14 Red Flags of Narcissistic Behavior

We’ve all met that person, you know, the one.

Charming yet off-putting.

Confident bordering on arrogant.

They focused intensely on themselves yet were critical of others.

While these behaviors can be subtle and evolve over time within a relationship, there are certain red flags of narcissistic behavior to watch out for.

As someone who has suffered the psychological abuse of a narcissist, I have spent the past few years learning how to identify these red flags early and avoid falling into their web of manipulation.

We will discuss 14 key signs of narcissistic behavior that I wish I knew about sooner, in the hopes that my experiences can help someone else escape the same trap before it’s too late.

#1. Boundary Issues

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Narcissists often struggle to respect the boundaries of others and expect that their own boundaries will always be honored.

This can result in them overstepping personal boundaries, taking advantage of others and often causing emotional harm.

#2. It’s Never Their Fault

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Narcissists are often quick to blame others when something goes wrong. 

It’s never their fault, either they were the victim of someone else doing or not doing something, or they simply can’t accept that things don’t always go their way.

This blame-shifting behavior can be frustrating and even damaging to relationships if you’re on the receiving end, as it can make you feel unappreciated or devalued.

#3. They Take Favors Gladly But Refuse to Return Them

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Selfish people love to receive favors from others. It might be one of the only ways they know how to navigate life. 

However, you can never count on them to offer to do things for you. 

Even though people know that relationships are give and take, it’s important to remember that selfish people focus only on taking. 

They may never offer to do anything for you, even if it’s a minor thing and you ask them to help you outright. 

These types of people will never reciprocate, so it’s generally best to avoid these types of relationships.

#4. Conversations Are Almost Always One-Sided

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Conversations are supposed to be a two-way street where both parties talk about things that bother and excite them.

However, selfish people tend to make everything about them, including conversations.

They may only talk about themselves exclusively when they initiate a conversation with you, or they may try to steer any conversation you have started to get away from talking about you.

They may be rude about what you have to say, or they may just be disinterested.

Either way, this is certainly someone you don’t want to talk to!

#5. They Help People So They Can Receive Some Benefit From It

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Helping others out of the kindness of your heart is what you should aim to do throughout your lifetime. 

Of course, there may be some reward for doing so, and working for both reasons isn’t necessarily bad. 

That said, selfish people may only help people for the latter reason. 

Rather than helping people because they want to, they do so because they can get something out of that person in the future.

Or they hold it over their heads when they put someone through a guilt trip or gain bragging rights that they can use in conversations with others. 

Even if someone may offer help, their intentions are not always good.

#6. They Listen to Their Phones in Public

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This is a hyper-specific example, but I’m sure we all know someone who does this. 

Some people will whip out their phones and start playing videos and music out loud without wearing headphones. 

They don’t understand that other people don’t want to listen to it, especially in a public place like a bar or a grocery store. 

You can tell them multiple times, but they will still do it regardless of what people say. 

#7. They’re Annoyed or Disgruntled When You Take Favors or Help From Them

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Selfish people aren’t known for offering to do stuff for others unless it benefits them. 

However, some may extend their help simply because they want to look good or feel like they should. 

Should they extend help, they might be annoyed or disgruntled that you accepted. 

Then, they’ll complain and drag their feet the entire time if they should follow through at all. 

This will continue until they stop offering help, but you might still hear about all those times they helped you out later!

#8. They Can’t Take on Any Responsibility for Their Actions

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Maturity is about learning to admit when you’re wrong and take responsibility for what you did wrong. 

A selfish person generally lacks the ability to take any form of responsibility. 

They’re not wrong for doing what they did; there was probably a good reason they did it because someone else drove them to do it. 

They can’t understand nuance and will deny any wrongdoing even if you call it out. 

Selfish people don’t know how to admit when they’re wrong because they generally never believe themselves to be wrong.

#9. They Manipulate You to Get What They Want

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Manipulation is something that more of us are becoming aware of, especially in relationships.

It’s a big red flag that can give us an advanced warning about people who will continue to treat us poorly.

Some selfish people might guilt you into doing things for them, but gradually push your boundaries so that you will give in and start letting them do things they want to and more.

If you start noticing that you’re being manipulated into doing things you wouldn’t normally do, immediately walk away from that person.

#10. Everything You Do Wrong Is a Problem

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Selfish people will never forget when you have done something terrible to them, regardless of whether it was objectively wrong or if they perceived it to be.

They will hold onto those things and hold them over your head should the opportunity arise to guilt or shame you.

However, whenever they do something terrible to you, they might tell you to get over it or that it wasn’t that bad.

They might also deflect by bringing up something you did in the past.

You can guarantee that what you’ve done to a selfish person will always be there, but what they did to you will never matter.

#11. They Seek to One-Up You When You’re Trying to Vent About Your Life

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Life can be hard sometimes, and we should be able to turn to friends, family, and partners when we need to talk about something that has happened to us. 

The problem? Not everyone is necessarily interested in listening and sympathizing with what you’re going through. 

Selfish people will not actively listen to you and seek to help you work through it but will look for ways to tell you about all the times they’ve had it harder and one-up you throughout the conversation. 

What’s worse than talking about your life, only for someone to tell you what you’re going through isn’t that bad?

#12. Guilt Trips

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Narcissists may also try to manipulate you by using guilt trips or trying to make you feel bad about something.

For example, if they’re not getting their way, a narcissistic person might say something like “I can’t believe after everything I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?”.

This kind of behavior can be exhausting and take a toll on your self-confidence and emotional wellbeing.

It’s important to remember that you don’t owe anyone, even if they’ve done something nice for you in the past. Setting clear boundaries can help protect yourself from these kinds of manipulative tactics.

#13. They Make Something Happening in Someone Else’s Life All About Them

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Empathy is a crucial aspect of navigating life, but it’s not a trait that everyone has.

Some people may go so far as to only relate to people when they can frame it from how it affects them.

For example, if a friend is going through something, they may say that it has somehow inconvenienced them or that they’re equally impacted, even if they’re far removed from the situation.

Put simply, you can always count on selfish people to make things about them, even if those things aren’t happening to them. 

#14. They Project Their Negative Qualities on Others

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Narcissists are experts at making themselves look good while putting others down.

They will often project their negative qualities onto the people in their lives, making it seem like others are the ones with the problem.

By shifting the blame onto others, they are able to maintain their inflated sense of self and avoid taking responsibility for their own behavior.

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