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How to be with a narcissist

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Photo by Jayme Burrow. When it comes to determining whether someone you know is a narcissist, most people make it more complicated than it needs to be. I use the duck test—that is, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. There are no physical blood tests, MRIs, or exact determinations that can identify narcissism.

Even therapists have to go on their observations of the behavior, attitudes, and reactions that a person presents to determine narcissism. What makes it simple is the fact that we know exactly what a narcissist looks like. Below, I've listed all the symptoms and behaviors you should look for. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be present to make a determination of narcissism.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which therapists use as a guide, a person needs to exhibit only 55 percent of the identified characteristics to be considered narcissistic. There is a definite hierarchy, with the narcissist at the top—which "How to be with a narcissist" the only place he feels safe. Narcissists have to be the best, the most right, and the most competent; do everything their way; own everything; and control everyone. Interestingly enough, narcissists can also get that superior feeling by being the worst; the most wrong; or the most ill, upset, or injured for a period of time.

Narcissists need constant attention—even following you around the house, asking you to find things, or constantly saying something to grab your attention. Validation for a narcissist counts only if it comes from others. You pour in positive, supportive words, and they just flow out the other end and are gone. Despite all their self-absorbed, grandiose bragging, narcissists are actually very insecure and fearful of not measuring up.

Narcissists have an extremely high need for everything to be perfect. They believe they should be perfect, you should be perfect, events should happen exactly as expected, and life should play out precisely as they envision it. This is an excruciatingly impossible demand, which results in the narcissist feeling dissatisfied and miserable much of the time. The demand for perfection leads the narcissist to complain and be constantly dissatisfied. Since narcissists are continually disappointed with the imperfect way life unfolds, they want to do as much as possible to control it and mold it to their liking.

They want and demand to be in control, and their sense of entitlement makes it seem logical How to be with a narcissist them that they should be in control—of everything. They demand that you say and do exactly what they have in mind so they can reach their desired conclusion. You are a character in their internal play, not a real person with your own thoughts and feelings.

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