The Red Flags of a Narcissist Series Has Started!

red flags of a narcissist

I’m so excited that the “Red Flags of a Narcissist” series has finally started!

(Well, if the truth be told, it’s more like I finally figured out YouTube, and how to somewhat organize all this information. So yay for that!)

Just so you know what to expect, the plan is for me to post both a blog post and a YouTube video about a different red flag of a Narcissist every week. You will be able to keep track of the latest red flags and other happenings by going directly to the organized list here.

But before you go any further it’s important for  you to know one thing:

***We all have some of these red flags. ***

So don’t panic if you see yourself, or your loved ones in many of these red flags.

Most of these red flags in and of themselves aren’t a problem when normal people have them, as none of us are perfect.

But with a highly manipulative person, these red flags are more like a evidence trail.

The point of this red flag series is to show you what these different behaviors look like, so if you do start to see them, you slow things down enough to examine this behavior and determine if it falls within the range of normal or problematic behavior.

The best way to do this is when (not if)  you see red flags, you slow down and take time to gather more information. Keep in mind that both normal people and highly manipulative people will both have reasons as to why they have these certain behaviors. The difference is that normal people will be telling you the truth about their red flags, whereas highly manipulative people won’t.

You can’t trust anything a highly manipulative person says…and odds are it will take you awhile to determine if they are in fact highly manipulative. My goal for you is to make this determination sooner rather than later.

This is why it’s always a good idea to do some “fact checking” about people. This doesn’t mean that you hire a private investigator, or become paranoid. It simply means that you need to develop a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to people. The best way to see if a person is everything they claim to be is to see them in a wide variety of situations. See them with their friends, co-workers, and family members. Go out and do a variety of things.  See if their stories and actions line up with who they are claiming to be.

Highly manipulative people lie, but their actions don’t.

The goal here is to find out as much as possible about their previous actions in the past–and ideally find out from the source.  Because they often do a great job of launching smear campaigns against other people, they always seem like either a victim or a hero in their own life or life situations, and they might have a lot of people charmed. This is why it’s important to go slow–especially during that first month of knowing them.  From the 100’s of victims I’ve spoken to, I’ve never heard, not once, that they didn’t see red flags, and know in their gut that something was off.  Listen to your gut instinct. It’s there for a reason.


Are You Sure You Know the Red Flags of a Narcissist?

I know I thought I did.  But as it turns out, I didn’t.

In a span of five years, I had two serious relationships with two covert Narcissists. They were both seemingly wonderful men: they were kind, funny, friendly, and incredibly good to me. Total Prince Charmings…until they weren’t.

They weren’t jealous, controlling, or possessive, however, both relationships went from “fairy tale” to “Lifetime TV Movie” at lightning-fast speed. And the kicker is that I could have said with absolute certainty that these men didn’t have any of the red flags of a dangerous or destructive person, because at that time I was actually teaching classes on red flags of abusive men at a domestic violence shelter! So how could I have missed the red flags? 

After all, I knew the red flags…or did I?

narcissist questions

After the hurt and heartache faded from Covert Narcissist #1 (Jack), I was left wanting to know the red flags that I missed. I needed to make sense of what had happened, as all I knew at that time was what I had experienced was way outside the realm of normal behavior, or a “bad breakup.”

I turned to google for answers. It was there that I stumbled across words like “Narcissist” and “Sociopath.” After learning more about those terms, I was confused (and kinda obsessed) with trying to figure out if Jack was a Narcissist or a Sociopath–because if I couldn’t put a name to what he was, then I could I accurately describe what I experienced with him to myself or to others? Over time, I came to realize  that there was a lot of confusion around Narcissism and Sociopathy–not just from victims but from professionals as well. I ended up making peace with the fact that Jack was some sort of hybrid between the two.

Even though I learned a lot about both personality disorders, I was approaching my research more from a place of trying to make sense of what happened, and not from a place of memorizing what I was reading, as I didn’t think I’d ever get tangled up with anyone like Jack again. I thought my relationship was a fluke, and that the odds of that happening to me again were up there with the odds of me getting struck by lightning.

I was wrong.

I dated Covert Narcissist #2 (Steve) about two years later. Again, he came across like Prince Charming. Everyone loved him, and thought he was this amazing catch–however, all the night terrors and panic attacks I had after my relationship with Jack ended started up again. I couldn’t get over how similar they both were–but in a seemingly good way.  I figured that I was being triggered because I was scared of being hurt again.  And given my past with Jack, I had a ton of anxiety about trusting my judgment, and turned to others to validate my decision to date Steve (another mistake that won’t ever happen again).

Steve really seemed like the world’s great guy. Everyone loved him But it wasn’t until his mask slipped and revealed (enough of) his lies, his lack of remorse, blinding degree of selfishness, and jaw-dropping lack of empathy that I realized I was tangled up with yet another Narcissist!

I became serious about really trying to figure out what red flags I wasn’t seeing. I read a ton of books on Narcissism, became a psychiatric nurse, and began talking to as many other victims (and therapists) as I could hoping to get the clarity that I so desperately needed.

From all my reading and time with therapists, I knew the clinical definition of a Narcissist, but I wanted to get a fuller and more accurate picture of Narcissistic behavior in motion. I joined a bunch of support groups, and began talking to hundreds of others in an attempt to find the commonalities in our experiences–and let me tell you there were a ton! It was really eerie actually, as the more people I talked to, the more I realized that we were all just telling different versions of the same story.

Those notes on the commonalities have become this list of red flags.

red flags of a narcissist

This list of red flags is ever-growing and changing, and my goal is to help educate and validate all those out there who haven’t yet discovered the terms Narcissism or Socio/Psychopathy. So please contact me and let me know if you think I should add or change things. 

One last thing…

This “Red Flag of a Narcissist” series is not designed to diagnose anyone with a personality disorder. It is designed to present a broad brush look at behaviors that most (if not all) manipulative people tend to have (not just Narcissists). Not all of these red flags are a signal to run for the hills, and a person doesn’t need to have ALL of these flags present to be dangerous or destructive. 

These red flags also occur on a spectrum, meaning that they will be more obvious and troublesome in some people, and not so much in others. 

At the same time, keep in mind that EVERYONE has some of these red flags—however, manipulative people tend to have them to a more troubling degree than normal, non-manipulative people. Keep in mind that Narcissists and Antisocial Personality Disordered people’s red flag behavior is more driven by their lack empathy and remorse, desire to manipulate and exploit other people for their personal gain, which is often not the case with those without these disorders. So don’t panic if you see some of your behavior in these red flags, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a Narcissist, or have a personality disorder. 🙂

Continue to Red Flag of a Narcissist #1: Love Bombing

(Here is a link to all of the “Red Flags of a Narcissist” series articles and videos in a list. I will be putting this link at the bottom of all the articles and videos so you can refer back to them in an easier-to-find way.)

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I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 308 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.


  1. Dana, I have just binge-watched your entire series on YouTube. What a fantastic resource you have made, thank you. Would you be willing to make a post or video about how a Narcissist’s Denial (of their actions, and of the victim’s experience) is the mechanism by which a victim is devalued.

    There is a book called Narcissism: Denial of True Self… I think it’s denial of self and other! In my opinion, the litmus test of any relationship is validating the other person. If you raise a concern, and the other person denies it, rages, deflects, redirects, blames, projects, and all of the things they do – it’s not a relationship. Only if a person validates your concern, can accept it and addresses it, demonstrates awareness and reassures you (by word and by action) that they care about your experience, then it could still be a real relationship. Maybe not a guarantee, but surely a better sign?

    I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this. Are there any Green Flags?

  2. Hi George,

    I’m really glad you’re liking the video series so far. 🙂 I really like what you had to say in your post–you’re bringing up many facets of an NPD relationship that I’d never thought of before–or at least never thought of in that way. …I would be more than happy to do a video about a Narcissist’s denial–I’ll work on that this weekend. …I’ll also checkout the book you mentioned too. I’m always up for a good read. And I love what you have to say about a relationship only being a relationship if both people validate each other. If it’s always one person who gets their way, and is doing whatever they want, and the other that’s scrambling to pick up the pieces, then it’s not a marriage (or relationship)–it’s a manipulation. As for green flags…hmm…someone who has friends and is stable, friendly but not charming, respects your wishes if you want things to move slow, and who you feel comfortable around is a good start. 🙂

  3. Of course there’s a caveat, but I think it reveals the root of narcissism: Say a narcissist does something “wrong” or “questionable” and you confront them – they will immediately say YOU are invalidating them! “You should love me unconditionally,” is what my ex would say. I would reply that I did love her, but had a problem with an action or the pattern of actions. I loved her but questioned a specific behaviour. To the narcissist, there is no distinction because it’s all an act – questioning threatens the whole facade. You think you are offering them an opportunity to reflect and rebuild trust. However to them, you are “attacking” their sense of self.

    If they do try to placate you, you MUST try to distinguish what is restored – their own sense of self, or the mutual feeling of a relationship. Hard to do, since like Fox Mulder, we all “want to believe.” So I would say that if a person can reflect on their own behaviour, and genuinely see how it has impacted another, and address it with compassion, that is a good sign – a coherent sense of self and other. Thanks again Dana, you have articulated so much so clearly I’m going back to the beginning for a second run! I hope you don’t mind the long comments. If you’re interested, I can send you my story, which is textbook case of a female covert narcissist who turned out to be a serial kleptomaniac and cheater.

  4. Hi again George! 🙂

    You are absolutely right on in how you described the way the spin any criticism that is directed at them (even constructive criticism). …I’d love to hear your story. Thanks for offering to share it.

  5. I love your “don’t ignore the flags” pic! May I use it on Psychopath Resistance with a link to your site? You are welcome to use any material you like on my site for promoting awareness and knowledge about personality disorders. We’re on the same team!

  6. Hi there,

    You are more than welcome to use any information you find on my site. …I love meeting other people that are on the same team, perhaps we can guest blog for each other at some point. 🙂

  7. Your videos have really helped me the past few weeks. When I first came out several years ago my dad warned me that women can be just as hurtful to me as men. My first husband was a narcissist. My first partner was a narcissist and I just got out of another serious relationship with a narcissist. Only this last one really snuck up on me. She was good. Now I see on her Pinterest she is already planning a beach wedding with another woman after 2 weeks. I don’t miss her but it is just shocking that someone can move on that quickly. I broke it off but I am just in shock. We are both in the medical field. I am a nurse and she is a rad tech. She within weeks of meeting Her lost her job and I have supported her for a year. Well I got curious and went to the website and looked up her license. She has none. I don’t know what was real or not. Thank you for so much useful information!

  8. Hi Dana – Thank you for this series and all your work on Narcissism. My question is how does this behavior take hold in a person …What are the roots of this disorder? I wish I had know all of this several years ago prior to being “entrenched” in everything that you have described….

  9. These relationships can be so confusing–and it’s hard to sort the truth from the lies. This is going to be easier said than done, but save yourself the time and energy, and don’t even try to sort through it all, because you’ll never know for certain. :/ I’m glad that you were the one that broke things off–it sounds like you have some healthy standards and boundaries in there, and that maybe the areas to focus on are knowing the red flags, and taking things slow enough for them to surface. (Most people have some sort of behavior and/or situations in their life that could be seen as red flags–the important thing here is to dig for more info when you see a red flag surface, and then determine if what the person is saying regarding their justification of the red flag is indeed the full truth–then make a healthy decision as to stay or go.) Sounds like you dodged a bullet with this woman. Yay you for getting out of there before it was too late. …Keep your emotional shields up for any potential “hoovering” attempts she may make–and don’t get sucked back in. <3

  10. There are several different theories about how Narcissism takes hold in a person. The “nurture” thepry is that basically, a person suffers from some sort of trauma as a child (before the age of 6)–either the child is spoiled rotten, or neglected. Either cause leads to the child being driven to have selfish and entitled behaviors, thinking only of themselves (lacking empathy and remorse), and wanting power and control over themselves and others.

    The other theory has to do with more of a “nature” based view, and that is that the areas of the brain that control emotion, guilt, impulsive control, and empathy have significantly reduced function. There were MRI studies done on prisoners that were deemed to be psychopaths several decades ago that led to these results. However, the word psychopath is no longer used in the DSM, and many of those behaviors are now considered to fit the term “Antisocial Personality Disorder”. My question would be that because there is a large overlap of characteristics between Antisocials and Narcissists–especially where lack of empathy, remorse, emotional regulation and impulse control go, if these same studies would hold true for Narcissists. I’ve known a handful of people (both men I’ve dated as well as former patients) who came from fairly normal families and who still have this personality disorder.

    All of the clinical work behind these disorders is fascinating, but still very much in it’s infancy.

    If you have a person in your life who is manipulative, destructive, and/or dangerous, I would strongly encourage you to have “appropriate compassion” for them–meaning, you can have empathy for their situation, but at a healthy distance. <3

  11. 2 Goerge, I have come across the book “Safe people” on the internet. I think I heard about it in one of Dove TV video series with councelor Patrick Doyle which I highly recommend. It is possible to read some extracts of this book on google books. I think it is the source for the green flags you are looking for Goerge. Best of luck!

  12. Hi Dana, this comment is my 2 cents to the question whether narcissism is upbringing and early childhood trauma or is it genetic. From what I have read I think it is both. In many sources it is mentioned that narcissism is likely to be a result of harsh rejection from parents of main caregivers, mostly by mother. I am putting a link to my blog here: It is not in English but what is important is only the picture. As you can see, how much brain differs in a neglected child to a healthy child. The whole areas of brain is not developed! The upper area is responsible for emotions. Narcissists are not capable to understand other people emotions and have no empathy. As we can see from the picture, early childhood neglect can cause severe underdevelopment of the brain and they might be incapable to process emotions at the healthy level. So it is not genetics but it is physical. And it is a result of the childhood experiences.

  13. Hi Dana, Thank you so much for what you are doing. I wish this information was around 10 years ago when I went through a divorce. The reason I started investigating narcissism Is, because a few months ago I ran into a friend of my ex wife’s family. He came up to me and made some outrageous comments ( I m 53 and he is in his 70’s so I walked away). I new then that it is not over for my ex-wife. So I googled ex-wives bad mouthing their
    ex husbands and Narcissism came right up and I have been investigating since.

    I come from an immigrant blue collar family. Was married for 17 years and worked for my ex wife’s fathers business. I look back on this now I say WoW. The stuff I had to put up with. My ex brother in-law made my life miserable during the day and then I went home to my ex wife at night. I stayed married so long because of my children, Parents and Catholic up bringing. Some of the stuff you said in your videos really hit home. The Love bombing when we were dating was unreal. I was 21 when we got married. We were engaged for a year and a half ,she gave me an ultimatum , we either get married or split up ( red flag Right?). The week after we were married it all changed. She wanted children and quit her job to raise our daughters and refused to go back to work. my credit cards, line of credit were maxed out 3 times . the last time was $35,000.( She told me it was my fault that she did it) I had paid them off and cancelled them but she reactivated them and hid it from me. I told her that I am on a fixed income. not like your father who owns his own business. This didn’t register at all with her. reflecting back I can not recall her ever saying she was sorry through out our marriage . As for the sex, after my daughters were born, I felt like I was a born again virgin. Today I have my own business and love what I am doing. A very good friend of mine who is a doctor ( our children went to school together) told me ” Angelo, success is the best revenge” I’m starting to agree with this. After researching this for a couple of months I think there can be more than one narcissist in a family. My Ex wife is the middle child of 3 children and the third child was born 8 years after my Ex. So, there would be a neglect factor here if the father is working long hours to build his business and the mother is raising an infant child.

    Again Dana, thank you so much for what you are doing. Angelo

  14. I’m glad my info is helping. …I agree with your doctor friend, although, I phrase it a bit differently in that I believe the best revenge is a good life (in however you define it). I’m glad you are out of that relationship, and I wish you all the health, healing, and happiness possible in this next chapter.

  15. as a victim its taken me six months to come to terms with the fact – I am a victim.
    I’ve never considered myself especially vulnerable to abuse or such horrific behaviour from a seemingly perfect match, a man who is popular & ‘kind’.
    The toxic nature of these people was beyond my understanding, I’m still conflicted about how I ended up in this relationship, why I failed to challenge the earlier minor negatives, why I feared confronting him. I just did.
    For anybody experiencing emotional ambiguity or cannot explain their fear around a partner, you need to leave, fear is chemical and should be a warning, the logic will follow as you detox. Ignore the hoovering this happens randomly and will upset your recovery which is why NC is essential.
    As far as relationships go this shouldn’t be recycled or acknowledged as one.
    Mine will Hoover despite having a girlfriend only weeks after I left, she is now integrated into his world within a short space of time. He is not happy I know this because his recent Hoover was the poor me pity play.
    He will never be happy, I will never be happy around him, I am happy now apart from his wounded emails as if I should offer him some of my time.

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