4 Types, 16 Characteristics, and 20 Traits of Narcissists

How to Distinguish Between Them

There are way too many stories on medium.com about narcissism. However, to some it may be novel. Anyone really can fall in. Perhaps you’ve just started a new relationship, and are just wondering why he/she does this or that. My experience started on a gay hookup site. I will call my narcissist “N”. Things escalated quickly, and after realizing he did not have a home — he would just stay at other people’s apartments on a day-to-day basis — I invited him to gather up his belongings at these various places and consolidate at my home, where he was welcome to stay indefinitely. I knew from the get-go that this would be an atypical relationship, but the drama that might be inherent seemed exciting. After all, I had just retired, and any kind of action sounded intriguing. As well, the sex was mind-blowing.

Early on, N began discussing the differences between narcissists and empaths, which were new concepts to me. I knew, roughly, what a narcissist was, but not so much with empaths. He insisted he was an empath. One evening while scrolling through Facebook, I came across one of those games where if you answer a series of questions, it tells you what kind of person you are. In this case, the more circles that you saw in the graphic, the more empathic you were. The most you could come up with was 18. I scored a 17, and N an 18, “proving” that he was an empath. With that, I was all in.

Since then, I have studied the concepts extensively. In the event that you are as naive as me, I wanted to share what I’ve learned. Beyond a love of self, I did not know what narcissism was. While these lists are not exhaustive, they include everything I’ve been able to uncover. The first list contains the types of narcissists, according to Kristen Milstead, a Ph.D in Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The second list are the most common characteristics of narcissists, and from what I have read, professionals in the field say if you exhibit five or more of these characteristics, you probably have NPD — Narcissist Personality Disorder. The final list includes the traits of a narcissist, pulled from seemingly hundreds of personal accounts. No doubt if you’ve been with one, you’ve fallen prey to some of these tactics.

This is meant to be a primer into this dark world.

The Four Types of Narcissists

  1. Classic — always overt (Tend to be loud, arrogant, and insensitive to the needs of others and always thirsty for compliments.)
  2. Vulnerable — always covert (Hide, mask, or alter personality traits to mimic an entirely different persona to the public and their supply.)
  3. Communal — always overt
  4. Malignant — can be overt or covert

Three Sub-Types of Narcissists

  1. Overt vs. Covert
  2. Somatic vs. Cerebral
  • Somatic — obsessed with their body and physical appearance
  • Cerebral — know it alls

3. Inverted vs. Sadistic

  • Inverted — vulnerable and covert — codependent. Suffer from child abandonment issues.
  • Sadistic — similar to sociopaths and psychopaths; they take pleasure in others pain. They can humiliate and hurt people, and possess sexual fetishes.

Characteristics of Narcissism

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance; grandiosity. Wants to be the center of attention.
  • Delusions of grandeur.
  • Excessive need for praise and attention
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Arrogance
  • Superficial and exploitative relationships; exploits others without guilt or shame
  • Lack of empathy — they have little to none. Emotionally unavailable.
  • Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
  • Identity disturbance — a lack of consistent goals, values, and world views and relationships that lead to a sense of emptiness
  • Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or love
  • Difficulty with attachment and dependency
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom
  • Vulnerability to life transitions; can’t bear losses (Remind you of anyone we all know?)
  • Significant risk factor for suicide and suicidal attempts
  • Trend towards drug usage and abuse
  • Require a “supply” or source (that would be you) to sustain themselves

Traits that a narcissist may embody and will use:

  • Charismatic at first to all; it wears off after they’ve been with the same supply for awhile
  • Refuses to accept blame; is not accountable
  • Cheating
  • Controlling
  • Moody
  • Passive Aggressive
  • Secretive
  • Gaslighting — will make you question reality
  • Paraphilia — strong proclivity for sexual fantasies
  • Emotionally cold; distant
  • Silent Treatment — they know when to use it and use it well
  • Money — they may say they have none, but always seem to have it for drugs, sex toys, gambling, etc.
  • Hoovering — The goal of hoovering is to use any means necessary to get you back under their control. (Ironically, when I was reading about this on Quora, what should come up as I scrolled down was an ad for Hoover vacuum cleaners. Ingenious ad placement.)
  • Ghosting — the practice of ceasing all communication and contact with a partner, friend, or similar individual without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communication made by said partner, friend, or individual.
  • Triangulating — a manipulation tactic where one person will not communicate directly with another person, instead using a third person to relay communication to the second, thus forming a triangle.
  • Walking on eggshells —To be overly careful in dealing with a person or situation because they get angry or offended very easily; to try very hard not to upset someone or something.
  • Word Salad — random words or phrases linked together in an often unintelligible manner. Often, a listener is unable to understand the meaning or purpose of the phrase.
  • Flying monkeys — people who act on behalf of a narcissist towards a third party, usually for an abusive purpose (e.g. a smear campaign)
  • Smear Campaign — an intense campaign designed to humiliate an opponent while simultaneously elevating the narcissist.
  • Discarding — when they leave their supply, they’ll usually make an attempt to return. If you discard them first, the chances are slim. They’ve been beaten.

“Narcissists do not care what you think of them — your opinions, or your opinions of them. They are right and you are wrong. Case closed.”

I hope that you have gained at least one little granule that will help you move forward if you find yourself in this situation. The rest of my story, titled “6 Weeks with a Narcissist”, is forthcoming.

My life in the context of 20th-century history and pop culture — infused with a dose of fun (where appropriate!) More to come when I get my sea legs on here.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store