Have you ever thought, “Why am I always around narcissists?” You may feel like you can’t escape the thoughts and opinions of one, always having to hear how important they are. You may feel like you are always being put down by them or never receive any empathy for what you are going through. If any of these statements apply to you, keep reading to find out the best ways to recognize a narcissist and how to avoid them.
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist is a person who has an extremely high sense of their own importance. At times, they may seek attention and strongly prefer admiration from others.
One of the defining characteristics of narcissists, and the reason it may be challenging to be around them, is that they may be unable to understand or honestly care about the feelings of people in their lives. They rarely show any proper form of empathy but may be able to go through the motions of sympathy.
Narcissistic people usually display themselves with extreme confidence but, in reality, are constantly seeking out reassurance. They are immensely upset about even the smallest harsh word or critique. They will only be in relationships or friendships with people who admire them. This, at times, may affect their work life, as they are unable to have a boss or co-workers that does not show signs of worshipping them.
Beauty and the Narcissist
Narcissists tend to put high importance on aesthetics and appearances. Some may be obsessed with how they look, constantly adjusting their appearance to look as perfect as possible.
Beyond their fixation on their appearance, narcissists tend to comment on the appearance of others in their lives. They may belittle others by commenting negatively on their clothes, body, or face.
Narcissists try to surround themselves with people who may increase their power or social standing, such as beautiful or famous people. At times, they may lie to create a positive or powerful impression on others. They may invent stories with a specific goal of looking better than they are.
Is it me, or am I surrounded by narcissists?
Though it may feel that way, there is a small minority of people in the United States who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. The research data points to around 0.5-5% of the population being narcissists. 75% of these cases are men or people assigned male at birth. Yet, the experts in this field are unable to be sure how common it is, as many narcissists are skilled at hiding their behaviors at times.
These people who hide their narcissistic beliefs are called “covert narcissists.” They use self-deprecation language to garner attention and sympathy and often have trouble fitting in with groups. They internalize their sense of self-importance that an over-narcissist does not.
Though someone may not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they may have engaged in narcissistic actions. It may feel like many people in your life are selfish and constantly put themselves first.
- You have a narcissistic parent.
Breaking a cycle is harder than staying in one. Many people feel comfortable or familiar with finding a friend or relationship with a person who has similar traits to their parents, with whom they have spent the most significant time in their lives. This person could be anyone who has deeply affected you, such as another important family member or an ex-partner. Though we may identify bad situations, familiarity, at times, can just be too comfortable.
- You are empathetic.
Narcissists love attention and focus; many empathetic people may bring that into a relationship. Having the characteristic of empathy and showing that in your actions and life would naturally appeal to a narcissist who only wants to experience positive feedback.
- You are extremely giving.
You may find yourself being a giver, giving and giving in that relationship without ever receiving anything back. Narcissists are not likely to ever do anything in return, so those who do not prioritize themselves may be ideal candidates for a narcissist. They are looking for someone who will focus exclusively on them.
What to do when you’re surrounded by narcissists?
- Set boundaries.
Narcissists tend to exploit people for their own gain due to their lack of empathy. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you may feel you are used to having their needs met. Boundaries are important in this area, and they must be clear and solid.
- Walk Away.
You may need to distance yourself from a narcissist in order to begin healing. This may mean limiting your exposure to the narcissist, such as only seeing them once a month or once a week.
- Recognize Red Flags.
Narcissists, even covert narcissists, will eventually reveal their red flags to you. As you notice these negative behaviors, note that the statements may not be specific to you but a narcissist’s general attitude, thoughts, and ideas.
How to Find Help
Hopefully, you now understand who in your life may be a narcissist and what to do when you engage with one. If you are experiencing domestic violence or abuse, please call (800-799-7233). You are not alone!
Written by: Bridget Brodlo, MA
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff specializing in therapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic at (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.