« Most of their stories end with them accidentally saving the day or doing something amazing, and they frequently express something that’s almost unbelievable about themselves, » Dr. Weisner says, adding that the People with NPD are usually drawn to high-profile jobs and people and often have ambitious goals (think competing for CEO or influencer status).
Egocentric people are known to brag about their accomplishments too, of course, but for narcissistic people, the underlying motivation is “a need to keep their image intact in front of others,” she adds. « It’s about being seen a certain way by the world. » In other words, it’s not they truly believe they are superior (as a selfish fool might); is what they need You– and everyone on the planet – to think they are.
“The theoretical understanding over time has been that most narcissists have developed this way because they either had a parent who overvalued them and made them feel like they were the sun and the moon, or they had a parent who undervalued them, and narcissism became their coping skills,” says Dr. Weisner.
A selfish fool is more likely to annoy you.
Again, like a narcissist, a selfish jerk may be prone to making boastful comments about where he went to school, why he’s on a macrobiotic diet, and how well he lifted in the gym. But it will likely get monotonous quickly, says Dr. Hirsch. Narcissism, on the other hand, can be exciting.
« When a narcissist lights you up, it can make you feel like a rock star. They’re often a little too complimentary at first, » says Dr. Weisner. ‘perfect friend – the only thing is there’s a quality of subconscious manipulation. » The positive attention they give you isn’t about you at all; it’s about making a good impression so you stick around and provide them their lifeblood: praise and admiration.
A case in point: an ordinary jerk might not show up to your birthday party because he’s mad at you and doesn’t really care that other people think he’s being mean for abandoning you. But someone with NPD would probably show up, give you the biggest gift, and present themselves as a wonderful partner to everyone present, and then privately say hurtful things when no one is watching.
Many narcissists have an ingrained need to put others down in order to feel better about themselves, « and that’s the part that reveals itself more slowly, » says Dr. Weisner. Eventually, you might start to feel like you’re walking on eggshells, a sign that you might be dealing with narcissistic or NPD traits. « At the end of the day, they’re people you feel fantastic about or a little scared of. » This brings us to our next point.
A narcissist views your lack of adoration as an attack and will respond accordingly.
Trying to match the patterns of a selfish fool (you stop texting them backwards, say) or not agreeing enough with their talent may irritate them slightly – or they might not even notice it. They’re on their own, and what you do usually doesn’t have a huge effect on that, says Dr. Hirsch. But for a narcissist, these are major triggers that can motivate aggressive and abusive behavior.