31 Revealing Characteristics of a Narcissistic Person

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Guy in suite with styled hair

“Our new colleague is totally underqualified and by the way, my new outfit looks good on me, doesn’t it?”

A phrase only a narcissist would say. Narcissists are people who are incredibly convinced of themselves. They feel superior and important and draw their energy from the attention of others.

However, narcissism is actually a disease. People with narcissistic personality disorder suffer from a lack of empathy and hide their true low self-confidence with their exaggerated behavior.

In this article, we want to give you a list of 31 characteristics of a narcissist that help you to spot one. We also explain what is a narcissist and how you can help other people to reduce their narcissistic behavior. At the end of this article, you will find an additional chapter on narcissism on Facebook.

Jump ahead to any of the sections below:

What Is Narcissism?

Older guy sitting and working on his smartphone

Having some narcissistic traits is actually quite normal and just because you have a strong self-confidence, that doesn’t mean you are a narcissist.

The true meaning of narcissism becomes clearer with the following definition:

“People with narcissism have a very pronounced sense of their own superiority and a deep-seated need for admiration. They believe they are superior to others and have little regard for the feelings of their fellow people. In fact, narcissists cover their fragile self-esteem with their behavior and are not open to criticism.”

However, narcissism is not to be confused with egoism.

While an egoist does not really perceive the viewpoints of others, a narcissist does see the viewpoints of his fellow people, but ignores them. People with severe narcissism even get angry when others don’t see things as they do.

However, all of these behaviors cover real intents below the surface. The following characteristics will show you what a narcissist really wants to achieve with their behavior.

Characteristic and Intent 1: No Trust in Others

You can generally say that even in long-term relationships, a narcissist doesn’t really trust others.

In an open and honest relationship, a natural trust between the two partners usually builds up over time. However, if one side abuses this trust, the other side will feel hurt. The narcissist protects himself against this risk of vulnerability through his behavior. They refuse to put themselves in a position of vulnerability by trusting others.

Although they act as grandiose and superior on the outside, they are constantly afraid on the inside and are in a state of increased vigilance.

Characteristic and Intent 2: Self-Protection Through Superiority

Many see narcissists as people with an excessively inflated ego. The truth is, it’s not the central core of the personality disorder.

The core is the absolute resistance against the feeling of vulnerability. Hence the illusion of permanent superiority which often gives you the impression of an inflated ego.

Characteristic and Intent 3: Aversion to Vulnerabilities

It’s perfectly normal that you don’t always feel good. Sometimes you are happy, sometimes sad, proud or even hurt. Narcissists, however, try to trick themselves by pretending that they feel good permanently. They fear that an acknowledgment of weakness will give others a chance to take advantage of them or gain power over them.

To keep the show alive and avert feelings of weakness, the narcissist gives and acts stronger and more powerful, as he or she actually is. They overcompensate to distract from their own weaknesses.

Characteristic and Intent 4: Flight Response Instead of Self-Awareness

If a narcissist treats you badly or ignores you, you must understand that it’s not your fault. Don’t worry, or take it personally, if someone behaves narcissistically towards you. Be empathetic and realize that you are talking to a narcissist, then most negative thoughts will disappear by themselves.

In order to do so, you need to understand the following three things about narcissists, that are proven by studies:

  • They are aware that others may see them less positive then they do.
  • Narcissists have certain insights into their personality and know about their behavior (for example, they describe themselves as arrogant).
  • They are aware that their often positive first impression gets worse over time.

A narcissist is aware of both his behavior and his character traits, but the urge for self-affirmation is above all else.

However, most of them resist a  NPS diagnosis (narcissistic personality disorder) or any other medical treatment. Simply put, they don’t like to be called narcissists and are hostile to that term.

The next point in order to understand narcissism is to not think in NPS and non-NPS. Narcissism has an entire spectrum of certain behaviors, ranging from totally harmless traits to a clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder.

The 2 Types of Narcissism

You will come across different types of Narcissism. We refer to the American Psychological Association, which defines two types: grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.

The grandiose narcissist are the stereotypical ones. You can recognize them by the fact that they are more extroverted and present themselves to the outside world with an extremely pronounced self-confidence.

The vulnerable narcissist is the unremarkable, shy and rather introverted type. They don’t necessarily pretend to be the best and live their narcissism behind closed doors.

Grandiose Narcissists

The following signs are typical for this type:

  • They react badly to negative feedback
  • They seem to be very self-confident
  • They show a high degree of dominance
  • They have no problem telling everyone how great they are
  • They are afraid of rejection
  • They are willing to end a relationship without sign unless they get the necessary admiration
  • They demand special treatment
  • They are not very emphatic

At an early age, the parents gave the grandiose narcissist the feeling that he or she was superior to others. This gave rise to the expectation that this type of contact would continue for the rest of his or her life. Accordingly, with this behavior a grandiose narcissist tries to fulfil the expectations of his or her parents.

Vulnerable Narcissists

You can tell this type from the following signs:

  • They’re much more sensitive than grandiose narcissists
  • They actually feel incompetent and use narcissism as a facade
  • They are afraid of rejection
  • They feel anxious and harassed if they are not treated specially
  • They have a roller coaster of feelings of superiority and inferiority
  • They often worry about how they will be perceived by their partner in a relationship
  • They can become jealous and possessive in a relationship
  • They are less active users of social networks such as Facebook and co.

In most cases, this kind of behavior develops during childhood. If the parents are unable to establish a close relationship with their child, the child is not really sure whether the parents love it or not. This leads to a certain insecurity, which extends through the child’s later life.

It’s not only the parenting in childhood that plays a key role in the development of narcissism:

  • In general, more men than women suffer from narcissism.
  • Genetics and neurobiology also play a key role.
  • Children who show narcissistic characteristics do not necessarily develop one of the two narcissistic personality disorders. It can simply be typical for their age.

31 Narcissistic Characteristics

Man talking about himself

What are the signs of a narcissistic person? In this test, we will show you 31 examples of how you can spot a narcissist.

1. You get manipulated

Narcissists are masters of manipulation. They manipulate to feed their ego and satisfy their needs.

2. You get controlled

If you don’t behave or do things the way the narcissist expects you to, they quickly become upset. The need to control is one of the most important characteristics of a narcissist.

3. You deal with a lack of empathy

Many narcissists believe that other people are jealous of them. They are so selfish that they can’t grasp your views. Therefore do not expect empathy when you are dealing with a narcissist.

4. You think narcissism is especially about people in leadership positions

Narcissists like to be in command. In a leadership position, they can live out their need for power and appreciation and are more immune to criticism.

5. You can’t criticize

A sure sign of narcissism is the rejection of criticism. Sometimes the narcissist feels so offended in his honour that he becomes angry or has a crying fit.

6. You notice that status symbols are particularly important to them

Narcissists like to emphasize prestige. This can be at dinner, shopping or when choosing a hotel. Extrinsic motivators are clearly superior to narcissists.

7. You shall trust, but you shall not be trusted

The constant fear of mockery and rejection leads a narcissist in not trusting anyone. On the other hand, trust is expected from you. The closer your relationship, the more you get to notice that behavior.

8. You also hear them talking about superiority in failed situations

In their views, narcissists remain superior to all others. No matter if things go well or not. As soon as things go badly, however, narcissists suffer a complete change of mood and remain true to their exaggerated behavior.

Put simply, a narcissist is either the best of the best or the worst of the worst.

9. You know your partner would cheat on you

The narcissist’s own feelings come before the feelings of others. After all, a narcissist is always looking for something better or new to inflate his self-confidence. As a result, they are more likely to cheat or leave their partner. For more details, check out the chapter on narcissists in relationships.

10. You notice they feel extremely special

Narcissists believe they are unique and superior. This applies mostly to viewpoints on success, beauty, love and intelligence. They feel themselves to be the superlative in many areas.

11. You hear them talking about someone amazing they know

The word namedropping describes this behavior very well. The narcissist’s goal here is to make you believe that he gets along very well with a known and outstanding person.

12. You have a better chance of meeting a narcissistic man than a woman

As we already explained above, men are much more likely to be affected by this personality disorder.

13. You don’t feel like your personal boundaries are being respected

Narcissists believe that everything belongs to them and everyone wants the same things like them. If they want something from you, they will do everything to get it from you. Narcissists push for what they want. Due to the lack of empathy and the feeling of supremacy, they often don’t accept no as an answer and do whatever they feel like to do.

14. You have to always listen to excuses

A narcissist likes to be in control, but refuses to be responsible for mistakes. Instead of confessing guilt and taking personal responsibility, he will try to blame others and come up with excuses.

15. You are given the feeling of being a loser

You’re always inferior to the narcissists in hierarchical thinking. It rarely happens that a narcissist considers you equal, because he only feels superior and secure at the top.

16. You flatter your counterpart just to keep the peace

There are people where constant flattery is the only way to avoid conflict.

People sitting on a bench talking

17. You get reduced to your looks

Not everyone who cares about their appearance is necessarily a narcissist. As soon as appearance is above everything else and people are perfectly styled from head to toe without exception, it’s more likely to be a further indicator of narcissism.

18. You have to be careful what you say because they take everything personally

Especially the vulnerable narcissists react with anger and devaluation if they don’t get recognized or enough positive attention.

19. You hear them talking about themselves most of the time

A conversation can start with your problems. If a narcissist is involved in the conversation, it will not be long before it is about his problems. Be aware: a narcissist is not a good listener.

20. You can’t work in a team with them

In order to work successfully in a team, the opinions and feelings of others must be taken into account and be respected. Things a narcissist doesn’t care about. So don’t expect successful teamwork.

21. You don’t always recognize them by their extroversion, because they can also be shy

The narcissistic stereotype is rather the extrovert who speaks most of the time and attracts attention. However, there is also a quiet and shy type. This is the vulnerable type.

22. You often have to listen to unfounded fear

To feel better, narcissists transfer their fears to you. They do this by accusing you of not putting them above everything else in your life or by telling you to “not being supportive enough”.

23. You do not achieve any changes with logical arguments

If you start the attempt to point out how much the behavior of the narcissists hurts you, using logical arguments, it only leads to rejection. Even if they say they understand you, in the end, they won’t change.

24. You keep seeing them on your social network feeds

People with grandiose narcissistic personality disorder are particularly active users of Facebook and other social networks. We have dedicated an entire chapter to this below.

25. You’re just a short-term friend.

After a good first impression, the narcissist’s popularity curve sinks rapidly. They either get left or replace friends in search of something better and new attention.

26. You have to show endorsements all the time.

Narcissists need constant attention. Whether it’s the grandiose or vulnerable type. It doesn’t matter how often you compliment them, they never have enough attention and confirmation.

27. You’re surprised by their shamelessness.

In their opinion, they are never wrong and therefore don’t feel guilty. Even when they actually feel ashamed of their behavior inside, they will act shamelessly to the outside.

28. You are confronted with perfectionism

They really want everything to be perfect. They, you and everything must be perfect. In practice, this is impossible, which leads to complaints and dissatisfaction.

29. You see what mess they leave behind previous relationships

If there is a series of former, bad relationships and frustrated employers, that might be another sign for narcissistic behavior. When they get into a new relationship, it goes well for a while before it breaks apart, again.

30. You find them captivating the first time you meet them

Narcissists tend to make great first impressions and to be charismatic. Later, however, your perception of them changes.

31. You don’t hear them describe themselves as narcissists

Narcissists have some insight into their behavior, but they would never call themselves narcissist. They simply believe they are very special.

Are You a Narcissist?

After reading the 31 characters for narcissistic behavior, you may be wondering: “Am I a narcissist?

Unfortunately, we cannot give you a definite answer now. There are countless tests and quizzes on the internet on this subject, but they can’t replace a personal conversation with a psychologist.

If you openly and honestly ask yourself if you are a narcissist, you may have some narcissistic traits, but you are highly unlikely to have a personality disorder. A real narcissist would never admit that he is (or might be) a narcissist.

Traits of a Narcissistic Friend or Partner

Two people dating

If your good friends or your partner have plenty of narcissistic traits, you face difficult times. In the following chapter, we explain the different behaviors of a narcissist in relationships and how you can recognize these people in friendships and partnerships.

Narcissistic Friends

Narcissists have friends. They just change their friends more often.

The behavior of a narcissistic friend can be summarized in three ways:

  • The takers
  • The givers
  • The balanced

1. The Takers

So-called takers complain endlessly about their problems. They don’t care about your problems and constantly ask you for favors.

For example, a taker would drive to work with you every morning and still let you pay for the fuel. As soon as you ask him or her about sharing the gas, he or she will come up with an excuse.

2. The Givers

Givers are overly generous friends. You must be extremely grateful for their gifts and favors. You must also return the favor at the same level, even if you have never asked for it in the first place.

An example is a friend who invites you to a good restaurant to make himself feel better and then expects the same from you next time. Even if he had to convince you, because you never asked for a dinner at a restaurant, he will expect an invitation from you soon.

3. The Balanced

In fact, there is a small group of narcissistic friends who are both: givers and takers. They have no problem giving sincerely or taking evenly as long as you still say enough nice things to them, in order to uphold their self-esteem.

As an example, imagine a friend whom you constantly have to compliment to keep him happy. On the other site, he gives you constantly compliments as well.

Narcissistic Partners in a Relationship

As we already mentioned, more men than women are affected by the narcissistic personality disorder. As a result, women, in particular, have to struggle with narcissistic personalities in relationships.

Especially at the beginning, Narcissists are charismatic, captivating and give you the feeling of being special because they have chosen you. Over time, the narcissistic side becomes more and more apparent:


They tend to play mind games and have manipulative behavior. “I will hurt myself when you break up with me” could be an example. This applies to female narcissism and male narcissism.

Not Loving

They have trouble loving someone else sincerely. Narcissists are too focused on themselves and only see how well you meet their needs.


The chance of being cheated by a narcissistic partner is higher because they are always looking for something new. However, if you are in a relationship with a narcissist, this does not mean that your partner will cheat on you for sure.


Narcissists cannot see your point of view and are not emotionally sensitive. They focus too much on their own pains and view of things. Lack of empathy is always very difficult in relationships.

Your Feelings

In a narcissistic relationship, you can feel pretty lonely. You give more than you get. Your partner needs to feel permanently special and your problems basically don’t matter.

You may even feel that you are just an accessory. The dominant and self-opinionated behavior can make you feel angry and you might even get a negative self-image.

Reduce Narcissistic Behaviors

Studying on a couch

The idea that people with a narcissistic personality disorder can simply be diagnosed with NPS is wrong. Although Narcissists are aware of their behavioral patterns, they will perceive a diagnosis as an insult. In order to get help from a psychological therapist, it takes an understanding of one’s own behaviors and the will to heal narcissism.

People who have characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder should feel motivated to go to a therapist and be open-minded. It is possible that these characteristics will never entirely disappear, but once you identify them, you can work on them.

When you have to deal with narcissists, we recommend you to show them clear boundaries. Your personal health comes first. Try to help the narcissist and always remember that negative feedback or even an attempt at discussion will lead to nothing. End the conversation as soon as it gets too much for you.

As soon as a narcissist is ready to change, you should make him aware of the disadvantages of his behavior. If the narcissist realizes that the behavior makes him look bad in front of others and that he is perceived negatively, there is a good chance that his willingness to change increases even more.

Narcissism on Facebook

Smiling and giving a thumbs up

We all know the self promoters and permanent posters. A study with over 25,000 participants proves a correlation between grandiose narcissism and the number of friends on Facebook, the number of uploaded images and the intensity of the general use of Facebook.

Let’s look back at the different types of narcissism: grandiose narcissists believe that others should and want to admire them. It’s only obvious that Facebook is used as a magnet for exaggerated self-confidence and excessive self-admiration.

Is Facebook to blame for narcissism?


If a person is showing narcissistic traits, it’s simply more likely that he or she will use Facebook and other social networks more extensively for self-expression. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that everyone who actively posts on Facebook is a narcissist.


Spotting narcissists is not always easy.

While it is easy to identify different narcissistic traits, there is a big gap between showing different characteristics and a narcissistic personality disorder.

If this article helped you identify narcissistic traits on yourself or a friend, it makes sense to look at the profundity of that trait.

Is it the case that there are just a small number of characteristics that apply, you can try to address it open and honest. You may be able to take the corresponding steps together to reduce the behavior.

However, keep one thing in mind: it is difficult to productively talk to a real narcissist about their negative behavior. At best, you can persuade them to see a therapist.

To learn more about how to become more mindful of other issues, subscribe to our free Mindfulness newsletter right below this article. Thank you for reading.

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