6 Painfully Honest Signs You’re Involved With A Narcissist

It can be easy to mistake narcissism for insecurity.

Last updated on Jan 19, 2024

Woman involved with a narcissist Tabatha Turner | Unsplash 

Many people aren’t aware narcissism is a result of deep-rooted insecurities.

It’s hard to imagine because a narcissist often comes across as seeming egotistical, full of themselves, and caring more for themselves than other people.

These are defense mechanisms acquired to cover deep feelings of being flawed or ashamed.

Someone narcissistic has been wounded in a significant way that makes them feel vulnerable, helpless, and insecure.


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Here are 6 painfully honest signs you're involved with a narcissist:

1. They view themselves as the main character.

Insecure people don’t have a strong sense of their worth or value. Someone who is more obviously insecure will make self-deprecating comments or talk negatively about themselves.

A narcissist, on the other hand, will attempt to cover that lack of self-worth up by trying to seem very important. They will brag about their accomplishments or how they are the ones to solve unsolvable problems.


They will gloat about things or make sure you know about them. They want an ego boost. They are not just praising themselves. They hope to gain your praise, as well.

2. They don't admit their mistakes.

Insecure people respond big to mistakes. When an insecure person makes a mistake, they make a big deal out of it.

"I’m so sorry" comes more easily to them. They say it so much it seems they’re apologizing for existing.

A narcissist, on the other hand, rarely will apologize for any of their actions. They will not take the blame for something going wrong but will find someone else to blame for the issue.

They will often get angry or aggressive when others try to call them out on mistakes to put themselves in a more powerful position.


Often, they will turn on the person and attempt to make it the confronter’s problem rather than their own.

3. They use you.

An insecure person uses you to feel better about themselves. An insecure person asks you questions, seeking positive feedback.

"Do these pants look okay on me?"

"I hope I didn’t cause you too much trouble when I asked you to do that for me?"


They hope you will heap on a measure of compliments or encouragement so they can feel better about themselves.

Narcissists will use you differently. They will build a case against you of how they are better than you.

When you share a story, they will have a more impressive one. When you succeed, they will share one of their successes that (in their minds) is better than yours.

If you pick a restaurant to meet them at, they will suggest a better one because that one isn’t good enough for some reason.

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4. They run away from conflict.

Insecure people are not good when it comes to conflict. Insecure people will defer to your judgment in disagreements, thinking your opinion supersedes their own.


They won’t fight back because they undervalue their claims and certainly won’t do the confronting. These people are notorious for people-pleasing.

Narcissists are notorious for creating conflict but running away from it. They constantly tell people how others are wrong, and they are right.

They will rarely listen to differing points of view and will only continue to drill opposers with their viewpoints.

Even if they can be shown direct evidence against their conclusions, they will not back down — it will only fuel their attempts to prove themselves. For example, they will claim there were "flaws in the study".

They also will negatively attribute things to people as if they were personally attacked — someone cuts them off while driving, then road rage ensues, a waiter gets their order wrong, and they not only express it but also feel entitled to a free meal.


It's easy to see how they create quite a bit of conflict.

5. They are not self-aware.

People who act insecure are often the first to sign up for every self-help seminar or buy all the self-improvement books. They feel they are continually not enough, no matter how much of an investment they’ve made into themselves.

They can't see the truth because their judgment is shrouded by a veil of inferiority.

Narcissists don’t need any self-help stuff — that’s for people who are weak and unable to cope with life’s difficulties on their own (their way of saying they’re too good for all that).

They want to believe they’ve pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and become successful by their merit and probably even believe they’re healthy as can be, which is why narcissists rarely come to therapy.




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6. They lack empathy.

In both cases, it’s hard for insecure people to empathize with others. Insecure people are so consumed with their inferiority or ego they will conclude that others’ negative experiences are because of them.

When someone is upset, they’ll deduce they did something to upset them. They take it on as their responsibility.


Narcissists don’t think of others — except for when it comes to what they can do for them.

What is a narcissist?

According to Psychology Today, a narcissist has "a hunger for appreciation or admiration, a sense of specialness and a desire to be the center of attention, and an expectation of special treatment reflecting perceived higher status."

To help them get through scary times, which often happen in childhood, narcissists attempt to cover their fears and helpless feelings by acting out the opposite to make themselves feel better.


Instead of feeling weak, they attempt to be strong. Instead of feeling vulnerable, they prefer to feel powerful. Instead of feeling insecure, they wear a facade of confidence or bravado.

Instead of thinking poorly of themselves, they lean into an exaggerated sense of who they are and their accomplishments.

Given this, it can sometimes be hard to know if you're dating an insecure person or a narcissist — because there is a difference.

Once you uncover the differences between an insecure person and a narcissist, you can learn how to deal with a narcissist in the most appropriate way.

Given all of the narcissist traits, what would be considered healthy traits instead?


Secure people are confident in their accomplishments but can also acknowledge when they make mistakes. It’s easy for a confident person to say "sorry" when they do something wrong.

  • Confident people have self-awareness of their good qualities, know they have room for improvement, and humbly acknowledge it.
  • Confident people are aware of what they believe and can even explain why they value what they do.
  • Confident people know that others are different than them and can respect those differences, even if they are strongly opposed to their values. They can even celebrate differences.
  • Confident people rarely take offense at what others say and often can understand why the person said it.

They will generally be able to give you time to listen and be present and, in turn, communicate without their mind being distracted with insecurities.

In short, they’ll be much better in any relationship.

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Amy Sargent has been a licensed marriage and family therapist for over 10 years. She views our past relationships and experiences as significantly impacting the person we are today.