It’s hard to spot a narcissist immediately. Nevertheless, these 7 signs will tell you you’re dealing with one:
You feel as though your words don’t really touch the narcissist. No matter how much sincerity or energy you invest into speaking your heart out, your message doesn’t get across. What is more, your desire to discuss your relationship with the narcissist or their behavior, often makes them offended and defensive, causing them to change the subject and leave you feeling inadequate, needy and unclear (eventually, even to yourself).
Narcissists usually regard doubt as an unforgivable weakness that they should battle by appearing always right, not willing to budge an inch from their opinion or reconsider their actions. Even when they have been clearly mean, hurtful or disrespectful, narcissists will usually refuse to take responsibility for their wrongdoings – explaining their behavior and words with external provocation (“You made me say/do that!”). Your desire to shed light onto their faults annoys them and they become aggressive and angry, shutting off on you and withdrawing as though you have deliberately ruined their day (and the relationship).
Narcissists are masterminds of twisting the truth so that you always seem to be the one to blame. It is usually in the initial phase of the relationship that they put you on a pedestal and idealize you, making you feel unique and indispensable, but as soon as you’re hooked the narcissist will become cold, withdrawn and criticising. The sweetness of the flattery they used to bathe you in will turn into grumpiness and dissatisfaction with who you are, what you said, what you did and what you didn’t. And you will probably think they must have a point for accusing you since they used to hold you in such high regard and worshipped you – you certainly must have done something wrong to cause them to change their attitude towards you so drastically.
Very often egocentricity is confused for excessive self-love and self-care. Actually, to be completely immersed into yourself is a sign of lack of genuine self-acceptance. Deep down a narcissist is not convinced he/she has the qualities and achievements they flaunt to the world. Just the opposite, they are ridden by covet self-doubt that they can only medicate by adopting a behavior that screams self-confidence, arrogance and selfishness. As one saying put it wisely: “The loudest man in the room is the weakest man in the room”.
In order to be so savvy at manipulation narcissists need one additional quality – to be impeccable liars. And more often than not they are. Since a narcissist lacks the potential to develop and stick to innate moral and emotional values like loyalty and empathy, it is easy for them to lie, to twist the truth to their advantage and feel no remorse for doing so. It is very hard to spot the lying because usually narcissists are charming, hypnotic, and dramatic – all of which allows them to mimic sincerity and integrity effortlessly.
Because of their tormenting hidden self-hate narcissists are extremely sensitive to criticism – even when it is constructive or respectfully offered. Narcissism is not an accidental, unpleasant approach to life and people – it is a medication for inner conflicts that cause pain to the individual making them doubt their worthiness and experience intense yet hidden self loath. That is the reason why narcissists are so easily repulsed and enraged by criticism – because they are afraid (without realizing it) that their inadequacy, fears and issues will be exposed and then they will have to deal with their self contempt and anger, to castigate themselves and suffer greatly under the pressure of unresolved inner hate and unspoken fear of rejection.
Narcissism goes together with a general lack of empathy. The reason for this deficiency is not pure meanness. It is something a lot deeper than that. In their childhood certain people have been subjected to indigestible amounts of cruelty, ridicule, coldness, emotional deprivation and outright abuse. The only strategy to cope with those experiences was to shut off on the pain. They became insensitive in order to save themselves. It was an act of self love and not of meanness. The downside of this shutting-off strategy is that by learning how not to feel terror or pain, one usually stops feeling anything at all. This explains to a certain extent why narcissists are emotionally detached and somehow impregnated against genuine feeling. This explanation for their lack of empathy should not be a reason to justify cruel or damaging narcissistic behavior. It only provides another perspective from which the narcissistic emotional deadness can be better understood and seen more as a consequence than a cause.