Narcissists are rude to servicepeople.

An older post about a common narcissistic red flag that is rarely mentioned.

Lucky Otters Haven


I want to talk about a little-mentioned red flag, but one of the easiest ones to spot early in a relationship. Most narcissists are rude to servicepeople and others they see as beneath them. My ex was notoriously rude to servicepeople, always screaming at customer service people, even if the problem wasn’t their fault. He was also rude to wait staff in restaurants, to the point it was embarrassing going out to dinner with him. He was unreasonably demanding, condescending, and treated wait staff as if they were mentally deficient. With attractive female wait staff, his rudeness was of a sexual character–he openly flirted with young waitresses, even though I was watching. I think he did this because he knew it would bother me.  He also did it because he knew his target was a sitting duck and might be fired or reprimanded if she objected to the flirtatious behavior…

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The “red flag” you should never ignore.

Reblogging to test the reblog button’s functionality, and also because this article deserves to be seen again.

Lucky Otters Haven


When it comes to narcissism, there’s a lot of talk about red flags: behaviors that are associated with narcissistic abuse, such as lying, gaslighting, lack of empathy, grandiosity, and refusal to admit wrongdoing.

But there’s one red flag that’s underrated because it’s so subjective: your own intuition.

When you first meet a narcissist, they may seem like the nicest person you ever met. You might not see any of the usual “red flags” immediately. Before you know it, you’re involved with a person who only has ill will and will make you feel like you’re going insane. When you finally realize what you are dealing with, they may have already wreaked havoc in your life–stolen your time, your patience, your trust, your money, your self-esteem, your job, your spouse, your sanity, your identity, even your soul.

Pay attention to the way you feel around someone you just met. If you…

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One way to peg a narcissist you probably never heard of.


It may sound ridiculous but I think this is a good way to judge a person’s character without their suspecting anything.

Chatter about movies, books, and other forms of entertainment is a standard ice breaker (and is part of the dreaded “small talk” we introverts hate so much), usually used to make polite conversation with someone you don’t know that well (of course, these things can be discussed more in depth too with closer friends and loved ones).    Movies, books, TV, and public figures are safe conversation starters.   You can talk to people about these things without seeming to cross anyone’s boundaries or getting too personal.

But such seemingly innocuous conversations can also help you peg whether or not a person is a narcissist or sociopath–without them suspecting a thing.  When you meet a new person, ask them the way you would ask anyone about movies they’ve seen and books they’ve read, and then ask them whose side they were on, or which characters they most identified with.   Of course, you must be familiar with the movie or the book, including its main characters.   Television personalities and other public figures will also do.

Narcissists can feel empathy for other narcissistic characters–characters that are like themselves.   I’ve noticed they will often feel empathy for the villain, rather than the hero/heroine.   A narcissist woman, for example, will feel simpatico with a villain like Beth Jarrett from Ordinary People, and think her behavior toward her son wasn’t that bad–she may even think he deserved it and find Jarrett’s justifications for abusing him valid.    My mother found nothing wrong with her behavior and was puzzled as to why I found it so triggering and upsetting.  (Of course I didn’t tell her why).

My mother also couldn’t understand why the the “Queen of Mean” hotelier Leona Helmsley was given such a hard time in the press over her arrogant statement, “We don’t pay taxes, only the little people pay taxes.”   She also identified with Sherman McCoy, the narcissistic, selfish, and greedy investment banker in the novel Bonfire of the Vanities, who wound up losing everything due to a chain of events stemming from a hit and run accident which McCoy was involved in.  I remember her lamenting almost tearfully about how “his beautiful life was ruined” by the events that played out in the novel.    She also couldn’t stand good, sweet Melanie, from Gone With the Wind.   I suppose Melanie could come across as a tad simpering and holier-than-thou, but my mother hated her.   The heroine of that same movie, Scarlett O’Hara, is more than a little narcissistic (or possibly Histrionic?)–charming, flirtatious, manipulative, entitled, and possessing very little empathy.  She didn’t even seem that upset when her own daughter, Bonnie, died after falling off a horse.    I never understood why Scarlett has been such a huge role model for generations of women.   She really didn’t have too many redeeming qualities when you think about it.

A  man (or woman) with NPD or psychopathy might identify or sympathize with any of Ayn Rand’s psychopathic heroes–Howard Roark from The Fountainhead or John Galt from Atlas Shrugged come to mind.   Of course, these are popular books, especially among conservatives–but holding these two highly narcissistic men up as worthy of worship might be a red flag.   Be wary of such a person.

My ex, a sociopath who has been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder (but is really a malignant narcissist) always liked villainous characters, especially if they broke the law.  He often rooted for the bad guy (or sometimes, girl) and the more ruthless or cruel they were, the more they seemed to enthrall him.   He likes Charles Manson.   He watched South Park because he thought the sociopathic Eric Cartman was so cool.  He also rooted for the alien in Aliens.   In addition to that, he likes satanic and demonic imagery, which always disturbed me, even when I was agnostic.     We all have a touch of schadenfreude and many normal people (including yours truly) have a fascination with serial killers and other outlaws–according to Jung, that’s because we all have a shadow self that’s drawn to dark things.  But there’s a difference between fascination or morbid curiosity and actually liking these things or identifying with or sympathizing with villains, malignant narcissists, and antisocial people.

So if you’re on a date with a new person, have them take you to a movie (or take them to a movie) and see who they seem to identify with or sympathize with the most (or who they seem to dislike the most).   It could tell you a lot about that person’s character.

Guest post: 7 Red Flags of a Nasty Narcissistic Personality (By Richard Grannon aka SpartanLifeCoach)


I’m honored to feature an original post by SpartanLifeCoach, Richard Grannon.  His website can be found here.

By Richard Grannon

Here are tips for the modern human seeking to avoid becoming entangled in personality disordered unpleasantness.

Here’s the LOW DOWN:

Many psychologists think we may be facing a full blown narcissism epidemic.

And NO, this doesn’t just mean middle aged baby boomers whinging about girls at the gym loading up their Instagrams with selfies. We are talking a full blown narcissistic personality disorder epidemic on the real. Academics and clinicians are (quietly) holding seminars and conferences about it as we speak.

The difference between a touch of vanity and malignant self obsession?

According to Freud a narcissistic phase is vital to the healthy psychological growth of infants. If people are traumatised at a certain age in a certain way they “get stuck” in a rather infantile phase of development giving them the morality and compassion of a 4 year old toddler tyrant.
This very overbearing “me, me, me” phase is essential to the development of self regard and boundaries in a young child. It is extremely toxic when still present in a fully grown adult.

Lets clear up some confusion: Having pronounced narcissistic traits can be an advantage in certain situations, yes. Many people think the essence of narcissism is self love and/or vanity, if you are talking about narcissism with a little “n” then perhaps. You want to look your best, dress well and take of your self, this is normal.

However, Malignant Narcissism is a world away from a little dose of narcissism.
A full blown NPD has experienced a dramatic and long lasting break from reality as a result of trauma. This trauma is usually from being objectified by a highly narcissistic parent who has used that child as a kind of narcissistic supply by proxy (a bit more complicated to explain, I’ll get into that elsewhere).

Malignant NPD means a shell personality has been constructed around the authentic self as a defense mechanism to a hostile environment. Onto that shell the NPD projects a false, idealised self. They really are living inside “their own little bubbles” of narcissism. Their relationship with reality is by definition, warped.

Make no mistake–being vain and self-interested does not Narcissistic Personality Disorder make!

What this means for you:

If the psychologists are right and full blown narcissistic personality disorder is both currently under-diagnosed and on the rise then you might want to be extra careful you are getting intimate with a new partner.

Take more precautions, learn what the red flags of NPD are and if you see it, disengage, disengage, disengage.

Always? Yes, always.

Can’t I just dip my toe in? Can’t I save them? No and no.


The risk:

Getting involved with a full blown NPD can be disastrous and can leave the partner with PTSD-like symptoms that seem at first to be a kind of intense heartbreak but actually signal a crisis of self identity and of the individuals relationship with reality itself. Yes, that’s how dangerous and damaging a relationship with an NPD can be. Look online and you will see countless stories of people losing money, property, jobs, businesses, self worth and sanity all at the hands of an NPD.

How can this happen?

Someone with NPD could be considered to be an un-personality. Instead of an individual with feelings, wants and desires there is only a shell who is hell bent on garnering certain types of emotional responses and attention from those around her/or him.

Because of this unique (and previously very rare) condition they are excellent actors and superb social chameleons who can tune in to their selected victims dreams, fears and desires and then be exactly what the victim thought they had been looking for their whole life.

Clue 1: If its too good to be true, it probably is.

Nobody is perfect, thankfully, what a dull world it would be if it were not so. If you meet a girl or a guy and they seem to be weirdly PRECISELY what you think you were looking for then stop and go back and check again.

Clue 2: Too fast, waaaay too fast.

The NPD accelerates the relationship at lightning speed. They instantly will want there to be zero boundaries between the two of you.

Most of my clients tell the same story: whirlwind romance, we moved in together within a matter of weeks, she told me she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me and I was the love of her life, soul mate and or perfect life partner…and so on…

Why? The NPD is a close cousin to the well known Psychopath (Anti-social Personality disorder). These are personality disorders defined by a lack of boundaries. Between themselves and others, between what they think, perceive and what they feel, and their fantasies and reality.

So why is that such a big deal, wouldn’t that make a person a bit of a dreamy, artistic, creative type? Fundamentally good natured if a little frustratingly scatter brained at times.



Because of the essential traits of this cluster of personality disorders: exploitativeness, entitlement and a strong urge to punish.

I wont get into whether NPDs are truly sadistic or not here, but Cluster B disorders (malignant Borderlines, Narcissists and people with Anti-social Personality Disorder) are very focused on power dynamics and maintaining the upper hand at all times. It is an expedient way to exert power over someone, to simply hurt them and make them feel distress.

They want to be intimate rapidly with you, not because they love you “SO MUCH” (sorry to bring what will be to many, very painful news) but because it makes them feel significant, indispensable, powerful.

And the Cluster B has little to no impulse control, so why not just get all the way inside your life straight away? It feels sooooo good.

Clue 3: Love Bombing.

The harder and more fiercely they love you at first the more savagely they will treat you when the axe falls. And it always falls.


Intimacy terrifies the NPD. It’s a loss of control. If they “lose themselves in the game” they may start feeling their authentic feelings for you. This will make them frightened and angry and then they will give way to their “talionic impulse” (look it up, see how well this shoe fits!) and punish you for making them feel feelings for you.

If the girl or guy you just met is mauling you with adulation and love, be advised: step away from the relationship.

Take a few days to cool off and clear your head. In the early phases of a relationship this should be fine and they should not be upset by “taking a breather”, if they freak out about it and get angry (NPD) or pour scorn on you/make dramatic displays of self pity (BPD) or threaten to kill your dog (ASPD), that’s a MAJOR red flag that we are not dealing with a sane boundaried adult looking for an equal relationship. Amiright? (See Clue 4)


Even cults have figured out that the human condition is fragile and insecure and that if you “love bomb” (literally bomb someone with compliments, gifts, adulation) it makes the target feel really intense feelings of happiness and recognition all associated in their brain with YOU. Or the guru of the cult. This gives them the initial hook into you. Kind of like a crack dealer letting you have your first few hits for free.

Why are they always mean afterwards?

It’s fuelled by the mechanism called the “talionic” urge, and it’s preconscious. It’s likely that they know they are doing it, but it’s very unlikely they actually know why. These are not people who spend an awful lot of time on genuine introspection, questioning their own motives!

Its called the “cycle of idealisation and devaluation”. They put you, or rather their fantasy of you, up high on a pedestal, because it makes them feel good to do so. When you, eventually, refuse to be the fantasy they want and are annoying enough to be the real person you are, you inflict an outrageous insult against them and they are disproportionately angry (this is called narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage) and will fling you into the gutter with total savagery.

To say they are cruel is an understatement. They have a sense of your suffering but simply do not care one bit if you are totally destroyed by their cruelty. In fact they would prefer it. It would be further proof of their power and uniqueness if you were crushed by their dismissal.

Clue 4: Does not respond well to the word “no”

Or indeed to any boundaries being set.

At all.

If you tell another sane, adult, who is being truly honest with you and doesn’t have an ulterior motive the word “no” politely and they have a major emotional response to that, or indeed you just try to set a boundary and they get very angry or upset, well, you don’t need a psychology degree to see that that just is NOT healthy.


Why? A boundary being set is them being locked out. A boundary being set is them losing controlling. The NPD experiences a boundary or a “no” as a hugely outrageous insult to their assumed superiority and they will respond with rage or an uber-sulk session that will last for days. Both have the same intent: to punish your disobedience.

Clue 5: Jealous and/or Controlling Behaviour.

Come on, I know that he or she is really hot and they are great in bed and funny and charming (the NPD as a great actor and social chameleon can really turn on the good stuff when its getting them what they want) but are you really going to ignore another sign of them being moody, bratty, bossy, petulant, jealous or just plain manic control-freakish?

Why do they do this?

The NPD is an infant trapped in an adult body. They think they have a right to everything, all the time, all of you, every part of you. NOW.

Clue 6: You Don’t Feel So Good

One of the symptoms of being with an NPD is a dysregulated HPA axis. Sounds fancy, in this context it essentially means that your brain systems “threat assessment software” has gotten out of whack as your frontal lobes and limbic system have gotten into a fight with each other about how dangerous this person is. This means you will feel exhausted, depressed, anxious, hyper vigilant and prone to over react to stress you can normally deal with. If it goes on long enough you will experience adrenal exhaustion.


One part of you is sending a signal saying: WARNING! This person is dangerous. And another part of you, encouraged by the NPD is saying: no, no, she is lovely and she loves me and I want this to carry on.

This creates a split in you in which two opposing versions of reality fight for dominance and that’s very, very stressful. Watch out for the insomnia and bad dreams!

Clue 7: You Become A Detective

You start checking their social media profiles. Maybe a sneaky peak on their phone checking whatsapp, facebook messenger and even emails. You aren’t proud of it, but goddamn it its becoming an obsession. There is an alarm ringing in your head that you are missing something and if you could just find the missing link you would know for sure and then you could relax. You being to obsess over the person. This has swung from a dream come true to a waking nightmare.


Because you aren’t stupid, your intuition is functioning and is telling you that you have been the victim of a con, ripped off, lured by a classic bait and switch. But if you face that reality you face catastrophic loss. So like any good addicted gambler you double down and pray for the best by day. And by night you are guiltily stalking your own girlfriend or boyfriend on social media or checking their phone, or looking at receipts in their wallet looking for some clue, ANY clue that proves your suspicion waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Sounds like being a tragic character from a Poe story doesn’t it? Doomed to slow death by Gin and melancholy.

The light at the end of this gloomy tunnel? I’ve helped thousands of people overcome the effects of being emotionally abused by an NPD so I know that it is possible. But it leaves scars and it changes people. Sometimes it changes them for the better, sometimes though they are left simply bitter.

Don’t let this be you.

It would be much more effective if people could learn to avoid the narcissists altogether. Learn these clues. If you have any doubt or suspicion take a big step back.

A normal sane person can permit you a few days breathing room where the NPD cannot, so doing so gives you an effective test of sanity and emotional stability. Attributes which are, according to the psychologists, sadly on the demise.

Be well, stay safe!

Richard Grannon (SpartanLifeCoach)

Narcissists are rude to servicepeople.


I want to talk about a little-mentioned red flag, but one of the easiest ones to spot early in a relationship. Most narcissists are rude to servicepeople and others they see as beneath them. My ex was notoriously rude to servicepeople, always screaming at customer service people, even if the problem wasn’t their fault. He was also rude to wait staff in restaurants, to the point it was embarrassing going out to dinner with him. He was unreasonably demanding, condescending, and treated wait staff as if they were mentally deficient. With attractive female wait staff, his rudeness was of a sexual character–he openly flirted with young waitresses, even though I was watching. I think he did this because he knew it would bother me.  He also did it because he knew his target was a sitting duck and might be fired or reprimanded if she objected to the flirtatious behavior (which wasn’t so over the top if could be called sexual harassment).

My parents were always rude to servicepeople too. My mother embarrassed me constantly with her relentless, unreasonable demands in restaurants and loud criticism and insults toward anyone she thought was beneath her, which was almost everyone. I remember the time we went to Charleston, SC in the early ’90s. We took a tour bus through the downtown area. The bus driver gave us information about historical homes in the area as we passed them. My mother was bored, so to relieve her boredom (and to get attention), she began to loudly argue with the bus driver, telling him why he was wrong and to get his facts straight. People stared at her, horrified at how rude she was being. The bus driver looked like he wanted to cry. I wanted to sink through the bus floor. I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible to avoid being associated with such a rude, arrogant, person.

Another time, I went to visit her in a motel when she had come to visit. My mother isn’t wealthy (although she always had upper-class pretentions), and could only afford a fairly inexpensive chain motel near the Interstate. A Mexican family was staying next door to her room and as we made our way to the motel pool, the Mexican family came out with their 3 kids. A little boy, probably three or four, started talking to my mother in Spanish, and she shooed him away as if he was a bug. The little boy looked hurt, and I felt sorry for him. I gave the boy’s mother a sheepish, apologetic look. The kids ran past. The little girl accidentally brushed past my mother, and she started making “ugh” sounds and wiping her skirt as if it was contaminated. She didn’t like this family for two reasons: 1. she regarded them as being of low social status, and 2. They were Mexican.


This brings me to racism, which is related, because racists regard “those other people” as being of a lower social status, and sometimes not even quite human. Seeing others as beneath them or even as like animals absolves them of any guilt they might otherwise have in treating another person like dirt.

Racism is common in narcissists. I think most people who are racist probably are narcissistic if not straight up narcissists. Of course, some people are racists because they were raised to be that way, and it is more common in older generations than younger ones. But I think it’s a lot more prevalent in people with a lot of narcissistic traits.

These same people are likely to fawn all over those they see as being “worthy” or of a higher social status (even though they might secretly hate them). Narcissists are snobs, but they are only snobs because they secretly hate themselves and must put other people down to feel better about themselves.

It’s also my opinion that most people who demean the poor and blame them for their poverty, calling them “lazy” or “stupid” or insisting they “chose to be poor” are probably narcissists or at least have a lot of those traits.


If you see any of the following behaviors after meeting someone, run! These are all red flags.

1. Rude, condescending or unnecessarily critical of wait staff or servicepeople. I am not including anger at a serviceperson because they legitimately screwed up or were rude themselves.
2. Calling attention to oneself by loudly arguing with servicepeople, making sure everyone hears.
3. Does not care if they embarrass you. If you tell them to chill or keep things toned down, they are likely to turn their anger on you.
4. Unwarranted personal insults toward servicepeople, including customer service representatives and technical support people.
5. Threatening a serviceperson even though the problem was not their fault. For example, threatening to sue a store clerk for demanding to see ID (which is a required part of their job).
6. Acting like a serviceperson or person of another race or nationality is beneath them and not worthy of respectful, polite behavior.
7. Racist, sexist, or ethnic jokes meant to insult their targets (or call attention to themselves).
8. Insulting someone of lower social status, coexisting with fawning behavior toward someone of higher social status. If an encounter with a higher status person immediately follows one with a lower status person (or vice versa), they will appear to have a Jekyll-Hyde personality. This is common in the workplace. Beware of narcissistic bosses who look down on you because of your lower position in the company. Of course, they will do anything they can to keep you from getting ahead.
9. Openly flirtatious behavior toward servicepeople or wait staff in front of a date or spouse.  This is a double whammy, intended to upset the partner(the behavior is usually subtle enough it can be denied later and the partner told they are being paranoid or imagining things), and intimidate or humiliate the service person (again, it’s likely to be subtle enough that it doesn’t qualify as sexual harassment.)

At what point do critical comments become bullying?


As a person with Avoidant Personality Disorder, I’m not the type to readily confront others on their bad behavior, but at this point, I’ve gotten so fed up with one commenter I no longer care if what I say makes them mad. It appears that lately, this commenter has been criticizing every one of my posts, it seems, just to be able to criticize. This commenter and I have some serious disagreements about several issues related to the content of this blog and life in general, and that’s fine and dandy; I don’t expect or even want everyone to agree with me all the time. After all, my opinions are just opinions, and disagreements, if presented respectfully and in a way that doesn’t seem like spamming or bullying, can can lead to healthy debate.

But this commenter has reached a point where their snarkiness has become trollish and bordering on bullying. Not only that, but this commenter appears to ALWAYS be here, because they always seem to comment almost the minute I put up a new post and are usually one of the first to comment, if not THE first. Yet this person rarely if ever “Likes” anything I post (which is fine in itself, many people don’t use the Like button). But I don’t understand why, if this person dislikes what I have to say so much, they always seem to be here, watching and waiting. It’s creepy to be honest. I feel like I’m being stalked.

Not only is it creepy and hurtful, it’s also incredibly BORING and ANNOYING.

I have informed this person I am almost at the point of not approving any of their comments, because I’m just so damn sick of it. I HATE drama, including online drama, but this is just too much. I need to take action.

If you blog, how do you know if a commenter has crossed the line into trollishness?

The simple answer is: if you feel like your boundaries are being invaded. Here are some things to pay attention to:

1. Do you get a creepy, stalkerish feel from someone who frequents your blog?

2. Do they snark on or criticize almost every post?

3. If they run their own blog, do they post articles about your blog or about you that are excessive and/or critical?

4. Have other bloggers complained to you about that person or have they stopped coming to your blog because that person ran them off?

If any of these things are true for you they are red flags and you should listen to them. The same thing goes online as well as offline, and if someone is making your blogging life less fun and causing you undue stress, please listen to your instincts. There are basically two things you can do if this happens:

1. You can stop approving comments or block that person from commenting.

2. You can try to reason with the person and let them know why their behavior is bothersome to you.

First of all, try to determine if it’s just you overreacting. Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re just reacting badly to someone disagreeing with you, but if others have complained, or they are leaving because of that person, or you just feel uncomfortable only with that one person, then it probably isn’t just you being over sensitive. If you’re like me and hate being harsh and like to give people the benefit of the doubt, you can try #2 first. But if the bad behavior continues and your warning seems to fall on deaf ears, then it’s time to take more drastic action. (I have already tried to reason with this person so that leaves me one choice).

At the end of the day, it’s YOUR blog, YOUR rules. If someone continually violates your rules or disrespects you or your other commenters, it’s time to enforce your rules.

12 weird things you might see a narcissist do.

It’s been several months since I posted this and since I haven’t written anything new about narcissism in a few days (I’m a little burned out on narcissism right now, to be perfectly honest–but I’m sure that’s temporary), I thought I’d repost this one since it seems to be getting some traction and it’s also one of my favorite posts.
These are all red flags not commonly mentioned and you may not know about, but they can help you identify a potential narcissist.

Be sure to also click on the link at the bottom of the article (5 More Weird Things You Might See a Narcissist Do).

Lucky Otters Haven


There are some strange things I’ve noticed narcissists do that aren’t usually mentioned as symptoms of their disorder, but seem to be common enough perhaps they should be included as additional criteria for NPD.

If you know someone who does only one or two of these things, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a narc, but if they do several of them regularly and also seem to fit the more well-known criteria for NPD, these things could be red flags to watch out for.

1. They don’t blink when they look at you.


Some narcs have a penetrating, predatory gaze. If a person of the opposite sex looks at you this way, you may take it as sexual interest (and it could be), but watch carefully: if they do not blink this could mean they are sizing you up as prey. Whether they blink or not, if their stare makes you…

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The Early Warning Sign Of A Toxic Person You Never Hear About

A very important (but rarely talked about) early warning sign you are dealing with a narcissist.

Free From Toxic

imageThe Department of Homeland Security has a color-coded terrorism alert system. Red, the highest level, means severe risk of terrorist attacks. The lowest level, green, means low risk of terrorist attacks. Between those are Blue (guarded risk), yellow (significant) and then there is orange (high). There is a lesser known and very subtleearly warning sign you may be dating a toxic personthat you never hear about. It’s not quite the level of a red alert, but it is definitely in the orange to red range andit should put you on high alert that you are in danger ofbeing at the very least, emotionally abused, bya toxic person, narcissist or sociopath. It’s a tacticcalled Subtle Ignoring. It is generally a precursor to full-blown narcissistic abuse and the frequent use of the silent treatment.

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How to recognize a covert narcissist.


When most of us think of narcissists, we think of the overt type– arrogant and full of themselves, outwardly aggressive, flying into rages if they don’t get their way or their supply is not cooperating, confrontational, demanding, and high-maintenance. Think of the tyrannical boss everyone’s terrified of; the demanding, high maintenance, conceited friend; the roommate who feels entitled to “borrow” your clothes, car or money without asking; or the abusive and philandering husband–those are examples of overt narcissists. They’re in your face. They’re outwardly obnoxious. They may seem nice when you meet them (otherwise they wouldn’t be able to trap you as prey), but as soon as you’re in their clutches, they begin to show their true colors.

The second type, covert narcissists, seem much more benign, even after they’ve reeled you in as a source of supply. They don’t necessarily drop the nice act. That’s why they’re so dangerous. Because it’s hard to put your finger on what these dolls are actually doing, you may think there’s something wrong with you for feeling wary or nervous around such a “nice” person. They are the true wolves in sheeps clothing. The red flags are much harder to see in a covert narcissist. But make no mistake–they are predators too.

Some examples of covert narcissists include:

— the compassionate and friendly nurse who “accidentally” kills her patients.
— the needy friend who gives you unasked for gifts or does unasked for favors, then complains that you are acting selfishly if you want to spend time doing something besides being with them.
— the spouse who plays “martyr” and puts everyone on a guilt trip because of “everything they’ve done for you.”
— the friend who seems to have a neverending litany of problems, but when you try to help them they never take your advice or give you a long list of reasons why the advice you give them will never work. This friend is an emotional parasite, and will make you feel drained.
— the parasitic spouse who won’t get a job (and doesn’t appear to be trying). They keep giving you “reasonable” excuses as to why they can’t find one or why they haven’t tried to look. Really, they are just trying to live off you.

Illustration by Mike Reed.

The red flags we normally look for to peg a narc are much more difficult to detect in a covert narcissist, because they can seem so friendly, charming, generous and even altruistic (yes, altruism can be selfish when it comes with strings attached). The website Info Self Development, in their article about covert vs overt narcissists, lists these tell tale signs for recognizing a covert narcissist:

–Emptiness, seems to have something missing that you can’t quite put your finger on
–Stubborn, rarely apologising unless they want something from you (see narcissistic supply)
–Ability to make you feel guilty, even when something is not your fault
–Entirely self centered; they are the center of their own universe
–Expert liars; charming, hypnotic, a master of manipulation
–Projecting their insecurities and defects onto you
–Very sensitive to constructive criticism
–Inability to form intimate relationships
–Inability to feel genuine remorse
–Blaming others for their problems
–Low emotional intelligence
–Highly materialistic
–Extreme lack of empathy
–Superficially charming
–A victim mentality.

I think the last one is important– victim mentality. These are the do-gooders, the “altruists,” the first person to volunteer for the church fundraising drive, the mother who volunteers as the classroom mother, the favor-doing friend. If you fail to “appreciate” their good deeds to their satisfaction or live up to their unrealistically high expectations (for example not volunteering ALL your free time to the church fundraising drive), watch out. That’s when they will work behind the scenes to ruin your reputation through gossip, lies, and triangulation. They are “martyrs” and you are selfish and evil for not sacrificing yourself the way they have “for you.”


They can also appear in the form of a needy “friend” who monopolizes your time with a seemingly neverending litany of problems or crises (sometimes brought on by themselves). They never seem to learn from their mistakes, and they will eat up your time and patience pleading or begging you to “fix” things for them. They almost seem to take a perverse pride in being victims. But any advice you give them will be dismissed or ignored. They will make excuses as to why the advice you gave them wouldn’t work. In some cases you may even be blamed for giving them the “wrong” advice, thereby making their problems even worse. They are emotional vampires who take and take, but never give anything back in return. If you ever have a problem, fuggaddaboutit. They won’t be there for you.

Covert narcissists may seem nice, but they aren’t. As with any narcissist, the best way to handle them is by avoiding them or cutting off contact with them if you can.

The “red flag” you should never ignore.


When it comes to narcissism, there’s a lot of talk about red flags: behaviors that are associated with narcissistic abuse, such as lying, gaslighting, lack of empathy, grandiosity, and refusal to admit wrongdoing.

But there’s one red flag that’s underrated because it’s so subjective: your own intuition.

When you first meet a narcissist, they may seem like the nicest person you ever met. You might not see any of the usual “red flags” immediately. Before you know it, you’re involved with a person who only has ill will and will make you feel like you’re going insane. When you finally realize what you are dealing with, they may have already wreaked havoc in your life–stolen your time, your patience, your trust, your money, your self-esteem, your job, your spouse, your sanity, your identity, even your soul.

Pay attention to the way you feel around someone you just met. If you feel inexplicably on guard, intimidated, wary, or feel like you’re walking on eggshells, if the person comes off as insincere or smarmy, or you just get the heebie jeebies around the person, don’t dismiss these feelings as only your imagination. Your unconscious mind is picking up signals you may not be consciously aware of and is warning you. Listen to your feelings and if possible, get away from this person. Or at least watch them carefully.

It’s easy to dismiss intuition as irrational and a product of an overactive imagination. You’re a nice person and want to give your new acquaintance the benefit of the doubt. If you’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse in the past, you may have learned not to trust your own feelings. But these early feelings can serve as warning signals before you see any actual red flags. Don’t question them. They are trying to tell you something.