Dealing with a narcissistic family member, spouse, or friend can be an exhausting experience. Narcissists can be entitled, unable to take criticism, and often have an intense need for admiration. Worse, they can make you feel like you’re the problem. If you’re struggling with identifying narcissists in your life or want to learn more, here are quotes from therapists on narcissism.
Quotes About How Narcissists Behave
1. Narcissists Drain You & Discard You
“Narcissists are like parasitic bugs that leech onto you and essentially suck the life out of you, then when you are no longer useful, they discard you.” – Silvi Saxena, MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C
Read more about the narcissistic abuse cycle.
2. Narcissism Masks Low Self-Esteem
“Narcissists often appear to be very confident, but a key feature of narcissism is low self-esteem. Narcissists display arrogance and exaggerate their achievements to hide this low self-esteem.” – Emily Guarnotta, PsyD
3. Warning Signs Are Hidden Behind a ‘Fantasy’ Phase
“In relationships, narcissists often begin by idealizing their partner. This is why many people wonder why they didn’t see the warning signs. They tend to attract individuals that are caretakers and have a deep sense of empathy for others. Once the ‘fantasy’ phase subsides, narcissists begin to devalue their partners. These manipulative and emotionally abusive behaviors often result in the partner feeling that they are at fault or are the ‘crazy one.’
Eventually, narcissists may move on or discard their partner while keeping them hanging on by a thread. Some partners in a relationship with a narcissist find it difficult to move on because they long for the romanticized ‘adoration phase.'” – Adria Hagg, LCSW
4. Weak Self Image
“Narcissism is a cover for a very weak self-image. They often want attention in any form, good or bad. Although they love adoration, the worst pain for a narcissist is to not be noticed. They will say or do outrageous things to be noticed if they are feeling ignored.” – Dian Grier, LCSW
5. Childhood Experiences
“Narcissism is a reflexive turning towards the self because your childhood experiences taught you that others would not provide for your needs. A narcissist doesn’t trust that others will be there for them so they have to be there for themselves. This doesn’t leave much room for anyone else.” – Krista Jordan, PhD
6. Manipulative but Convincing
“Narcissism is a personality disorder that is characterized by having an excessive sense of self-importance, requires excessive admiration, has a very significant sense of entitlement, takes advantage of others to meet their own needs, and lacks empathy.
Someone who demonstrates narcissistic behaviors will operate in a way that is manipulative, but convincing. They are good at making themselves appear as the victim when issues with their behaviors are brought to their attention.” – Oddesty K Langham, MS, LPC, NCC
Read more about gaslighting.
7. Make You Think You’re the Problem
- Think of themselves first and foremost.
- Only wants to win.
- Do not care about your feelings.
- Are always manipulating for their own personal gain and benefit.
- Make you think that you are the problem.
- Gaslighting is their stock and trade.”
–Dr. Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist
Dealing With a Narcissist Quotes
8. Don’t Waste Your Time
“I tell adults I work with never to waste their time arguing with a narcissist. You cannot win with a narcissist. Their perspective is always theirs.” – Deedee Cummings, M.Ed., LPCC, JD
Read more about how to deal with narcissists.
9. Develop Your Radar
“I teach clients how to use their “nardar” (a term coined by a client and meaning radar for narcissists) to spot them. It is based on how they feel when they are with certain people using these five questions:
- Do you regularly feel invisible and unheard when you’re around someone?
- Do you rarely get a word in edgewise and does someone always bring the conversation back to themselves?
- Do you feel someone is unnecessarily aggressively competitive with you?
- Do you feel surprised when someone feels slighted because you didn’t sufficiently recognize something they did (an achievement of theirs or a gesture on their part)?
- Do you regularly feel as if their needs are more important than yours?”
10. Know the Types
“The first step to avoiding a narcissist in your life is spotting them! Understand that there are two distinct types of narcissistic personalities to be on the lookout for: grandiose and vulnerable.
A grandiose narcissist acts like they are better than everyone else and are more of the ‘know it all.’ They also tend to lack empathy for others. You might spot this person in an argument where they are so firm on their point of view that they refuse to listen to anyone else. Their arguments often end with no resolution and you can sense their desire to prove the other side wrong no matter what. One idea to navigate this situation is to try to sneak in a solution in a way that makes it seem like ‘their idea.’
On the other hand, the vulnerable narcissist is going to try to pull energy and empathy from you to feed their emotional neediness. For example, you have plans with this person and you have to change them last minute… they are going to take it personally and make it all about what you did to them. This is a self-esteem problem and the best thing you can do here is stick to the facts in hopes they will eventually see your perspective.
When a narcissist of either type passes into your life, the best defense is a good offense. Be aware of who they are and be proactively alert for tricks they play so you do not fall into any of their traps!” – Claire Karakey, LPC
Quotes About Remedies for Narcissism
11. Intrinsic Motivation
“Narcissists don’t have the ability to feel secure and worthy without external validation and praise. Most of the time, narcissistic traits are an attempt to hide, defend, or deny these deep insecurities. Narcissism is also on the rise in America. Social media, consumerism, meritocracy, competitive drives, individualism, and identity politics are all examples of how our culture reinforces the self-involvement that drives NPD.
The remedies involve finding intrinsic sources of validation, detoxing from external and superficial forms of validation, and focusing more on developing and strengthening our higher selves (vs our egos). The higher self emerges when we prioritize our values over our goals, other people over ourselves, intentions over achievements, and principles over material things.” – Hailey Shafir, LCMHCS, LPCS, LCAS, CCS
When to See a Therapist About Narcissism
If you struggle with a narcissist in your life and want direction on how to maintain boundaries and recover your self-esteem, a therapist can help. They can help you better understand the situation and provide clarity on how their behavior affects you. When you’re ready, here’s where to look for therapists in your area.