By Ari Liakeas

I’m sure at some point, we have all come across or been caught in the trap of dealing with a person with narcissistic behaviours. Whether that be in the form of a toxic love relationship, work colleague or even a family member. 

Have you walked away from a disagreement in a relationship thinking, “I know I had a good point there and now I feel like rubbish and it appears to all be my fault”? Well, you have probably just been gaslighted by a narcissist. I know I have, and far too many times! 

When you are an empathetic person, it is natural to exhibit compassion, understanding, consideration and awareness of others. You are more inclined to take the blame onto yourself.

So how do we get savvy to make sure we don’t fall into this form of abusive trap again? 

The key is to educate ourselves and recognise the early red flags of these behaviours before we get lured into an unpleasant situation. 

What Is Narcissism?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition. Although it’s not fully clear what causes this disorder, it is thought to develop around adolescence. NPD can fall into two main categories: Overt Narcissism and Covert Narcissism, but there are actually five types of the condition.

Many traits from the different types cross over into each other; here are the main aspects to look out for:

  • Over Inflated Sense of Self
  • The desire for consistent praise or recognition 
  • Extreme self-focus 
  • Lack of Empathy

Is Narcissism More Common in Men Or Women? 

Studies have been conducted to decipher which gender Narcissism is more prevalent in—if any. It appears to have stronger links in men than in women, with the research“ suggesting that men are more likely than women to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges.” 

This correlates with my personal experience as any I’ve encountered almost always came from the male of the species. (My humble apologies to any men reading.) I even recently encountered it on a first (and only!) meeting with Tinder; that was an interesting experience! 

As I’ve been delving into the research on narcissism, it appears that online dating is a hive of activity where those with NPD can find unsuspecting empaths to take advantage of. Look at the recent stories coming out and documentaries such as ‘The Tinder Swindler’ on Netflix! This should teach us that we really need to keep aware of who we choose to meet via these platforms and not dive in too quickly. 

Are Selfies Breeding A World Of Narcissism?

As the online world expands, it becomes ever more popular to communicate remotely. Our lives are out there on the internet to be seen. Does this mean that by exposing ourselves in this way to strangers, we are making ourselves more vulnerable to falling into narcissistic traps? Or are we now more aware of how to spot these behaviours thanks to the information available on the internet?

What about social media? Is it breeding more narcissism in the younger generation by constantly focusing on the self and our public image?

I watch in wonder as people walk down the street, not looking at where they are going but pouting and taking selfies. Without sounding old and grumpy, I’ve been bumped into and moved into the road several times by this exactly happening. It fills me with concern about the lack of empathy and awareness that seems to be present in our modern world behaviours.

How Do We Create More Awareness And Not Allow Ourselves To Be Duped?

It can be a tricky task to identify if we are engaging with a narcissist, as, of course, the confidence, high self-esteem and grandeur they project can be very alluring and sometimes a lot of fun. And, as we all have the capability to exhibit narcissistic tendencies from time to time, how do we spot someone with this problematic trait?

Here are some tips that will help create better awareness for future encounters:

  • Everything is about them; the majority of the conversation will focus on them
  • They will make you feel really good about yourself at the start, also known as Love Bombing
  • Charismatic and attentive to others in social situations, generally with manipulative intentions for self-gratification and recognition 
  • A tendency towards jealousy; this can come through in conversation or behaviours  
  • Arrogant Behaviour 

NPD is a mental health condition., If you are involved with someone exhibiting these behaviours and want to help and support them, do your best to guide them to appropriate therapy and support. Remember, any form of abusive behaviour is unacceptable, and no one deserves to live with it. 

Love yourself enough to find the strength to walk away. You deserve better.