How To Identify A Narcissist: 9 Common Traits of Narcissism

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what are the traits of a narcissist

There is an epidemic of narcissistic behavior in many cultures across the world. Currently, ‘Narcissism’ is one of the social media buzzwords. Yet, many people don’t know what are the traits of a narcissist. 

A lot of people fail to recognize a narcissist when they first encounter them. And by the time they realize they are already a monumental mess. The fault is not yours and not in your stars! 

Fake and false news spread faster than viruses on social media. No wonder why there are some dangerous misconceptions about narcissism, even though it’s a viral topic. There are some people who overuse the term “narcissist” without knowing the basics of it. This psychobabble is the same as people posting “feeling depressed” on Facebook when they are actually “feeling sad”. Also, know that most (if not all) demonstrate some narcissistic tendencies but being a narcissist is a different thing. 

Narcissist
What Are The Traits Of A Narcissist

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that is clinically diagnosed. People with this disorder are not just egoistic or self-centered, there is more to this personality disorder. Narcissists are champions at hiding their true selves and use complex lies and manipulative tactics to subdue you. 

The effects of narcissism are not obvious to many people. People with NPD have a monstrous and vindictive nature! It is really worth knowing the traits of a narcissist so that you can avoid dating or dealing with them at a personal or professional level. Only by building awareness about the traits of narcissism, can you prevent the damage caused by narcissists and stop the perpetuating trauma. In the long run, this will strengthen all levels of society.

Here’re 9 traits of narcissism:

Common Traits of Narcissism

1. Projection as a defense mechanism

Out of the 9 traits of narcissism, projection is the most popular one. This is a psychological trick narcissists use to manipulate you to do their bidding. Whatever is in their own minds they try to attribute it to others. 

For instance, if narcissistic people are criticizing themselves (whether unconsciously or consciously) for something, they may think other people are also criticizing them. Similarly, if they are cheating on their partners, they will accuse their partners of cheating on them. Basically, these projections are the outcome of narcissists’ own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. 

Traits Of A Narcissist

Also, they tend to act overly hurt, sensitive, or defensive, when someone says anything about them. This is also because some narcissists have low self-esteem and their self-worth is dependent on what others think of them. The moment they feel psychologically threatened, they tend to engage in the mental process, of projection. 

During projection, a narcissist may deny their own insecurities, flaws, and fears and easily blame others for their misfortunes. They hardly consider stepping back to get a new perspective or standing in another person’s shoes.

Read 7 Common Myths About Narcissistic Personality Disorder

2. Gaslighting to gain control over others

This psychological weapon is top-rated among the nine traits of narcissism. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse aimed to feed on others’ self-doubts on purpose and to gain more power over them. It involves techniques like contradicting, withholding or stonewalling, or diversion. 

Whenever you bring up a topic concerning your relationship with your narcissistic partner, they may in turn bring up something you did or said years ago. This is just to make a big fuss and deviate your mind from the actual issue at hand. They may also describe your actions and intentions as some sort of conspiracy against them. 

A narcissists’ gaslighting may involve the following – 

  • They may emphasize that you did or said things that you actually didn’t
  • Portray your beliefs, feelings, behavior and state of mind in negative sense to others 
  • Label you as a “sensitive” or “crazy” when you express your needs in relationship  
  • Retell events or twist the actual facts to shift blame on you
  • Deny or scoff when you try to recollect facts or events that definitely occurred by saying things like – “that never happened”
  • Always insist that they are right and you are wrong
Traits Of A Narcissist – Gaslighting

If you are dealing with a narcissist, then you are highly likely to –

  • Feel thoroughly confused
  • Question your own perception of reality
  • Apologize for no mistake of yours and
  • Be stressed and unhappy.

3. Lack of empathy for others

This is the third of the nine traits of narcissism and well defines the characteristics of a narcissistic person. Narcissists lack courtesy and empathy. They cannot tune with the emotions, experiences, and feelings of other people. Narcissists are driven by the attitude – “me and only me”.

They are selfish and merciless enough to breach the personal boundaries of others. Humiliating or devaluing people comes naturally to them. When you talk to them, it’s mostly like a one-way discussion. As you try to share your opinions, ideas, or problems, narcissists will lose their minds. They are on cloud nine when people bend to their desires.

4. Use of manipulative tactics

This is one of the key traits of narcissism and a big red flag that you should stop associating with such people. Narcissists are very egoistic and can go to any extent to turn things in their favor. They can twist the truth in a way that matches their narrative and in the end, it’s you who will go nuts. Getting – attention, status, and validation – is their ultimate priority. So, they never bother lying, cheating, abusing, and what it costs to someone else.

Narcissists are so skilled in manipulating people that you will easily fall into their relationship trap (especially if you are naïve). And, while you are dealing with them, it is hard to recognize that you are being manipulated. After losing some precious years of your life, the realization dawns upon you that you are the victim of narcissism. 

what are the traits of narcissism
what are the traits of narcissism – manipulation

Read Micromanipulation: 5 Ways A Narcissist Controls You

5. Exhibiting an unrealistic sense of superiority

What Are The Traits Of A Narcissist
What Are The Traits Of A Narcissist – Grandiosity

This one really cannot be missed, when discussing what are the traits of a narcissistic person. The word for this distinctive feature of narcissism is Grandiosity. Narcissistic people try to express themselves as superior and as a person living a grand life. They will exaggerate their skills, talents, possessions, experiences, achievements and want to come across as the perfect individual on Earth. 

They have an extraordinary sense of self-importance and that everything in this world belongs to them. They thrive on the need for admiration. You will continue to see this boastfulness, arrogance, and feeling of entitlement, even if they become a leader, a rich person, or a celebrity and are recognized worldwide. Maintaining a fake image of grandeur is one of the key character traits of a narcissist.

Read Identifying Covert and Grandiose Narcissists In Your Life

6. Never take responsibility for anything

Be it work, relationships, or personal life, narcissists never take responsibility for their failures, mistakes, or any kind of wrongdoings. Narcissists are a pro in blame-shifting! When it comes to accepting their flaws, narcissists will leave no stone unturned to deflect that on you. 

They always have wonderful excuses and justifications to prove themselves as innocent, rational, righteous, and maybe even God. They’ll always have the last word and try to win the argument. Being hardly able to recognize the thin line between responsibility and blame, narcissists end up avoiding both. 

7. Predisposition toward control-freak tendencies

This is another red flag if you are dealing with or dating a narcissist. A deep desire to control everything (environment, friends, spouse, workmates, neighbors, etc.) is one of the most frustrating traits of narcissism. They want to control and dictate you, while least interested in different aspects of your life. 

Partners in a relationship with a narcissist often mistake control for love or protection. What’s more? You will have no privacy or personal space. Other than closely monitoring your whereabouts like a CCTV, narcissistic people will also keep an eye on your belongings, personal text messages, and call logs. 

If you are not allowed to make independent decisions in a relationship or think for yourself or have too many restrictions imposed on you or are being criticized for your actions and behaviors, then you are hooked up with a control freak.  

8. Emotionally cold behavior in relationships

If you have a narcissistic friend or spouse, s/he will never comfort you at times of distress, because they are emotionally distant. When you need them most they might turn their back or respond in a cold manner. Driven by the need for self-protection, narcissists are incapable of loving or connecting emotionally with others.

Even when you are shouting on top of your lungs, expressing your deepest concerns or unmet needs, they may just slam the door on your face. Such an attitude may make you even more desperate to get that affection, connection, and love from your partner. But, in vain! “Being emotionally cold” is one of the 9 traits of narcissism, that you must know if you are already in love with a narcissist.

9. Cheating in romantic relationships

What Are The Traits Of A Narcissist
What Are The Traits Of A Narcissist – Infidelity

Narcissists lack empathy and are emotionally cold, so they do not regret or feel guilty while engaging in infidelity. This is in fact the cumulative effect of all the above traits of narcissism. Even if they seem to depend on their partner, it is nothing emotional, but a need for sexual gratification. 

When you are in a relationship with a grandiose narcissist, you’ll be deprived of mutual love, affection, support, or care. It is always you serving them and exhausting your mind, body, and soul. No matter how loyal or dedicated you are as a life partner, they will cheat on you to fulfill their need for admiration, excitement, and novelty. 

Read 9 Relationship Habits That Are More Harmful Than Cheating


Now that you have understood what are the 9 traits of narcissism, there is something more you need to know. Female narcissists do exist! However, a narcissistic personality disorder is more outwardly recognizable in men.

Are male and female narcissists different?

Although the 9 traits of narcissism mentioned above are found in both men and women, there are differences in their way of exhibiting narcissism. Check out the differences between the traits of a narcissist man and a woman.

1. A narcissistic man tries to gain control over you by utilizing his power and status, whereas a narcissistic woman tries to control you by utilizing neglect or guilt.

2. When angry, male narcissists (or malignant narcissists to be specific) –  exhibit aggressiveness, whereas female narcissists tend to punish the victim by withholding affection and attention.

3. The narcissistic supply for the male narcissists are their romantic partners and for female narcissists, it can be their partner or children 

Other than the 9 traits of narcissism, there are some more traits of a narcissistic female personality that you should know (if you want to avoid dating or dealing with them for any purpose). 

Read The Female Facade: Female Narcissists May Be Statistically Uncommon, But Highly Dangerous

Here’re are some glaring traits of a narcissist woman:

  • She is overly concerned about her looks
  • She is materialistic 
  • She is extremely competitive with her friends 
  • She can create conflicts among friends within a group 
  • She feels pleasure from hurting others
  • She never respects boundaries of her relationships 
  • Her love for you can turn into hatred in no time
  • She demands special treatment even if that comes at the cost of others
  • A female narcissist is often jealous and thinks everyone is envious of her 
  • She is overly sensitive to perceived criticism
  • She is a drama queen and her behavior is unstable 
  • She can come across as a martyr or a virtuous victim.

I hope you have got a clear understanding of what are the traits of a narcissist and how a narcissistic man and woman differ. If this article helps you spot a narcissist in your social circle, let us know in the comments below. And please share this article with your dear ones.

Spread awareness about the nine traits of narcissism! Save the society!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to spot a narcissist on social media?

You can easily spot a narcissist on social media. Narcissists are highly active on different social media platforms. Even though they have weak ties, they will have thousands of friends and followers. Plus, glamorous selfies to post from all over the world. And, mostly their content is self-promoting with words like “I” and “Me”. 

Is emotional neglect narcissism?

Yes. Emotional neglect and an unrealistic sense of superiority are core character traits of a narcissist. 

Why would a narcissist tell me I have a terrible personality?

Narcissists believe they are unique, superior, and more important than anyone else in this world. In the quest to boost their poor self-esteem, they will make you feel worse. It helps them hide their own flaws and gain control over you. 

What are the 4 types of narcissism?

The different types of narcissists are – Malignant narcissist, Grandiose narcissist, covert narcissist, and communal narcissist. 

what traits of a narcissist
what are the traits of a narcissist
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what are the traits of a narcissist

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    Liz

    I love the knowledge gotten from this article so educative and has explained to be clearly what I have been going through.

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