April 20, 2024

How to spot people with narcissistic tendencies

Narcissism is a personality trait, which involves an inflated sense of self-importance and an insatiable need for admiration combined with a lack of empathy for others. People with narcissistic tendencies often believe that they are superior to others and that they deserve special treatment.

On the surface they may appear as charming and confident but underneath they often struggle with low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and insecurities. They are preoccupied with their appearance and success to impress others and to boost their fragile self-esteem.

Maintaining the façade is a priority, and people with narcissistic traits can be manipulative, exploitative and dismissive of others in order to satisfy their own needs. This makes forming genuine and healthy relationships difficult, and people close to them often feel hurt or confused by their actions.

While certainly not all people who display narcissistic traits meet the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, being around broadly-defined narcissists can still be very challenging and damaging.

But how can you tell the difference between being just a little too self-absorbed and being narcissistic?

Here are 5 red-flag narcissistic traits:

1. Sense of grandiosity: Narcissists have an  inflated sense of self-importance and believe they are superior. They feel special and they expect privileges and exceptional treatment from  others. They may become angry or upset when they do not receive the special attention they feel they deserve.

2. Bottomless need for admiration: Narcissists crave attention, validation and adulation from others. They rely on external sources for emotional sustenance and it's a bottomless pit. They seek out compliments and praise and they surround themselves with people who feed their sense of superiority.

3. Arrogance: Narcissists often display excessive pride in themselves accompanied by contempt for others. They may look down on people around them, dismiss their opinions and feelings and manipulate others for their own gains.

4. Envy: Narcissists are envious of other people, especially those whom they perceive as more successful, popular or attractive. They may feel threatened by friends, colleagues and even family and they might try to sabotage their efforts or downplay their achievements. Often, they are unable to authentically celebrate the success of others, due to the fear that this person will eventually outshine them.

5. Empathy: One of the key distinguishing features of narcissists is the lack of empathy. Narcissists have difficulty understanding the feelings of others. They are insensitive to their needs and they have no qualms about exploiting people around them in order to get what they want.


If you have a person with narcissistic tendencies in your close environment, sadly you will probably recognise all the traits above.

This person may have no desire to change, so instead of focusing your efforts on them, it is important to protect your own emotional wellbeing and to set appropriate boundaries.

We will look into ways to deal with a narcissist in another article, keep your eyes peeled for a new post, or talk to Alicja now if you would like to explore the impact and heal from being around a narcissistic person in your family, social circle or at work.

*The information provided in this blog post is for general educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or mental health professional advice. If you are struggling with any of the issues described in this post, please seek appropriate professional help from a qualified professional.


10 Signs You're Dealing with a Narcissist (And What to Do About It)" by Psychology Today

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder Workbook by D. J. Fox

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A Review of the Literature by Ronningstam et al.

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