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This is Dr. Ramani, Her Work on Narcissism is So Important!!!

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Most therapists are hesitant to touch on the subject but Dr. Ramani goes all in.

"Narcissism is a pattern characterized by a lack of empathy, entitlement, grandiosity, superficiality, vanity, arrogance, and controlling behavior," says Ramani Durvasula, PhD, clinical psychologist, professor of Psychology at California State University in Los Angeles, and author of "Don’t You Know Who I Am?": How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility.

Whew, that was a long list. But there’s more: Narcissists also have difficulty reining in strong emotions like anger and rage—they let these fly when frustrated or stressed, she says.

Okay, that sounds…awful. Why are narcissists the way they are?

On the surface, a narcissist might come off as someone who’s supremely confident and self-obsessed, but that’s not really the reason they are who they are. "At their core is a deep insecurity," says Durvasula. "We think of narcissists as people who are in love with themselves. That’s not the case. There’s a lot of self-loathing there."

The reason they don’t really care about others? It’s a protective mechanism. She likens it to a cast for a broken bone. "Everything they do is to protect their fragile sense of self," she says.

Tell me how to spot a narcissist out in the wild, please.

Okay, so where to begin... Let’s start with the most obvious: your dating life.

1. You feel like you're on an episode of The Bachelor.

Imagine being swept away in rom-com worthy bliss. The person you’re dating is working hard to earn your affections. "In the beginning, they can be charming. They’re skilled at courtship and will bring out external things to win you over, like fancy dinners and vacations," says Durvasula. Oh, and while they're doing all this, they're probably wearing super nice clothes and driving a great car.

2. But it's not all roses and champagne.

A huge red flag? "Things happen too fast....It’s your second week together, and you’re going on a trip to Africa. Or you’re moving in together right away," she says.

That sounds kinda…fun? Sure, but here’s the BS part of it: Just as quickly as they win you over, they discard you. Harsh.

It’s all about how they view themselves. Remember their low sense of self? "Their thought is if they can win you over, you can’t be all that," explains Durvasula.

3. They want you...until you want them back.

You’ll wise up to their shenanigans soon enough, but the second you walk away, they’ll put on a big love-bombing campaign to win you back, she says. Don’t fall for it!

4. They seem perfect on paper (too perfect).

Of course, it’s way easier to prevent that from happening if you don’t get sucked in in the first place. When you first meet a narcissist, they’ll sound like a resume. "They have this performative feel, which can draw people in," says Durvasula.

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5. They don't give you the time of day.

They may yammer on about themselves, but watch out if their eyes dart around the restaurant when you start to talk about your job, or how many siblings you have, or the trip you took to Thailand last year. They're too busy caring about how they're perceived and/or looking for the next best thing to pay actual attention to the person sitting right in front of them.

6. They're dangerous drivers.

Think screeching into parking lots and tailgating up to someone’s bumper. This reckless behavior stems from them lacking empathy (one of the narcissist's hallmark traits)—they just don't care about putting others in danger."If you get in a car with someone in the first five dates, and they drive like this, get out of the relationship," Durvasula says.

It’s better to hit the eject button before you’re in a serious 'ship, or worse, get married to and have kids with this person. "Things won’t change, get better, or become a healthy relationship. It’s a soul-sapping life with a narcissist," says Durvasula. Yiiiiiikes.

Not to worry, here's how to break up with a narcissist—for freakin' good:

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