselves With People Less Intelligent Or Accomplished Than They Are
They crave constant compliments to boost their ego, and surrounding themselves with people they deem “less than” makes them feel superior and fuels their sense of arrogance.
They choose friends and partners who make them look good in comparison, not because they actually care about the other person.
68. Strong Desire For Affiliations And Associations With High-status People And Institutions
If your partner constantly brags about their high-status friends and affiliations, it could be a sign of narcissism.
They have an excessive need for social status, so they surround themselves with people they believe can enhance their prestige and influence.
Does your partner frequently mention well-known people they know or have connections with? Do they seem overly impressed by fame and status?
They love to drop names of important people to make themselves seem more impressive by association. They believe affiliating themselves with prestigious individuals, groups or institutions boosts their own self-worth and status.
Rather than pursuing genuine relationships, narcissists network and socialize primarily for selfish reasons — to advance their own agendas and climb the social or career ladder.
They tend to choose friends, partners, and social groups that they believe will raise their own status or provide them with benefits like money, power, or special privileges. Once they’ve gotten what they need from someone, they may quickly lose interest in the relationship.
Some narcissists also feel the need to flaunt their high-status lifestyle through excessive spending and lavish displays of wealth and privilege. They believe this helps establish them as superior in the eyes of others.
Of course, not all wealthy or well-connected people are narcissists. But if someone seems overly focused on prestige, fame, and status as a way to feel admired or mask insecurity, it could indicate deeper issues.
The desire for status and prestige is normal to some degree. But in narcissists, this drive is disproportionate and primarily self-serving.
69. Parasitic Lifestyle Dependent On Others Providing Resources
When dating a narcissist, their parasitic lifestyle becomes evident pretty quickly. They rely heavily on other people to provide for them emotionally, and financially.
A narcissist believes the world revolves around them. Your time, money, and resources are expected to be at their disposal. If you don’t provide these things, they become angry, upset, or make you feel guilty.
Relationships require reciprocity, but with a narcissist, it’s a one-way street. They demand your time, affection, gifts, and money but give little in return. They see relationships as a means to an end to get their needs met, not a mutually beneficial partnership.
70. Condescension Toward Those They Consider Inferior
When dating someone with narcissistic tendencies, their condescending attitude will become more and more apparent over time. They see themselves as inherently superior to others in intellect, looks, or other attributes.
This means they will frequently talk down to those they deem inferior — especially service staff, strangers, and at times, even you. They make demeaning comments about people’s looks, intelligence, job status, education, background, or other attributes as a way to prop themselves up. You’ll notice the rude, entitled way they interact with waiters, cashiers, taxi drivers, and others in the service industry.
They believe they are entitled to be treated like royalty and have little patience for “the little people”. Don’t be surprised if they make unreasonable demands and become angry or vindictive when these demands are not met to their satisfaction.
Their fragile ego requires constant stroking, and they have no qualms about putting down others to feel superior in comparison.
Over time, you may find their haughty attitude and callous comments about “lesser” beings embarrassing and off-putting. Do not expect them to change — this behavior is a hallmark of their disordered personality.
The only way to avoid being subjected to their contempt is to avoid contact with them as much as possible.
71. Patronizing Or Contemptuous Behavior Toward Others
Your narcissist partner may treat service staff, colleagues, or people they perceive as “inferior” in a contemptuous or patronizing manner.
The way people treat others says a lot about their character and empathy. If your partner frequently talks down to waiters, acts impatient with customer service reps, or is outright rude to people they see as beneath them, that behavior will likely turn on you over time.
They view most people as inferior, and that includes their romantic partners. Their patronizing attitude is a thinly veiled show of power meant to make others feel small so they can feel big. Don’t fall for their charms and think you’ll be the exception. You won’t be.
Over time, the way they speak to others may start to get turned on during arguments, disagreements, or any time you fail to meet their unrealistic expectations. The contempt they show for others is a preview of how they will ultimately view and treat you.
This type of behavior shows a fundamental lack of compassion for others. And make no mistake, if they can dehumanize strangers and casual acquaintances, they will have no problem doing the same to you when you stop feeding their ego or start calling them out on their behavior.
72. Lack Of Interest In The Substance Of Conversations, Focusing Instead On How What Is Said Impacts Their Image
A narcissist lacks genuine interest in you or the substance of your conversations. They are focused primarily on how interactions impact their image and ego.
- Rather than listening to understand you better, they listen for opportunities to steer the discussion back to themselves. Their responses frequently start with “I…” as they turn the focus onto their experiences, opinions, and accomplishments.
- They don’t ask follow-up questions to gain deeper insight into what you’re sharing. There’s no curiosity about your interests, values, or goals. The depth and meaning behind your words are lost on them.
- Discussions feel superficial because they are. Narcissists dwell on the surface level, concerned mainly with appearances and impressing others. They want to be seen as interesting and intelligent more than they want authentic connections.
- Compliments you give them are quickly dismissed or argued with as they fish for a more lavish ego boost. But any compliments you receive will be sparse unless they are a means to highlight something they did to earn your attention.
- Their reactions seem disproportionate or bizarre because they interpret events through the lens of “How does this impact the way people view me?”. Not because they genuinely care about you or the situation at hand.
73. Superficial Charm Used To Manipulate Others
A narcissist’s charm is superficial and manipulative. They turn on the charm to get what they want from you, whether it’s admiration, money, sex, or control. Don’t mistake their glibness and flattery for sincerity.
Their compliments are not genuine appreciation of your qualities but rather a means to an end to cajole and coax you into giving them their ego boost.
The flattery and praise will dry up as soon as you cease to stroke their ego or provide something they need. Their charm is not a sincere reflection of their fondness for you but only a tool to be exploited for their gain.
Don’t be duped by their charisma and magnetism. A narcissist’s charm is a veneer that hides their selfishness and inability to care about you in any real way. They are glib talkers, fast talkers, and clever manipulators ready to use their superficial charm for exploitation and control.
See beyond their charisma to the lack of real affection underneath. A charming narcissist can be dangerously manipulative, using their wiles to twist the truth and get their way.
Don’t let your guard down or be taken in by their charm and charisma. Look for the selfish motivations behind their behavior and don’t believe their flattery.
Charm and charisma are the narcissist’s most potent weapons. But forewarned is forearmed. Know that their charm is not a reflection of their care or concern for you but merely a tool for getting their needs met in an exploitative manner. Don’t be seduced by a narcissist’s charm into giving more than you get in return.
74. Self-promotion Motivated By Underlying Insecurity Rather Than Self-assurance
The narcissist’s self-promotion is really a cover for deep insecurity and inadequacy. They crave external validation to compensate for the lack of self-love. So they boast, brag, and exaggerate their own importance at every turn.
But scratch the surface of a narcissist’s boastful claims and you’ll find little substance or truth. They hype themselves up to seem more successful, intelligent, or talented than they really are. Their ego is puffed up to hide the weak, damaged self underneath. Sadly, no amount of praise or accolades can fill the emptiness inside. The narcissist’s ego is like a balloon — it inflates bigger and bigger, yet holds nothing but hot air.
The narcissist’s self-promotion may seem confident and self-assured at first. But in reality, it’s a fragile facade covering up feelings of inadequacy, self-loathing and emotional vulnerability. Their ego depends entirely on what others think of them. Without constant praise, the narcissist feels utterly worthless.
75. Tendency To Recruit “Acolytes” Who Will Lavish Them With Praise
To get their “fix”, they will often recruit followers known as “acolytes” whose main purpose is to lavish them with compliments and inflate their egos.
If you’re dating a narcissist, watch out for their tendency to surround themselves with these devoted admirers. The acolytes are typically people the narcissist has manipulated into becoming their biggest fans and defenders.
In exchange for the narcissist’s “friendship” and approval, the acolytes will shower them with agreement, and compliments to feed their need for worship and prop up their exaggerated sense of importance.
The acolytes also serve another purpose for the narcissist — they are used as pawns to attack any threat to the narcissist’s ego or public image. The acolytes will viciously turn on anyone who dares to criticize the narcissist or threaten their superiority.
If you speak out against the narcissist’s behavior or call them out on their lies, the acolytes will come after you to defend their leader. They have essentially been brainwashed by the narcissist into believing the narcissist can do no wrong.
76. Creating Unhealthy Dependencies On Themselves In Others To Satisfy Their Need For Devotion
A narcissist will go out of their way to make you rely on them for emotional support and validation. They create unhealthy dependencies to keep you devoted to them.
Slowly but surely, you become emotionally reliant on them for approval and reassurance. Your self-esteem erodes as they break you down to build you back up.
You feel like you constantly need to please them to earn their love. They demand your complete devotion and loyalty while giving little in return.
The dependency they cultivate is highly unhealthy and damaging.
It won’t be easy, but creating distance from their manipulation and surrounding yourself with genuine support can help you heal and rebuild what was lost. You deserve so much more than an unhealthy relationship that only serves to satisfy your ego.
77. Exploiting Followers With Charm And Charisma For Personal Gain
They will promise you the world to get what they want, whether it’s money, sex, or power over you. But their promises are empty. They have no intention of actually following through or doing what they say. They just want to use their charismatic charm to exploit you for their own selfish reasons.
Don’t fall for the grand gestures and lavish praise. Look at their actions, not their words. If they chronically fail to do what they promise or their actions don’t match their words, they are likely manipulating you for their own personal gain.
After exploring the 77 red-flag behaviors of narcissism, it becomes clear how toxic and damaging this personality disorder can be if left unchecked.
While narcissism manifests in varying degrees, even “mundane” narcissists take an immense toll through their subtle belittling, and superiority complex over time. We all deserve relationships based on mutual care, respect, and compassion — not coercion and artifice.
Learning to spot narcissism’s subtle signs protects us from its erosion of self-esteem and prevents years of second-guessing ourselves in increasingly damaging dynamics.
It allows us to act with agency rather than being perpetually confused, blinded, or caught off guard.
Understanding the key traits of narcissism gives us the insight we need to make wise, self-honoring choices. It frees us from narcissistic abuse and positions us to instead form relationships with emotionally available, sincere, compassionate people.
By arming yourself with this knowledge, you take the first step in reclaiming your self-worth and seeking the healthy connections you deserve. The power is now in your hands to chart a new path forward on your terms.