Maddening and Bizarre Things About Narcissists Explained

Many of us are familiar with the narcissistic personality’s classic traits such as grandiosity, callousness, and trigger-happy rage. But there are other things often mistaken for individual personality quirks that are actually fairly common and explainable aspects of pathological narcissism.

See if you recognize these bizarre things about narcissists and the reasons behind them:

1. They have food issues. From judging others about their eating, to overfeeding and fat-shaming their kids, to being stingy with food, to stealing things off your plate, narcissists have funky food issues relating to body image, shame, and control.

2. They walk ahead of you. They literally walk in front of you or way ahead because they’re so impatient and/or need to show their kingly/queenly superiority.

3. They speak in hyperbole and superlatives. Their exaggerated language reflects their extremist thinking (idealizing/devaluing), need for attention, and lack of emotional regulation.

4. They cut in line. They believe the rules don’t apply to them and they are entitled to special privileges.

5. They’re weird about gift-giving. Their self-centeredness and manipulativeness lead them to

  • not give you anything at all;
  • give or regift cheap or random things that show they have no idea or concern about what you like;
  • give you things they would want that you have no use for;
  • give excessively to show how thoughtful/generous/tasteful they are, particularly when trying to ingratiate themselves;
  • buy one for you and one for themselves; and/or
  • attach strings to your gift.

6. They’re conspiracy theorists. They, particularly closet narcissists, view themselves as victims and project their envy, paranoia, and bankrupt motives onto others.

7. They admire totalitarian leaders. They respect dominance, view people hierarchically, and believe in an entitled class of superiors lording over the worthless masses.

8. They don’t answer questions directly. This keeps you off guard while allowing them to avoid responsibility.

9. They rewrite history. They interpret events according to how they need to see things rather than as they are, and the past is open season for distortions, omissions, and outright lies.

10. They traumatize you before your important events. Whether you’re graduating, having an audition, or getting married, they need to make it all about them and sabotage you.

11. They sleep with and/or stay in touch with your ex. Did your mother sleep with your boyfriend/girlfriend? Does your father have a “special” relationship with your ex wife/husband? Did your ex sleep with your “best friend”? To hell with boundaries; what a perfect way to feel superior and in control while humiliating you!

12. They interrupt. In particular exhibitionist narcissists feel compelled to dominate the conversation; are easily bored because they miss nuance and lack empathy; have low impulse control; think they have more important things to say than you do; and believe they have greater entitlement to speak.

13. They’re poor sports. When they win, they gloat because they feel superior. And when they lose, they pitch a fit, pout, make excuses, or challenge the outcome because their self-worth is on the line.

14. They’re too involved or not involved enough when you need help. You know this one: They get angry at you and/or abandon you when you’re sick, hurt, or in trouble because it’s a pain in their a** and they really don’t care. Or they use your illness/misfortune to get attention for being a great humanitarian.

Julie L. Hall is the author of The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free coming December 3, 2019, from Hachette Books.