What is a Narc? Identifying the Signs of Narcissism

It’s not uncommon to hear the term “narc” thrown around colloquially, but what does it actually mean? People often use this term to describe someone with an inflated sense of their own importance and value.

In reality, however, this description only scratches the surface. A narc, or narcissist, is someone who either has very strong narcissistic traits or who has full blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). In both cases, the narc usually comes across as highly sociable and confident, yet behind their charming façade there lies an insatiable need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and an inability to handle criticism.

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High narcissistic traits vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Someone with high narcissistic traits may exhibit symptoms such as a grandiose sense of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a tendency to be preoccupied with fantasies of success and power.

However, in order for someone to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), they must display these symptoms consistently over time and they must cause significant impairment in the person’s life.

Additionally, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), they must display at least five of the following characteristics:

  • an inflated sense of self-importance;
  • a preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, or beauty;
  • a belief that one is unique or “special”;
  • a excessive need for admiration;
  • a sense of entitlement;
  • an exploitative attitude toward others;
  • lack of empathy;
  • envy or jealousy towards others;
  • arrogance or haughtiness;
  • extreme frustration when receiving criticism.

Narcs are difficult to deal with

Narcissists can be difficult to interact with, and their behaviour can cause harm to those around them. They may take advantage of people’s kindness with no intention of ever reciprocating the favour, ride roughshod over people in their constant quest for admiration, or become very angry when given the smallest or most constructive of criticisms.

In addition to these more obvious signs, there are also certain behavioural patterns associated with narcissism that may be harder to spot at first glance.

For example, those who suffer from narcissistic tendencies may have difficulty maintaining relationships due to their tendency to become easily jealous or possessive over partners or friends. They may also display manipulative behaviour in order to get what they want from people in their lives.

Signs you are dealing with a narc

A narc displays an inflated sense of self-importance

Perhaps the most common sign of narcissistic behaviour is a tendency for an individual to display an inflated sense of their own importance. This could manifest in various ways, such as talking about oneself excessively, exaggerating accomplishments, or expecting special treatment from others.

A narc takes advantage of people’s kindness

Narcissistic individuals may take advantage of people’s kindness without any intention of returning the favour. This could include borrowing money from someone and never paying them back. Alternatively they may ask for favours without being willing to reciprocate in kind.

A narc is extremely sensitive to criticism

Narcissists are often extremely sensitive to criticism and can react with rage or tears. They become defensive and deny any wrongdoing, regardless of the validity of the criticism. They may also respond by devaluing their critics or deflecting blame onto them rather than admitting fault and considering how to improve.

A narc manipulates situations and people

Narcissists may use different tactics to manipulate people and situations in order to gain control, attention, or power. They may utilize techniques such as gaslighting, belittling and discounting others’ opinions, and creating an environment of fear and distrust. This type of behavior is often used to create a sense of superiority and manipulate people into doing what the narcissist wants.

Narcs belittle or criticize those around them in order to feel superior

Narcissists often belittle or criticize those around them in order to gain a sense of superiority. They may do this by exaggerating their own accomplishments, finding fault in others, and generally devaluing the accomplishments and contributions of those around them. This type of behavior can create feelings of insecurity and resentment from those around them.

Narcissists can often appear uninterested in conversations about topics not related to them. They may interject their own opinions and experiences or redirect the conversation back to themselves. This behaviour can make it difficult for others to engage in meaningful conversation with a narcissist and can lead to feelings of frustration and alienation.

Narcs project grandiose dreams and fantasies that have little chance of being realized

Narcissists often project grandiose dreams and fantasies that have little chance of being realized. They believe they are invincible and can do anything they set their mind to. They also tend to overlook or discount the opinions or feelings of others in pursuit of their goals. As a result, they expect people to fall into line with their plans regardless of whether they are achievable or not.

A narc is difficult to interact with due to selfishness and lack of empathy

Narcissists can be difficult to interact with due to their selfishness and lack of empathy. They may display a sense of entitlement, expecting others to make things happen for them with little regard for the effort or sacrifices being made by those around them.

Narcissists often have difficulty understanding or appreciating others’ perspectives, as they are totally focused on their own agendas and goals. This can create conflicts and tension in relationships, making it hard for others to connect or form meaningful bonds with the narcissist.

How to deal with a narc

Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging, but it is important to take a firm stance and stand your ground when dealing with them. It is important to remain respectful, but assertive in your approach.

Try not to get caught up in arguments or power struggles, as this will only feed into the narcissist’s ego. Instead, focus on communicating clearly and calmly, setting boundaries and expressing yourself in an honest yet non-confrontational way.

Remain Respectful

The best way to approach a narcissist is with respect, as this shows that you are taking them seriously and not trying to undermine them. It’s important to remain conscious of your tone and manner when dealing with a narcissist, as they can be quite sensitive to criticism or judgment.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries can be difficult when dealing with a narcissist, but it is an essential part of protecting yourself from their manipulative behaviour. Establishing boundaries allows you to set limits on what you will and won’t accept from the narcissist, helping to maintain a professional and appropriate relationship with them.

Avoid Arguments

Narcissists often thrive on arguments and power struggles, so it’s best to stay away from engaging in these types of confrontations whenever possible. Instead focus on calmly communicating your thoughts and opinions, without getting too caught up in debating specifics or pointing out flaws or mistakes.

Communicate Clearly

When dealing with a narcissist it’s important to communicate clearly and concisely so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding about your intentions or requests. Being assertive but kind can help ensure that the narcissist sees that you are taking them seriously while also being firm in expressing yourself honestly.

Stay Confident

A key component of successfully dealing with a narcissist is having confidence in yourself and your beliefs, even if they don’t align with the narcissist’s own views and values. Staying true to what you believe, while remaining calm and composed, will help show the narcissist that you aren’t intimidated by their selfishness or lack of empathy, allowing you to stand up for yourself in the face of adversity.

By giving clear direction, staying composed and remaining confident in your beliefs and values, you can usually find a way to deal with the narcissist’s selfishness and lack of empathy.


It’s important to remember that a narcissist’s behaviour is often rooted in insecurity, so staying respectful and compassionate while also standing your ground and having confidence in yourself can help when dealing with them. Always remember to set boundaries, communicate clearly and keep your composure when dealing with narcissistic people, as this can help maintain an appropriate relationship while protecting yourself from any potential manipulation or abuse

For Further Reading

8 Ways Narcissists Get Worse with Age

How to Deal with a Narcissist

Narcissistic Supply – Feeding the Narcissistic Ego

How to Define a Narcissist: The 5 Traits You Need to Look Out For

Narcissistic Injury – The Agony of the Fragile Narcissistic Ego

Can a Narcissist feel Empathy? The Answer May Surprise You

The Devious Traits of the Female Narcissist – What to Look Out For

Narcissist Meme Gallery

How to Tell If You’re a Narcissist

Can Narcissists Change? The Truth About Personality Disorders and How to Treat Them

Does a narcissist ever truly regret hurting people?

Can a Narcissist Ever Be Happy? Appearances May Be Deceptive

What is the Root Cause of Narcissism?

Can a Narcissist Be Nice? The Myth of the Generous Narcissist

Can the agony of the narcissistic injury ever be healed?

What’s a Narcissist? Characteristics of a Narcissist and How to Spot Them

The Five Types of Narcissist – Which One Are You Dealing With?

Narcissist – Covert – How to Recognize and Deal with a Covert Narcissist

The Traits of a Covert Narcissist: What You Need to Know

Grandiose Narcissism: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself From It

What are the Treatment Options for Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

How To Identify the Traits of Narcissism

What is an Enabler? A Critical Asset for the Narcissist

Unmasking Narcissism – What are the 5 main habits of a narcissist?

What are the signs that someone is narcissistic?

What are the red flags of a narcissist?

Coping with a Narcissistic Person in Your Life

Dealing With Difficult People – How to Spot a Narcissistic Personality

Narcissistic Traits in Females – Is She a Narcissist?

Understanding the Different Types of Narcissism

What is a Narc? Identifying the Signs of Narcissism

The Impact of Growing Up With A Narcissistic Mother on Her Daughter

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