This is a tough one because people don’t always know what these types of characters or real people are like. We see them as egotistical manipulators or arrogant figures that are prone to gloating. Sadly, I’ve had to interact with enough narcissists to learn about how they really operate. It’s driven me to look stuff up, which could help design characters with this flaw. Of course, it’s tough to do because a narcissist can be truly destructive to those around them. Let’s look at some misconceptions:
- Narcissists have High Self Esteem– This is believed because they come off as confident and sure of themselves. They are never wrong even in the face of being proven wrong, which makes conversations a challenge. In reality, they have low self esteem and are constantly working to gain attention to counter this. Nearly everything they do is about hiding their weakness and coming off a strong.
- Narcissists Love to Win Fights– People think that narcissists love to win arguments, which is partially true. Yet, there is a narcissism tactic where they will purposely provoke someone they know. Many times it’s a friend or family member. This is done by waiting for the ‘target’ to be weak and off-guard then pushing their buttons when nobody else or only the narcissist’s supporting system is around. The goal is to get yelled at to the point where you’re seen as the victim. This creates attention and sympathy even though it hurts somebody who may be close to the narcissist. It continues until the relationship hits a point where it needs to end. Either that ‘target’ stops things for their own good or the narcissist realizes that it’s at the point where people will get suspicious if they stay in contact.
- Narcissists are Loners– They act like they don’t need anybody and they’re perfectly fine being on their own. Not even close. Narcissists need an audience. They need people who find their current sense of identity acceptable. The reason is because they can only gain a sense of belonging and self-worth from others. Internally, they cannot muster these two things on their own.
- Narcissists have no Loyalty– This one . . . is actually true. Oh, they understand the concept because this is what they want from others. They demand acceptance and praise from their group of friends. It isn’t reciprocated. Once a narcissist feels that a person has become disloyal or they are asked to help in a way that is beyond their ability, they cut the person loose. In this way, you can see how a narcissist is repeatedly reinventing themselves and gathering new circles of friends with every incarnation. The older ones simply didn’t make the cut because they were no longer loyal to the new identity.
- Narcissists are Always Big Personalities– We imagine the type as being loud and the center of attention. They are surrounded by people and know how to schmooze a crowed. Not true. Some narcissists are low key. They gain what they need through manipulation and playing the victim card. These can be harder to identify because they don’t fit the mold we imagine.
Those are the big ones I can think of. Can you think of anything else in regards to narcissists that people get wrong?