8 signs you’re dealing with a highly narcissistic individual, according to psychology

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Are you dealing with someone narcissistic in your life? If you think you are, you already know it’s a very confusing situation to be in.

I mean, you’re here, seeking out signs. I think “confusion” is putting it lightly.

However, I get it. It’s never a fun time to be in these situations.

Do note that I won’t be out here diagnosing anyone, though. This isn’t that article. 

We’re not talking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) here, just individuals with highly narcissistic tendencies. 

And while the lines might blur or the signs become too similar, it’s important to remember that NPD is a disordered kind of narcissism. It is disruptive and destructive. 

The distinction is important as it’s so often lost amongst all the content being thrown and normalized at our faces on a daily basis. So keep that one in mind. However, for the sake of simplicity, I would still use the term narcissist in place of “highly narcissistic individual”.

Without further ado, here are 8 signs you’re dealing with a highly narcissistic individual, according to psychology. 

1) They want everyone to follow their lead

“Underneath the so-called narcissistic personality is definitely shame and the paralyzing fear of being ordinary.” – Brené Brown

A narcissist likes being in control. They like the feeling of being above others. 

They want to lead teams even without necessarily having the right skills to do so. They want followers. 

They like the feeling of being in power, of being fawned over, feared, adored, or liked. Whether they are right or wrong, they want to make the decisions just the same..

2) They can be charming only when they like you

Spotting a narcissist might be easier if you’re looking from the outside in. If you’re the person directly dealing with one, you might not spot them as quickly.

It’s because when they like you, they can be disarmingly charming

They put their best foot forward, whether real or not. They will hide the worst of who they are to make you believe they are “all that”. All sparkle and good intentions. 

Remember, narcissists love being admired. And if being able to charm you is how they get that, then they will. 

3) They constantly lie to seem better than they are

Talk the talk but can’t walk the walk? Sounds like a narcissist.

Inflated sense of ego? Also sounds like a narcissist. 

Trapped in their own maze of lies? Also a narcissist. 

Highly narcissistic people will lie about even the smallest things. Even with things you don’t even need to lie about. 

Their need to seem better than they are will fuel this lying habit. Their arrogance often gets the best of them. 

4) They’re attention-seeking and hungry for validation

“Seeking admiration is like a drug for narcissists. In the long run it becomes difficult because others won’t applaud them, so they always have to search for new acquaintances from whom they get the next fix.” – Mitja D. Back

A good sign you’re dealing with a highly narcissistic individual? They seek your validation. They cling to you for attention.

They want you to focus on them and think favorably about who they are. To admire them, to feed their ego, to be envious of them. 

A narcissist thrives on that validation

5) They can’t stand criticism

Emily Mayfield of Mindset Therapy says:

“The narcissist is a hypocrite. They say one thing and act in a totally different way. If you say something they don’t like or do something they see as wrong in any way, they are quick to point out your faults while name-calling and belittling you.  However, the moment you point out their faults or try to address the way they act towards you, they quickly go into narcissistic rage.  The narcissist can dish it out but can’t take it.”

Inversely proportional to a highly narcissistic individual’s hunger for validation is their indignation at criticism. They can’t stand being told off.

They will get defensive. They will bristle at the thought of your audacity to correct them. 

They can’t stand being corrected because that will mean that they are wrong. And in their eyes, they are never wrong. In their eyes, it must be you who’s mistaken. 

It must be your fault. 

6) They never apologize

“Since narcissists deep down feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault.” ― M. Scott Peck

Narcissists never apologize. Or if they do, it’s because they want to achieve something.

And as I said in the previous number, people who have narcissistic tendencies rarely think they’re in the wrong—so what’s the use of an apology?

Sure, they will want it from you, but getting one from them will be a struggle. Narcissists lack the empathy to understand where they did you dirty. 

They lack the empathy to give a genuine apology.

7) They put you down to lift themselves up

T.S. Eliot once said:

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm [that they cause] does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

Narcissists do not care which toes they step on, which bridges they burn, and which ties they sever, so long as they get something good out of it. 

They *will* make you feel dispensable, they will make you feel like a stepping stone. 

When this happens, it’s difficult not to feel used because that’s what it is, isn’t it?

Using other people for their benefit and not caring about how this can hurt. 

8) They expect special treatment

“The narcissist is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom: No matter how much you put in, you can never fill it up.” — Dr. Ramani Durvasula

And finally, a narcissist’s inflated sense of self can make them difficult to deal with as they expect special treatment

They are entitled.

They might think they are above the law and get mad when consequences befall them. They might also indulge in reckless behavior thinking they will get away with anything. 

They might throw a fit when they’re not given the VIP experience, expecting one even without doing anything for it. They’re the type of people who will cry foul while expecting premium service for things they did not even pay for. 

Narcissists might think their presence is enough compensation. 

Final thoughts

To deal with a highly narcissistic individual is no walk in the park. And I even think that’s putting it way too lightly.

Having to deal with one takes a toll on your emotional and mental health, especially if it’s regularly. It makes you doubt yourself, it makes you question your worth.

It makes you feel like you have done something wrong.

But remember that how a narcissist treats you is not a reflection of who you are, it’s a reflection of theirs.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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