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27 Secret Signs of Narcissism People Overlook Until It’s Too Late

You’ve known overly selfish people, and it sucks having to deal with them. But are they really a narcissist? To be sure, here are the signs of narcissism.

signs of narcissism

We all have that one friend who stands in front of the mirror for a little too long or is always showing off the new car they just bought. And we all have those moments where we think we’re on top of the world, so what makes you different from a narcissist? Are there any subtle signs of narcissism most of us overlook? Of course!

So, there’s something called self-love, which we all should aim to have… and that’s totally acceptable. However, narcissism is the extreme of that. It’s beyond self-love. Instead, it’s self-obsession to the point of using and abusing others!

[Read: How to deal with a narcissist in the best way you possibly can]

What causes a person to become a narcissist?

We have all known a narcissist. But have you ever wondered how they got to be that way? What on earth could have happened to make them turn out to be such self-centered, unpleasant people?

It’s easy to be very judgmental of them. After all, they are making your life miserable, so why wouldn’t you criticize them for infringing on your happiness?

It’s human nature to sit back and judge them for all the horrible things they inflict on other people. [Read: Narcissist relationship pattern – the 7 stages you have to face]

But let’s take a step back with a little empathy here. Yes, it’s strange to have empathy for a narcissist. And that’s not to say that you should tolerate their horrible behavior – because you shouldn’t! However, it really helps to think about how they might have become the way they are.

1. Childhood trauma

Childhood trauma is a big contributing factor to how someone becomes a narcissist. Perhaps they grew up with abusive parents. One or both of them may have emotionally, mentally, and/or physically abused them. That is certainly traumatic, isn’t it?

You would think that someone who had childhood trauma would turn out to be a nice person, not a narcissist, wouldn’t you? It makes sense that they wouldn’t want to put other people through the horrible things they experienced as a child. [Read: Being raised by narcissists – 18 harmful ways it affects your life]

But here’s why they don’t do that. People tend to model the behavior of people around them – especially the behavior they saw in their parents growing up. It becomes “normal” to them, and they probably don’t know any other way to behave.

That’s why they say that the abused become the abuser. It’s like “monkey see, monkey do.” They don’t really give much thought to their behavior and how it affects other people, unfortunately. This is not an excuse for you to tolerate their behavior, but it does explain it. [Read: What causes narcissism – The facts and theories to understand a narcissist’s mind]

2. Excessive parental pampering

On the other end of the spectrum, maybe their parents were overly doting and pampering. Perhaps they were an only child and rich and they got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

If they grew up thinking that the world revolved around them, then they probably didn’t have any practice at all in thinking about other people’s feelings. It has made them practically devoid of any kind of empathy.

They’re always thinking, “What’s in it for me?” and “What can I get out of this?” This is excessive selfishness.

It can definitely be formed in a childhood where you never hear the word “no” from anyone. When you are allowed to do anything you want to do for the first 18 years of your life, it’s no doubt that you will turn into a narcissist. [Read: How do people become self-centered and stop caring about others?]

3. Brain chemistry

The first two reasons were more socially related. But this reason is because they may have something wrong with their brain chemistry.

Think about it, most mental health problems have some sort of component that has to do with what is happening in the brain.

For example, if someone is depressed or has bi-polar syndrome, doctors prescribe medications to help balance their brain chemistry. This helps bring them into a more normal range of behavior. Narcissists could also have their share of a problem with the chemicals in their head too. [Read: Narcissists and empaths – Why they’re a match made in dating hell]

The 24 most common signs of narcissism most of us overlook

Now, you may think a narcissist is very obvious to point out, but not always. They usually exhibit some core traits which seem to be prevalent in almost all narcissists.

You just have to keep your eyes open because narcissists will mentally drain you when you’re just hoping they’ll enrich your life! Here are the most important signs of narcissism you may not have noticed already.

Drum roll, please…

1. Lack of empathy

They don’t actually want to understand other people’s feelings. Actually, they don’t care. Sure, they may sit and listen to you, but they’re not really listening.

They’re concerned about how these feelings will affect their own agenda. If you know someone who has a tendency to only be around you during the good times, well, that’s one of the huge signs of narcissism. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re always being taken for granted by others around you]

2. They aren’t all loud and in-your-face

You have two types of narcissism. You have your typical narcissists who are loud, proud, and obnoxious. But then you also have your covert narcissists. Those are people who are introverts and are highly defensive with anxiety.

At the end of the day, they both share the traits of being selfish, not empathetic, and arrogant. [Read: 25 signs of covert narcissism and the special kind of mind game they play]

3. They don’t listen to you

They’ll sit there with their cup of tea, but everything you’re saying is going in one ear and out the other. Their advice will be quickly formulated and not given much thought, so if you’re seeking advice, go call your mom instead.

If they ask you for advice, most likely they’re waiting to hear what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

4. Downplay other people’s needs

You may be very upset about your dog dying, but their response is, “oh well, he was old anyways.” They make it so that your feelings are not as important as theirs.

They don’t want to explore how an event affected you because they don’t care. That’s energy wasted on something that doesn’t involve them.

5. Can’t take criticism

In fact, that’s something it’s best you just don’t do with them. They don’t take criticism well, and when they hear it, you’ll get a very immature reply.

They won’t be angry, but instead will put you down and become passive-aggressive. It’s like dealing with a two-year-old. [Read: Narcissistic rage and how to handle the angry backlash when you criticize them]

6. They like being the boss

Makes sense, though, right? They want to rule the world, so naturally, they would love being in any form of power position. Many narcissists are in leadership roles because they love to dominate.

7. Constantly feeling unappreciated

Another one of the signs of narcissism is that they feel unappreciated. They just aren’t given the respect they deserve… it must be so hard to be a narcissist.

Everything comes with a sense of entitlement and not receiving the proper recognition. If it was up to them, we would all be kissing their feet for the smallest things.

8. They’re mean to people

They’re dicks. It’s really that plain and simple. They think they’re the best so they don’t have to show any respect or courtesy for others that are “below” them. They’re usually very rude to people that they feel are not worthy of their attention. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the selfish things they do?]

9. They think they’re hot and desired by all

Oh yeah, narcissists are just the hottest of the hot. They think everyone wants to have sex with them. The weird thing, though, is that usually, narcissists are generally more attractive and stylish. Funny how that works out.

10. They’re a serial dater

Narcissists are charming as hell. If you’re dating one, they probably swept you off your feet and you fell hard for them.

However, that usually is only in the beginning since that reality is pretty hard to hold up in the long term. One of the classic signs of narcissism. [Read: Why do people fall for narcissists when they know they shouldn’t?]

11. Four months is their mark

They typically can’t hold a relationship longer than four months. Usually, by the four-month mark, the other person finally sees that they’re dating a narcissist.

Doesn’t take that long for their colors to show, eh?

12. They cheat

Narcissists are more likely to cheat on their partners. They’re charming, and everyone wants to sleep with them, right?

They think they are amazing, so, of course, you can see why they would be inclined to cheat and convince themselves just how much everyone wants to f*ck them!

13. They have to be in control

Of literally everything. If they’re not in control, things go south fast. They’re on a pedestal of greatness, and if they’re not in control of that, they’re at the mercy of others.

You’ll notice when someone is a control freak and if they have these other attributes, they’re a narcissist. [Read: How do narcissists control you so subtly? And why you allow them]

14. They choose friends based on self-interest

They can’t have friends because they need to actually care about others to stay friends. That would mean that they’re emotionally invested in someone that isn’t themselves.

So, instead, they choose friends who offer them something of interest. Maybe their friends are rich and famous – it has to be something that makes their own image rise.

15. Have issues showing emotions

Why would they want to show emotions, that would make them have to care and have feelings that don’t revolve around them. If they show emotion, this means they care. [Read: Narcissistic supply – How to control a narcissist and cut their power]

16. Love to put people down

Another one of the big signs of narcissism is putting people down. They need to keep the idea that they are the best, they need that positive image for themselves.

So, how do you get that? You put other people down. It’s the easiest and a classic way to boost your self-esteem. It’s their fix.

17. Fake humility

They may on occasion try to play off that they’re modest and humble. In the beginning, you may believe them, however, you’ll notice eventually that it’s a lie. This false humility allows them to play the victim and get their ego stroked. But it’s all a show, you can’t fake humility. [Read: 20 signs of a narcissistic relationship that’ll destroy you slowly]

18. They like perfection

It’s all about creating the perfect life. They are perfection. They have rich and influential friends, an amazing job, a hot girl/boyfriend – everything you could possibly ever want.

So, if you show them something that’s imperfect and flawed about themselves, they’ll dismiss it.

19. They make you look like the crazy one

If you know a narcissist, well, you’re probably going insane. We don’t blame you. In fact, you’re most likely in the right. However, they’re able to twist things and now you look like the lunatic.

Don’t let them twist your mind… the best thing to do is walk away, because this is one of the major signs of narcissism. [Read: Gaslighting – What it is, how it works and 22 signs to spot it ASAP]

20. Their social media is pristine

They have thousands of ‘friends’ and use their social media as a way to show their status in society.

They’re popular, all their pictures are flawless with thousands of likes. In reality, they’re alone, but it doesn’t matter. They have an illusion that shows them as something greater than all of us. [Read: Social media addiction – The 16 alarming symptoms and how to break out]

21. Excuses, excuses, excuses

This is probably their biggest strength – they can have an excuse for anything.

They never fail at anything because if they did, it’s someone else’s fault for that failure, not actually theirs. Throw a problem at them, and they’ll give you an excuse and blame it on someone else… a classic narcissistic move.

22. They love taking everything personally

You can joke around with them but you can’t make a joke about them. It’s not going to fly.

Why? Because making fun of them isn’t something to joke about. They’re perfect and making fun of them is an attack. Everything is personal because, well, it’s always about them. [Read: How to beat a narcissist – 14 ways to win over their manipulation]

23. They don’t know they’re a narcissist

All these attributes make it really difficult for narcissists to actually see that they are narcissists.

They think they’re the best, everything is perfect around them, they’re in control – so how would they see that they have a problem? Exactly. They built themselves into a bubble of delusion. [Read: Do narcissists know they’re narcissists – Do they lie to themselves?]

24. They have low self-esteem

Does this one surprise you? It probably does! The reason that this trait might sound wrong to you is that narcissists parade around as if they are God’s gift to humanity. And because of that, most people think that they have an inflated sense of self-esteem.

But you see, it’s actually the opposite. They DON’T feel good about themselves. That’s exactly why they treat other people badly – to try to make themselves feel superior.

[Read: How to recognize and stop selfish people from hurting you]

Now that you know the subtle signs of narcissism, you’ll be able to spot a narcissist literally a mile away… and hopefully, stay a mile away from them as well!

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...