Dating a Narcissist? Discover the 4 Types You Need to Avoid Now!

4 types of narcissism

We’ve all been there. You leave a social gathering feeling like you just encountered an emotional black hole. Maybe you spent time with someone who seemed obsessed with themself, constantly fishing for compliments.

Perhaps their comments, however subtle, left you feeling a little worse about your outfit or that promotion you just landed.

These experiences could be a brush with narcissism, a personality trait that can be incredibly frustrating and even damaging in relationships. But the good news is, you’re not alone. Millions of people encounter narcissistic behavior in their personal and professional lives.

The even better news? By understanding the 4 types of narcissism, you can gain a superpower. This knowledge will help you identify and navigate these challenging interactions, protecting your well-being and building healthier connections.

This article is your guide to the fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) world of narcissism. We’ll break down the Grandiose Narcissist, the Covert Narcissist, the Malignant Narcissist, and the Vulnerable Narcissist.

By recognizing their key characteristics, you’ll be better equipped to handle these personalities and create boundaries that work for you. We’ll also explore resources to help you build healthier and more fulfilling connections.

A female covert Narcissists sits and gaslights 2 other people at a dinner.
what are the 4 types of narcissism

What Are The 4 Types of Narcissism

1.) Grandiose Narcissists

Have you ever met someone who seems to suck the air out of the room with their stories? The one who effortlessly steers every conversation back to their achievements, vacations, or possessions? That, my friend, might be a Grandiose Narcissist.

Grandiose narcissism is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for constant admiration, and a lack of empathy. This type of narcissism is also known as “overt narcissism” due to its outwardly grandiose and confident nature.

Key Traits of Grandiose Narcissists:

  • Exaggerated Self-Importance: They often have a grandiose sense of self-worth, believing they are superior to others.
  • Need for Admiration: Constantly seeking validation and admiration from others, they may flaunt achievements or material possessions to gain attention.
  • Lack of Empathy: They show little to no concern for the feelings or needs of others, often exploiting or manipulating people to achieve their own goals.
  • Arrogance and Dominance: Grandiose narcissists are often perceived as arrogant and domineering, and they may belittle others to maintain their self-image of superiority.
  • Sensitivity to Criticism: Despite their outward confidence, they react poorly to criticism, often displaying narcissistic rage or intense defensiveness.

Behavioral Patterns:

  • Flashy and Charismatic: They can be charismatic and captivating, drawing people into their orbit with their charm and confidence. However, this is often a facade used to manipulate others.
  • Manipulative Tactics: Grandiose narcissists are skilled manipulators, using flattery, deceit, or intimidation to control others.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: They hold unrealistic expectations of favorable treatment and admiration, becoming angry or resentful when these expectations are not met.

Differences from Vulnerable Narcissists:

While grandiose narcissists are outwardly confident and seek to dominate, vulnerable narcissists (also known as covert narcissists) often appear introverted, insecure, and hypersensitive to criticism. They may also display passive-aggressive behavior and seek validation in more subtle ways.

Impact on Relationships:

Grandiose narcissists can be challenging to deal with in personal and professional relationships. Their lack of empathy and need for dominance often leads to conflicts and can be emotionally draining for those around them.

They tend to have one-sided relationships where their needs and desires always come first, disregarding the needs of others.

Dealing with Grandiose Narcissists:

  • Set Boundaries: Clearly define and enforce boundaries to protect yourself from manipulative behavior.
  • Avoid Power Struggles: Do not engage in arguments or competitions, as grandiose narcissists thrive on these interactions.
  • Seek Support: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or professionals who can help you navigate interactions with a narcissist.
  • Maintain Emotional Distance: Keeping a certain level of emotional detachment can help you manage the stress of dealing with a grandiose narcissist.

2.) The Covert Narcissist: The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Now, let’s shift gears a bit. Not all narcissists crave the spotlight. Some, known as Covert Narcissists, operate in a more subtle, but no less manipulative way.

Imagine your friend who constantly seems to downplay their achievements, maybe even throwing in some self-deprecating humor. But then, they strategically fish for compliments, hoping you’ll reassure them of their hidden talents.

Covert narcissists have the same inflated sense of self-importance as their grandiose counterparts, but they go about it differently. They often appear shy or insecure, but beneath the surface, they crave validation and admiration.

Their tactics can be manipulative, playing the victim or using guilt trips to get what they want.

Covert narcissists, also known as vulnerable or introverted narcissists, differ significantly from their grandiose counterparts. While grandiose narcissists are overtly confident and attention-seeking, covert narcissists display their narcissism in more subtle and concealed ways.

Here’s what you need to know about covert narcissists and their traits:

  • Playing the Victim: Covert narcissists often position themselves as the victim in various situations, seeking attention and sympathy from others. This behavior allows them to manipulate others into giving them the validation they crave.
  • Passive-Aggressive Behavior: Unlike the overt aggression seen in grandiose narcissists, covert narcissists use passive-aggressive tactics. This can include giving the silent treatment, making snide remarks, or subtly undermining others.
  • Lack of Empathy: Similar to all narcissists, covert narcissists struggle with empathy. They have difficulty understanding or caring about the feelings and needs of others, focusing primarily on their emotional state.
  • Gaslighting: Covert narcissists often engage in gaslighting, a manipulation tactic where they make others doubt their perceptions and reality. This helps them maintain control and influence over their relationships.
  • Grandiose Fantasies: Despite their outwardly humble or self-deprecating demeanor, covert narcissists harbor grandiose fantasies about their abilities and achievements. They believe they are special and superior, even if they do not openly display this belief.
  • Emotional Neglect: Covert narcissists are emotionally unavailable and neglectful in relationships. They may appear kind and considerate at first but ultimately fail to provide genuine emotional support or validation.
  • Manipulative Altruism: They may engage in seemingly selfless acts, but these actions are often driven by a desire for recognition and praise rather than genuine kindness.
  • Self-Absorption: Covert narcissists are deeply self-absorbed, often focusing on their own needs and desires while disregarding those of others. This self-focus can manifest as procrastination or a disregard for other people’s time and commitments.
  • Projection: They frequently project their insecurities and faults onto others, blaming others for their shortcomings and avoiding responsibility for their actions.

Understanding these traits can help you navigate interactions with covert narcissists. It’s essential to set clear boundaries, avoid taking their manipulative behaviors personally, and seek support from trusted friends or professionals if needed.

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3.) The Malignant Narcissist: The Dark Side of Narcissism

Malignant narcissists are the heavy hitters of the narcissism world. They share the core traits of narcissism – an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

But on top of that, they possess a dark side characterized by aggression, manipulation, and a complete disregard for the feelings of others.

Imagine a historical figure who relished controversy, used fear and intimidation to maintain power, and showed no remorse for the harm they inflicted. That’s the kind of energy a Malignant Narcissist brings to the table.

Here’s what sets them apart:

  • Aggressive and Vindictive: Malignant narcissists thrive on conflict. They’re quick to anger, hold grudges, and may even resort to threats or violence to get what they want.
  • Exploitative and Manipulative: They see others as pawns in their game, using charm, manipulation, or even cruelty to achieve their goals.
  • Lack of Remorse: A true apology? Never heard of it. Malignant narcissists have no problem causing harm and feel no guilt for the consequences.

Malignant narcissism can be a dangerous personality disorder. If you suspect you’re dealing with a Malignant Narcissist, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety and well-being. Setting boundaries, limiting contact, or even seeking professional help might be necessary.

We’ve covered three types of narcissism so far, and there’s one more to go! In the next section, we’ll explore the Vulnerable Narcissist, a type that often hides behind a mask of insecurity.

4.) The Vulnerable Narcissist: The Needy Artist

The final act of our narcissism play features the Vulnerable Narcissist. Unlike their flamboyant Grandiose counterparts, Vulnerable Narcissists appear insecure and self-deprecating.

But don’t be fooled by the facade. They too have an inflated sense of self-importance, although it’s often masked by a deep-seated fear of inadequacy.

Imagine the “tortured artist” stereotype – someone with immense talent (or at least that’s what they believe) who constantly craves validation. They might downplay their abilities but then become easily offended by any criticism, however constructive.

Vulnerable narcissists have a fragile sense of self-esteem and a constant need for admiration. They often rely on external validation to feel good about themselves. Here’s what you might encounter:

  • Fishing for Compliments: They might downplay their achievements or talents, hoping you’ll shower them with praise to boost their ego.
  • Hypersensitivity to Criticism: Even the slightest critique can be perceived as a personal attack, triggering a defensive or angry response.
  • Prone to Jealousy: Their need to be the center of attention can make them envious of others’ successes.

Vulnerable narcissists can be challenging to deal with, but it’s important to remember that their behavior often stems from a place of insecurity.

Remember: Empathy is key! While setting boundaries might be necessary, approaching them with compassion can be more effective than confrontation.

A grandiose narcissists walks on a run way soaking in all the admiration from the crowd.
4 types of narcissism you need to know

Final Takeaway

The Power of Awareness: Building Stronger Relationships

So, we’ve explored the fascinating and sometimes frustrating world of narcissism. We’ve unveiled the four main types:

  • The Grandiose Narcissist: The life of the party who craves admiration and struggles with empathy.
  • The Covert Narcissist: The master manipulator who plays the victim and fishes for compliments in disguise.
  • The Malignant Narcissist: The darkest side of narcissism, characterized by aggression, manipulation, and a complete disregard for others.
  • The Vulnerable Narcissist: The seemingly insecure artist with a fragile ego who needs constant validation.

By understanding these personalities, you’re equipped to identify narcissistic behaviors and navigate them with greater confidence.

If you suspect you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, remember, you’re not alone. There are many resources available to help you. Mental health organizations and websites can provide valuable information and support.

Here at, we believe in fostering healthy relationships. If you’re struggling with a narcissist in your life and need personalized guidance, consider working with our life coach, Vishnu Ra. With his expertise and guidance, you can develop strategies to protect yourself, set boundaries, and build healthier connections.

Empower Yourself: If you suspect you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you’re not alone. There are many resources available to help you.

Mental health organizations like the American Psychiatric Association (MedCircle: offer valuable information on personality disorders. Additionally, renowned therapist Dr. Ramani Durvasula provides insightful articles and videos on narcissism and healthy relationships (

Take Action: Knowledge is power! To deepen your understanding and develop strategies for navigating narcissistic relationships, consider downloading our free guide:

Setting Boundaries with Narcissists: Protect Yourself and Build Healthy Connections“. In this guide, you’ll find practical tips and resources to help you prioritize your well-being and build fulfilling relationships.

Remember, by recognizing narcissism, you have the power to safeguard your well-being and create fulfilling relationships that thrive on empathy and mutual respect.

Embodiment Coach Vishnu Ra
Vishnu Ra

Master Embodiment Coach |

Vishnu Ra is a Reiki Master & meditation coach with an impressive background in deep meditation. He has spent countless hours delving into the mysteries of human consciousness, and he is passionate about sharing his wisdom with others. Vishnu is also an entrepreneur and truth seeker, always on the lookout for new opportunities to explore. When he’s not sitting in meditation or teaching workshops on mindfulness, Vishnu loves being by the ocean!