Narcissists move VERY fast in relationships. It’s not uncommon to hear, “I love you”, and/or be bombarded with love songs/texts/memes a few weeks after meeting them. By rushing into sex/intimacy, they fast-forward the relationship. They get their targets to fall for them before he/she can realize something is amiss. I believe this is also the reason they tend to be VERY good lovers. Sex is usually the “hook” in toxic relationships.
Narcissists lack genuine personalities. So, they mirror their targets. If you find you have “so much in common” with a new person, your likes are their likes, and your dislikes are coincidentally their dislikes as well, raise your antennas! They may be mirroring you. This is the “soulmates” hook… You’ll also notice that they’ll spend more time telling you who they are, verses showing you. As time goes on, you’ll notice the words they used to describe themselves do not fit their personality — at all. But, they will fit YOURS!!!
Passive-aggressive behavior and irrational/unexplained anger, are also major red flags. Pay attention to how a person treats you the first time you say, “No”, and/or when things don’t go their way… If they give you the silent treatment, grow cold, and/or pull away, do not overlook it! Most importantly, if someone pulls away, or goes silent, after you set a boundary – DO NOT pursue them! This is how they groom you to be the chaser in the relationship. It’s emotional abuse/manipulation!
Pay close attention to people who portray themselves as victims. NOTHING is EVER their fault! EVERYONE, including the family pet, has done them wrong… ALL of their ex’s are “crazy” and mistreated them… They’re great, but no one appreciates said greatness… Simply put, it’s bullshit! No one should have a laundry list of bad experiences. If they do, RUN, because they’re the common denominator! Narcissists tend to have a history of failed/short-term relationships. Believe it or not, it’s hard for Narcissists to find people to deal with them long term due to their instability and poor behavior…
Superficial relationships/friendships. I’ve noticed they don’t have anyone they’re genuinely close to. This is due to their inability to bond and form true attachments to people. Their relationships are shallow and based on surface-level bs. They’ll refer to someone as their bestfriend, but you’ll notice they barely speak. Or, that the person is never really around. Or, only shows up when it’s time to party, etc. They may also speak down on/poorly of said “bestfriend” behind their back. Narcissists tend to be condescending, two-faced and downright mean!
Based on my experience, they cannot talk about deep subjects (i.e. fears/emotions). Or, how a situation truly made them feel. Or, what their childhood was like in detail… They don’t want to go there. I suspect, it’s because they can’t. They don’t know themselves well enough. They can’t connect. They also live in a world of dishonesty. They’re very dishonest with themselves about who they truly are.
A poor relationship with their Mother/primary caregiver. Underlying issues between Narcissists and their Mother’s (abuse, neglect, don’t get along, etc.), seems to be common. People that I’ve known who’ve displayed strong Narcissistic tendencies, ALL had bad relationships with their Mothers! I think it’s worth mentioning, their Mother’s also displayed strong Narcissistic traits… I’m fully aware and understand that there are healthy adults who have toxic Mother’s. However, if you’re spotting several red flags in an individual, including this one, pay closer attention!
They’re selfish! Some are selfish from the very beginning. Some start out generous and slowly begin withholding. Some act helpless and needy. They manipulate people into doing things for them, but never give back. It’s not only financial and material selfishness. They’re selfish emotionally, affectionately, conversationally. sexually and with their attention. They withhold validation and support. EVERYTHING has to be about them, their needs, their wants and everything happens on their terms. Anger, rage, silent treatments and disappearing acts are common – when they don’t get their way.
Pathological lying. Narcissists are professional liars. It’s their second nature. If you call them out, they’ll have no issue staring deeply into your eyes as they tell another lie! You’ll hardly ever get the truth. Even with unchallengeable proof of the truth, they’ll hold on to the lie. It’s actually quite fascinating to see them in action – once you know what you’re dealing with. They also have the uncanny ability to provoke doubt in their victims (even when you KNOW the truth), because their lies are so convincing!
Beware of people who do not seek conflict resolution. Many Narcissists enjoy drama/chaos! Remember, these are high-conflict personalities. Many of them NEED to argue and fight! Peace to a narcissist, is what chaos is to non-disordered people – unsettling. This is why they repeat behaviors that trigger a negative response. They need tension, anger and high/out of control emotions. They’re known for calling people crazy, drama queens, insecure, etc., but never admit what they did to provoke those responses. And, when you attempt to discuss/resolve something, THEY said/did, they’ll gaslight, stonewall and/or flip it back on to you. They’re extremely disrespectful, rude and lack self-awareness. They have an issue with being called out on their behavior and project/deflect to avoid accountability. “Normal” people want to get along, for the most part. So, they seek fair compromises when conflict arises. Narcissists want to “win” and conflict IS their niche. This is how many Narcissists get their way – they wear people down via conflict.
Immaturity. It’s one thing to be playful and lighthearted (in appropriate settings), as an adult. It’s something completely different to be immature. Narcissists suffer from arrested development. They do not know how to respond to situations/people/stress/life appropriately. They have a child-like mindset. They truly believe everything is about them and have no concept of the needs of others. By nature, children are takers. They have no concept of reciprocation. They believe their Parents (and everyone else), exists to meet their needs. When their needs aren’t met, or they don’t get what they want, they become mean and throw tantrums. Narcissists cannot think outside of themselves and their wants/needs – like children. They’re completely unaware that people are individuals with their own agency, needs, wants, opinions… They truly believe people exist to serve them. They believe their job is to receive. They’re children trapped in adult bodies, who cannot consider anything/anyone other than themselves!
Above everything I’ve stated, trust your intuition! Narcissists give off an uneasy vibe. They try very hard to appear cool, calm and collected – on the surface. But, you can feel their energy. It’s very off-putting. They also tend to have more noticeable negative qualities, than most people. But, you have to stop justifying and making excuses, in order to see things clearly. Accept people for who they are and not who you want them to be. Observe, listen and trust yourself. No one should be allowed to grant themselves a position in your life. Vet people and YOU decide if they’ll be a liability, or an asset, to you. Lastly, take cues from your body. If you ever feel your mood changing, feel anxious or feel your stomach knot up, in the company of someone, don’t dismiss it! It could be a sign that you’re in bad company!!!
Edited 10/29/2019 to add:
If you ever feel the need to ask yourself, “Who in the hell IS this person?”, you may be dealing with a Narcissist! Narcissists are painfully inconsistent (their pathology/dysfunction is consistent)! None of what they do makes sense. What they do and say in the beginning, will never add up once the “newness” wears off. They leave you with tons of unanswered questions, namely: “WHO IN THE HELL IS THIS PERSON!?!” You don’t feel that way when you’re interacting with “normal” people. Most people are consistent in their thoughts and behavior. You feel a comfortable familiarity, with time. Narcissists cannot provide that feeling, because they lack a true identity. Once they stop mirroring you (they get bored with pretending), you’ll see you have no clue as to who he/she is. Scary!
Edited 2/11/2021 to add:
Narcissists PROJECT who they are onto others!
If you’re truly dealing with a Narcissist, conflict is inevitable. And, it’s in conflict that they tell the truth about WHO THEY ARE, in the form of projection – onto YOU! Tension quietly builds when you’re in close proximity to a narc. You can’t always put your finger on it. But, you FEEL it. Narcs lack respect for others and their boundaries. They’re also provocative and antagonistic. So, whether it’s sooner or later, there WILL be an emotional explosion! And, WHEN (not, if) things explode and they begin to rage, you’ll find yourself being called names (that do not apply to you, but definitely applies to them!). You’ll also be accused of feeling, saying, thinking and doing things YOU’VE NEVER felt, never said, never thought and NEVER DID!
If you’ve researched this topic you’ll realize, in these moments, that the Narcissist is TELLING YOU how THEY feel, what THEY’VE said, what THEY think and what THEY’VE done! The downside is, when you haven’t done the research and you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you will allow this maneuver to completely derail and unhinge you. You’ll lose sight of what’s happening because you’ll be wrapped up in defending yourself and character. You’ll spend hours arguing, writing novel-length texts and emails refuting, justifying and explaining why/how all the garbage you’re being accused of isn’t true. You may even try to point out how what they’re saying applies to THEM and THEIR behavior. Don’t fall for it! IT’S A TRAP!!! It’s done to devalue and confuse you by derailing the conversation. It takes the focus off of the narc and their behavior and places it on you. It’s simply another defense mechanism used to avoid shame, accountability and responsibility while making other people “the problem”. You can avoid getting caught in this by recognizing it for what it is – a subconscious confession. If someone accuses you of the very things THEY’VE clearly said/done – RUN! Normal/healthy people don’t do this. Especially, when they don’t have PROOF. You can show a Narcissist PROOF that you’ve never done what they’re accusing you of and they’ll still deny reality. They cannot face the truth about who they are. So, they project. RUN!
I’d like to add that normal/healthy people also project. If you’ve ever been with a narc, at some point you also projected who you are onto them. It’s the reason so many people have a hard time accepting who the narc truly is. You were projecting YOUR goodness onto them. You were projecting YOUR character onto them. We MUST believe people when they show us who THEY ARE – the FIRST time!