People Who Seem “Kind” But Are Actually Narcissists Display These 5 Subtle Behaviors

A researcher specializing in narcissism and psychopathy shares the red flags you are dealing with a narcissist, not a genuinely kind person.

They try to sabotage or exclude people they envy.

One of the most telling behaviors that gives a narcissistic person away is their malicious envy and the actions they will take to try to sabotage someone who is surpassing them in some way. In relationships, this may look like your narcissistic partner deliberately starting arguments with you before a big interview or exam because they’re jealous of your career, or a family member excluding you from family events because they have hidden resentment toward you for being more popular than them. Or you may notice more subtle microexpressions of anger when you share good news with them, and a tendency to center themselves after issuing a half-hearted, strained congratulations followed by a silent treatment. This can also take place in the workplace and in friendships. For example, if you notice a seemingly sweet friend always giving compliments to her loyal cronies but suddenly turning sour whenever a more attractive and successful friend comes around, or a co-worker constantly gossiping about someone specific or trying to “hide” or minimize this person’s achievements in front of their superiors, trust your instincts. This is the same person who will become your worst enemy as soon as they see you succeeding or getting attention they feel entitled to. It’s one thing to be envious or jealous, but to act on it to hinder someone else is a deeply malicious and narcissistic act.

They knowingly surround themselves with unethical people and don’t try to protect you if you are a target of these types of people.

You’ve probably heard the platitude that a person’s character can be measured by the company they keep. This is especially true for narcissists. If they help support or defend people who commit acts of great evil, chances are, they themselves are capable of the same. This is the narcissistic mother who puts her child in harm’s way by dating a predator and will gaslight the child when he or she speaks out because they choose their relationship over the safety of their children. This is the friend or family member who says, “Well they were always nice to me,” when you tell them one of your mutual friends or relatives was hostile toward you. If you notice a seemingly kind person  knowingly and frequently surround themselves with liars, cheaters, criminals, cruel bullies — it’s often because they themselves resonate with the character of these people and may even help protect them from accountability.

They are willing to do the unthinkable and engage in morally unsound actions to get their needs met.

Piggybacking off the last point, a narcissistic person believes that the ends justifies the means no matter who it harms, and shows a lack of empathy and remorse for how outrageous their actions are. They may charm and love-bomb people and even have large groups of individuals fooled with their false mask, engaging in grand gestures to prove how “kind” and charitable and generous they are, when in reality, they are just making a show in the beginning to ensure that their victims are generous and remain invested in them, even when they do reveal their true selves and become stingy with their efforts. In fact, they may even pretend you are the one acting strange for reacting normally to their sudden withdrawal and inhumanely cruel and horrific behavior to gaslight you. That means you might witness them pulling the wool over someone’s eyes and making false promises, dangling the carrot to have people do what they want for them before trying to sweep the rug up from underneath them, or lying their way up the corporate or social ladder while exploiting the most vulnerable. They might take credit for the labor of others while stealing their work. When confronted, they’ll pretend you are in the wrong for calling it out.  Yet you notice through the discrepancy between their words and actions that they are just doing whatever is necessary to benefit them, with no care or empathy for the harm they may cause others.

You catch them in elaborate lies as well as white lies told for no reason.

Narcissistic people can lie for personal gain but narcissists with psychopathic traits and a tendency to lie pathologically can also deceive others for more sadistic reasons and duping  delight. For example, you may notice that a narcissistic partner is hanging out with an ex and catch them doing so. They may then proceed to gaslight you and begin telling an elaborate lie about how they ran into their ex by complete chance, elaborating with great detail about their shock at running into him — all despite the fact that you confirmed the dinner reservation they made ahead of time to meet up with their ex. Or you may discover that a friend lied about the state they were born in, something of no consequence — and that this pattern of lying for seemingly no reason continues throughout your friendship. Whatever their reasons may be, this is not a trustworthy or safe person to be around.

They hurt you, only to come to the rescue, orchestrating constant chaos to cause confusion.

The narcissist orchestrates chaos so they can feign innocence when called out and pretend to come to the rescue to take credit for being the savior or valiant white knight. For example, they may make cutting remarks one minute, only to give you flowers the next. Or they may diminish you with a so-called cruel “joke,” only to shower you with attention and affection the next day. This causes emotional whiplash designed to keep you fixated on the chaos they cause rather than detaching from the relationship. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you are not alone and help is out there. You deserve safety and healing. | Shahida Arabi is a published researcher specializing in narcissistic traits and psychopathy. She is the bestselling author of six books, translated into 18+ languages all over the world.

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.