7 Types Of Narcissists And Narcissism Traits To Look For

Updated October 4, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you have ever met someone with narcissism, it can make you keenly aware of anyone else who shows narcissistic traits. But what are the 7 types of narcissists, really? How do you know the signs or personality traits to look for and when it may be time to cut any attachments with people who have this trait?

What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health/personality disorder. It is characterized by an individual having a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self importance, an inflated sense of self, and an excessive need for admiration. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a person with this mental health/personality disorder must exhibit at least five of the following characteristics, which are usually present by early adulthood. Luckily, an online therapist can help identify a narcissist in your life and give you the tools to address your relationship.

Do You Have A Person With Npd In Your Life?
  • A grandiose self-importance. This inflated self-aggrandizing tendency is actually a coping mechanism the person with narcissism uses to deal with inner feelings of low self-esteem.
  • Exploiting others: People with various types of narcissism don’t mind using people for what they can get and feel no remorse, aka they are unempathic. They are known to borrow money or other valuable things with promises to repay, but never follow through. This poor behavior often results in the person with narcissistic personality disorder having troubled relationships.
  •  Entitlement: Regardless of whether he/she has earned respect or honor, a narcissist believes that he/she should have it due to their self-centered, conceited nature. People with all types of narcissism often look down on others with an inflated sense of self and view themselves as superior.
  • Empathy Is Lacking: No matter how much pain or embarrassment a person with narcissism causes, it is unlikely that he/she will show any compassion for the person who was hurt. Rather, narcissists only feel extreme self focus and relish in the discomfort of others and use those situations to manipulate vulnerable people.
  • Preoccupation with fantasies about power, brilliance, beauty, ideal love, or unlimited success: These fantasies are more than a teenage daydream and can indicate mental health issues.  A person with narcissism often has delusions that he or she possesses some great quality that others cannot obtain or even begin to understand. They may fantasize about a famous person being secretly in love with them. When someone calls the narcissist’s attention to the fact that these feelings are a fantasy only, they become very offended and play the victim.
  • The belief that only people who have the same superior traits can understand them.
  • Haughty or arrogant attitudes or behaviors: These behaviors are much more than someone acting in a snobby manner. A person with narcissism truly believes that he/she is better than others and often take offense when others try to communicate with them “as an equal.” 

The difference between a narcissist and a selfish person is the consistency of their symptoms as egotistical, vain, boastful, and smug. They do not have the capacity to care for other people due to their mental disorder, so they act callous, uncaring, and hostile towards everyone that surrounds them. 

Different Types of Narcissism

While there are several characteristics of narcissism that may be seen in any of the types of narcissism personalities, narcissists are generally labeled by the most common personality trait they display.

Classic Narcissism Personality

These types of narcissists tend to be attention seeking and thrive on the admiration and praise of others. These narcissists generally believe they deserve special treatment and are more valuable than other people and crave being the center of attention.  These narcissists are self absorbed, exploitative, and don’t mind using other people for anything that fits into their goal or agenda and become offended easily if others try to deny them anything they think they deserve.

Seductive Narcissism

As the name suggests, this type of narcissist personality does whatever they can do to make you feel good about yourself, at least at first. These narcissists may appear to admire you and may even idealize you, but their main goal is to make you feel that way about them so that you can be used to further their agenda and take advantage of you. Someone who has seductive narcissism generally wants your admiration and will flatter you to get what they want.  Don’t be fooled, though. When a seductive narcissist no longer needs you to compliment or stroke their ego, these narcissists may leave you and move on to a new target.

One way to tell whether someone with narcissism is being sincere with you (and they likely are not) is to watch how they treat others. The way someone with narcissism talks about or treats former co-workers, friends, or even former romantic partners is a good indication of how you will be treated when you are no longer needed.

Vulnerable Narcissism

Make no mistake. This type of narcissist personality, contrary to the name, is not vulnerable. Vulnerable narcissists are, however, very good at playing the vulnerable victim act and pretending to have that vulnerable personality trait. Someone with vulnerable narcissism seeks attention by trying to get pity from others.

People with this personality are very manipulative. Their behavior is often so subtle that it can be difficult to spot the warning signs. A person with vulnerable narcissism personality tends to use their ability to manipulate the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of others to help fuel their own ego trip. If a person sees through this type of narcissist’s behavior, he or she will likely act hurt or offended and will then move on to another, unsuspecting target.

Covert Narcissism

When you think of a covert narcissist, think of a covert or “secret” military operation. Also known as “closet narcissism,” this type of mental health disorder is exhibited in ways that are planned, calculated, and generally comes as a surprise.  This is exactly how a person with covert narcissism acts. This type of narcissist often uses guilt-tripping and emotional manipulation to get what they want. This personality type will study, then belittle their partners and deprive them of physical or emotional needs until they get what they want. When someone with covert narcissism does get what he wants, he will then show affection or buy gifts to gain more control over his partner.

 As opposed to overt narcissism, which is quite clear to others, covert narcissism is not as easy to spot. These types of people are very good at masking their manipulative personality so that it is not detected by others. They come across as charming and use that charm to seduce and manipulate others into acting for their own purposes.

Grandiose Narcissism Personality Disorder

The narcissist with a grandiose personality tends to see himself as more influential and important than anyone else.  People with this personality may exaggerate their importance and brag about accomplishments to elicit your admiration or envy. This is seen as overt narcissism. Someone with grandiose narcissism generally believes that they are destined to do great things and can be judgmental or overly critical towards the people around them. This type of narcissist is very driven and charismatic, often drawing the attention of others, which is what feeds their all-about-me personality.

The charisma with which a person with a grandiose or overt narcissism personality pursues goals may leave others feeling the need to compete for attention. However, this is not recommended. Any time a grandiose narcissist is challenged, this personality will likely increase efforts to be the most superior.

The Malignant Narcissist Personality Disorder

Also known as antagonistic narcissism, this type of narcissism is defined by someone who is incapable of showing any empathy or compassion toward others. People with this malignant narcissism are often called sociopaths or psychopaths. A person with malignant narcissism is very controlling of the people in their lives and put forth strong efforts to isolate their victim or target. This type of narcissism is hard to hide and could be categorized as overt narcissism.

People with antagonistic narcissism rarely feel guilt or remorse no matter how much pain or anxiety they cause for others. On the contrary, people with this personality are usually driven by the feeling of complete control and may enjoy causing pain for others. Watching people struggle and feel oppressed gives people with malignant narcissism an opportunity to play the hero and then set a victim up to be hurt again.

The Vindictive Narcissist

Vindictive may very well be an understatement. If you challenge a person with vindictive narcissism, they will do everything they can to destroy you with their aggression. Someone with vindictive narcissism may gossip about you to your friends and try to break up friendships. They love to play the victim to bosses and try to get their targets fired. If you were married to someone with vindictive narcissism, don’t be surprised if they try to turn your children against you through constant criticism of your behavior.

Unfortunately, vindictive narcissists are very good at hiding their true nature and intentions from others. Therefore, if you suspect that someone you know has vindictive narcissism, try to distance yourself from their contemptuous actions as soon as possible.  Save emails, texts, and other communications that can prove the person with narcissism is harassing you or trying to harm you.  While this may seem a bit extreme to some, once the damage is done by someone with vindictive narcissism, it is often difficult to undo it. 

What to Do When You Spot These Different Kinds Of Personality Disorders

People with narcissistic personality types do not believe that anything is wrong with them and will rarely seek treatment. As with most mental disorders, experts say that narcissism exists on a spectrum. While some people may show narcissistic tendencies, like being condescending and rude, this does not necessarily mean that they have narcissistic personality disorder. This behavior could be attributed to something else, like growing up with a narcissistic parent. Just make sure that you have a proper understanding of this disorder before labeling a person with improper feedback. 

Check out the content below to learn more on this topic. 

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.