Are you dealing with a Narcissist?

From the books: The Urban Goddess Lesson~How to Spot the Bad Boys and Lessons for an Urban Goddess

Are you dealing with a true Narcissist?

If you believe that you may have a Narcissist in your life, there are specific traits and behaviors to look for.

Narcissists can be mild to moderate or very destructive and damaging depending on where they sit on the “spectrum”.
All of them cause distress and confusion. The more “traits” they have, the more destruction and havoc they may cause in your life.

If you may be dealing with one (at work, in the family, in a partnership or friendship) it is imperative to learn how to cope. Even if you go NO CONTACT, you are bound to meet other Narcissists since there are millions of them walking the planet.

There are some Narcissists that display mild to moderate characteristics and behaviors. Though they may pose a challenge, some are not impossible to deal with.

Having said that, there are TOXIC Narcissists out there that are far more dangerous to you and can cause tremendous destruction with their psychological and emotional abuse.

Narcissists (especially high functioning, socialized ones) can be difficult to “spot” early on. They are often very smart, attractive, charismatic and charming. They come across as being very laser focused on you. Many of them are “covert” and pretend to be your best friend, helpful mentor or soulmate. If they see something in you that they want (your connections, prestige, your empathy, lifestyle, beauty, arm candy, sex, etc.) they will be unstoppable in their pursuit). They are out to win at all costs. Once they target you, they will place you under a hypnotic trance in order to eventually control and manipulate you for self-gain.

Narcissists and their close cousins (Anti-socials, Sociopaths, Psychopaths) often “appear” normal but over time will tip their hands. It is your job to become “observant” of behavior over time and don’t be easily swayed by props and distractions.

Dealing with Narcissists means you need emotional “ammunition”

Here are some tips:

1. Set and enforce strong boundaries,
2. Have a mindful, protective, communication style
3. Prepare to go low or no contact if necessary
4. Set realistic expectations (Narcissists almost never change!)
5. Increase your empowerment
6. Know your vulnerabilities and your triggers. Become aware of someone who seems to constantly target your vulnerabilities and insecurities

Plan on talking to a professional who specializes in Cluster B and Toxic Relationships. (Many therapists are well-meaning but having experience in these areas can make a tremendous difference to your healing.)

To help you decide if you may be with a Narcissist read the “red flags” below.

Please use this article as a basic guide. It is not to be used as a diagnosis. The more you check off, the higher the chances you are with a Narcissist.

Here are RED FLAGS to look for.

The Garden Variety Narcissist:

* Will target a victim. Then will use charm, flattery, idealization to “win you over”.
*You will come to trust this person and emotionally support them. In a romantic relationship often fall in love.
*Will often begin to devalue you over time by incorporating intermittent reinforcement, known as the Mean/Sweet Cycle.
*Display a general lack of empathy
*Tends to be manipulative
*Attention Seeking - Needs constant admiration
*Easily Bored
*Betrays easily
*Gaslights (wants you to doubt your perceptions)
*Seeks and expects perfection
*Maybe emotionally and psychologically abusive
*Must surround themselves with people of high value, connections, beauty, financially successful, high status
*Difficulty with introspection and emotional connections
*Intimacy Fears
*Very competitive (even with a partner)
*Silent Treatments when slighted or annoyed
*Cannot tolerate shame or criticism
*Passive Aggressive
*Prone to addictions (including pornography, sex, substance, attention-seeking, social media)
*Difficulty with feeling vulnerable
*Often triangulates people to create jealousy
*Vindictive and spiteful
*Have difficulty sustaining positive change
*Word Salad in their communication (crazy-making tactics)
*They will not accept responsibility. Outside sources are the cause for any mistakes, blunders, hurtful behavior.
*They often appear immature behind the mask
*They may have temper tantrums
*Either highly sexual or shows disinterest
*Withholding (affection, attention, sex, physical and emotional contact)
*Bottom line is you feel you are on a roller-coaster of highs and lows and it becomes addicting to you.

The Toxic Narcissist (All of the above with these add-ons)

*Higher level of manipulation, control and power
*Higher level of using emotional and psychological abuse
*Some may appear to have some sociopathic traits (lack of conscience, possible criminality).
*Often calculating and deliberate
*Displays of uncontrolled rage
*Can also be more “cold” and punishing when they don’t get their way or feel disappointed with their target.
*Even when confronted, is unable to sustain positive change
*Can easily discard others,
*Lacks remorse

Most Narcissists do not use physical violence but their emotional and psychological tactics can cause “soul murder” to those they target.

If the Narcissist in your life is not willing to take some responsibility for their pejorative behaviors, do not bank on change.

Many people decide to remain with Narcissists. Others, when they realize the dangers involved and have reached their emotional tolerance limit, leave. Sometimes the Narcissist will leave you. There isn’t any exact path they follow but they all have similar traits. At the very least, in order to take good care of yourself, you will need to make some serious changes in dealing with Narcissists.

In order to make a sound, balanced decision, you will need help with “breaking the spell” the Narcissist has created. It is only then when you see clearly what is in front of you can you make the smartest choice.

It can be very disheartening to be in a relationship with a Narcissist. Know that you are not alone and that help is available to you.

***If your safety or that of your children are at risk, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

Lessons for an Urban Goddess and The Urban Goddess Lesson How to Spot the Bad Boys are available on


Author's Bio: 

Laney Zukerman, MS, CLC Relationship & Empowerment Coach, and Author.