Want to know whether you are a narcissist, or just dealing with selfishness? There is a difference between someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and someone with selfish traits.

10 Signs of Narcissistic Behavior

Let’s learn the hallmark signs of narcissistic behavior in these 10 key traits.

Lack of Empathy

This is one of the trademark narcissistic traits counselors look for when making a diagnosis. Most of us struggle with selfishness on some levels. However, healthy people can be stirred by others’ pain, frustration, and fear. True narcissists put a wide distance between themselves and others.

They strive hard to keep their own messy feelings from showing, so they despise those same feelings in others. While a normal person may feel empathy when someone else suffers, a narcissist will not respond with warmth or care. If this is your gut response when another person shows weakness, you may have NPD.

Grandiose Self-Image

Someone who is diagnosed with NPD will not just love the spotlight but think he or she deserves for it to be on them. Narcissists seek attention every minute of every day, and their feelings of well-being depend heavily on the admiration of others. You may be obsessed with your appearance, climbing the ladder of importance at work, or amassing status symbols.

Your charm may win you admiration from others, but it goes only so deep. People may feel intimidated by your powerful presence. However, you prefer this because you don’t seek relationships, you desire attention instead.

Poor Listening Skills

One of the main signs of a narcissist is an inability to hear what others are saying. They are more likely to wait for a pause in the conversation to tell their own stories or share their own opinions, rather than provide feedback or support. Narcissists are impatient listeners, not caring about the other person’s contributions.

Their desperate need for attention makes them poor conversationalists. Often, someone diagnosed with NPD can turn a conversation back to himself or herself, even if the topic is outside his or her experience. This behavior can be off-putting to healthy people, but the person with NPD usually does not notice the social blunder due to extreme self-focus.

Problems in Close Relationships

Whether in families, friendships, work relationships, or romantic interests, narcissists often struggle to make quality connections. Since their need for attention constantly usurps others’ legitimate needs, their relationships are either shallow, tense, or short-lived.

At the beginning of a relationship, a narcissist may shower the other person with time, affection and gifts in order to receive attention or accolades. But as soon as the narcissist becomes bored with the person, the relationship quickly cools.

Telltale signs of narcissistic behavior in relationships include taking advantage of others, bullying, and disregarding others’ needs. A healthy person understands the give-and-take needed in all relationships. But someone with NPD refuses to give and only wants to take. This dynamic leads to low quality relationships.


We aren’t talking about being a highly sensitive person here. We’re talking about knee-jerk reactions to the slightest provocations. Narcissists are unable to accept criticism of any kind, no matter how constructive it may be. They will jump on the defense immediately, even if a healthy person can clearly see the wrongdoing.

Ironically, someone with NPD may be quick to criticize others in order to feel important. This narcissistic trait can cause serious problems at home, work and with acquaintances. A healthy person will be able to accept responsibility for his or her actions and not get defensive on minor issues.

Need for Control

A person diagnosed with NPD will crave control over his or her environment. If you are a narcissist, you may be obsessive about having your smartphone or keys with you all the time. You may make high demands on everyone around you, seeing them more as objects than people.

While even a healthy person may desire control in certain areas, a narcissist takes this to a stratospheric level. If you are a narcissist in a position of authority over others, this need for perfect control can cause significant damage.


People with NPD truly consider themselves “better” than everyone else. They have an elevated sense of self, to the point that they must look down on others to feel good about themselves. If you are a narcissist, others may perceive you as a know-it-all, bulletproof, and perhaps even plastic.

Many narcissists who have successfully received therapy have described a driving need to wear a mask. They don’t want anyone to see the real person, so they work to create a perfect-looking mask that works as a shield. As a result, they never apologize for their mistakes. However, this self-righteousness can make close relationships impossible to obtain.


When a narcissist feels threatened, even over something minor, you can expect a fit of rage to erupt. Since criticism is unacceptable to a narcissist, he or she will respond with anger to keep others at a distance. Also, someone who attempts to draw close to a narcissist may see rage erupt, even in intimate moments.

A narcissist will do anything to keep his or her mask on. Anyone who intentionally or unintentionally tries to remove it will become a target for rage. By contrast, healthy individuals do not fly into rages when someone offers constructive criticism or friendship.

Lack of Forgiveness

Since people with NPD rarely accept responsibility for their actions, they tend to blame all their problems on others. If one person slips up (and all of us do), the narcissist feels justified in writing the person off, no matter how minor the mistake.

Narcissists are perfectionists to the extreme, and no one can live up to their sky-high expectations. They are often deeply hurt from wounds in their childhood, where the grudges first developed. Forgiveness would require getting in touch with those messy feelings, and most narcissists are unwilling to do that.

Parents Both Neglected and Elevated You

Studies have shown that in many diagnoses for NPD, the narcissist’s parents both ignored and over-praised their child. If you experienced this wide swing in parental behavior, you may have felt loved only when you received attention and affirmation.

You may have been nursing grudges when your parents neglected your day-to-day needs. Dealing with these deep issues is key to overcoming narcissism. If you have experienced this relationship dynamic as a child, a Christian counselor can help.

Christian Counseling for Narcissists

If this article has resonated with you, it’s possible that you have narcissistic traits. You may have read this article because you are suffering from another person’s narcissism. In either case, it will be difficult to find help and healing on your own.

A Christian counselor is equipped to help you overcome the effects of narcissism. Call us to discuss the signs of narcissism and how they affect you. We are ready to help you at Seattle Christian Counseling.

“Pose,” courtesy of Chris Spiegl, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Selfie”, Courtesy of Apostolos Vamvouras, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “On Top of the World,” courtesy of Jake Ingle, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Ready,” courtesy of Chad Madden, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License
By Published On: October 22nd, 20196.2 min read


Articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All opinions expressed by authors and quoted sources are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, publishers or editorial boards of Irvine Christian Counseling. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.

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