I don’t know when I became a self-aware narcissist. I mean, I probably was always the narcissist part, but the self-aware bit came one day when I said something self-deprecating and someone told me not to be so hard on myself.
My response was, “My self-deprecation is just another form of self-absorption.”
Epiphany time! Assured of my palatable form of narcissism, I patted myself on the back and then went to check the mirror to see if I looked wiser but hopefully not older. I looked the same but I still spent a while with my reflection.
I think most narcissists fall into the self-aware category with me. (I’m not special, even if I’m so special.) We’re the overthinkers, the navel-gazers, the writers, but we really do know that we can’t be all about us all the time. The problem is, sometimes it just happens.
It makes it hard to be in love with us, and you will fall in love with us. We’re dazzling but we aren’t monsters; we’re just messes (once you get to know us). And when it comes to finding someone who loves us, flaws and all (we do know we have them), we want you to stay in love with us.
Even if we’re difficult, we’re worth it. (Unless you’re dating someone from the one percent of the populace who have narcissistic personality disorder, then look out. They’re maybe not so self-aware and are true terrors.)
But here are some truths to falling for a self-aware narcissist.
1. We need you more than you need us.
We do. Once you love us and we love you, we’re also in love with the way you see us. To lose that or see that change in a negative way affects us to our core because we’re not as self-contained as we might pretend to be.
2. We’re afraid of being boring.
We’re a little or a lot wrapped up in ourselves, but for the self-aware narcissist there can be a fear of not being enough when you really peel away our layers. We’re not as self-assured as we might seem, and we’re forever picking apart and questioning who we are and if it’s worthwhile.
3. We’re bottomless pits of want.
Oh, we pretend that we’ve got it all under control. We’re even independent in many ways, because a lot of the time we love our own company. But even in our alone states, we later want to be noticed and credited for our unique isolation.
We need reassurance without having to ask for it. We crave reminders that you want us around. We can be real jerks if you make it apparent that you like or need us, but the second you withdraw we freak out.
4. We love attention.
Sadly, not just yours. Once we know you love us, it’s almost like we need outside attention, because we’re so sickened by ourselves at times that we actually disrespect the people who think we’re great already. So we need new people to tell us we’re great. This is why we’re often cat people; a dog’s affections are won too easily. We want to work for it.
5. We’re damaged.
A lot of this self-focused introspectiveness stems from something. In my case, I was an extremely shy kid who had trouble making deep friendships. I had loving parents but was a little confused about how I should be (often opting to be a people pleaser instead of rocking the boat and always believing I didn’t have much to offer).
While we’re all damaged and all a little narcissistic about what could’ve gone differently in our lives, self-aware narcissists can’t always shake the feeling that the sad little person we were is still who we are.
6. We overextend ourselves.
We’re often the busiest people you know, partially because we’re afraid to say no. We know we should say no sometimes, but we love flattery and attention and being asked. We worry that if we say no — to an assignment, an opportunity, an invitation — no one will miss us and we won’t be asked again.
7. We keep score.
We can be and often are, in certain aspects anyway, extremely generous with time, attention, and gifts. But there’s always something about which we keep score or track. I do something nice or seemingly selfless for a relative or friend and catch myself thinking, Wow, that was so nice of me. I don’t necessarily want or require a reciprocal favor but I like to celebrate my mini moment of sainthood.
8. We’re incredibly vain.
Whether we’re conventionally attractive or just have that je ne sais quoi, we will check out our reflections when we pass a store window. It’s why reflective surfaces exist. We’re also extremely self-conscious about leaving the house looking less than our best.
9. We’re critical.
I can be a beast to my husband. In all relationships, we view parts of our partners as reflections of us, but narcissists can often see your weaknesses as our failings. It’s not fair, but it’s more our fault than yours.
10. We’re terrified of being found out.
Yes, we cop to being narcissistic, self-centered, and vain, as I’m doing here. But do I hide aspects fo myself? Hell yes! The hidden parts of my heart amount to a soft and terrified quivering mass of baby bunny. I’m so afraid of what can happen if I urge it out of the thicket.
We’re not all bad, though. There are positives to dating one of us…
11. We can be very daring.
Stemming from fear of being boring and not wanting to say no, we sometimes utter a great big resounding “YES” to life. We want to make waves, not channel surf. We’re hungry to try everything we can (dragging around our bottomless pits of want works up an appetite).
12. We look GOOD.
We’re so f*cking vain. So yes, we take care of ourselves. We like attention, so yes, we probably will wear the push-up bra and toss our hair like no b*tch has ever tossed her hair. We’ll get eyeballed and love it, but you get to unwrap us. And there’s always a slight chance of lingerie.
13. We help you be your best self.
Yes, there’s that whole super-critical thing, but because we partially see you as a reflection of us we also want to help you. We will urge you to get to the gym, to eat right, to replace that saggy-assed pair of pants. We deserve it but we also know you do, too.
14. We know how to make others feel special.
One thing about loving attention is that we know others love it, too. So when we laud someone, it’s genuine, not cloying, and usually makes them feel like a million bucks.
15. We’re creative.
A thing happens to people who are in their heads, enjoying their own company. We have ideas. Weird ones, a lot of the time. Sometimes sexy ones. Sometimes ones you want to talk about late into the night. Sometimes the kind that help you solve a problem from a totally different angle than you’d ever expect. Yeah, keep us around.
16. We’re curious.
That whole afraid-to-be-boring thing? That often turns us into the kind of people who love learning, growing, changing and probing. This is definitely a trait of the self-aware narcissist and not a static one who already thinks they’re God’s gifts.
We’re always trying for self-improvement because we concurrently love and hate ourselves. As much as this can be maddening for you, it also means we’ll never be boring and can always recommend a good book.
17. When we try, it really means something.
Look, we do put a lot of time into ourselves. But we’re also not the do-gooders who take care of every last person (and those people are nice and lovely and shouldn’t be insulted). So when we give our all to you, you can feel really good that it’s coming from a part of our heart we don’t necessarily make available to many.
18. We try to be better.
If we’re truly a self-aware narcissist, we do try to make amends. I know I’m chatty and have a story for everything. But I remind myself that some of my chattiness is a side-effect of nerves; I remember to ask questions and then really listen to the responses.
I’m not always great at this and it’s hard if I’m drinking. But I try, and I often succeed. We want to be better because we really do love people besides ourselves, so just be patient with us, OK?