6 Subtle Red Flags of Envious Female Narcissists (That People Often Miss)

A researcher specializing in narcissism and psychopathy shares the subtle red flags of the envious female narcissist people often miss.

They are kind to you if you can do something for them or hold some form of power over them. They are cruel and underhanded to the people they’re envious of.

People often assume that just because someone is kind to them that they can’t behave differently to other people. This is one of the most dangerous fallacies to engage in when it comes to narcissistic and psychopathic people. A female narcissist or psychopath isn’t going to show their true nature to their employer or friends they need to keep in their corner or a date they’re love bombing (at least not yet). Who will they show their true character to? The people they most envy and feel threatened by. Those are the people they try to undermine, sabotage, and bully behind closed doors. That is why you may have a female narcissist who behaves with seeming kindness toward the colleagues, friends, or lovers who don’t threaten them (or hold power over them), only to target the person who they are envious of by trying to interfere with their work, spread rumors, or pit them against other friends (also known as relational aggression). If you are told by their victims that they have engaged in covert bullying behaviors and the victim is someone who is empathic and trustworthy and has strengths and abilities that make them a target for such envy, recognize you may be getting the inside scoop on the narcissist’s true character, not their mask. These types tend to be a liability in the workplace, friendships, and romantic relationships, engaging in numerous unethical violations and putting friends, lovers, and businesses at risk. The most trustworthy people are actually those who are not necessarily saccharine sweet to everyone and treat them accordingly based on their own character rather than a personal agenda, and it is usually the empathic, authentic, and most talented people who become targets of such manipulators.

They mirror and copy you, relying on your gifts and talents to shape their own personality and efforts — yet devalue the “source.”

This is the friend who “morphs” into you, suddenly donning similar clothing, mannerisms, gestures, or even regurgitating your life stories or jokes all while spreading rumors behind your back or dishing out covert put-downs to your face. This is the coworker who exploits your ideas to try to gain the same praise and recognition you do, only to try to hide or even interfere with your achievements or engage in unethical actions to get rid of the evidence that showcases your accomplishments while highlighting themselves.  They may even try to take the credit for labor they have not performed while devaluing the original source — you.

They are personally intrusive.

Most empathic people would know better than to dive head first into personal details before they even know someone but narcissists and psychopaths are different. Female narcissists especially can weaponize the societal normalization  of “two women bonding through sharing their traumas” to try to take an inventory of your vulnerabilities and traumas so they can later use these against you as ammunition. Any “bonding” conversation with a narcissist or psychopath will feel more like an interrogation. They will coerce you into revealing personal details to them early on and will ruthlessly probe you to figure out what you have experienced, at times even pretending they’ve experienced the same just to hook you.

They minimize you and take sadistic pleasure in doing so.

This is the friend or partner who may initially cheer on your success but then makes a snide remark to detract from your happiness and minimize it. For example, if you share that you got a job promotion, they will suddenly start asking when you’re going to get married with a smirk. If other friends are cheering you on, they are the first to contemptuously question your achievements and center themselves. If men are hitting on you at the club, they will try to interrupt these conversations to get the attention focused on them. If they think you’re more attractive than them, they may deliberately post photos that make them appear in a better light. They cannot stand other people having the spotlight.

They follow and track your every move and interfere in your relationships.

With any kind of narcissist, you always get the sense that you are being stalked even if you’re not being physically stalked. This is the friend who is the first to remark upon the social media updates you posted but with minimizing or covertly jealous remarks to diminish you and take the spotlight off you (i.e. Congratulations! You know, Maria achieved the same thing too). They are the first friend to start to copy something you’re doing or go after the person you’re crushing on. Female narcissists and psychopaths are notorious for going after the partners of their close friends in an attempt to “one-up” them, whether those people reciprocate those affections or not.

They idealize you when they want something from you or need to keep up appearances, but throw you off the pedestal once you’re not buying into their false “charisma.”

Not everyone falls for a female narcissist’s charm. Some can see right through them — and that is exactly why those people tend to become scapegoats or targets. A narcissistic girlfriend or spouse may love bomb you with constant attention or affection but if you call out a shady relationship with their numerous admirers and close male friends, they may suddenly withdraw and give you the silent treatment while pursuing other targets due to their thirst for novelty. A narcissistic friend may be hyperfocused on building your friendship to associate themselves with your success and ride your coattails, but will avert their attention elsewhere as soon as they see a shinier prize of a friend to cling onto for fame and status. A narcissistic colleague may pretend to be best friends with the person who outranks them, but if they ever get a position of power, sayonara to any sense of loyalty to any colleagues they buttered up in the meantime (in fact, they probably used underhanded methods to climb the corporate ladder in the first place, collecting information from their so-called “work friends” and pushing people, including their more deserving friends out of the way to do so).

About the author

Shahida Arabi

Shahida is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a published researcher and author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking Trauma Bonds with Narcissists and Psychopaths. Her books have been translated into 16+ languages all over the world. Her work has been featured on Salon, HuffPost, Inc., Bustle, Psychology Today, Healthline, VICE, NYDaily News and more. For more inspiration and insight on manipulation and red flags, follow her on Instagram here.