16 Ways to Spot a Narcissist

We've all been there.  We've all been duped by one.  An there's no shame in it.  Whether it was an old friend, a colleague, a family member, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or even a complete stranger, we've all fallen for a narcissist's games.  And most of the time, even when it's over, we don't realize it.

You may be asking yourself "This person was so amazing!  How could they do something like this?"  And the answer is one thing: narcissism.  This mental illness is everywhere, and controls most of the world (if you look hard enough, you will see this is true).  Strangers are one thing, but when it's someone you trust and care about?  That's when it hits you...hard.

Examples of Narcissists Who I Have Fallen Prey To

  • In middle school, there was this charismatic little shit named Frank.  We were in orchestra together and he used to beat the crap out of me with his violin bow.  But I liked the attention, so I would harass him until he hit me again with his bow.  Kind of stupid, but I was 12 and 13, so what did I know?  I was getting attention from a popular kid.  We stayed friends on and off until about five years ago when we met up again and became really good friends.  He'd bring his girlfriend over to our house (now wife) and my hubby and kids and I all enjoyed hanging out with them.  The reason we were that close was because of a mistake I made: I sought him out after he disappeared from Facebook, thinking I did something wrong for him to block me.  I found him out Twitter and found out he had cancer.  Turns out, he had left Facebook because someone else found out one of his lies and he was in hiding.  And, as it also turned out, he didn't have cancer.

    So I found him on Twitter, pretending to have cancer (the kind my father died from), in order to gain sympathy from his friends on there.  So I started talking to him daily.  Then eventually, we got our families together to hang out regularly.  When he moved to Florida, I thought it was for him to die (he stopped all forms of treatment).  Well, as it turns out again, he was on the run from the law (he had stolen thousands of dollars from work) and needed to go hide out with his narcissist mother down south.  That was when I figured out he was lying about the cancer..pictures kept surfacing of him looking healthier than ever.  When my dad found out he had stomach cancer?  He died within a month.  This dude was drinking entire bottles of vodka and partying all the time and looking fatter than ever.  I had never thought that anyone could lie about something like that, but there he was, lying like the criminal he was.

    When he came back to town, I called the police and told them where to find him, and he got arrested.  I don't play games with idiots.  This entire ordeal taught me to question the validity of everything.  If someone could lie about this?  Anyone could lie about anything.  He taught me that.  Every person in your life is a learning experience.  And Frank taught me a very valuable one.
  • Another valuable lesson: don't trust anyone who is supposed to keep your secrets.  When you join a support group, it doesn't need to be said (even though it was said, several times, in our group by our leader) that what is said in group, stays in group.  That's the universal law.  But now when a narcissist is running the show.  Narcissists are are low-level (sometimes high-level, depending on the severity) sociopaths, meaning they do not have remorse for what they do, nor do they think about the people they hurt when they are making choices  I was in an anxiety support group (in person) for four years, and the group leader wrote down all of what we said and would publish essays in a newsletter in Canada, where she was the hero, helping her broken band of misfits.  In her stories, she cured us.  Which was total bullshit, as nobody was ever cured in our group.  Then she took these stories and published a book.  With our stories, word for word.  There was no creative writing whatsoever, just took our stories and repurposed them as her own.  That's literally stealing, but hey?  To the narcissist, she thinks she did something special and awesome, when in reality she broke our trust and is a thief.  But that's how they work.  When I confronted her about it and pushed her and her publisher to pull our stories out of that book, all of a sudden our group leader became the victim and is now housebound again.  Because of me sending a cease and desist letter to her house.  *sigh*  Whatever.  At least they listened and got the stories out of the book. 
  • My mother (and other family members).  I didn't exactly fall into a relationship with these people, I grew up with them.  But I never knew they were narcs until 2013.  And once I figured this out, I broke contact with everyone.  I ended up going back to my mother a few months later, due to financial issues (I couldn't let my family starve).  Then on April 20th, 2017, I went full no contact with her.  It was the best choice I ever made.  I had to endure 4 years of knowing she was a narcissist and putting up with it.  I thought I was doing the right thing, because I thought she needed a caretaker.  Turns out, she was exaggerating her illness to get attention and then using it against me to others, acting like I was controlling her.  Once this was found out, I walked.  And I haven't been back since.   

So dealing with these people (and more) have taught me so many valuable lessons in life.  Mostly, they taught me how to spot a narcissist.  So I thought I'd share with you today a few things I've learned along the way so you, too, can do your own narcissist spotting (it's like bird watching, but more assholey--birds are gorgeous creatures, and narcs are gross and terrible assholes).  So get out your binoculars and let's get to spotting!

16 Ways to Spot a Narcissist

  1. They are always victims.  No matter what, in any situation, they can't be the perp.  They can't be at fault.  They are the victims.  Like in my example above with our group leader, when she published our sacred and secret stories, and we told her "Hey, that's okay!  You're doing something wrong!" then all of a sudden she was the victim.  Once my uncle said I was fat I said back to him "I may be fat, but at least I can lose weight, but you'll always be ugly", then he became the victim because I called him ugly.  When my mom slapped my face and I reacted and slapped her back, then she screamed that I was the crazy one for hitting my mother.  See a pattern here?  Narcissists can do whatever they like, but if you call them out on their behavior, then they become the victims.  And the guilt comes out as thick as molasses to make sure that everyone feels bad about making them the victim (it's never their fault, btw).
  2. They will lie.  About anything and everything.  Or only about important things (or sometimes, only stupid things).  They make up things that didn't happen (my friend's mother used to say things happened to her that she saw on TV shows).  They will bend the shape of the truth to fit them.  Which brings us to:
  3. They gaslight us.  They will say things didn't happen that did happen.  This is a part of lying, but I separated it because it's different than just bending the truth.  They will try to convince you that you are crazy by saying things happened differently than you remember.  This is a HUGE tactic of the narcissist.  And sometimes, they succeed in making us question our own memories.
  4. They are always the winner, or always the loser.  Whichever gains them the most attention.  By looking like the winner, they gain attention for being great at something.  By being the loser (and talking about it), they gain attention by people telling them "Oh, you're not so bad!  It's okay!"  To a narc, all attention is good attention.
  5. They only compliment you when it looks good on them or when they need something from you.  Usually when you're alone, they will say you suck (usually not outright, but with little digs and anything they can to make you feel bad about yourself).  Unless they need something from you.  My mom quit doing this to me when I was in control of her life.  She needed me, so she could not insult me in that way.  But before, she'd put down every single idea I had, and make me feel worthless.  But in front of others, she'd sometimes brag me up.  One tactic she'd use on me was to brag up my husband for something we both do, but never say anything about me.  That way she could look like a loving mother-in-law and insult me at the same time.  Compliments in front of others is a tactic they use so they can look like supportive, loving people.  But it's always fake. 
  6. They are always right and never at fault for anything.  A narcissist cannot bow down to anyone.  This varies, sometimes they can, but the more of a narc they are, the more right they are.  And everything is everyone else's fault.  Never theirs.
  7. They can't take a inch of criticism.  Though sometimes they can, but normally they can't.  And if they do take the criticism at one point?  They will later retract it and act as though they never admitted they were wrong. This tactic makes you want to scream and pull out all of your hair.  It's like, you think you finally broke into their insane exterior and found some common ground, to just have them pull it out from under you like a rug of lies.  My ex did this regularly to me.
  8. They will make a big deal out of something they do, as if they are the only people in the world that do it.  I once knew a group of homeschoolers who had a "writer" in their midst.  Every single thing anyone said to this woman was something like "You can put that in one of your stories!"  She was eating it up!  I would just stare as these Stepford Wives, horrified by their stroking of this woman's ego.  I am also a writer, as is my husband (and he was published by a major publishing company), yet I'd be screaming at these women to shut up if they did that to me.  But she loved it.  There are many writers out there, but she had these women put her up on a pedestal for it.  I kept asking the other women "What do you for a living?  Can we concentrate on that for a bit?"  They'd just laugh me off and continue this strange sucking up. 
  9. Cerebral narcissists will flaunt their knowledge as if they know everything.  Even if they don't.  My hubby was friends with a guy like this, he had a story and an answer for everything. I hated playing trivia games with him, because he took his sweet time explaining every answer, to show off all his "skillz".  My cousin is married to one of these.  And my cousin believes every word this guy says, even though he's full of shit.  I knew this the day I met him when I was 14 and he tried to tell me that I could change my name and I'd still be the same person.  This lecture lasted over an hour.  I remember just staring at him and thinking "Who the crap does this guy think he is?"  Yet my cousin just kept saying "Oh my god, isn't he so smart?"  Ugggh.   These type seek out adoring fans to fan the flames of their ego.  If you challenge them and tell them they are wrong, they will usually argue with you and never accept the truth.
  10. Somatic narcissists are all about their perfect bodies.  My friend's cousin was like this.  He thought he was god's gift to women.  He would even flirt with me, knowing I was married, and having his girlfriend right in front of him.  My ex's BFF was also like that.  He fancied himself a professional baseball player and made his entire life about baseball.  He even had a signature that was his "professional" signature.  He found a plain, homely girlfriend who would not leave him because he deemed himself as such a gorgeous specimen of manlyhood and his ego could not take anyone walking away from him.  He assumed this woman would never leave him (yet, she did), but would flirt with really pretty women right in front of her.  They got married, and had kids, but she eventually wised up and left his ass (most likely because he cheated).  I once knew a woman like this who tried to steal my boyfriend back in the day right in front of me because she thought that every man wanted her.  It didn't work and she said to me "I must be losing it.  Usually guys don't tell me no.  Even when they have girlfriends."  Yuck. 
  11. They are always the sickest.  Or the most suffering person in the room.  My ex MIL was like this.  I was complaining to my ex's aunt about something her and I both had in common (something to do with pain) and my ex-MIL came up to us and said "Well, I have CFS!"  His aunt and I just stared at each other and laughed.  And if they aren't the sickest, then they are the type (like my mother) to downplay everyone else's sicknesses or pain.  "You complain too much!" is their mantra.  If they can't join in, then they will beat you by making you feel stupid. You aren't allowed to be sick or hurting their presence.  It's a way they can control how much attention anyone else gets around them.  And it's a way to discredit you in your humanness.
  12. They will invalidate your feelings about everything.  They will tell you that you are too sensitive, or that you're over reactive (my mother used to tell me I was over reactive about my pain--which I was because I have an actual physical issue for this, and would let me stay in pain without taking me to the doctor).  They will say that you think too much, or use a phrase to demean what you're saying (my mom's famous phrase is "Oh, you think so?" which meant she could not add to the conversation and she didn't want to her what you're saying anymore).  They will take the side of the other person when you tell them about something someone did to you, even if they've never met them.  Whatever you're feeling, to them, is not good enough.  And if you bring up the fact they are being mean to you about it, they will say "Oh, I am just kidding!  You really take things too seriously!" or something similar. 
  13. They want what you have and will ruin what you have in order to not let you have it.  Or they will copy you, and try to do it better, so you no longer want it anymore.  They can be jealous of your relationships, your job, your choices in life, your hobbies, what you're buying someone you both mutually know (my ex-MIL would find out what I was buying her son for his birthday, then go buy it for him and give it to him first), what you buy yourself, what you buy to put in your home, your choice of jewelry, etc.  They will try to one-up you to make themselves feel better.  Then if you bring it up to them, they will act like you're the one being jealous.
  14. They will try to control everything about your life at times.  They will make it look like they are being helpful, like they are doing something for your own good, but in reality they are just doing it so they can control you.  They will manipulate your thoughts, your life, your choices in life, everything and then tell you that they're doing it for your own good.
  15. They throw temper tantrums when they don't get what they want.  Or they rage.  Or they get revenge.  They are three year olds locked in a bigger person's body. 
  16. Everybody loves them.  They put on a facade to make everyone think the best about them.  "Oh her?  She's so nice!"  So when you try to tell anyone about the truth, you will automatically be ignored, because the narcissists are such great people, how can what you're saying be true?  They will dupe everyone to think this.  Unless they show their bad side to someone, or get caught in some lies, nobody will be the wiser.  Except for you.  And that leaves you looking jealous of them or a troublemaker. 

 Not every single narcissist will have every single one of these traits.  Some will have some, some will have a lot and some will have all.  If you know someone who acts like these traits, my suggestion?  Is to run far, far away!  You'll never win with a narc.  You'll never feel good about yourself.  Their jobs is to use you to feed their narcissistic supply.  Once that stops, they will show you their true colors.  And then?  You'll be ready to head for the hills!

Feel free to print out this list so you can compare someone who you think fits into the criteria of a narcissist.  And if you check off a lot of the traits?  Then, ladies and gentlemen, you may have a narcissist on your hands.

Have you dealt with a narcissist in your life?  Have you gone no contact with them?  Let me know below and share your story!

Post a Comment