The 8 Types Of Narcissists + How To Spot Each One

The 8 Types Of Narcissists + How To Spot Each One Hero Image
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Isn't it odd that all of a sudden everyone's ex is a narcissist? How is that possible?

As evidence kept mounting that mine was too, I wondered how this catch-all cluster of traits known as narcissism could seem to hold true for so many people. So, I set out to do some research. Then it dawned on me; narcissists have always been with us in great number. They just weren't labeled as such.

They're the cheaters, selfish jerks, smooth talkers, know-it-alls, Romeos, rageaholics, control freaks, and victims we've all encountered along our life paths. Today, we tend to use the word "narcissist" to wrap them all up into one big ball of toxicity—people who are unable to sustain healthy relationships.

Here are some common types of narcissists. You might identify them by other names, but quite often, at their core, the pathology is the same.

1. The cheater:

All cheaters are liars and rationalizers. My cheater stepped out on his partner for 30 years. As you might guess, that person was a master deceiver. The rationale for serial cheating, in this case, that they had "so much love to give" that it was their duty to spread it around to all the people who needed more love. In the eyes of this kind of cheater, they are a fount of solace, affection, and goodwill, and it would be selfish to restrict that to one partner. The physical and emotional well-being of a cheater's partner and other partners never crossed his mind, since narcissists lack empathy.

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How to spot 'em:

These narcissists will have a stable of admirers (whether romantic partners, codependent friends, or simply fawning acquaintances they string along) always at their beck and call, ready to stroke their egos or soothe self-doubt whenever they need it. This type of narcissist, when caught, will rationalize that they have "so much love to give that it is their duty to spread it around to all the people who need more love." Or they'll turn it around on their primary partner, citing their inadequacies and mistakes as an excuse for cheating behavior.

2. The selfish jerk:

This type, when I was younger, was simply the "conceited" character. Then the language evolved. We called them "egotistical." Now we term them narcissistic. We all know selfish people, but the narcissist is unfailing in their certainty about their own opinions. Their insight extends to about the length of their arm since they refuse to spend time learning about others. Stuck in a relentless eddy of excessive self-involvement, this type literally finds it impossible to consider the needs of others.

How to spot 'em:

Every conversation revolves back to this person, and all that matters is what they want. Anytime you go to this person with a concern, you'll realize the conversation will end up being about them—often you'll walk away baffled as to how that happened. When it comes to making choices that affect multiple people, their needs will always come first.

3. The smooth talker:

This is the dreamboat who seems to somehow just know all the right things to say. That's all fine and dandy during the seduction phase, but over time, this becomes an insidious trait known as gas-lighting—an incredibly destructive tactic relied upon by narcissists and sociopaths to control their partners. That's when you learn that whenever you have a problem with anything your smooth talker says or does, they will turn that problem right back around to make it about what's wrong with you.

How to spot 'em:

The smooth talker seems to always know what you're thinking. They always have a witty comeback. But once they're no longer trying to seduce you, that smooth tongue starts to turn problems around on you. You'll start to feel like every time you feel neglected, worried, or suspicious, it's your fault. The smooth talker, in relationships, is somehow always perfect while you remain at fault.

4. The Know-It-All:

Anytime the spotlight starts drifting your way, the know-it-all is sure to grab it to bring its light back their way. In relationships, they are the bullies who out-shout and intimidate others. Sometimes they scoff at your input while snidely steering attention in a direction more favorable to them. They are ruthless and never play by anyone's rules except their own.

How to spot 'em:

You can spot these narcissists easily in the workplace. They talk over you, man- or woman-splain, and steal your ideas. In relationships, they are known to browbeat their partners with arguments that exhaust them. They'll wear you down until you lose the will to stand up for yourself and give into their warped version of events.

5. The Romeo:

This narcissist is the close cousin of the Smooth Talker. But The Romeo has been gifted with head-turning good looks and knows it. The Romeo has used physical advantages to become a master of seduction. No surprise here; research shows that narcissists tend to be not only more attractive but also better dressed than the average person. Many narcissists come from confusing upbringings where their parents alternately doted on them, perhaps because they were so cute, and then ignored them.

How to spot 'em:

The Romeo will use their powers of attraction to draw you in, and then alternately fawn over you and ignore you, mirroring their own childhood experiences.

6. The Rageaholic:

Anyone who has been in the line of fire during a narcissistic rage recognizes this type. This type can be gentle, calm, and even unusually considerate—until you suggest anything remotely resembling a flaw. Then all hell breaks loose. Even though narcissists claim their own superiority, narcissism is a symptom of low self-worth and even self-loathing. Much of their energy is spent defending themselves against anything that they perceive might weaken them.

How to spot 'em:

These narcissists can't tolerate any criticism because their own self-image is so very fragile. If you bring up a constructive piece of criticism, the rageaholic may actually feel physically threatened by this. If you're in a relationship with a narcissist like this, you'll end up walking on eggshells constantly. You never know what's going to set them off.

7. The Control Freak:

The primary motivation of a narcissist is to protect their fragile sense of self. In relationship, they only feel safe if they can control you—what you think, say, and do. You must see everything their way. If you don't, you undermine their sense of confidence, and they start to crumble. In conflict, they deny culpability for anything. They are determined to stay in control of everything and everyone in their sphere, meaning that if you stick around, you must be willing to accept the warped version of reality that they perpetuate.

How to spot 'em:

The control freak will legitimately freak out if you disagree with them. Look for a disproportionate response to small criticisms or questions about how they arrived at certain perspectives.

8. The Victim:

This is the type of narcissist most of us don't spot so easily. We think narcissists are all loud, swaggering egomaniacs, but in fact there’s a type of narcissist that presents totally differently. Vulnerable narcissists, or victims, traffic in blame. Their lives and relationships are disasters—but always because of what has happened to them, not because of what they've done (or haven't done). In their minds, they are unappreciated and victimized by everyone who doesn't recognize their brilliance, or by a world that is just not fair.

How to spot 'em:

They suck all the air out of a room. No matter what anyone else is dealing with, the conversation always comes back to their misfortune. They always have to one-up the troubles you're facing. They don't notice or care that they're trivializing your very valid feelings. They're so consumed by their own self-pity, you don't even exist. Their excessive self-involvement means their relationships can only devolve.

Are you ready to break up with the narcissist in your life, or recovering from the end of a relationship? Here's what to expect after a breakup with a narcissist, and how to take care of yourself throughout the healing process.


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