You can’t tell a narcissist just by looking. There’s no one-size-fits-all model for narcissism. Although the underlying dynamics are the same, narcissists are as diverse and unique as non-narcissists. Oh, narcissists may all think in the same ways and even say similar things. But their personalities are as assorted as non-narcissists.
Here are five portraits of five different narcissists. Do they sound familiar?
The Perfect One
“Everyone tells me,” she said, “that I’m living life just the way it’s meant to be lived.” Yet no one can stand to be around her.
There’s not one topic that she doesn’t know about. Not one person she hasn’t met. Nothing she’s not an expert in. Yet her eldest child is No Contact.
She’s the heart of her church…yet she can’t be bothered to give a cup of cold water to a workman laboring on a 95° day.
The Weeping One
She always has a hanky shoved up her sleeve, ready to catch the copious tears that frequently flow. When she gives gifts, she cries. When you bid her goodbye after a visit, she cries. As she cooks Thanksgiving dinner, she cries.
She’s the heart-and-soul of kindness, but only on her terms. She’ll bash your boundaries in the name of kindness, but if you reassert those boundaries…well! Her kindness dries up and blows away.
She has just two topics of conversation: her health and gossiping about and criticizing other people. That’s it. Take your pick.
The Active One
You never get the feeling that he’s being quite genuine. He’s a little too glib. Tries a little too hard. Cracks jokes that aren’t funny. Twists his face into contortions that are supposed to be humorous, but are really just hideous.
He’s got his fingers in all the pies…work, church, politics. He runs training sessions. He volunteers. Heads-up campaigns. Goes door-to-door. Is active in his church. He knows how the world should work. And he does everything he can to bring the world to his vision.
His family appears ideal too. Submissive. Smiley. But on the weekends, you can hear him yelling and screaming at them right through the walls of the house.
The Charming One
You can’t help but love this guy! He’s personality plus. Charming. Smart. Funny. Interesting.
But he won’t apologize ever…even when he’s in the wrong. It’s his way or the highway, even when his way won’t work.
The Criminal One
He belongs in jail. He belongs on a list. But back in the 1970s, pedophiles often got off with just a slap on the hand.
Ever since then, he’s been projecting his crimes onto his kid. He’s the liar…but he projects it onto his kid. He’s the thief…but he projects that onto his kid too.
He’s a failure in every way, morally bankrupt as well as a career failure. But he assures his kid that, “You won’t amount to shit.”
Although having wildly different personalities, these five narcissists have one thing in common: a deep wound.
One was adopted…but never told they were adopted. They discovered it and never forgave their parents for “lying” about it.
One had a child out of wedlock in an age when the other parent would be expected to offer marriage…but didn’t.
One was the “reason” their parents “had” to get married and was treated as the family pariah, expected to be perfect but receiving no recognition for their accomplishments.
One was cheated on by the love of their life / first spouse.
One was jilted by a long-time love.
One became an alcoholic.
One was assigned the role of Scapegoat in their family of origin.
One was overweight and fat-shamed since childhood.
One became a criminal.
Three of them have had their own children go No Contact (NC) with them.
Two of them have been told they’re narcissists.
None of them have sought mental health care.
All of them are obsessed with money…getting it, getting more of it.
All of them are wounded. None of them acknowledge it. It “doesn’t bother them.” They put the past behind them, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and got on with life.
Too Good To Be True
Those of us who’ve survived, discovered and escaped from Narcissistic Abuse are constantly on the look-out for narcissists. Our antennae quiver, trying to discover the narcissistic vibes, hoping to never fall under the spell of another narcissist.
So what’s the clue? Is there a commonality that’ll give us an early warning, “Narcissist Incoming.”
All of them (except the criminal) are very vocal about goodness, in particular, their own goodness. All of them are critical and judgmental of others. All of them (except the criminal) are deeply religious.
And all of them are extremely tight with their money and/or obsessed with squeezing exorbitant amounts of money out of other people, usually their friends and family.
One of them regularly charges friends ridiculous amounts of money for favors rendered.
One of them invites friends over for supper and then charges them for that supper.
One of them charged their kid for all favors rendered, while stealing from them as well.
One of them threatened to sue their kid for money.
One of them nearly flushed a long-time friendship when the friend refused to be low-balled for services rendered.
One of them tried to revoke gifts given to a family member.
The Three “G’s”
They say that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” They also say that you can only serve one master: God or Greed. You can’t have both.
Perhaps the best clue to narcissism is simple this: The Three G’s.
Narcissists talk loudly and long about Goodness and God…but their true passion is Greed.