Three Factors That Distinguish Narcissistic Tendencies From Narcissistic Personalities

Three Factors That Distinguish Narcissistic Tendencies From Narcissistic Personalities

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Learning whether there is a difference between narcissistic tendencies and full-blown pathological narcissism is important for everyone.

We all possess the ability to be a little selfish at times, but that doesn’t mean we are a narcissistic personality. In addition, those we love and work with may also display self-obsessive traits that are only small parts of who they truly are, making it challenging to distinguish true narcissism from mere character flaws.

Successfully navigating the world of interpersonal relationships requires of us the ability to look deeper into the personalities of the people we spend time with. Fortunately, there are a few key similarities between narcissistic tendencies and true narcissistic personalities that can be easily spotted once understood.

True textbook narcissism exhibits the classic ‘center of attention’ behavior, producing anger and dramatic actions when demands are not met. Self-absorption, poor response to criticism, and perception of greatness are also prevalent in this type of personality. A narcissistic personality will not hear you or accept anything less than their superiority.

These deeply rooted “me” tendencies are different than someone who feels good about themselves and is a strong leader. When distinguishing between true narcissistic personality and self-absorbed or self-confident behaviour, observing frequency, intensity, and duration will help guide you to a better understanding.


A relatively easy task, determining the frequency of display of narcissistic traits will help determine if they are results of a person’s isolated mood or more deeply ingrained personality traits. Determining the incidents of isolated or infrequent narcissistic tendencies and relentless ongoing issues will help you gain needed perspective.


Objectively rate the scale of intensity of actions and traits. One way to do this is to count how many times a person talks about himself or herself in a conversation rather than listening to what you are also saying. Narcissists also not only speak about themselves more, but they are also hyper-focused on themselves, interjecting into any situation or conversation without regard to others.


If a person is merely confident, they are willing to hear suggestions of others and concede to dial back their behavior from time to time. A true narcissistic person will not budge, their behavior will continue in their superiority indefinitely. Not only will narcissists not hear you, but they also won’t believe your opinions of their behavior even if that behavior causes you great pain. There is no change in a narcissist’s behavior or outlook.

Fewer Narcissistic Traits Doesn’t Mean They’re Safer to Be With

A common mistake that victims of narcissistic abuse make is believing that if someone doesn’t check off all of the criteria on these checklists that they finding online, that they’re somehow safer to be with, and this is where I want to remind you that it only takes one pathological trait to completely destroy another person’s life.

An important fact about narcissism is that it falls into the Cluster-B category. So, if you believe you’re dealing with a narcissist, it’s highly likely that their narcissism is ‘clustered’ with something else. For example, you could be dealing with a narcissist who also has antisocial traits, or you could be dealing with a narcissist who has psychopathic traits, or a combination of all three. This why is why it’s often difficult to determine exactly which category they fall into because they don’t only fall into one. When you put them all together, you have a very dangerous individual.

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Recovering from narcissistic abuse is hard, and it’s okay to admit you need help. If you’re ready to go deeper now, check out the #1 therapist-approved online program for narcissistic abuse recovery. Thousands of people have benefited from this program that’s practical, proven, and reliable.  It’s the best place to begin a journey toward renewed self-worth and an end to feeling worthless.

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