If someone displays these 8 body language signs, they’re probably a somatic narcissist

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering a narcissist, you’ll know that constant need for admiration and a “me me me attitude” are among their prominent traits. 

But while all types of narcissists rate themselves too highly, the somatic narcissist takes it to the extreme.

Unlike other narcissists who seek attention through intellectual achievements or social status, somatic narcissists use their bodies to gain admiration. 

And this is not a healthy dose of “flaunting what you’ve got” that I’m talking about.

If you think you may be dealing with this type of appearance-obsessed narcissist, read on. You will likely notice these eight common yet subtle body language signs. 

What is a somatic narcissist?

Before we dive into the body language signs, let’s distinguish what makes a somatic narcissist different from your every narcissist.

A somatic narcissist is a type of narcissist whose feelings of self-worth come from their body. 

They are overly fixated on how they look to others, constantly obsessing over their appearance.

According to psychotherapist Katherine Schafler, a somatic narcissist uses their physical body to express their superiority and sense of entitlement. Thus, they communicate primarily through body language, displaying their physical attributes in attention-grabbing ways.

However, like all narcissists, they are reactive to environmental cues. Somatic narcissists can control their impulses and mold their body language in various situations, making it difficult to spot their narcissistic traits.

Still, these eight subtle body language signs are pretty common in somatic narcissists…

1) Invading your personal space

Invading someone’s personal space is a power move. 

Stepping close to someone’s face when speaking to them shows the other person that you are superior to them. It is a non-verbal way to say, “I own your space.”

So when a somatic narcissist is trying to manipulate or intimidate you, they will invade your personal space, trying to make you feel threatened and uncomfortable. 

To understand this more, think about stray cats. 

Cats, which are highly territorial by nature, claim other cats’ territory by invading their space, both environmentally and personally.

They start by leaving their scent around the other cat’s territory (invading their environmental space). Then, when they are ready to take over, it’s time for the face-off (invading their personal space).

If you’ve ever seen cats fight, you’ll likely have noticed how they get right in each other’s faces. They scream at each other face to face until either:

  1. One of them backs down and leaves
  2. They engage in a physical fight

However, while narcissists love to invade your personal space, they feel highly threatened if someone invades theirs, even if in a friendly way. 

So, if you’ve ever tried to comfort a narcissist by touching their shoulder or hugging them, you likely noticed this…

2) Recoiling at attempts of physical touch

To a somatic narcissist, invading personal space is a power move. So, if you initiate physical contact with them in any way, they will see it as you trying to gain control over them.

If you try to hug or touch a narcissist, they will recoil, flinch, or back away. They will appear disturbed, disgusted, and uncomfortable.

They purposely use movements and body language to establish themselves as the dominant person in the room. 

So, if you initiate touch, they do not see it as a friendly gesture but as an attempt to claim dominance. 

3) Changing their eyes appearance

When describing their experience with a somatic narcissist, many people report a change in the person’s eyes. 

In particular, they use phrases like “their eyes were blank” or “their eyes turned dark.”

According to psychology professor Sam Vakin, this is due to the narcissist’s pupil changing size in certain situations:

  • When they dissociate
  • When they are provoked or angry

In these situations, the narcissist withdraws inwards, which is why they appear absent through their gaze.

Here’s another body language sign relating to their eyes…

4) Maintaining extended eye contact

Intense eye contact can be a way for somatic narcissists to assert dominance over you. 

They may maintain eye contact for an extended time to gain a sense of power, control, or superiority. 

It can also be used as a manipulative tactic, creating a false sense of intimacy. 

In this case, they try to captivate your attention, making you fall for them.


Because then they can receive admiration or compliments on their looks.

It is also a clever way to gain the trust of someone you want to manipulate. 

Studies have found that people rate strangers who directly gazed at them as more similar to themselves. This shows that this specific act of body language can influence the emotions and perceptions of others.

5) Scanning the room in a hypervigilant way

Somatic narcissists are incredibly strategic in their manipulative tactics.

While they lack empathy, they are skilled at identifying the vulnerabilities of others.

Thus, in group settings, you will often see narcissists scanning the room and closely observing everyone.

They look for those they think they can gain admiration from, as well as individuals who might pose a threat to their fragile self-image. 

Hypervigilance also helps narcissists gain control over their surroundings, particularly at large social events. Scanning the room helps them avoid socializing with people who will notice and point out their flaws.

This is extremely important to a somatic narcissist. 

To them, they must always maintain the idealized version of themselves they have created. 

But the more people they are around, the more likely someone will see them for who they really are and expose them.

6) Restlessness

Somatic narcissists have a constant need for attention. So, they will display impatience and restlessness when the focus is not on them. 

In these situations, they become visibly bored or irritated when others talk about topics that don’t involve them.

They will disengage from the conversation, and you’ll likely notice some of the following body language:

  • Fidgeting
  • Tapping their feet
  • Playing with their hands
  • Sighing
  • Rolling their eyes
  • Constantly checking the time

Researchers from Wellesley College, Massachusetts, have found a connection between narcissism and boredom. What’s more, they observed restlessness behaviors like those described above in overt narcissist types (which includes somatic narcissists).

7) Exaggerated gestures

Somatic narcissists use grandiose and exaggerated gestures to draw attention to themselves. 

These can include:

  • Expansive arm movements 
  • Dramatic facial expressions
  • Loud laughter
  • Theatrical movements

Why do they do this?

Somatic narcissists believe they are more attractive and desirable than others. Thus, they use exaggerated gestures to communicate their perceived superiority, as if to say, “Look at me; I am extraordinary.”

Exaggerated gestures can also help them create a memorable image in the minds of others, ensuring that people remember them.

8) Constantly checking their reflection

As mentioned, somatic narcissists have a preoccupation with their appearance.

This often shows up as constantly checking their reflection. You might notice them doing the following:

  • Stopping to look in every mirror they pass
  • Admiring their reflection in shop windows
  • Checking their appearance in their phone camera

Other body language signs that reveal an obsession with appearance include frequently adjusting their clothing or fixing their hair.

They do this to draw attention to specific physical features they are proud of. 

Thus, they use their body language to highlight their physical features, hoping you will notice and give them the compliments they crave.

Final thoughts

Somatic narcissists are those egotistic individuals soaking up all the attention at a party like it’s their personal spotlight.

In one-to-one interactions, they attempt to assert dominance with extended eye contact, standing a little too close for your liking, and using exaggerated gestures.

Like all narcissists, somatic narcissists have a STRONG need for control. However, a significant aspect of what they want from others is admiration. 

These body language cues not only give you a checklist of what to look out for but also an insight into the complex mind of a somatic narcissist.

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space.
I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of
words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

People who had overbearing parents often grow up to have these 8 traits

People who are unsatisfied in life usually display these 8 behaviors (without realizing it)