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Narcissistic Behavior: 27 Signs to Identify Them When You See One

Want to be able to recognize narcissistic behavior as soon as you come across a person? Here are the warning traits of a narcissist to keep an eye on.

narcissistic behavior

Odds are you encounter narcissistic behavior daily. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that your friends or coworkers are narcissists. Being a narcissist means you have narcissistic personality disorder. But honestly, most people who show signs of narcissistic behavior aren’t actually narcissists.

How does that work? Well, being narcissistic is repetitive behavior.

When you have narcissistic tendencies, it is often temporary. It is something that is caused by an event or situation. But when brought to someone’s attention, it can be altered.

Now if someone shows this behavior regularly, enough that it interferes with their relationships, and isn’t working on changing it, then their issue is more severe and probably needs professional guidance. For you, being able to identify narcissistic behavior can help you figure out the traits to be wary of, and learn how to deal with it. 

[Read: Can a narcissist change? The real truth if you’re looking for hope]

What is narcissistic behavior? 

Firstly, what is narcissistic behavior? People throw that word out a lot, but what does it mean? Narcissistic behavior expresses someone’s extreme self-involvement, arrogance, and lack of consideration for others.

This could be someone at work who is usually great to collaborate with, but after getting a promotion or award, they act like a snob for a week or so as if they are better than everyone else. But, as they settle into their new role, they return back to normal.

This is a prime example of narcissistic behavior. This person acted like the world revolved around them and that their promotion was more important than being respectful, but it wasn’t for long.

If this happened every time this person got a compliment or a pat on the back from a superior or was intense enough for people to make complaints to HR, it would be pushing into another territory where mentioning something may make things worse.

[Read: How to tell if someone is a narcissist and recognize them instantly]

Signs of narcissistic behavior

As I said, narcissistic behavior can be seen in most people. Even the best people you know will show signs of narcissistic behavior now or then. This is normal. 

After all, everyone has some selfishness and some level of ego that shows these signs. But, what makes someone not a narcissist is their ability to take criticism on these behaviors and work through them or at the very least apologize for them. 

So if you’re looking for narcissistic behavior that makes someone a borderline narcissist or a full blow one, these are the traits to keep an eye on.

1. They talk about themselves

Everyone does this, but someone who is showing true narcissistic behaviors will constantly talk about themselves. They will have a hard time talking about anything else. 

They will always bring the conversation back to themselves or even interrupt you to talk about how what you said made them think of something that happened to them. [Read: Do you love talking and hate listening? The signs of a conversational narcissist]

2. They rarely, if ever, ask about you

Someone showing narcissistic behavior won’t ask how you’re doing or what’s been going on with you. Maybe a friend just got engaged so they spend all of your catching up dinner talking about wedding plans and never asking you about your relationship or job. This is a prime example of narcissistic behavior that is unique to this situation.

This person may not always be this way, but is currently self-absorbed due to something happening in their life.

3. They need reassurance

Requiring outside assurance and approval is a major sign of narcissistic behavior. Although narcissism is self-involvement, it is deeply seated in low self-esteem. So, relying on others for approval and acceptance means a lot. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

4. They seem conceited

Someone who insists everyone is hitting on them or that they know they look amazing all the time is often covering for their internal insecurities.

There is nothing wrong with being confident, but insisting you are better than anyone else shows narcissism.

5. They don’t think about others

Narcissistic behavior can be seen in people who don’t take others into consideration. They make decisions that benefit them without worrying about how anyone else will be impacted.

6. They point out your flaws

Whether you are friends or dating someone, if they feel the need to point out your flaws, they may be using their ability to put you down to lift themselves up.

They require perfection from themselves, so they require it of the people in their life too. They will likely insult your clothes, your style, or anything they can. After all, doing this makes them feel better about themselves. [Read: Why do people get defensive? 14 reasons why and ways to handle them]

7. They’re a bully

Not only will someone showing this sign of narcissistic behavior point out your flaws, but they will also do the same to others. They will make fun of someone passing on the street or even start rumors about people at work. 

Although they would prefer to talk about themselves, if someone is taking their attention away, they will find a way to bring them down. [Read: Are you being gaslighted? 14 signs someone’s messing with your head]

8. They can’t apologize

The inability to apologize is a common form of narcissistic behavior. Some people can’t do it at work, others can’t do it at home. Not being able to admit mistakes shows a lack of vulnerability which is also a part of narcissism. [Read: The biggest traits of toxic people that can hurt and emotionally damage you]

9. They can’t handle rejection

Whether it is a turned down date or a breakup, they lose it. They will either deny it, lie about it, or fall to pieces about rejection. 

10. They try to get revenge

Revenge is something most well-developed and mature people don’t do. Most people handle a breakup by binging on sad movies and ice cream. When this causes narcissistic behavior, someone may use their ex’s account to order a bunch of stuff or post something embarrassing about them online. [Read: How to make a narcissist miserable and burn with rage]

11. They’re entitled

Entitlement is its own thing, but it can also be a sign of narcissism. Feeling like they are owed or due something is super common for a narcissist.

This can be someone assuming they deserve a job they didn’t earn or someone who thinks they deserve the nicest things even if they can’t afford them. Someone who doesn’t earn what they want but thinks they deserve it anyway is entitled.

12. They need attention

Needing to be the center of attention and having people want to be around you is a common sign of narcissism.

Often, when people want to distance themselves from a toxic friend, this is the reason. They have a friend who needs constant attention and care but always takes and never gives. [Read: What makes someone an attention seeker and how to read these traits]

13. They are controlling

Narcissism has an element of control to it. Being able to control others gives a narcissist power and they crave that power. Being able to guilt or manipulate people is something they do regularly. [Read: Controlling vs caring? The thin line controlling people love to cross]

14. They blame others for their problems

If something goes wrong in their life or at work, they always have someone else to blame. If they make a mistake, it’s because someone taught them the wrong way.

15. They have no boundaries

This is someone who believes they are above what others want. If you ask them not to invade your client meetings, they will. If you ask them not to eat the yogurt in the fridge with your name on it, they will. [Read: How to set personal boundaries and guide other people to respect it]

16. They’re defensive

If you call out someone for narcissistic behavior, they should be somewhat open to your feedback. But people who get defensive and argumentative about it may be more of a narcissist than not.

17. They’re stubborn

Everyone has some level of stubbornness to them about certain things. But when stubbornness gets in the way of practicality, it may be a sign of narcissism especially when added to some other signs. 

18. They cheat

Because those who are showing narcissistic behavior believe they are above the law, so to speak, they will cheat. They will cheat on tests and in relationships. Why? Because they believe they can get away with it and if they don’t, they don’t see the consequences of their actions. 

19. They are manipulative

Again, the desire to be in control causes them to lie or guilt people into things. They will psychologically trick you into things so they know they can do it. [Read: How to survive the power of the narcissistic duping delight]

20. They get angry

Intense anger over things that really don’t require such a response can be a sign of narcissistic behavior.

Getting mad, yelling, throwing things, and more is not normal anger, and it is pulled from something deeper.

21. They tend to be vain

Being superficial or more into looks than the average person is a sign of self-involvement. And this isn’t in an unsure way but in an admiring themselves in the mirror and fishing for compliments ways. [Read: 16 signs of an attention whore who can’t stop seeking attention]

22. They are judgmental

They will roll their eyes at people for watching certain shows. And they will judge people who they don’t know or who don’t live up to their expectations, which to be honest, is most people. 

23. They are bad listeners

This is because they are more concerned with themselves than anything you have to say. They zone out or interrupt when you’re talking. 

24. They are a sore loser

Being highly competitive is a sign of narcissism. It is obviously common for athletes and Olympians, but for those who don’t want to play board games anymore because they’re losing it is probably something else.

25. They love social media

They post a lot on social media. In fact, they will delete photos that don’t get a lot of likes and repost hoping to get more. They are also likely to comment on other people’s photos with both praise and hate. [Read: Not wishing someone happy birthday – No big deal or is this a power play]

26. They exaggerate

They will take a story and make it sound more exciting. Additionally, they will exaggerate about their abilities or experiences. They will say anything to live up to the perfection they want to fulfill. 

27. They like drama

They may act like they hate drama, but somehow, it always surrounds them. Because they want attention they will get it whatever way they can, even if that means starting drama. [Read: How to recognize emotionally unstable people for less drama in life]

How to deal with narcissistic behavior

When these behaviors get out of hand, someone shows multiple signs of narcissistic behavior, or their behavior is negatively impacting their work, relationships, and everyday lives, then it is more than behavior. It becomes something for professionals to deal with. 

But, therapists aren’t only helpful for those with narcissistic tendencies. They can help you deal with them as well. A therapist can prevent you from becoming codependent on a narcissist in your life, which can leave you feeling anxious or depressed.

[Read: The signs of codependency to know if you’re being taken for granted]

If you talk to the person showing signs of narcissism, and they only show more signs or never change, expecting them to change will only disappoint and leave you feeding into their behavior. 

Instead of waiting for them to change, you need to be firm and call them out on their behavior. Your response to their behavior is valid. You deserve to express that. But it isn’t always the easiest. Reasoning with a narcissist can be exhausting and impossible. 

A therapist can help you deal with your frustrations so you can live your life without their issues dragging you down.

[Read: What is the worst thing you can do to a narcissist to hurt them?]

Being able to identify the signs of narcissistic behavior is only the first step in really dealing with a narcissist. Find a way to limit contact with them, or better yet, walk away from their life for good!

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...