12 Traits of a Narcissist

Unlike others, this article will give you a deeper understanding of a narcissist. Even if you do not know a narcissist, you will most likely come across on one in your life at some point. This is why it is handy to know the 12 traits of a narcissist, so you are prepared.

This article will also be useful if you are wondering if someone in your life is a narcissist.

What is a Narcissist?

A narcissist is not just someone who is full of themselves or an arrogant person.

The actual diagnoses of NPD means the person has a mental illness that makes them see and relate to the world in a certain way.

Their healthy self was not developed properly during childhood, leading them to develop a false self.

Therefore. you can look at the 12 traits of a narcissist as the traits of the false self.

It’s also important to distinguish between someone who has NPD v someone who has a narcissistic style.

The latter will display some of the narcissistic traits listed below, but are mentally normal.

Because of the time we are living, more and more people are developing a narcissistic style of behaviour. This is likely to continue as society rewards you for it. It does not make for healthy relationships but you will get noticed on social media and other places.

Watch Video

12 Traits of a Narcissist

These are the 12 traits of a narcissist personality…

1. Grandiosity

2. Excess Need for Admiration

3. Exploitative Relationships

4. Needs to Control

5. Lacks Empathy

6. Feels special and Unique

7. Has difficult connecting and dependency issues

8. Has a persuasive sense of emptiness and boredom

9. Entitled

10. Lacks Responsibility

11. No Boundaries

12. Fear of rejection

Lets look in more detail at these narcissistic personality traits…

1. Grandiosity

Narcissists have a heightened self importance. They are “wonderful and important” and they want people to recognize that.

They see themselves as beautiful, handsome, successful and, as you will see next, admired. This is beyond a simple positive self image.

The grandiose sense is actually a defence mechanism because deep down they feel worthless. Rather than feel the shame of how they really see themselves, they will imagine being someone else.

2. Narcissist Excess Need for Admiration

The narcissist will take over a conversation and make it about themselves because they crave admiration.

The idea they have of themselves  is flimsy, they need other people to help keep it built up.

3. A Narcissist Has Exploitative Relationships

The narcissists relationships are never equal. They either feel inferior (and will demean and reject you) or they feel superior.

In their relationships they are always trying to get something. Whether it is admiration, sex, money or the status they get from being with a person who is beautiful, admired or wealthy.

4. Need to Control

The narcissist lives in imagination, which is only loosely based on reality. So they are constantly trying to bring reality inline with their imagination. This makes them controlling and which leads them to do anything not to lose control.

They will try to make you behave a certain way to fit into their idea of you, because to them the idea of you is real not the actual you.

And when you share memories of something you did, they might recall a different set of events that you and other people recall. This is because everything needs to be filtered through the lens of who he imagines himself and others to be.

5. Lack of Empathy

When you have normal healthy empathy, you feel what the other person is going through. Not exactly but you can relate.

The narcissist cannot do this. They cannot feel or relate what you are going through. They can have cold empathy, which is a idea of what they think someone is going through, but they do not feel or relate to it.

If you speak to them about your issue, they may give you a little time, but are not interested and will turn the conversation to themselves as soon as they can.

6. Narcissists Believe They are Special and Unique

Narcissists believe they are special and unique compared to everyone else. The same rules do not apply to them.

You can see this in an ageing narcissist, they feel they should have been spared the process of getting older.

7. Difficulty in Attaching to Relationship and Dependency

The narcissist does not have close relationships where he or she feels intimate with another person. Not even their children.

All their relationships are shallow and based on what they get from them.

8. Emptiness and Boredom

Narcissists have an empty void that they need to constantly fill with narcissistic supply.

Narcissistic supply is anything that he or she gets from another person that validates the grandiose image.

9.Narccissts Feel Entitled

Because of the narcissists inflated sense of self they feel entitled to the best of everything. They do not believe they should have to deal with things others have to deal with.

Whether it is at work or being served as customer their body language and whole demeanour will let you know they want to be treated different.

The same goes for their relationships, they see themselves as exempt from having to make an effort. They will only do so to make sure they keep getting the type of attention they want from you.

10. Lack of Responsibility

They do not feel responsible for anything. If something happens they do not make the connection between what they did and the outcome.

It’s never their fault. They will even go as far to accuse you of the thing that they did to you.

11. No Boundaries

The narcissist does not see you as an individual with your own inner world. So they do not see your physical and emotional boundaries.

Even when you explain to them what your boundaries are they will look at you as if you are crazy. They may stop encroaching them, but they will not understand why they have to.

They will talk about their issues endlessly and not see that you have emotional boundaries and do not want to listen to them.

12. Fear of Rejection

It may sound strange, with all the grandiose posturing and entitlement the narcissist is scared of being rejected.

Underneath it all they are full of doubt and insecurities and therefore have built up the above mechanisms to deal with the world.

Because of this, someone with NPD can be easily manipulated, if you can trigger the fear.

How is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

A narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed by a mental health professional by asking the person carefully structured questions about their life and relationships.

Although it might be tempting, using these 12 traits to diagnose someone in your life is not a good idea.

They are useful pointers to let you know something is up. So if they have those traits, avoid the person you are dealing with or change how you interact with them.

(Please note that the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and statistical manual) states there are 9 traits of a narcissist, a person must have at least 5 to be considered having NPD.)

Can Someone Be Cured From the 12 Traits of a Narcissist?

There is no cure for a narcissist, in fact they do not see themselves as broken.

Some can be self aware enough to manage their interactions, however much of what they do is automatic.

Simple Tips to Deal With Someone Who Has the 12 Traits of a Narcissist

Stay Calm when you communicate with a Narcissist

If you have a suspicion you are dealing with someone with NPD, there are certain rules of communication you can follow that will help you navigate their crazy making ways.

Set Clear Boundaries

Establish and maintain clear boundaries. Be specific about what is acceptable and what is not in your interactions. Narcissists may try to push these boundaries, so be consistent.

Avoid Emotional Engagement

Try not to react emotionally to a narcissist’s provocations. They may seek to evoke a reaction to feel more in control. Maintaining a calm and neutral stance nullifies their reaction.

Use Clear Communication

Be direct and straightforward in your communication. Narcissists do not respond well to subtlety or implied meanings. Clear, concise, and assertive communication is more effective.

Focus on Facts and Logic

Base your discussions on facts and logic rather than emotions, as narcissists exploit emotional vulnerabilities. Sticking to factual information will keep the conversation grounded and you will not be led down the rabbit hole of justifications.

This will also help you avoid listening to the Narcissists word salad as he tries control the conversation.

Maintain Your Self-Esteem

Interacting with a narcissist can lead to self-doubt or a feeling of being undervalued. It’s important to maintain a strong sense of self-worth and not let the narcissist’s behavior impact your self-esteem.

Remember, whatever they say or do is about them not you.

Seek Support

Dealing with a narcissist can be draining. Seek support from friends, family or a professional to give perspective and coping strategies.

Pick Your Battles

Realize that you may not be able to win every argument or have the narcissist understand your point of view. Sometimes, it may be more beneficial to disengage and agree to disagree.

Understand Their Limitations

Recognize that narcissists have limitations in their ability to empathize or view situations from anther’s perspective. Adjusting your expectations can help you manage your interactions.

Use Positive Reinforcement

When appropriate, use positive reinforcement. Acknowledging a narcissist’s positive behavior can sometimes encourage them to act in more desirable ways.

Know When to Walk Away

If the relationship is toxic and affecting your mental health, it might be necessary to consider distancing yourself or ending the relationship.


The 12 traits of a narcissist are useful pointers to see if the person you are with or dealing with has narcissistic personality disorder.

They should not replace a proper diagnoses from a qualified professional who understands mental disorders.

Remember, some people have a narcissistic style of communicating and relating, this is different to having NPD. We all have some narcissistic tendencies, they are heathy when in balance with other traits.

If you think someone is a narcissistic and if you must deal with them, make sure you set boundaries and communicate in a matter of fact way, with little emotional content as possible.

See also Letting Go Of Codependency