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How to Spot a Narcissist Instantly & Save Yourself a World of Pain

True narcissists are rare, but there are a surprising number of people exhibiting the same traits. Here’s how to spot a narcissist and save yourself pain.

How to Spot a Narcissist Instantly

I wish I had sat down with this article and read it before falling into a three year-long relationship with someone who was narcissistic with a capital N. Would I have listened? Probably not, but at least I’d have known how to spot a narcissist.

Advice to save you pain

You see, this world seems to be full of narcissists. That in itself is surprising. True narcissism, i.e. someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), is actually very rare.

Instead, we have a whole host of people who are walking around with narcissistic traits, some severe, and causing a world of pain to those who attempt to love them and support them. Of course, they’re also causing themselves a world of pain. They can’t see it, because they’re never wrong in their own eyes.

[Read: How to set boundaries with a narcissist and weaken their hold over you]

The sad thing is that a narcissist will never be truly happy or live a normal, loving relationship. It is impossible because they do not love and trust their partner in the normal way. Instead, they use a whole host of manipulation tactics and misery to control.

You might wonder why I, someone with a relatively normal amount of common sense, would fall into this trap. Well, look around you, a huge number of other people have done the same. By helping you understand how to spot a narcissist, I hope to save you from doing the same thing.

How to spot a narcissist in 10 not-so-easy steps

Let’s check out a few of the most common narcissistic traits, helping you know how to spot a narcissistic. If you do spot one, run a mile if needed.

#1 They’re never wrong. If you’re around someone who is incapable of ever admitting they may be at fault or wrong about something, this is a classic narcissist warning light. Narcissists believe they are never at fault, they’re always right. Basically, everyone else is wrong. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

#2 They make you question yourself constantly. There is a commonly used technique called ‘gas lighting’, which narcissists use on a regular basis. In the worst cases, it makes you question your own sanity. You second guess yourself and wonder whether it’s you that’s thinking something bad, or it’s them actually making you think it. In the end, you’ll be so confused that you’ll believe you’re going insane.

This is no exaggeration. I know this first hand myself. If you notice this happening and you know you’re not wrong, but they’re trying to force you to think you are, it’s time to get away. [Read: Been gaslighted? The signs a narcissist is playing mind games with you]

#3 They control you much of the time. If you spend less and less time with friends and family, and it’s usually down to your partner or the potential narcissist in your life, then they’re subtly controlling you. Second guessing what to wear when you’re normally very confident in your fashion identity? This is another sign of subtle narcissistic control. They are control freaks, and this is one of the biggest signs for how to spot a narcissist.

#4 They’re surprisingly needy. Narcissists are actually insecure at their core, but their bravado and fake confidence covers it up. If you find the potential narcissist in your life surprisingly needy, but covers it with gaslighting or control methods, wake up and realize what is happening. This neediness is driving their manipulation, and it’s not your cross to bear.

#5 Their opinions are always more valid than yours. A little like my first point, the opinions of a narcissist are basically fact, and any opinion you offer up will be met with derision. This is because they truly believe that your opinion is wrong, and they believe that deep in their very soul.

A narcissist isn’t knocking your opinion to one side out of spite, they’re doing it because they actually believe they’re right and you’re wrong!

#6 They often put you down, to raise themselves up. Remember, narcissists are lacking in self-confidence. So, to make themselves feel better, they often put down the people around them. This can be very difficult if you’re in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, as I found myself.

In this case, you will go into the relationship feeling wonderful and sexy, excelling in your job, and enjoying your hobbies and friends. Soon you find yourself in a place where everything you do is laughed at or belittled, and you start to believe it yourself. You might notice comments like, “But we both know you’re terrible at your job. Thankfully, I’m doing well in mine.” Cruel? Yes. Narcissistic? Totally. [Read: Why do narcissists do the selfish, hurtful things they do?]

#7 They don’t seem to have a very positive dating history. If you enquire a little about their past dating history, you’re probably told that every ex was a terrible person, they did bad things to them, they cheated, lied, or lacked excitement. The truth is that these exes left because they came to understand and learn how to spot a narcissist.

A narcissist is incapable of love in the regular way. This means that unfortunately everyone they form a connection with leaves in the end, out of self-preservation. Anyone who does stay is likely to suffer emotionally. [Read: A relationship with a narcissist and what it means to love one]

#8 They have very few friends. Just like the ex dating history, a narcissist is likely to have very few friends, if any. The friends they do have learn to understand their nature and limit their exposure, but most people leave.

A narcissist isn’t only unable to love in the regular way, but they’re unable to form emotional connections of any sort in the regular way. This means that friends feel belittled, unsupported, and unimportant, and spend less and less time around the person in question.

#9 They must have the best of everything. If you notice they must always have the best shoes, the most up to date cell phone, the most revolutionary laptop, it’s likely because of narcissism. A narcissist won’t make do with what they can afford and be happy about it.

They must have the best of everything to be better than everyone else. Again, this is down to their lack of self-confidence. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

#10 They do not like you having your own life. A narcissist is highly unlikely to be okay with you going off and enjoying time with friends, family, and colleagues. Instead, they will want to be ingrained in every single aspect of your life. It can lead to a feeling of suffocation. When you start to question it, the gaslighting will make an appearance. Trust me, I’ve been there.

This is down to them feeling insecure and worrying that you will leave them if you have the freedom to go off and meet other people. They worry that you will find someone who treats you differently. As a result, they manipulate to keep you in your place, controlling your life as a result.

[Read: The important early warning signs of toxic people]

These are 10 of the most common signs to look for when understanding how to spot a narcissist. Regardless of the signs, if you’re unhappy and question your sanity in any way, it’s time to open your eyes and break away from the situation. 

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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