In Greek mythology, the gods told Narcissus’s mother that her son would live a long life so long as he never recognized himself. To make a long story short, Narcissus, who was known for his beauty, eventually looked at his own reflection in the water and fell in love. Failing to realize it was merely an image and unable to look away from his own reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live and eventually stared himself to death.
Chances are when you hear the name “Narcissus” and the story surrounding him, the word narcissist comes to mind. You may even know one be dealing with a narcissist in your own life.
Among psychologists and psychoanalysts, narcissism is defined as “excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance,” “extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration,” and “self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.”
We think everyone can agree to let the babies off the hook this time around. They’re allowed to be a little narcissistic as they continue to grow and develop given that they’re steered in the right direction. Grown-up narcissists, on the other hand, need to be addressed.
9 Signs and Symptoms of Someone Who Is A Narcissist
As we list the following symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) outlined by Psychology Today, be conscious of anyone who pops into your head…
- Exaggerate their own importance
- Have a preoccupation with fantasies of beauty, power, success, or romance
- Believe they’re special (and can only be understood by people of the same “status”)
- In constant need of others’ attention and admiration
- Set unreasonable and unrealistic expectations of how others should treat them
- Take advantage of others to reach their goals
- Lack empathy and disregard others’ feelings
- Usually envy other people or believe others are envious of them
- Exhibit arrogant behaviors and attitudes
Fun Fact: Did someone come to mind for at least 5 of those 9 NPD symptoms? If so, you’re more than likely dealing with a narcissist.
With the help of that narcissist checklist, spotting one becomes a bit easier. However, narcissists can be conniving and trick you into becoming one of their victims without you even realizing. There are actually a few traits which you possess that might cause a narcissist to latch on.
3 Things You Do That Are Attracting Narcissists
You Steer Clear of Conflict at All Costs
In one sense, avoiding conflict – especially when it’s unnecessary – isn’t a bad route. It means less drama and problems for you. But in another sense, avoiding conflict can mean that you also give in easily to others people’s demands and requests without a peep. The latter becomes a problem when there’s a narcissist in your life because you will likely feed his or her need for attention and admiration without a fight.
You’re Both Successful and Insecure
At first, it seems contradicting to be both confident and insecure. It’s true, though; you can be attractive, have a job, all that good stuff, yet still struggle with those inward personal problems that no one can see – except a narcissist. According to family therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw, “narcissists tend to seek out people that will fill a template for what they believe will make them look good… In essence, [the narcissist’s partner may be seen as an accessory.]”
You Inherently Love to Please People
Again, not the worst trait to possess. However, some of the kindest souls in the world love to please people to a fault. This is perfect fodder narcissists because they’re in constant need of both emotional and physical validation. Karen Koenig, an author and psychotherapist, even warns individuals who “don’t have a strong sense of who they are an what they want because they don’t believe it’s okay to take care of their own needs.” That’s the kind of person a narcissist will go after. As the saying goes, someone who stands for nothing will fall for anything (or anyone).
Now, we’re not suggesting you change because you aren’t necessarily the one with a disorder. But, there are certain types of narcissists and traits you must watch out for. We’ve explained them briefly below.
3 Types of Narcissists and How to Avoid Them
In an interview with Business Insider, author and therapist Elinor Greenberg outlined distinct forms of narcissism that you may not be aware of.[5,6]
1) Exhibitionist Narcissists
This kind of narcissist is very childlike in that they live life with a look-at-me mindset. Shannon Thomas, a licensed clinical social worker and author, writes: “[Narcissists] think they’re amazing – they think themselves to be smarter, better-looking, more powerful than other people, and they pretty much believe it. Even with their friends and peers, they believe themselves to be one step up.”
Tip for Avoiding Exhibitionist Narcissists: Keep your distance and carefully pick your relationships! This isn’t to say ignore the person entirely but rather to observe their words and actions. Maintaining a relationship with a narcissist is possible, but you need to make sure it’s not one-sided or exploitative.
2) Closet Narcissists
“A closet narcissist doesn’t say, ‘I am special,’” Greenberg said. “They point to something else — a person, a religion, a book, a dress designer — and they are special, so they feel special by association… When someone feels special because they have a designer thing on and other people can tell, that’s special by association. For closet narcissists, they usually have self-doubt, and they are looking for the person they can idealize.”
Tip for Avoiding Closet Narcissists: Don’t let yourself be sucked in, expect disappointments, and have a ‘Plan B’. It’s far too easy to be manipulated by a narcissist’s charm and persuasion. They’re good at what they do. But as long as you enter any kind of relationship knowing that it could blow up any second, you won’t be disappointed and can more easily cut ties.
3) Toxic Narcissists
“The toxic narcissist is like the evil queen in ‘Snow White.’ When the mirror says Snow White is prettier than her, she decides to kill Snow White and keep her heart in a box… Harmony is not their goal. We’re worn out by it, but they actually gain energy through it. That’s why we see them spinning different issues and different dramas with people. They always say, ‘I hate drama,’ but they’re in the center of it every time.”
Tip for Avoiding Toxic Narcissists: Don’t try to change them, know your rights, set your boundaries, and stand your ground. Unfortunately, toxic narcissists seem beyond repair. There’s no talking to them so don’t try, especially if you lack the professional expertise they require. Acknowledge that your rights are not less important than their rights, despite what they might tell you. It’s challenging but your well-being is at stake, so don’t be afraid to voice your opinion and let them know you won’t be walked all over.
Keep Reading & Discover 5 Ways To Deal With Toxic Family Members
 Britannica, T. E. (2018, February 13). Narcissus. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Narcissus-Greek-mythology
 Narcissism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/narcissism
 Psychology Today. (n.d.). Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder
 Magazine, V. (2017, December 21). If You Do These 5 Things, You’re Probably Attracting Heartless Narcissists. Retrieved from https://www.yourtango.com/2017309086/5-common-traits-narcissists-look-women
 Dodgson, L. (2018, January 19). There are 3 distinct types of narcissists – here’s how to spot them. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-spot-different-types-of-narcissist-2018-1
 How To Spot and Stop Narcissists. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201501/how-spot-and-stop-narcissists