Especially when you are getting to know someone, it is not easy to unmask a narcissist early on. Narcissism and the potential toxic effects of a relationship with a narcissist are a big topic these days. This is a good development because it allows us to protect ourselves better and prepare for different behavioral patterns. However, it is still difficult to recognize such a person, precisely because at the beginning of a friendship or a relationship a lot of charm emanates from this person and he knows how to „lull“ us. Here, of course, it is again necessary to distinguish between the levels and types of narcissism, whether a person has narcissistic traits, which does not have to be bad or harmful to other people, or whether this person suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD, see earlier articles for more information). For the sake of simplicity, we will use the masculine form for the narcissist here.
With the following behavioral patterns on your part, you may be better able to recognize a narcissist and thus be better prepared for what may come or walk away from them right then and there. There are some behaviors that don’t sit well with a narcissist or even trigger fear in him:
- Being perceived as average
An absolute no-go! The narcissist wants and needs to be superior to other people in every way, he is special in every way! He needs to be admired, beyond any humanly possible way, and when he doesn’t received that level of admiration, he gets angry or gets into a bad mood.
- Criticism or dislike/disinterest
A narcissist always feels like he is deserving of affection, admiration, money, fame, and prestige. If he is criticized or rejected in the slightest, then he simply cannot handle it and will try to turn the „no“ into a „yes“ or immediately counter criticism with gaslighting statements and turn the criticism back on you.
- A sense of shame
Although the narcissist may seem more confident than anyone else, he can be very insecure. He tries to compensate for this insecurity with arrogance and exaggerated self-confidence. When he is reminded of his inner insecurity, his feelings quickly turn to anger.
- Real emotions
A narcissist can be extremely emotional, often expressed in an extreme form of such as anger, dramatic outbursts, etc., but he has absolutely no control of these outbursts. His emotions are often completely inappropriate for the current situation. He is mostly occupied with his own emotions and therefore does not perceive the emotions of other people at all and cannot deal with them. He comes across as cold and passive because he really can’t handle the emotions of others, doesn’t know how to react and might even be intimidated by them.
- People who can see behind the mask
The narcissist always hides behind a supposedly charming mask, while behind that mask, there is a lot of emptiness. When someone is about to be able to see behind his mask and address or trigger genuine, deep feelings and emotions, it can be very confusing for the narcissist.
- Loss of control
When the narcissist doesn’t have absolute control over a situation or a person, he has a hard time dealing with it. He is confused, often reacts angrily and doesn’t know what to do with himself anymore, because he is used to otherwise being in control of what is happening. Thus, he can portray himself as the hero or the victim, always concerned with winning in every situation and being better than others. However, if he loses control, he will try every tactic to regain it.
- Your indifference
When it comes to relationships with a narcissist, the most common advice is that a complete disengagement is necessary, whether it’s at the point of meeting him and not being interested, or even after a relationship with a narcissist. A narcissist will always come back to you to try and trigger an emotional response, even if it’s a negative one, because he wants to know whether he can still trigger a response in you. But if you seem indifferent or actually don’t care, then he won’t be able to handle it and feel like he doesn’t matter—perhaps the most frightening feeling to a narcissist.
- You ending it before he can
If he suspects that you’re on your way out of the relationship, he’ll either quickly leave himself or come up with threats and all sorts of other tactics so he won’t be the one who has been left. It is always about his power.