It can be pretty tricky dealing with someone who is self-obsessed. Whether it's a friend, partner, or coworker, these people take selfishness to new levels, thus creating strain and drama wherever they go. That's because relationships are about give and take, splitting things 50/50, and looking out for others — all things that self-obsessed people really struggle with.
Things can get especially bad when self-obsession turns into true narcissism, which is a more extreme form of selfishness. As Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D., said on PsychCentral.com, "At the core of extreme narcissism is egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others. Some amount of basic narcissism is healthy, of course, but this type of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself." When it crosses that line into egotistical preoccupation, it's no longer healthy for you, the other person, or your relationship.
It is important to keep in mind that self-obsessed people often don't mean to be so difficult. Usually there is some sort of trauma in their past that can lead to narcissistic ways, according to De Victoria. So instead of hating on them for being spoiled, it can help to be a bit understanding, or to steer them towards some help. With that in mind, here are some signs someone is totally self-obsessed.
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1. They Take Advantage Of You
Everyone has that friend who crashes on the couch for the night, sometimes without asking. It's usually not a big deal. But if this person goes overboard with the favors — especially without asking if it's OK — then you may have a self-obsessed person on your hands. To differentiate this type from others, look out for words like "should" or "must," according to Casey Imafidon on Lifehack.org. This is a sign they are imposing themselves on you, and expecting you to agree with them without conversation.
2. You Are Constantly Waiting On Them
Does your friend or SO leave you waiting for 30 (40, 50 ...) minutes while they get ready to go out? Self-obsessed people often have no concept of other people's time, and therefore waste a lot of it. That's because they believe the world revolves around them and their needs, and it can really be exhausting to deal with.
3. They Don't See The Big Picture
A self-obsessed person will really struggle with the concept of "the bigger picture." They seem to be narrowly focused on their own wants and needs, while remaining oblivious to the needs of others. "How the world affects other people really doesn’t concern them," Imafidon said. And that's totally not cool.
4. They'll Do Anything To Defend Their Self-Image
If someone seems preoccupied with maintaining their perfect image, it could be they are self-obsessed, or even a bit narcissistic. As psychologist Michelle Roya Rad said on HuffingtonPost.com, "Arrogant people take too many measures to protect their self-image ... They have idealist views, and a need to impose and make others believe that their universe is the better one." What's worse is they will usually get mad if you don't play along.
5. They Are Liars
Self-obsessed people may stretch the truth a bit, as a way of getting what they want. "Those who are very self-centered may even go as far as lying or manipulating to get their way or make things work out in a way that favors them," said Tina Vasquez on Lifescript.com. Getting their way is always the end goal, and they'll usually do anything to get it.
6. They Aren't Very Giving
This person isn't going to share their snacks, help you out at work, or let you choose the movie. In other words, they take selfishness to a whole different level. This characteristic was even shown in a study titled "fixed total sacrifice effect," Vasquez noted. In the study, diagnosed self-centered people were given something they wanted, and that others in the room needed. It was concluded that those who are self-centered use a "two-stage reasoning," in which they determine the amount they want to keep for themselves, before deciding how much (or not) they are willing to give to others. Classic selfishness.
7. They Struggle With Empathy
A self-obsessed person is capable of empathy, but usually only if it benefits them in some way. And since their display of sympathy or compassion is usually conditional, it's difficult for them to understand the depth of true empathy or what this concept really means, according to Imafidon. It can lead to some pretty strained relationships.
8. They Don't Have Deep Relationships
In the same vein, it's really difficult to maintain relationships with a self-obsessed person. These types of people are usually super nice, but only on a superficial level. "They can be charming, but [they] have an agenda," Rad said. "Their agenda is to find an ego feeder. They may have found ways to attract a lot of people into their world, but usually the ones who feed into their arrogance." And that can get a bit toxic.
9. They Aren't The Most Caring People Ever
Because of their lack of empathy and inability to give, it's not surprising that a self-absorbed type won't be the nicest person you've ever met. But it's also because they are often unwilling, or unable, to see something from someone else's perspective, according to Vasquez, which is what's required to be truly empathetic. Be wary when dealing with someone like this, as your kindness will never be reciprocated.
10. They Play Up Their Contributions
A self-obsessed person will act like vacuuming the house, or picking up some milk, is the nicest thing anyone has ever done ever. They act this way because they are a) clueless when it comes to truly being nice. And b) they are simply trying to benefit themselves. As Rad said, "They usually maximize their contributions and minimize that of others. They expect too much for what they are willing to give." It's a sneaky way of doling out favors, with their own benefits in mind.
11. They're A Little Too Confident
It sucks dealing with someone who is self-obsessed, but they may deserve a little bit of support and understanding — especially if they are trying desperately to appear confident. As Rad said, "They are usually successful on the surface and things look good since they go the extra mile to make their persona look as flawless as possible. But when you go deep inside, the real feeling of inadequacy reveals itself." And I'm sure we can all relate to that.
Once you decide whether or not someone is self-obsessed, it's up to you to continue the relationship, or not. A relationship can be saved, in spite of all of these glaringly selfish traits, but it can take a bit of work. On the other hand, you may be saving yourself a lot of angst if you cut ties and move on. The decision is up to you.
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