Narcissism, it’s a thing
With the rise in response to mental health issues on social media and in the news, there has been a spike in self-diagnosing extreme disorders like Bipolar or narcissism. Increased awareness makes us vigilant of pathological personality traits in ourselves and others, especially those we engage closely like a significant other or boss. This awareness can be healthy as it keeps us knowledgeable about behavior patterns that negatively affect our interpersonal relationships. The extreme end of this newfound knowledge is becoming so obsessive with possible red flags that we identify and end relationships before they start. There is a way to implement protective factors without labeling someone narcissistic. The first step is learning the difference between someone who is problematic versus someone who meets the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder.
Yes, Narcissism is a legitimate personality disorder. However, a person must meet several criteria to be diagnosed. The essential features of narcissistic personality disorder are an extreme need for positive attention, an elevated sense of importance, and the act of interpersonal exploitation. That last behavior is one many of us recognize, and hopefully run in the opposite direction.
The narcissist is a very crafty individual and we hardly notice we are being taken for advantage until we are knee-deep in attachment. For example, you may have mentioned an insecurity months ago, use it against you to gain leverage in a disagreement. If you voice a completely valid concern about inappropriate interactions with a coworker and he responds saying “you’re probably just jealous because her butt is bigger than yours; we both know you feel insecure about that,” you may be dealing with someone who is presenting narcissistic traits.
The complex created to exploit people is a result of feeling superior to others and believing they should be catered to. When a narcissist is not accommodated to their liking, they become manipulative either passively with humility or aggressively with rage. Passively a narcissist may suggest that you won’t enjoy an event he is going to, so that he does not have to invite you. However, if you were to plan another outing for the night, he would become territorial and annoyed. He may ask a line of questions that imply this, or he may be bold enough to accuse you of only planning your outing because you knew he had something else going on. He may yell at you for hiding things or draw other conclusions because you made plans. This behavior persists as if it is second nature. The certified narcissist also lacks empathy for others. This behavior is typically rooted in physiological defects and makes it nearly impossible for him to put someone else’s needs first. This is a person who needs professional help. treatment for this disorder is ongoing, and loved ones will need support as well.
The self-centered douchebag is a different story, this person is egotistical and selfish. You may see some issues with emotion regulation when they do not get their way. They may be arrogant, and will put their needs before others. One main difference is the level of self-awareness. The narcissist only seeks relationships that benefit them. The self-centered douchebag is not always arrogant and manipulative; they do have healthy relationships and typically have a realistic perspective of their role in those relationships. The self-centered douchebag will tell you something like “Well, we aren’t really in a relationship — we are just kickin’ it,” “We aren’t married, so why do we need to do everything together?” We will use this approach when it benefits him. She is usually kind until you are asking or requiring more than she is willing to give. This behavior is less about leverage and more about commitment issues. They do have self-esteem issues like the narcissist, but are hardly as crafty. tm They often show their true colors upfront, and when given the opportunity to reflect on a situation they will typically own up to wrongdoing. Additionally, the self-centered person acts according to social norms; something that is very difficult for the narcissist. Instead of using suppressive tactics like the narcissist, the self-centered person may choose to be alone. The self-centered douchebag does not get fed by controlling a situation; they are happy as long as they are benefiting from it.