How to Spot Narcissist Red Flags—From First Dates to Family Members

written by HAILEY BOUCHE
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

Watch out, readers. We have narcissists among us, and we must keep our eyes and ears wide open to spot them. They are present in families, work environments, friend circles, and, quite possibly the worst of them all, relationships. Most people, whether they’ve been aware of it or not, have come across a narcissist a time or two already (I’m praying it’s not more than that), so it’s not uncommon—it’s just unfortunate. But the good news is this: When you are aware of the red flags to be on high alert for and you have knowledge of how to handle them appropriately, you can seriously protect your happiness, mental health, and TBH, your sanity.

Whether you’re worried you might be dating one, have a friend that displays the tendencies of one, have been dealing with one in your family for years, or think the co-worker you run into daily at the water station is a little bit too self-absorbed and might be one, we are breaking down the many narcissistic traits to be aware of and moreover, how to handle them.

Narcissist Red Flags Checklist

There is a difference between a true narcissist and someone who is just, well, extremely selfish. By definition, a narcissist is an “extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” To spot a true narcissistic person, watch out for these common red flags:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Needs to be the center of attention
  • Unsupportive
  • Inflated self-image
  • Lack of consideration for others
  • Sensitive to criticism
  • Makes you think you’re the problem

Early On Red Flags From a Covert Narcissist 

Covert means “not openly acknowledged or displayed,” so a covert narcissist is basically a quiet narcissist. Instead of outwardly expressing their self-importance, they hyper-fixate on it internally. And since they are always worried about themselves on the inside, they want your attention from the outside too—which usually comes in the form of fishing for compliments. This will present the following unique flags:

  • Always plays the victim for sympathy
  • Seeks attention constantly
  • Steers conversations to be about themselves
  • Breaks boundaries often
  • Lacks reliability

Red Flags From a Narcissist in a Female Friendship

We’ve seen the mean girl on TV time and time again. She’s manipulative, self-obsessed, and exploitative of others for her own benefit. But guess what? She exists in the real world too. Not that this is news to anyone, but everyone knows a girl or knows of a girl who is the real-life Regina George. Here’s how to spot her:

  • Prioritizes their own needs over others
  • High expectations of their friends
  • Ends friendships when they no longer benefit them
  • Obsessed with social status
  • Can’t keep a secret

Red Flags of Narcissistic Family Members

Family members with strong opinions? Not shocking. Family members who criticize your every move and feel superior over everyone else? That’s a special kind of frustrating. Having a narcissistic family member can be complicated (mostly because you probably see them often). With that said, it’s important that you can spot their tendencies so you know how to address them or avoid them altogether.

  • Gaslights
  • Criticizes
  • Love bombs
  • Lacks self-awareness
  • Has a strong sense of entitlement

First Date Red Flags That Tell You You’re Dealing With a Narcissist

We share about dating red flags all the time here at The Everygirl, and a narcissist on a first date is riddled with the worst of them. From the start, they are usually too good to be true with their charming, social, and sweet demeanor, but watch and listen to them carefully because that won’t last long before one of these narcissist red flags presents itself:

  • Only talk about themselves
  • Brags about their money, status, achievements, etc.
  • Makes not-so-sarcastic comments or jokes
  • Impatient and entitled
  • Complains about exes

Red Flags When You’re In a Relationship With a Narcissist

If you think you are dating a narcissist, you’re probably right. And to that, we say run for the hills sister. But if that’s not the case for you and you just want to make sure you never get into a relationship with a narcissist, here are the traits of a narcissistic partner that you absolutely have to be aware of:

  • Downplays your emotions
  • Uses manipulative tactics to “win” arguments
  • Love bombing, especially after a fight
  • Makes you second-guess yourself constantly
  • Incapable of holding themselves accountable
  • Jealous of your other relationships with friends, family, etc.

Tips For Dealing With a Narcissist

It’s estimated that about 5% of the population has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). If you or someone you know is experiencing narcissistic abuse, there are many ways in which you can (and should) handle the situation. According to Healthline, you should follow the following steps:

  1. Educate yourself about NPD
  2. Build your self-esteem
  3. Speak up for yourself
  4. Set clear boundaries
  5. Practice skills to keep calm
  6. Find a support system
  7. Insist on immediate action
  8. Understand they may need professional help
  9. Recognize when you need help (and when to leave)