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5 Biggest Red Flags Someone's a Narcissist, According to a Top Psychologist

Be careful about getting involved with these people.

If you spend any time online, you've probably been inundated with the word narcissist. People use the term to describe everyone from romantic partners to colleagues to family members—and many experts are setting the record straight for what constitutes true narcissism.

"Narcissism runs on a spectrum," said clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula on the Today show. "At the mildest end, you're looking at more of your Instagram narcissist… But at the far end of the spectrum, where it's more malignant and controlling and coercive, it can be downright abusive."

On the talk show, Durvasula goes on to describe the red flags that signal a true narcissist. Read on to learn what she shares about how to identify one and how to deal with them in real life.

RELATED: 5 Red Flags About the Emojis Your Partner Is Texting, According to Therapists.

They make every conversation about them.

Group of senior people enjoying in conversation during lunch at dining table at nursing home.

Durvasula says one of the first things you may notice about a narcissist is that they make every conversation about themselves. "This is what they do," she notes. "They talk about themselves; they bring it back to themselves."

If you're forced to continue your relationship with this person, like if they're your parent, Durvasula suggests accepting that this is how interactions with them will go.

"What that means is don't bring a problem you want to work through to your [narcissist] mom because she's going to turn around and make it about herself," she explains. "When you see your mother, be ready for this."

You can also set boundaries, like shortening visits and limiting the amount of bad behavior you tolerate from the narcissist in your life. "Step away, disengage, listen to them—view your conversation with them like it's a podcast that's about them."

RELATED: Dating Coach Reveals the Signs Someone Will Be a Huge Waste of Your Time.

They always interrupt.

Confident business partners walking down in office building and talking

If you're around a narcissist, expect to get cut off constantly. If you're telling a happy story, they may interject with their own good news, or if you're airing a complaint, they may tell you how their situation is so much worse.

Durvasula says that simply bringing up the behavior to a narcissist isn't likely to be effective. "If you were to say to [a narcissistic] mom, 'you talk about yourself too much,' then mom is going to lose it," she says. "She'll say, 'How dare you? How could you say this? I raised you.'"

So, the boundaries need to come from your behaviors.

They get frustrated and angry quickly.

A man sitting in the airport with his head in his hands looking disappointed
Shutterstock / – Yuri A

A narcissist isn't able to easily manage their emotions when a situation hits the fan.

"As things start going wrong, even if it's a little thing, like they're not put in the front of the line in the restaurant, or they don't get the table they want, you'll start seeing this anger come out," Durvasula shares.

They may also mistreat the person who's responsible for the situation, like the bartender, valet driver, or server. And don't even think about giving them feedback about this. "They'll snap," says Durvasula.

RELATED: "Beige Flags" Are the New Red Flags—How to Spot Them in Your Relationship.

They always shift the blame.

Annoyed married couple sitting on couch apart, after conflict, arguing, row. Serious angry wife looking at camera, tired husband turning away. Marriage crisis, counseling, relationships concept

If you decide to bring a narcissist's behaviors to their attention, they'll likely divert the issue back to you. Because of this, arguing with them is pretty much a non-starter.

"They'll say, 'No, you know what the problem is? The problem is you. You push my buttons, you're the problem, you made me do that,'" says Durvasula.

They lack self-awareness.

businessman talking on cellphone looking at laptop in office

Don't expect a lot of empathy from a narcissist. They'll likely never apologize for their behavior after crossing a line—or even realize they crossed one to begin with.

"They lack the capacity to self-reflect and say, 'How am I affecting other people?'" according to Durvasula. Instead, they'll continue to hurt feelings as they make their way through life.

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Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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