Narcissists and How They Operate

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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11 Responses to Narcissists and How They Operate

  1. noelleg44 says:

    Nothing to add, but I can think of a whole lotta narcissists!

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  2. Having worked for a narcissist I think you are spot on. There is no life more miserable than to be forced to put up with narcissist behavior. I think you hit them all.

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  3. I hadn’t thought about this, but your insights are wonderful.

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  4. L. Marie says:

    Great tips! I can’t think of anything other than narcissists are always fearless (when they seem very scared). Not sure if that is true or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not sure about that. I think they give off an air of confidence, but you’ll see them take very few risks. Many narcissists have a sense of self-preservation in terms of their reputation, so they’ll actively avoid risks that could expose them. It’s not only being exposed to others, but facing their true self as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My son has some clinically narcissistic tendencies along with anxiety. What we experience is that he has an ideal of perfection in his mind, and he becomes irate when the reality doesn’t equal his ideal. This plays out a lot in employment, where he has a firm idea of what he should be doing but the company asks him to do more, or do something else. He walks off the job.

    On having friends, we don’t see him continually gaining new friends. He has a very small group of friends that he’s known for over 10 years (since Junior High, and he’s now 25) and when they don’t meet his standards, he cuts them out. But his anxiety makes it hard to trust new people, so a few months later, he’ll hang out with them again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That walking off the job thing sounds rough, but I know people like that. They definitely have the perfectionist thing going. I actually didn’t realize that could be narcissism too until now. I was thinking more of the type that loves to play victim.

      Liked by 2 people

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