There’s a whole “spectrum” of narcissism, beginning with the healthy kind that looks a lot like self-esteem (and coexists with empathy) and rounding out with the most toxic of the types – the extreme narcissist.
Often, those who might be diagnosed with NPD, the acronym for narcissistic personality disorder (but aren’t because they don’t think there’s anything wrong with them) are the worst – and many times, we see some predictable patterns among them.
With that being said, there are a number of ways that these behaviors and toxic patterns can manifest themselves in people.
So, while it might seem pretty logical to assume that narcissists are all alike since their behaviors seem so similar, they can sometimes slip by even the most trained eye – and that’s because there are various personality types within the so-called spectrum of toxic narcissism.
Today, I’m going to define seven primary types for you – but please note that just like the rest of humanity, no two narcissists are exactly alike – and yours may encompass one or more of these qualities. So let’s do this.
Seven Types of Toxic Narcissists (And How to Deal With Each)
1. The Know-It-All Narcissist
While the know-it-all narcissist might really know a lot, she’s also very pushy with her opinion, which she’s all-too-happy to shell out – no matter if she’s been asked for it (or not).
This narcissist will lecture you all day long – and as long as you don’t expect to actually have a two-way conversation, everything will be fine.
But don’t expect her to listen to you – because though she might be quiet while you talk, she’s just thinking about what she’s going to say next.
How to deal: Politely acknowledge her advice, thank her an then go ahead and do whatever you feel is best. Don’t take anything too seriously, and don’t let yourself feel offended by her uppity behavior – yes, she does think she’s better than you – but in reality, you should probably feel sorry for her.
2. The Daydream Believer
I like to call a narcissist who has the whole “grandiose” thing going on a daydream believer. That’s because he will almost always see himself as someone who MATTERS more than other people.
He figures he’s more important, somehow, and expects other people to recognize that and treat him accordingly. He will always exaggerate his own accomplishments and loves to think people are envying him or admiring him.
He believes that he is meant to be something BIG, and if these qualities are combined with a certain amount of charisma and a strong sense of ambition, he may actually succeed on some level – and you might find yourself very drawn to him.
How to deal: The daydream believer might bring out your sense of competition or sense of justice – don’t let yourself get caught up in it. If you do, he will just increase his desire to be better than you and his efforts to match. Don’t let yourself be too affected by his charms – they will quickly drop once he’s got you in his clutches. Remember that he won’t do anything to help you unless there’s something in it for him – and don’t allow yourself to become dependent on him if you can avoid it – he’s one who will discard you like last year’s pumps – and without a second thought.
3. The Seductor/Seductress
The seductor or seductress is a very different kind of toxic narcissist. (We’re going to use the feminine form here from this point forward, but please note this can manifest in males as well).
The seductress will make you feel like you’re someone important – someone special who matters. But the dark side of this one is that her intent is to seduce you into feeling that way about HER.
She knows that when you love her and depend on her a little bit, you will support her. You’ll grow to admire her. She will use blatant admiration, physical affection and flattery to get what she wants – but once you’re no longer useful to her, she will drop you like a hot rock.
How to deal: Enjoy the flattery if you must – but know what it really is. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by the seductress – even if it feels really good at first. Keep your eye on how she treats people around her – such as those she might feel competitive with. You might find that watching how she treats them gives you a glimpse into your potential future, who knows? And listen to how she talks about her exes – if she swears they’re all crazy/stalkers/evil – there’s probably something to be concerned about. Narcissists are great at victim-playing to get what they want – especially the seductress.
4. The Bully
You know the bully, right? He’s probably the kid who beat you up after school back in third grade, all grown up. But he might also look a lot like the mean girl from high school, or the jock who gave everybody wedgies when he felt saucy.
As an adult, he might look like a regular person, but he needs to elevate himself by humiliating others and making them feel bad about themselves. Sure, he might also be a daydream believer or a know-it-all, but he’s also something else: a big jerk.
Yeah, I said it. The bully will treat people around him with disdain and contempt when he doesn’t get what he wants – and he is NOT nice when he asserts his superiority (which, of course, is as often as possible). He needs you to feel bad about yourself because it’s the only thing that helps his ridiculously low self-esteem feel less painful – but he would never admit this, even to himself.
Where the seductress will use sex and her charms to get what she wants from you, the bully will push you, pressure you, and downright threaten you to get what he wants. In extreme cases, he may even threaten (or actually use) physical harm* if you refuse to comply.
He will relentlessly mock you and belittle you to the point that you might start thinking you’re not even worth the oxygen you’re allowed to breathe – he will do a number on your self-esteem.
*Important: If you’re being physically or sexually abused, you’re not in the right place right now – so stop reading immediately, visit this page and get some help – not kidding. Run, don’t walk!
How to deal: If you’re not in a position to go no-contact (an ideal solution), then your next best bet is to shine this guy on. So don’t do anything that would injure his ginormous ego – don’t directly challenge him. If you’re going to withstand this guy’s attacks, you need to be very strong in your sense of self-esteem – and you need to know that you don’t require validation from the outside of yourself. So, if you’ve got to deal with a bullying narcissist on the regular, work on your pokerface and practice your gray-rock technique. Just be careful to take care of yourself so you don’t end up dissociating.
5. The Evil One
Okay, so a bullying narcissist, up to this point, has been our most toxic in the list. But now we’ve reached the pinnacle of all narcissists – one I’m calling “the Evil narcissist,” and this one’s the kind that you should avoid at all costs.
The evil narcissist is a whole other kind of animal. While she may have qualities of all the other kinds of narcissists listed above, especially the bullying narcissist, the evil one will literally attempt to destroy you if you somehow pose a threat to her.
Maybe you made her feel like you were challenging her “superiority” somehow, or that you’re succeeding in some way she isn’t – or she’s just threatened by you for some reason or another.
Even if you’re never made aware of her feelings, she may proceed to methodically and intentionally try to ruin your life.
She’ll spread lies about you to everyone you know, and she might even attempt to cause trouble for you at work. If you’ve been married to her and have kids together, she’ll do anything she can to turn them against you and keep them from you – or she’ll walk away without a second thought.
How to deal: If you can, get away as quickly as possible. The evil narcissist isn’t capable of any sort of healthy relationship and the longer you stick around, the higher your chances of having your life completely ruined will go. A scary thing about the evil narcissist is that she’s often a better actor than the rest – so many people in her life will have no idea who she “really is,” at least when it comes to who she is behind closed doors – and this can even include family members, who might also be used as flying monkeys – so beware.
Important to Know: In the case of the evil narcissist, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the legalities of it all – so keep copies of all toxic emails, texts and other kinds of communication. And keep in touch with anyone who might have seen the narcissistic behavior in action – you may need them to make a statement on your behalf if the evil one causes any legal problems in your life. Don’t be afraid to lawyer up, and early, if necessary.
6. The Addict
The addict narcissist is exactly what he sounds like – he uses drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex – or whatever else he finds pleasurable – to find fulfillment.
This kind of narcissist will often encompass other qualities listed above, but not always – sometimes, they’re just openly selfish, and other times, they’ll willingly steal from, trick or otherwise scam people who love them so they can get their drug of choice.
This is a dangerous narcissist because the addict often deals with dangerous people – and because he doesn’t care if you get your rent paid or feed your kid – he’ll steal your last dollar if it means getting a “fix” of whatever makes him feel good. A lot of co-dependent issues arise when an addict narcissist is involved.
How to deal: Watch your back, and don’t even give the addict the illusion of trust. If you can, go no-contact, and fast. There’s almost no fixing the addict unless he manages to actually work on recovery and get some serious therapy. If you’re co-parenting with an addict, keep records and document everything – and get some counseling and legal representation while you’re at it. Protect yourself and your kids.
7. The Victim
The “victim” narcissist is also called the “covert” narcissist. He’s a master manipulator, but he differs from other narcissists because he seems to be almost an introvert.
Sadly, for a “poor me” kinda narcissist, it all comes down to one thing: he actually hates himself. He thinks it’s going to be possible to hate himself BETTER, somehow.
Though he continues to demonstrate the behavior that he loathes, the covert narcissist is powerless to control his thoughts – and his deep inner conscience is NOT okay with the person he is or has become.
He judges HIMSELF more harshly than he judges anyone else, and usually, more harshly than he judges anyone else – but he certainly has what he considers a high standard for his life.
He quietly sticks to this unreasonable standard to the best of his abilities, happy to secretly look down his nose at the people he deems “lesser” than he. Learn more about the covert narcissist.
How to deal: As with any narcissist, watch your back and go no-contact if possible. If not, be prepared to ignore the quietly judgmental gaze and superiorist attitude directed your way – and then just keep doing what you do. If you don’t feed their narcissistic supply, like the rest, they may just get bored and move on.
Do you recognize someone you know in these types of narcissists? Take this quick toxic relationship self-assessment to find out if you are dealing with a narcissist in a toxic relationship. You’ll be given resources for your situation at the conclusion of your test.
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- Get private, one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery coaching or counseling.
- Get a therapist who will work with you online. Check out our guide to finding a therapist or psychologist who understands narcissism and narcissistic abuse.
- Toxic Relationship Red Flags: 7 Side-Effects of Low Self-Esteem That Can Kill You
- Narcissism in Relationships: How to Deal When a Toxic Relationship Damages Your Self-Esteem
- Secrets and Self-Loathing: Identifying a Covert Narcissist
- Do Narcissists Really Know Right From Wrong?
- my dad is a narcissist