The 10 Most Common Characteristics of Narcissists

Narcissism, often misunderstood and oversimplified, is a complex personality disorder that manifests in a variety of ways. The following exploration into the 10 most common characteristics of narcissists seeks to shed light on the intricate patterns and behaviors that define this condition.

  1. Grandiose sense of self-importance
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Belief that they are special and unique
  4. Constant craving for admiration
  5. Sense of entitlement
  6. Interpersonally exploitative behavior
  7. Lack of empathy
  8. Envy of others or belief that others are envious of them
  9. Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  10. Demanding perfectionism
narcissistic woman

1. Grandiose Sense of Self-importance

One of the most common characteristics of narcissists is their inflated sense of self-importance. They firmly believe that they are inherently superior to others and, as such, are entitled to privileged treatment.

This belief in their own superiority guides their interactions and expectations, leading them to frequently exaggerate their accomplishments and abilities.

In some instances, they may even fabricate stories or completely invent achievements to support their grandiose self-image, showing little regard for the distinction between truth and fiction.

2. Preoccupation with Fantasies

Narcissists possess an insatiable desire for admiration and success, which propels them into a constant state of daydreaming about remarkable achievements.

They often find themselves engrossed in vivid fantasies of becoming influential and successful business moguls, celebrated artists renowned across the globe, or adored celebrities basking in the limelight.

These elaborate daydreams are not just idle thoughts; they are a crucial mechanism through which narcissists attempt to shield themselves from their deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

By imagining themselves in positions of power and acclaim, they momentarily soothe their inner doubts and fears, creating a temporary escape from their vulnerabilities. This cycle of fantasizing about grandiosity serves as a coping strategy, albeit an unhealthy one, to navigate through their complex emotional landscape.

narcissists often have delusions of grandeur

3. Belief in Being Special

Narcissists possess a steadfast conviction in their own uniqueness and specialness, firmly believing they are destined for unparalleled greatness. This belief is deeply rooted in a grandiose sense of self-importance, which dominates their psychological makeup.

It is this inflated self-perception that propels their relentless pursuit for external validation. Their constant need for attention and admiration is not merely a desire but a crucial requirement to sustain their fragile ego.

This voracious appetite for affirmation dictates their interactions and relationships, driving them to seek out positions or social settings where they can be the focal point, continually reaffirming their perceived superiority and distinctiveness.

4. Constant Need for Admiration

Narcissists have an insatiable need for validation and admiration from the people around them, seeking it through various means such as praise, compliments, or even the envy of others.

They have a deep-seated desire to always be the center of attention and will employ a variety of strategies to ensure they remain in the spotlight. This can include manipulating conversations and situations to their advantage or engaging in behaviors designed to keep others focused on them.

Their actions are driven by the need to affirm their self-esteem and sense of superiority, pushing them to go to great lengths to make sure they are continually receiving the admiration they crave.

very important person

5. Sense of Entitlement

Narcissists believe they are special and therefore deserve special treatment.  This conviction leads them to feel that they are inherently deserving of the best that life has to offer, whether it be in terms of relationships, career opportunities, or material possessions.

Consequently, they often undertake extensive and sometimes manipulative efforts to acquire what they perceive as rightfully theirs, demonstrating a willingness to bypass conventional ethical considerations or the needs of others in pursuit of their goals.

6. Interpersonally Exploitative Behavior

Narcissists excel in the art of manipulation, skillfully using their charm to exploit and take advantage of others for their own benefit. They possess an uncanny ability to manipulate situations and people, convincing others to do favors for them.

By exploiting the kindness and generosity of the people around them, narcissists ensure that they benefit from their good will without offering anything in return. Their actions are driven by a self-centered agenda, showing little to no regard for the feelings or well-being of those they use for their personal gain.

7. Lack of Empathy

One of the defining characteristics of narcissism is a profound lack of empathy towards others. Narcissists do not care about the feelings, needs, and well-being of those around them.

They view the people around them as tools to be used for fulfilling their own desires and objectives. This not only hampers their ability to form genuine connections but also leads to a pattern of manipulative and exploitative behavior, further alienating the people around them.

8. Envy and Belief in Others’ Envy

Narcissists are highly competitive individuals who feel threatened by the success or attention that others receive. This sense of threat stems from their deep-seated insecurities and a fragile self-esteem that is easily destabilized by the achievements of others. As a result, they envy anyone they perceive as more successful or popular, convinced that these individuals have stolen something that should by right belong to them.

Conversely, they hold a strong belief that others are envious of them, feeding into their need to be seen as superior.

This complex mix of envy, perceived threats, and superiority leads narcissists into a constant state of comparison and competition with those around them. They are driven by an insatiable need to prove themselves better than others, to maintain and reinforce their sense of superiority. They will also belittle the achievements of others, in an effort to validate their worth and assert their dominance.

envy - narcissists characteristics

9. Arrogant and Haughty Behavior

Another one of the most common characteristics of narcissists is the fact that they are often extremely arrogant. Their belief in their own exceptionalism often leads to condescending or dismissive attitudes toward individuals they perceive as inferior.

This behavior not only alienates others but also hampers the narcissist’s ability to form healthy, reciprocal relationships. The tendency to undervalue and overlook the contributions and worth of the people around them exacerbates their isolation from meaningful social interactions.

10. Demanding Perfectionism

Driven by their grandiose fantasies and need for admiration, narcissists have a tendency towards perfectionism. They do not only expect perfection from themselves, but also from others. As a result they have highly unrealistic expectations.

The resulting cycle of high expectations and inevitable disappointment strains their relationships and impedes personal growth, as the gap between reality and their ideals widens.


Managing Narcissistic Relationships

Dealing with a narcissist, whether in personal or professional settings, can be challenging and emotionally draining. Here are a few tips and strategies to consider:

  • Set healthy boundaries: Be clear about your limits and consistently enforce them.
  • Don’t take their behavior personally: Remember, their behavior is about their psychological composition, not you.
  • Seek support: Surround yourself with a support system of friends and family who understand what you’re going through.
  • Consider therapy: Professional guidance can offer strategies to cope with the impact of a narcissist’s behavior on your well-being.
  • Educate yourself: Understanding narcissism can empower you to deal effectively with narcissistic behavior.

Concluding Thoughts on the Most Common Characteristics of Narcissists

In conclusion, narcissism is a complex personality disorder that encompasses many different traits and behaviors. It can vary in severity and manifestation from person to person, but understanding the common characteristics of narcissists can help shed light on this often misunderstood condition.

Understanding these traits is just the beginning. Building effective strategies for managing relationships with narcissists takes time, patience, and sometimes professional help. If you find dealing with a narcissist overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek support.

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