Unmasking Narcissists: 12 Traits They Don’t Want You to Know

Ever met someone and thought, “Hmm, there’s something off about them, but I can’t quite put my finger on it?” Well, buckle up, because we’re diving deep into the world of narcissists and uncovering some of their sneakiest habits.

You might just have an “Aha!” moment.

1. A Hierarchical Existence

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Narcissists are obsessed with power. Like, seriously obsessed. In their minds, life is a game of “King of the Hill,” and they’re always aiming for the top spot. They can’t fathom the idea of equal relationships.

To them, everyone’s either a predator or prey. They’re always sizing up the room, figuring out who’s the alpha, and then doing whatever it takes to become that person. Whether it’s bragging, flattery, or even more sinister tactics like manipulation and backstabbing, they’re on it.

2. Emotional Disconnect: Feelings, Boundaries & Genuine Connections

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If you’ve ever felt like a narcissist in your life was just pretending to care about your feelings, you’re probably right. Many narcissists are masters of faking emotions because, well, they don’t really get how to genuinely respond. They see people as extensions of themselves, lacking true empathy.

So, when they give you a gift or compliment you, it’s often with ulterior motives in mind. And if they ever apologize? Watch out, because they’re likely to repeat their bad behavior and then blame you for it.

3. Relentless Attention-Seeking

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Narcissists have an insatiable need for attention and admiration. They thrive on being the center of attention, whether it’s in a social setting, at work, or even online.

Social media, for instance, can be a playground for them, as it offers a platform to showcase their life, achievements, and looks, fishing for compliments and likes.

They often become restless or irritated when they’re not the focus, and might resort to dramatic or attention-grabbing behaviors to redirect the spotlight back onto them. This constant need for validation can be exhausting for those around them, as it feels like they’re always performing for an audience, even in intimate settings.

4. The Two Faces of Narcissists

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Narcissists can be like Jekyll and Hyde. One moment, they’re the life of the party—charming, charismatic, and oh-so-engaging. The next? They can be cold, cruel, and downright vindictive.

It’s a rollercoaster, and understanding what drives this behavior is key to protecting yourself from their manipulative ways.

5. The Fragile Ego Behind the Mask: Defense Mechanisms Galore

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Despite their outward confidence, narcissists are, in reality, incredibly vulnerable. They’re like delicate flowers trying to survive in a storm. This profound sense of vulnerability drives their need for power and control.

They’re terrified of showing any sign of weakness, which is why they often react aggressively when they feel threatened.

Narcissists have a whole arsenal of defense mechanisms to protect their fragile egos. From arrogance and contempt to denial and projection, they’ll use any means necessary to maintain their self-image and deflect any perceived threats.

6.The Envy Trap

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Green isn’t just the color of money; it’s the shade of envy that often tints a narcissist’s worldview. They’re perpetually caught in a cycle of envy, always measuring their achievements against others.

Whether it’s a colleague’s promotion, a friend’s new car, or even a celebrity’s lifestyle, they’re either burning with jealousy or smugly convinced that others are envious of them. This constant comparison isn’t just about materialistic gains; it’s a desperate attempt to maintain their fragile egos and perceived superiority.

7. Entitlement Overdrive

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Narcissists believe the world owes them ¹. They feel entitled to special treatment and will often expect others to bend over backward to cater to their needs. This sense of entitlement is just another way they mask their inner insecurities.

8. Interpersonal Exploitation

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For narcissists, relationships are often transactional. People are like chess pieces, moved around to benefit their grand strategy. They lack the basic understanding that others have feelings, needs, and desires. This makes them adept at using people to achieve their goals, whether it’s for personal gain, status elevation, or mere amusement.

It’s not that they can’t form connections; it’s that these connections are often one-sided, with the narcissist always looking for what they can extract from the relationship.

9. Identity Crisis

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At the core of a narcissist’s behavior is a shaky sense of identity. While they might project confidence and self-assuredness, internally, they’re often riddled with doubts.

They derive their self-definition and self-esteem from how others perceive them, making them incredibly sensitive to criticism and highly reliant on external validation. This constant need for affirmation drives them to seek environments and relationships where they’re lauded, often dismissing or devaluing those who don’t feed their need for praise.

10. Preoccupation with Fantasies

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Narcissists often live in a world of their own making, filled with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. They’re not just daydreamers; they genuinely believe in their own exaggerated tales of grandeur.

This preoccupation isn’t just harmless dreaming—it often leads them to expect that others will recognize them as superior, even without sufficient achievements to back up these beliefs.

They’re the heroes of their own stories, often dismissing the realities that don’t fit into their narrative. This trait can make them come off as out of touch with reality, as they’re always chasing a dream that often only exists in their minds.

11. Arrogance & Haughtiness

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Narcissists often come across as conceited, boastful, and pretentious. They can be excessively opinionated, always believing they know best. This isn’t just about having confidence; it’s an over-inflated sense of their own knowledge and importance.

They might dismiss others’ opinions, belittle those they perceive as inferior, and generally act as if they’re above everyone else. This arrogance is not just off-putting but also a defense mechanism to shield their deep-seated insecurities.

12. Grand Delusions of Superiority

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Narcissists often walk into a room believing they’re the most important person present. They harbor a deep-seated belief in their own uniqueness, which goes beyond just feeling special. To them, ordinary is a curse. They feel they should only associate with high-status individuals or institutions.

This isn’t just about prestige; it’s about affirming their own self-worth. It’s the classic “I only mingle with the best” mindset, where they constantly seek environments and relationships that mirror back their perceived greatness.

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Sources

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  1. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9742-narcissistic-personality-disorder
  2. psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/202110/the-13-traits-narcissist
Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.