Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a severe mental condition that is part of the Cluster B personality disorders. It affects around 1% of people who have been diagnosed, and there are many more cases that remain undiagnosed.
People with NPD often don’t seek help in therapy, and their disorder may oftentimes go unrecognized or unmanaged. This does not mean that these individuals are inherently bad or cruel, but it is important to be aware of the risks associated with dealing with those with this type of personality disorder.
It can be difficult to extricate yourself from the control of a narcissist, but staying positive can help you manage any potential toxicity they bring to your life while protecting yourself from any unnecessary heartache.
There are 5 key things to remember when dealing with narcissists:
- They cannot accept criticism
- They do not apologize for their mistakes
- They will manipulate you into complying with their demands
- They are more concerned about how others perceive them than who they really are as a person
- They use superficial charm and false compliments as tools for achieving their own goals
How does an interaction look like with a narcissist
When you interact with a narcissist, they will often reflect back to you the best version of yourself that they can imagine. They will flatter you and use fake compliments in order to manipulate you into doing what they want.
They are also very concerned with how others perceive them, so they may act like they are superior to everyone else in order to gain respect and admiration. Narcissists tend to be perfectionists and always strive for excellence in their own image and performance.
When a narcissist reflects back an image of themselves as something better than what it actually is, this is known as grandiosity. Grandiosity is one of the key traits of narcissistic personality disorder, as it can lead narcissists to become overconfident in their abilities even when their skills may not reflect that actual level of expertise.
Narcissists will also engage in ‘gaslighting’ behavior – making someone else doubt themselves or their own experiences by manipulating facts or second-guessing memories. This type of behavior is often used to control the other person’s emotions and thoughts since the narcissist cannot accept criticism or admit fault.
It can be difficult to understand how a narcissist thinks and behaves, but it is important to remember that no mental illness excuses negative behavior, and you are not responsible for any actions taken by a narcissistic individual.
Here are 5 things to never expect from a narcissist:
Acknowledgment of wrong-doing
Narcissists are not capable of apologizing for their mistakes and will do anything in their power to avoid taking responsibility for any wrongful actions. They have a deep-seated need to be seen as perfect and infallible, so they will often deny or deflect accountability rather than admit fault or accept blame. This is because they believe that showing any vulnerability or weakness would make them seem less powerful in the eyes of others.
Narcissists are experts at ‘gaslighting’ behavior, which involves manipulating facts and second guessing memories in order to control how someone else feels and thinks. They may also turn the tables on you and try to make you feel guilty for questioning them or bringing up something that made them uncomfortable. Regardless of the situation, narcissists will never take ownership of their mistakes and will always find a way to twist things around and put the blame on somebody else.
Empathy or understanding
Narcissists lack the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and think about others’ feelings, so they are unable to empathize with those around them. They are mainly focused on their own needs, desires and opinions and do not take other people’s feelings into consideration. This makes conversing with a narcissist very difficult as they will often disregard what you have to say without actually listening or trying to understand your point of view.
Furthermore, even when it is evident that someone is hurting or upset, a narcissist will often not be able to comprehend the feeling behind it as they lack the capacity for empathy. It may also be impossible for them to apologize sincerely as they cannot understand why they need to do so in the first place.
Narcissists often communicate in an abusive manner, using manipulation tactics and belittling language which can be damaging and hurtful. Manipulation includes the use of flattery, intimidation, guilt-tripping or even threats to get what they want. The language they use is often demeaning and dismissive in nature, invalidating the other person’s feelings and opinions.
A narcissist may also attempt to discredit someone by pointing out their flaws or making them feel inferior. This type of communication is not only emotionally draining but can lead to a decrease in self-esteem over time as a result of being constantly denigrated.
Forgiveness of criticism
Narcissists cannot accept any criticism without lashing out and retaliating, so it is best to keep your opinions about them to yourself. They will often become defensive and aggressive if someone challenges their ideas or questions their actions. They may constantly try to deflect blame or project their own faults onto the other person in an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes.
Narcissists also tend to be highly sensitive and can become enraged if anyone attempts to criticize them, as this threatens their fragile ego and makes them feel vulnerable. It is therefore wise to stay out of arguments with narcissists by preserving silence and staying away from confrontation.
When a narcissist compliments you, it is usually done with ulterior motives, as they only care about how they appear – not how others feel or think about them. Narcissists will often shower people with praise in an attempt to gain attention, approval and admiration.
Such compliments are rarely sincere and always come with an agenda – either to make themselves look better or manipulate the other person into doing something for them. Narcissists may also seek out compliments for purely egotistical reasons, so it can be difficult to tell if their words of flattery are genuine or simply a means to an end.