The word “narcissist” has become such a buzzword to throw around lately. It’s all too common for someone to use it to insult someone else. We often use the word to describe someone that is arrogant, showy, or wants attention. But true narcissism is in fact a personality disorder.
It is important to know the difference between an arrogant attitude and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The latter is a mental illness that has a major impact on life and relationships, and likely requires professional counseling. Let’s explore what pathological narcissism is, and how to know if someone is a narcissist.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental condition that’s characterized by an individual’s inflated sense of grandiosity and importance. They believe they possess unique traits and special powers, and because of this their life has more value than the lives of others.
The thought patterns of this inflated self-importance are persistent and pervasive. The person with this condition craves attention and adoration, and lacks empathy for others. They also resent any perceived criticisms directed at them. These traits make it difficult for those with NPD to maintain long-lasting relationships.
How to Know if Someone is a Narcissist: Signs of NPD
Do you suspect someone you know might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Here are tell-tale signs and symptoms that someone may have this mental condition:
- They demand adoration and attention from others.
- They present an excessively arrogant attitude.
- They reveal glimpses of deep insecurity.
- They love to be in the spotlight and seek it out whenever possible.
- They don’t have empathy for others’ suffering.
- They take advantage of others for their own personal gain and don’t feel guilty about it.
- They see the world in black and white. Everything is either incredible or horrible. Right or wrong.
- They muse over fantasies of power, control, fame, a perfect partner, or beauty.
- They “steamroll” others in conversations by always making it about them.
- They get angry when others don’t comply with their expectations and demands.
- They shame, insult, or gaslight others, attempting to emotionally control or get a reaction from them.
- They talk negatively about everyone else and bully, or believe others envy them. They may also deeply envy others.
- They fixate on the opinions of others and resent feeling like they are being criticized in any way.
Need more how-to articles? Visit BetterHelp Advice for more ways to cope with mental health disorders.
Maintaining a Relationship with a Narcissist
It is extremely challenging to maintain a relationship with a narcissist. Most individuals diagnosed with NPD struggle to keep any long-term relationships afloat. Narcissists will manipulate, lie, bully, and play games to get what they want.
They will demand the utmost attention and adoration and will grow agitated and fed-up when their expectations are not met by their loved ones. These behaviors and patterns are very painful and toxic for those close to them.
If you are in a close relationship with a narcissist, tread lightly. It may be possible to help them as they seek counseling and improve their mental health, but it may also be necessary to cut ties.
Ways to Deal with a Narcissistic Friend or Partner
- Set boundaries and stick to them.
A true narcissist will attempt to emotionally bleed you dry. They will push boundaries, attempting to take what they want. If you yield to them and do not make clear what you won’t tolerate, they will believe they have complete power and control over you. This just feeds their narcissism. By setting boundaries, you are filling your own cup and putting your own well-being first.
- Avoid engaging in any arguments.
Narcissists do not operate like most people in an argument. While someone with good mental health can see both sides of the disagreement and understand the nuances of a given situation, narcissists are hardly capable of doing so.
They see things like fights in black or white. And their perspective is the only one that matters. So instead of driving yourself crazy trying to convince them of your reasoning, just don’t engage.
- Ignore their outbursts and tantrums when they don’t get their way.
If there’s one thing that feeds pathological narcissism, it’s getting attention. They believe they are the center of the universe.
So when your narcissistic partner demands something from you and throws a fit when you don’t live up to their expectations, ignore it. Don’t feed into their desire to see your heated reaction. Attempt to simply walk away, get space, and take care of yourself.
- Know and accept yourself for who you are.
The longer you are in a relationship with a narcissist, the more you’ll discover the painful power struggle between you. A narcissist wants to keep control over you, your thoughts, and your perceptions of yourself.
They will gaslight you, put you down, and fight with fire if they have to. Don’t get confused by their skewed sense of reality – you must always remember who you are. What you love about yourself.
Put up a barrier between you to protect your self-worth, because they will likely attempt to undermine it and use your weaknesses as a weapon against you. Know who you are and remove yourself from the dynamic if that becomes impossible!