The Exhibitionist Narcissist’s use of devaluation sometimes leads untrained people to mistake Exhibitionist Narcissists for Toxic Narcissists. As you can see from the above examples, Ted the Exhibitionist Narcissist began by actively seeking his dates’ admiration, while Mona the Toxic Narcissist began by devaluing Ted.
Closet Narcissists are more likely to devalue themselves than other people. They are always apologizing. If they do devalue other people, it is likely to be behind their back or take the form of coldly withdrawing. They are more likely to openly express envy than to publically insult or berate another person.
Toxic Narcissists like to see other people squirm in embarrassment. They also like to knock people off stride. They often begin an interaction by putting the other person down in some way, as Mona did with Ted. They may do this subtly or they may be bluntly and openly devaluing. Unlike the Exhibitionist Narcissists who usually first display themselves for admiration and only resort to devaluation when that is not working well, Toxic Narcissists lead with devaluation. They generally prefer being feared to being admired—or they may equate the two things.
As you can see from the above examples, Narcissists are not all alike. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be divided into three general subtypes—Exhibitionist, Closet, and Toxic Narcissist—based on how they solve the central Narcissistic life issue: How do I support my shaky self-esteem and feel good about myself?
All Narcissists use other people to help regulate their self-esteem. If you are contemplating a relationship with a Narcissist (or are already in one), it can be very helpful to recognize their subtype, what they are looking for from you, and what this means in terms of how you are likely to be treated in the relationship. Depending on your inner resources and preferences, you might find one type of Narcissist tolerable as a relationship partner, while another type of Narcissist might literally drive you insane.
Adapted from Quora.com 12-19-17 What are the different types of Narcissists and how do they behave?
With what type of narcissist did you have your first date? Leave your thoughts in comments.
Written by Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D.
Amazon book link: Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: The Pursuit of Love, Admiration, and Safety
This article originally appeared on Psychology Today and has been reprinted here with the authors permission