19 Common Traits of a Narcissist

Photo of author

By Jonathan Trent

Trying to recognize a narcissist can be extremely difficult due to how superficially charming they can be. Most people don’t know they’re being manipulated by one. We’ve listed 19 common traits to watch out for if you suspect someone might be a narcissist.

Grandiosity and Exaggeration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

One thing you can count on a narcissist to do is exaggerate. They will often speak in grandiose ways in order to paint themselves in a more favorable light. Exaggerating their own achievements or talents is often to gain more praise or admiration from others: 

Envious of Others

Photo Credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Envy is a common emotion for narcissists. According to Psychology Today, narcissists see people in two groups: “targets of their own envy” or “sources of real or imagined inflating envy from others”. They often resent other people’s success and will often compare themselves to others.something they thrive on.

Lack of Empathy

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The reason narcissists are so good at what they do is because they lack empathy for the feelings of others. It’s rare they will take the time to consider another perspective or show compassion for another’s struggles. They will find it difficult to relate to how others feel.


Photo Credit: DimaBerlin/Shutterstock

Manipulation is the most important tool for a narcissist. Twisting facts is a common behavior so that they can create the narrative they want. Narcissists often use gaslighting, too. Gaslighting is a form of abuse that “can make you question reality or feel confused”, according to Psych Central.

Sense of Entitlement

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Narcissists often feel like they deserve special treatment. They carry around a sense of entitlement as though they’re in a privileged position. These people often don’t take kindly to criticism or negative feedback, because they believe they’re better than everyone else.

The Need for Control

Photo Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Narcissists need to control people, situations and outcomes. They don’t do well with unpredictability because it puts them on the backfoot. Danielle A Calise via LinkedIn explains that narcissists may also try to isolate you from your loved ones, as they can be “threats” to the control the narcissist has over you.

Fragile Self-Esteem

Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Many narcissists appear extremely confident on the outside. Yet, just because they feel like they’re superior doesn’t mean they don’t also have low self-esteem. Their fragile self-esteem is often why they react badly to any form of rejection and why they lie to themselves about how important they are.

Superficial Charm

Photo Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Narcissists know just how to turn on the charm to manipulate others. It’s very easy to fall for a narcissist. Harvard Business Review explains that narcissists are so successful at charming people because they “dress to impress” and make themselves look attractive. Yet it all masks deeper insecurities.

Lack of Accountability

Photo Credit: StockLite/Shutterstock

Because narcissists believe they’re better than others and always right, they often have a lack of accountability. If mistakes are made, they will blame others. And if someone points out their shortcomings, they will refuse to accept it. This is all part of maintaining their perfect self-image.

They Violate Boundaries

Photo Credit: DimaBerlin/Shutterstock

Narcissists don’t care about how other people feel, so they disrespect boundaries. If boundaries are in the way of what they want, they don’t mind disregarding them. They’ll intrude on other people’s personal space or affairs and be happy to ignore what other people have asked of them.

Exploitative Relationships

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A narcissist will often put the most time and effort into only those relationships which benefit them. If they need other people, whether for personal gain or status, they will likely be kind to them until they have no further use for them. This is just one of their manipulation tactics.

Difficulty with Intimacy

Photo Credit: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

There are a few reasons why narcissists often struggle with intimacy. A common factor can be that they lack genuine emotional connection with others. Another reason can be that they fear to be vulnerable. But most of all, narcissists prioritize their own needs over their partner’s.

Sense of Superiority

Photo Credit: Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock

Narcissists are fully convinced of their own superiority. They believe that they’re exceptional and unlike anyone else around them. They often look down on others, and this sense of superiority is why they commonly disregard the feelings of others they view as beneath them.

Lack of Genuine Relationships

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Due to narcissists prioritizing superficial relationships which align with their goals, it’s very likely that they’ll never have genuine connections. They might even struggle to form deep bonds even if they wanted to. Any relationship, whether romantic or platonic, will be chosen to suit their needs.

They Exploit Other People’s Vulnerabilities

Photo Credit: Timur Weber on Canva

Because narcissists feel superior and like to manipulate, they will use other people’s weaknesses to their advantage. They will target vulnerable people for personal gain. Victims of narcissism often have their insecurities made worse because of being constantly reminded of them.

Fantasies of Power and Success

Photo Credit: Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock

Narcissists will always have power fantasies, because it puts them on the pedestal that they already view themselves on. They like to dream big, whether about promotions, unlimited riches or expensive belongings. They feel entitled to special treatment, and feel as though they deserve all the things they dream about.

Lack of Remorse

Photo Credit: monshtein/Shutterstock

Narcissists will always wriggle out of apologies or making amends with people they’ve wronged. Not only will they not admit their mistake, but they also won’t feel remorse for it. Instead of feeling guilty, they will try to rationalize their behavior and twist it so that the other person seems in the wrong.

Difficulty Handling Criticism

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Narcissists will often react defensively or even aggressively to criticism. Especially in romantic relationships, partners will often find it impossible to work through problems with a narcissist because they will get angry when confronted. They will never learn from their mistakes.