Stories abound of unsuspecting souls, both men and women, who enter into relationships with Mr. or Miss Right, only to find that the luster wears off after a short time and a game of emotional cat and mouse ensues. That polished Mr. or Miss Right, once exuding extreme levels of confidence, accommodation, and praise quickly turns to a tarnished Mr. or Miss Wrong laying blame, manipulating plans and situations, and creating drama with the intention of focusing all of the attention on themselves, the tell-tale signs of a narcissist.
The term narcissist is thrown about wildly these days, generally used as a label to identify anyone who is deemed vain and selfish. True narcissism, however, is a personality disorder where toxic levels of vanity, entitlement, and exploitation of others are witnessed.
Narcissism is a spectrum disorder – a person exhibiting several narcissistic traits is higher on the scale of narcissism and can cause more damage in a relationship. It is not a matter of whether or not they are a narcissist, but to what degree they exhibit the traits: high levels of self-focus, self-importance, self-esteem and grandiosity.
Here are some red flag signs that the person you are dealing with might be a narcissist:
8 Signs of Narcissism
1. Constantly Seeking Admiration – Admiration for the narcissist is like a drug. They crave it 24/7. In the long run, finding admiration becomes a difficult task since others won’t applaud them. This causes narcissists to frequently change their friends and acquaintances to get their next fix, only allowing for weak ties with others.
2. Repeatedly Putting Others Down – Research has shown that narcissists intentionally seek out people who maintain their high positive self-image while at the same time intentionally avoiding and putting down people who may confront them with the truth. Narcissists also blame everyone else for shortcomings and seldom focus on their own poor behavior.
3. Entitlement – Narcissists often have an unremitting attitude that the world and everyone around them should support their self-inflated status. Their special status is developed out of a fear of depending on people. The more their fear of dependency builds, the more a narcissist is convinced that their special status is the only thing in the world they can truly rely on. They will demand recognition through expectation of others meeting that need.
4. Propensity to Manipulate – Narcissists can appear to be highly accommodating at first, but use behind-the-scenes manipulation to really get what they want. While their partner might wish to eat Chinese food for dinner, the narcissist will suggest a French restaurant under the guise of it being more “special” and spontaneous. A narcissist will also use manipulation as tool for social influence to promulgate widespread networking and dominate social groups, not necessarily for exploitation but simply because they desire the positive reinforcement of others.
5. Love the Sound of Their Own Voice – A narcissist’s language and demeanor is geared towards one objective in an interaction: to maintain power. Research shows that individuals who scored higher on the narcissism scale tended to engage in more disagreeable verbal behaviors like arguing and cursing. They also used more sexual language than their more modest counterparts.
6. Volatile and Dramatic Behavior – Control is very important to narcissists. They quickly become angry when rejected, overreacting to small slights and spurning those who do not support their grandiose image of themselves. This rapid loss of their charm if threatened or destabilized provides a clue to their true character.
7. Time-tested Sexual Strategies – Men who score high on tests of narcissism resort to displays of braggadocio and wit while women who score high on the tests consistently dress more provocatively than their more modest counterparts. As a group, narcissists are rated more likable and attractive than everyone else at first glance. Research shows that narcissists are considered more cheerful, stylishly dressed and physically appealing initially. Narcissists often exude a charismatic air of attractiveness, competence, interpersonal warmth and humor, all used as weapons to charm the pants off the opposite sex, literally.
8. Promiscuity – Men and women who score high on tests of narcissism report more short-term sexual encounters and express a greater desire for this type of union. Promiscuity is a key strategy, which allows narcissists to maintain control in a relationship, often using an attitude of aloofness and disinterest. Narcissists tend to pride themselves at being accomplished at sex on a technical level and are willing to try almost anything that gives them pleasure.
The One Question Profile of a Narcissist
Not sure if you are dealing with a narcissist? Research has shown that there is one tried and true method (which works 90% of the time) of finding out quickly: just ask.
Researchers at Indiana University have developed a one question test to determine narcissism called the Single-Item Narcissism Scale (SINS). And the question is this: “Are you a narcissist?”
True narcissists do not view their narcissism as a bad thing. They actually tend to be proud of it. A number of studies have shown that narcissists often admit to behaving in explicitly narcissistic ways. And even though they are aware that others view their behavior as less than positive than they view it themselves, they simply do not care.