It's Not You, It's Them: Understanding Narcissism

Why do they do..? What can I do to make them see..? Did they really just do that? What are they thinking?!


It’s normal to have a ton of questions about Narcissists - especially if you’ve been in a relationship with one. If you are a person who has empathy, emotional intelligence, and takes responsibility for their actions, chances are, you won’t really be able to understand the Narcissist in your life. They operate differently than you do - PERIOD. This is a good thing because it means you are not a Narcissist (whew!) - but it is also a difficult thing to understand and navigate.

Sneaking a peek inside a Narcissist you may find:

  • They think they're all the things. All. The. Time. Narcissists think they are more important than they really are. They are the sun, you are Pluto. Or maybe Uranus (Is Pluto even a planet?)

  • Narcissists star in their own reality TV show that features themselves, 24/7, 365 days a year. They feel entitled and require constant, excessive praise & attention. The same way a 3-year-old wants you to celebrate every single line they draw when they color - except with a grown adult and not as cute.

  • They spend a good chunk of time in la-la land - fantasizing about success, power, looks, perfection. How to make something even MORE spectacular that was pretty spectacular to begin with.

  • They are the smartest, funniest, smoothest, strongest, grandest, best-looking person they know. Everyone else is peanuts.

  • They love sharing how great they are and the wonderful, amazing things they’ve done. Remember how great they are? See bullet point above.


  • You can’t get a word in edgewise because they LOVE the sound of their own voice. No matter what your belief is on a topic, even if it’s an opinion you share with them, they do not care.

  • They always want to be the exception to the rule, the receiver of the most special treatment - but don’t you dare expect the same. While Narcissists love getting that extra wiggle room they simultaneously demand unquestioning compliance with their expectations.

  • Narcissists take advantage of others to get what they want. It’s like "Hunger Games" - but in a relationship. The odds are never in your favor. Ever.


  • They yo-yo between envying others and also thinking others are constantly envying them.

  • They insist on having the best of everything: car, watch, office, puppy. They know the best places to eat, the best connection for that thing you want to repair, the best deals.

  • Narcissism is an ego-syntonic personality trait - meaning they don’t see anything wrong with the way they think, feel, or behave. Consequently, they lack the willingness or the ability to recognize the needs and feelings of others.

(Adapted from Mayo Clinic)

In short - being in a relationship with a partner with Narcissistic traits is toxic and exhausting. This fatigue mixed with the brain games they play can leave you feeling very confused.

Becoming a Narcissist -Nature or Nurture?

Most research points to there being BOTH a genetic predisposition AND environmental factors at play in the development of a Narcissistic condition. The behaviors caused by the genetic markers typically don’t rear their ugly heads unless the environment in which the person was raised brings them out. The type of home circumstances that might enhance this type of personality characteristic involves parenting that is either extravagant in praise, attention, and indulgence, or excessive in criticism, neglect, and emotional abuse.


If you have procreated with a Narcissist, rest assured, the genetic predisposition on its own DEFINITELY does not mean your child is doomed to become a Narcissist. They have you, a person who cares enough about mental health to be reading this article, as a parent, and that goes a LONG way. There are many things you can do to be proactive for your child’s well-being, including seeking mental health support for your child who is dealing with the confusion of having a parent who is all about themselves. Additionally, if you are co-parenting with a Narcissist, we encourage you to also seek therapy for yourself. The stress is ongoing and having an objective 3rd party to vent stress to and bounce parenting ideas off of can be incredibly cathartic and helpful.

Can a Person with Narcissism Change?

In short, only if they want to. And in order to be able to want to, they have to recognize that something is wrong with how they are acting. And the condition itself makes the person unable to see that there is anything wrong with their behavior. The odds of a Narcissist changing are very very slim. There are currently no evidence-based therapy modalities or FDA-approved medications for the treatment of Narcissism, but there are evidence-based treatments for the trauma that underlies the condition.

Am I a Narcissist?


A classic Narcissist move is to accuse others of being Narcissistic. They point out all the things you have done (or not done but are accused of doing) that prove they are right while disregarding all of the evidence that proves they are wrong. If you have ever questioned whether you are Narcissistic, you are not. Narcissism is a mental health condition that the person is not even aware of. If you even question whether you have it, it's pretty safe to assume you don’t have it.

What we hope to have made loud and clear is that the toxicity that comes from being in a relationship with a Narcissist is not your fault. Even if someone has genetic, environmental, and biological reasons for their behaviors, this does not excuse any abuse you have experienced. We are here to affirm your instinct for not staying in that relationship. If you no longer have hope that your ex can change, this does not make you a bad person. It makes you reasonable. You’re not Gandhi.

To learn more about Narcissistic traits, click here. Check us out here for our coping strategies for how to deal if you have to have an ongoing relationship with a Narcissist.