A Narcissist Vs Someone Who’s Selfish

Question: Yangki, I have read your articles with great interest. My ex and I had a 5 -year tumultuous relationship. We love each other but we also fight a lot mainly due to his selfishness which he of course denies. I read your article 10 Signs Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend Is Selfish and wondering if the characteristics you mentioned are also characteristics of Narcissism?

Yangki’s Answer: There are some overlaps… but being selfish does not necessarily mean one is narcissistic.

It is unhelpful that narcissism these days is being used to mean anything and everything about someone that we don’t like or approve of… including being dumped because we’re needy, boring or just plain incompatible.
Narcissistic personality is actually a disorder (NPD) in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition affects one percent of the population.

According to the DSM-IV (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) symptoms of this disorder include:

— Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
— Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
— Envies others and believes others envy him/her
— Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
— Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
— Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
— Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

Other symptoms (Source: Wikipedia) in addition to the ones defined by DSM-IV-TR include: Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends, has trouble keeping healthy relationships with others, easily hurt or rejected, appears unemotional, and exaggerating special achievements and talents, setting unrealistic goals for himself/herself.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, and an over-inflated sense of self-importance that is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

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