9 signs you’re dealing with the little known but highly manipulative “communal narcissist”

Narcissists are real pieces of work, aren’t they?

In a world where self-centeredness seems to be the norm, dealing with narcissists can be a daily struggle.

But what about those who don’t fit the typical “self-absorbed” mold?

Well, these are the people we call “communal narcissists.”

These are the folks who excel in manipulation, but under the guise of being caring and community oriented. They’re so good at their game that you might not even realize you’re being played.

Sound familiar?

If it does, keep reading for signs you may be dealing with the little-known but highly manipulative communal narcissist.

1) They’re always helping others, but it feels off

Communal narcissists are experts at making themselves look like saints.

They’re often seen volunteering, donating, or generally being involved in community services.

But there’s something about their altruism that just doesn’t sit right with you.

You see, their kindness usually comes with strings attached. They help you not out of genuine concern but as a way to boost their own image and reputation.

They don’t care about being a good Samaritan, but they care about being seen as one.

They may even use their helpfulness as leverage in conversation, constantly reminding you of their charitable actions to ensure they’re seen in the best light possible.

2) They always seem to be the hero of their own stories

One of my friends in the past often had these grand stories where she was always the hero.

My friend was part of several community clubs and organizations. She would often share stories about how she saved the day during a fundraiser or how she single-handedly organized a charity event.

She would subtly brag about her contributions, making sure everyone knew exactly how much she had done.

Suspicious, right? I, too, thought it was weird that every conversation we had somehow circled back to her heroic deeds.

I started noticing something even more odd, though. Whenever anyone else tried to share their achievements or good deeds, she would either downplay their accomplishments or find a way to one-up them with her own stories.

It became clear that she wasn’t just helping out of the kindness of her heart. She was doing it for the recognition and praise and to assert her dominance over others in the community.

This constant need to be admired and to be at the center of attention is a classic trait of communal narcissists.

They are always the heroes of their own stories—and often at the expense of others.

3) They’re experts at playing the victim

Communal narcissists have this tendency to turn any situation around to make themselves appear as the victim.

It’s almost as if they have a degree in playing the victim card.

Interestingly, this article found that narcissists often use victimhood to manipulate others. It also reveals that narcissists are more likely to play the victim in conflicts and portray themselves as targets of injustice.

This allows them to maintain a positive self-image and further control their narrative. By painting themselves as victims, communal narcissists attract sympathy and support from those around them, further feeding their need for validation and admiration.

4) They have a strong need for validation

Like all narcissists, communal narcissists also have a strong need for validation. They constantly seek approval and affirmation from others.

They crave recognition and will often go to great lengths to receive it. This could include volunteering for high-profile projects, donating large sums of money to gain publicity, or even manipulating situations to appear more favorable in the eyes of others.

What sets communal narcissists apart? Their clever disguise.

They mask their need for validation under the veil of selflessness and community service. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that their actions are usually followed by a subtle or not-so-subtle boast about their deeds.

5) They’re emotionally draining

Let’s be real here.

Dealing with a communal narcissist is emotionally draining.

They are masters at sucking the energy out of a room and leaving you feeling exhausted. Conversations with them often revolve around their achievements, their sacrifices, and their grandstanding.

They constantly need to be the center of attention and will do whatever it takes to keep the spotlight on them.

The truth is, communal narcissists don’t care about your feelings or needs. They’re only interested in what serves them best.

Dealing with them can feel like an uphill battle, leaving you drained and emotionally spent.

And it’s okay to admit that.

It’s okay to acknowledge how difficult and taxing it can be to deal with a communal narcissist.

6) They make you question your worth

If a communal narcissist has ever made you question your worth, I want you to know that it’s not your fault.


Because communal narcissists have a way of making you feel like you’re never enough. You could be the most caring, understanding, and supportive person, but they will still make you question your worth.

They do this by constantly comparing your actions to their “selfless” deeds. They subtly belittle your efforts and contributions, making it seem like they’re the only ones doing anything worthwhile.

You might find yourself feeling inadequate or doubting your abilities. You may even start to believe that you’re not as good, kind, or selfless as them.

But remember, this is not a reflection of your worth—it’s a manipulation tactic used by communal narcissists. They feed off your insecurities to boost their own ego and maintain control.

7) They’re often admired by others

Isn’t it frustrating?

You see the manipulation, the self-centeredness, the complete disregard for anyone else’s feelings…

Yet, everyone else around you still seems to be singing their praises.

Unfortunately, this is something we don’t have control over.

This is because communal narcissists are often admired and respected by those who don’t see behind their masks.

They’re seen as selfless, dedicated, and community-oriented individuals. Their public image is carefully crafted to ensure they receive admiration and recognition.

And it can feel so isolating because it makes you feel like you’re the only one who sees their true colors.

It’s as if you’re watching a movie where everyone else is oblivious to the villain’s schemes.

But when it gets hard, remember, you’re not alone in this.

Many people have been in your shoes, seeing the true nature of a communal narcissist while others remain blind to it.

It’s frustrating and isolating, but hold on to your perception of reality—it’s valid and it’s real.

8) They tend to drop names

Ah, the classic name-dropper! We’ve all met one, haven’t we?

Well, that one person is probably a communal narcissist.

Communal narcissists have a particular fondness for this tactic. They love to casually mention the influential people they know, the important meetings they’ve attended, or the high-profile events they’ve been part of.

It’s like they are playing a never-ending game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, except, in this version, they always seem to be just one degree away from everyone who is anyone.

This habitual name-dropping serves a dual purpose. One, it boosts their image by associating themselves with influential people. And two, it subtly communicates their importance and superiority to those around them.

So, if you find yourself playing the involuntary audience to a name-dropping performance, chances are you’re dealing with a communal narcissist.

And who knows? Today, they may be talking sh*t about you, the next you’ll be the name they’re dropping.

9) They lack genuine empathy

Communal narcissists might seem caring and compassionate, but they lack genuine empathy.

Despite their outwardly altruistic actions, they struggle to truly empathize with others’ feelings. By now, you probably know that their concern for the community often stems not from genuine compassion but from a need for recognition and admiration.

They might put on a great show of being sympathetic and understanding, but when it comes down to really feeling for others, they often fall short.

Simply put, their emotions are often superficial and self-serving.

It’s a bitter truth to accept, especially when you’re close with one. You might think that at least their ability to help is a redeeming quality, but when you really look at it, it is but another manipulation tactic. 

Keep in mind that it’s not you—it’s them.

And acknowledging that is the first step towards moving on and, consequently, protecting yourself from their manipulation.

Final thoughts

Dealing with a communal narcissist is no easy task.

They can leave you feeling drained, undervalued, and questioning your own worth. But remember, their actions and manipulations are a reflection of them, not you.

It’s tough to see through their carefully crafted facade of altruism and community service. Yet, recognizing their tactics is the first step towards reclaiming your emotional well-being.

So, if you’ve identified a communal narcissist in your life, breathe. You’re not alone in this struggle, and it’s okay to set boundaries and protect your peace.

Remember, you hold immense strength and resilience within you. And those who truly care about you will respect your boundaries and value your worth.

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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