In a world that seems to reward self-promotion and manipulation, it’s not always easy to spot manipulative, narcissistic individuals.
As a society, we throw around the label nowadays whilst also making these machiavellian figures to be the stuff of nightmares.
But what we don’t do is talk enough about how to spot them in their tracks.
Because you will undoubtedly encounter less than pleasant people…
But how exactly do you know when you’re dealing with an actual narcissist or manipulator, or just a nasty piece of work?
If you’re interested in honing your narcissist detection skills, stick around as we delve into the 8 warning signs you’re dealing with one:
1) They always turn the conversation back to themselves
A clear warning sign you’re dealing with a manipulator or a narcissist is their incessant need to steer conversations back to themselves.
Say you’re talking about your day, venting about your feelings, or delving into your dreams from the night before…
Somehow, wildly, they find a way to make it about them.
This behavior can leave you feeling extremely unheard and insignificant, as they always seem to shift the spotlight back onto themselves. Even when you need to be supported and heard for just once.
Often, they employ this tactic subtly, so it’s not immediately noticeable. It might seem like they’re just overly enthusiastic about sharing their experiences or opinions, and who can hate on that…
Owing to this subtlety, you’ll even feel bad for trying to make yourself heard – even if you could really use someone listening to you.
However, as this pattern repeats over time, you realize that your conversations are rarely ever about you.
It’s always about them, them, them.
This self-centeredness is a very classic trait of narcissists and manipulators – they prioritize their own needs and narratives and have little time for anyone else’s problems.
2) They’re masters at guilt-tripping
Another red flag when dealing with a manipulator or a narcissist is their skill in making you feel guilty – even when you’re not at fault.
They have an uncanny ability to twist situations in a way that leaves you feeling like the bad guy.
Even when you stand your ground, they’ll find a way to spin and warp it as if you’re being unreasonable or unkind.
They turn up an hour late to a show you bought tickets for? Your fault. You forgot to remind them.
They forgot your birthday? Your fault for being so mean lately – they were just testing you.
They cheat on you? Your fault again for not losing that holiday weight.
In such situations, it’s important to remember that you’re not in the wrong for expressing your feelings or setting boundaries.
Don’t let their malicious guilt tripping attempts convince you otherwise.
3) They never, ever take responsibility
A glaring indicator you’re dealing with a manipulator or a narcissist is their refusal to accept responsibility for their actions.
They’re absolute experts at shifting blame onto others, often making you feel like it’s your fault even when it’s clearly not.
A continuation from the point above, they’ll be as smooth as butter at blaming their lateness on the traffic, blaming a missed deadline on a colleague, blaming their bad behavior somehow upon your shoulders.
It’s their way of protecting their ego and maintaining their superior image, even if this happens at the expense of someone else’s self-esteem.
4) They’re overly charming
Now, you’d hardly let a stranger treat you so badly, would you?
Hence why narcissists start off so adoring and charming – to win you over and have you do their bidding.
But don’t be fooled by the initial charm offensive.
Sure, they might shower you with compliments, attention, and affection, making you feel special and valued and on top of the world.
They might even mirror your interests (and pretend to suddenly be vastly interested in butterflies or sourdough starters, if that’s your cup of tea) to create a sense of connection and intimacy.
This nasty tactic, often referred to as ‘love bombing‘, is designed to win you over and build trust quickly. It’s a manipulative strategy used to secure your loyalty and admiration before their true colors start to show.
Yet over time, the charm and glitter fades away and is replaced by the manipulative and self-centered behaviors that are characteristic of narcissistic individuals.
Unfortunately by then, you’re often so tangled in their web that it becomes difficult to see them for what they truly are.
5) They don’t care about your feelings
The unfortunate truth is that although they might have led you to believe otherwise, manipulators and narcissists simply don’t care about your feelings.
You might find yourself pouring your heart out to them, only to be met with indifference, dismissal, or even ridicule.
Your problems are trivialized, your achievements overshadowed by theirs, and your feelings often overlooked.
It’s not that they can’t understand your feelings – they just choose not to.
Empathizing with you would mean stepping out of their self-absorbed bubble and acknowledging that someone else’s feelings matter – something that goes against their narcissistic nature.
6) They take advantage of your kindness
If you’re a kind and golden-hearted person, it’s important to be aware that manipulators and narcissists have a knack for taking advantage of your good nature.
You’re often the one they turn to when they need something because they know you’ll go out of your way to help.
Your acts of kindness are seen as opportunities for exploitation, rather than gestures of goodwill.
They’ll call on you, ask for favors, lean on you for emotional support, or even use your empathy to manipulate you into feeling guilty or indebted to them.
They take, take, and take, yet rarely give anything in return.
But remind yourself – your kindness is a strength, not a weakness.
To protect it, set boundaries and protect yourself from those who would exploit your good
7) They make you feel worthless
Narcissists and manipulators have an impressive knack for subtly belittling you in ways that you almost don’t notice, making unfavorable comparisons, or pointing out your flaws.
Should you ever try to stand up for yourself, you’ll be told you’re too sensitive. That it was merely a joke. Take a chill pill. God you’re so uptight.
You constantly second-guess yourself, doubt your worth, and feel like you need to strive harder to measure up.
But remember, no one has the right to make you feel less than.
You are more than enough, just as you are.
8) They’re never content
Bend over backwards and people-please all you like, it’ll never be enough.
They always want more. More attention, more praise, more sacrifices from you.
They’ll make you feel like you’re falling short, like you’re not meeting their needs or expectations, like you’re not good enough and need to try harder.
This is a manipulative tactic designed to keep you in a constant state of trying harder, giving more, and striving to please them.
But the truth is, it’s not about you. It’s about their endless need for validation and control.
You could move mountains for them, and it still wouldn’t be enough..
Wrapping it up
Navigating relationships with manipulators and narcissists can be a challenging journey. You may feel undervalued, used, or even lost in their world of self-centeredness and control.
But remember that none of this is a reflection of your worth. Their actions and behaviors are a manifestation of their own insecurities and deficits, not your inadequacies.
Being aware of these warning signs is the first step towards protecting yourself. It won’t always be easy, but it’s an important part of asserting your own worth and setting healthy boundaries.
So if you’re dealing with a manipulator or a narcissist, don’t despair. You are far stronger, wiser, and more resilient than you know.
And most importantly, you’re not alone; there’s a world of understanding and support out there for you.