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What Are the Signs of Narcissism in Women?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Narcissism in women normally presents itself in the form of dramatic, overly emotional behavior and is often explained away as extreme confidence. A woman with narcissistic personality disorder may believe that she is truly better than everyone else and treat others as if they are beneath her. Extreme jealously and a demanding nature are also potential symptoms. Underneath the tough exterior, most women with this condition actually have a very fragile sense of self-worth and have trouble maintaining healthy relationships. The recommended treatment for narcissism is usually psychotherapy, although prescription medications may sometimes be used, especially if the patient has other underlying emotional disorders.

An exaggerated sense of self is often the most noticeable sign of narcissism in women. The woman with this condition will often boast about her achievements and try to coax compliments from others for even the slightest things. She truly thinks that her ways of thinking and behaving are always correct and expects those around her to be in agreement. Those who do not agree are often treated poorly, as if they are not worth speaking to at all.

While narcissism tends to cause a dramatic emotional reaction to perceived disrespect, there is usually a complete disregard for the emotions of others. The woman with this condition may feel completely justified when mistreating others, although she would not accept the same treatment directed at herself. She normally feels no guilt at all about taking advantage of others because she feels that everyone else is beneath her and should do exactly what she wants.

Extreme jealousy is a major component of narcissism in women. The affected woman may believe that everyone is jealous of her because she is so much better than them. On the other hand, she is also extremely jealous and distrustful of others. Although the narcissist may seem confident, her self-esteem is usually very low. This combination makes it very difficult for her to sustain long-term healthy relationships.

Psychotherapy is an essential part of treatment for narcissistic personality disorder. The therapist will try to help the woman understand the reasoning behind harmful thoughts and feelings and work to replace them with healthier alternatives. Counseling may also be recommended for family members so that the patient has a wide support system during the recovery period. Medications are not usually prescribed for narcissism, although underlying conditions, such as depression or anxiety, may be treated with prescription drugs.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997234 — On Dec 01, 2016

These posts show that no one really knows the meaning of narcissism. It has nothing to do with how the person looks, although most true narcissists love to look good. You don't become a narcissist by looking at ads of beautiful women. It is a personality disorder. They manipulate people or berate them without them even knowing.

Here is an example: the narcissist buys a new puppy, which everyone has to admire as the most beautiful dog. Taking care of a new puppy is like having a child. Next comes the "poor me" I am so tired of caring for this new addition. What about me? I need some me time. Someone needs to come over and walk the dog while I go to the gym/ go out to eat/ go shopping/ work my one night even though I said I would take time off to train my new puppy." Before you know it, several people take the bait. If you miss your time and the puppy has an accident in the house the narcissist will say very cleverly, "The poor dog. If he had not been left alone for so long this would not have happened." So therefore you are at fault, not the narcissist who should have done what she said she would do: take care of the puppy until he could be left alone for four hours. They then take this incident and use it to get sympathy.

By anon965565 — On Aug 13, 2014

Isn't it funny how women queue up online to rant and whine about their narcissistic husbands, but if a guy does it, he is being a "misogynist" and receives abuse?

By workhorsey — On Mar 24, 2014

Narcissism in women is revolting. What is worse is a Narcissistic woman won't ever admit they are Narcissistic unless they twist it so that by being Narcissistic it means they are somehow special or better. As they age, they grow increasingly demanding and have higher expectations out of people around them. They like everyone around them to appear less so they can demean them, but when they prove their worth then the Narcissist is threatened and has to be condescending. For this reason, they can be controlling of others.

It is a miracle if a person ever admits they are Narcissistic since that would mean they would actually have to put a pair of glasses on and admit their own faults, which accumulate so much with age that their true self is a horrifying picture only known to them because it is hidden from others through deceit. For example, no one knows how much a Narcissist talks behind their backs, but a Narcissist know how much they talk behind the backs of others. Narcissists have a sickening effect as though they radiate their own inner illness upon others.

Obviously, everyone has some degree of narcissism, but there is a point where the personality seems to break away all boundaries of respectability and become 100 percent self absorbed and this is where the pure Narcissist emerges.

By anon934945 — On Feb 22, 2014

My ex husband and I were going through a bad time and he had an affair. He told her he would leave me then decided he still loved me too much to go through with a divorce. He tried to end the affair and when he refused to leave me, the other woman exposed him.

He begged me to go to counseling. I was hesitant but finally agreed. But the this woman continued to harass me and send me emails saying that he settled for me and that he was in love with her. She also emailed him constantly from various accounts telling him I was a loser with no life, no class and she was so much better. That he was settling for me.

The strange thing was that physically, she was very strange looking, not at all attractive, but yet spoke of herself like she was the most beautiful thing on earth. Her emails were long, rambling diatribes that made little sense and it was clear he was not very bright, yet she spoke of herself as this enlightened intelligent prize. She said all the men she met loved her and wanted her. She also said she was wanted by so many rich and powerful men that my husband was a fool to let her go.

She reprimanded him constantly for lying to her and betraying her and said if he didn't leave me, he was horrible, hateful and nothing but a cheater. It was so creepy. She had no empathy for me or our children. It was all about her and how she was duped.

Then she started trying to turn him against his own child by claiming she was manipulative. The women was the most self involved, entitled, hideous person I have ever come across. An online search of narcissistic personality disorder finally made sense. It was then that I decided I had to leave my husband as I could not fathom being with a man who could engage with such a selfish, dysfunctional, self-absorbed, toxic mess.

By anon354236 — On Nov 06, 2013

Women who are narcissistic often end up alone later in life and without children. When their womb has become barren they may finally discover why they have not been able to land a man and then they will try to change. Unfortunately for the old barren woman, by the time they become tolerable enough to become a house-mate or wife, they have an extremely difficult time finding a good man who is will to enter into a serious long-term relationship with them because their looks have long since faded and they cannot offer the one thing that most men want more than anything: children to carry on their legacy.

By anon347479 — On Sep 07, 2013

Here we go again. Gosh, it would be another day in the United States with out a picture of some girl who obviously struggles for her own independence from a gang like mentality. Me, me, me women. My gosh, it has never been this bad just forming with other women in a social group.

My understanding as a woman who is mostly alone but O.K. with it is because I stand up to them and the only reason why women like me are bashed and shamed is because the only backbone me have is being subservient to the rotten women they chose to get married to.

Clean it up. Start treating all women like beautiful people and to those rotten women who clearly think they can escape their wrongdoing: Just wait. What goes around comes around.

Oh, and it's funny how the naturally pretty women inside and out are the ones abused and left "woe is her." It's a ridiculous society. I can be just as beautiful and happy -- yes, boys and girls -- *happy* by being me! It's unreal. Not all of us have an agenda to hurt people. Some women want to love just like the queen hack of all colors, shapes and breath.

By anon343083 — On Jul 26, 2013

I am very concerned about a narcissistic sister-in-law cultivating a relationship with my teenage daughter. She is buying lots of gifts and filling her head with nonsense. My daughter thinks her aunt is great and has no idea what's going on. What can I do?

By anon324041 — On Mar 07, 2013

The author is in error if they think that narcissism in men is any different. It's a perfect description of a man I know.

By anon315664 — On Jan 24, 2013

They are very difficult to live with. Actually it is a somewhat catching disorder. People may think I am narcissistic, but in reality it is me standing up for me, after years of being in an ever shrinking box of abuse. My totally empathy-free married three times, loser husband. He has a life history of this behavior. My selfish behavior only started after years of having to suffer his "shut up and do what you are told" abuse. I am doing what I like.

By ahain — On Sep 04, 2011

@SkittisH - First off, let me say that was a really nicely worded post. You put your ideas out there in a good non-judgmental way. Secondly, I've got to be honest and tell you I don't agree.

Aren't you overreacting just a tad, here? I mean, you make it sound like American girls are pressured into being gorgeous or dying. The average person may admire and lust after movie stars and super models, but they don't expect all women to look like them -- if they did, the movie stars and super models wouldn't stand out as special anymore, right?

I'd be willing to bet that most cases of narcissistic personality disorder start with serious problems in somebody's childhood that traumatize them. Sad, but truly a frequent occurrence.

By SkittisH — On Sep 03, 2011

Interesting article. I have to say, I think diagnosing narcissism in women in particular must be harder and harder to do, in the United States, at least.

More and more, our society is all about looking beautiful and flawless and seeming perfect, and I know there's a lot of pressure on young girls to hold up to the standards of looking like movie stars and the airbrushed models they see in magazines.

With all of that pressure, I wouldn't be surprised if many girls don't end up narcissistic as a defense mechanism from not their upbringing or parents or personal life, but the American expectations of women in general. What do you guys think?

By malmal — On Sep 02, 2011

@aishia - I have to say, I'm guilty as charged for being a fan of narcissistic characters in stories. Not only are they an example of being confident instead of being a shrinking violet, but their over-the-top behavior gets funny reactions out of the other cast members.

I tend to empathize best when a character who is usually terribly confident actually has a moment of uncertainty, because it shows that they're really struggling. I don't know, peril just appeals to me in stories -- it's dramatic.

Anyway, I don't think having narcissistic characters be admired in stories is bad. Maybe seeing that is reassuring for those with narcissism who are trying to overcome it, because ti shows that the whole world doesn't reject them for their behavior -- especially when the characters have a slip-up and the rest of the cast still loves them despite it.

I think the fact that I'm a big fan of narcissistic characters in fiction shows that they can have a lot of appeal, over-the-top "confidence" and all.

By aishia — On Sep 02, 2011

Isn't it funny how people perceive narcissistic characters in fiction versus the real thing?

Fiction stories -- movies, books, comics -- often have one narcissistic member of the cast that seems ridiculously arrogant and overconfident -- and the other characters usually are really irritated, but at the same time they have a little admiration for the character for being "confident" enough to be that narcissistic.

I think this mentality from the writers makes narcissism out as okay, when really it's an all-consuming disorder that is really uncomfortable for the person with it as well as everybody around them. Where's the story that shows the true side of narcissism?

A real person with narcissistic personality disorder sounds very difficult to live with.

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