15 Signs You Might Be Egotistical

It’s more than just inflated confidence.

by Carina Wolff and Carolyn Steber
Originally Published: 
What's the meaning of egotistical? Here's what the experts say.
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There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself. But if your confidence crosses over into self-importance — especially if it has a negative impact on others — the way you act very well may veer on the egotistical territory.

“Being egotistical is often synonymous with being selfish or self-centered,” Erin Dierickx, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist associate, tells Bustle. And according to licensed clinical social worker Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C, it also points to an exaggerated sense of self-importance, where a person might consider themselves separate from or better than everyone else.

Although psychologists haven’t defined a textbook definition of egotistical, the traits are similar to someone who would be deemed a narcissist. Although it might be hard to swallow, recognizing this flaw about yourself can help you take the proper steps to improve your relationships, change your self-image, and become more grounded with reality. No one wants to feel like their opinion of themselves is unwarranted, but most people don't enjoy having a relationship with someone they deem an egomaniac.

The easiest way to remedy an egotistical personality is by expressing curiosity in others. “Ask more questions and challenge yourself to learn something new,” Dierickx says. You can also give back to your community to help build humility and/or go to therapy to get more info. As Dierickx says, “Individual or group therapy can be powerful ways to bring attention to your behaviors and how they affect others.”

If you suspect you fall into this category — or others have called you out — pay attention to the 15 signs you might be egotistical below. Once you realize the impact your actions have, it’ll be so much easier to make a positive change and improve the quality of your interactions.


You’re All About Material Things

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Everyone loves a good shopping spree, but if you place a ton of value in material objects, it very well might be your ego talking. "The ego identifies with having: having more, better, and the latest," says Dehorty. “We can end up identifying who we are by what we have.”

And it’s something that can easily get out of hand. You might not think it’s egotistical to flash your latest gadgets on social media or speed past someone in a brand new car, but if these things are important to you — and closely tied to your identity — it definitely deserves a closer look.

Dehorty’s advice? Ask yourself, “Why do I want people to see me with these things?” and “What value does this have to me beyond showing off?” It can also help to take a break from shopping so that you can discover what else brings you joy.


You’re A Big Fan Of Gossip

Consider whether you enjoy negative conversations. "Complaining strengthens the ego," says Dehorty, so take it as a sign if you find yourself engaging in lots of gossip, criticism, or condemnation of others. “That is likely the ego feeding itself." And the same is true if you often direct the convo back to yourself or don’t take the time to listen.

“Each of these behaviors signals to others that you are more important,” Dierickx says. “And though you are important, so are they. People need to know that they matter and when they rarely or never receive the recognition that they exist or that you are interested in them at all, that’s one sign of a big ego.”


Your Parents Always Praised You

Sometimes a big ego can stem from something from your childhood. “How we are raised can shape how our ego develops,” clinical therapist Dana Hall, LCPC, tells Bustle, which is why you should consider the type of feedback you got while growing up.

Could you do no wrong? Did your parents give you everything you wanted, even when it wasn’t a special occasion? While that isn’t your fault, it’s helpful to think about how it created a sense of entitlement — or even superiority — now that you’re an adult.

If you catch yourself expecting lots of praise or feeling unduly hurt when you don’t get the things you want, check yourself before it turns people off.


You Tend To Interrupt Others

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You might not think it’s egotistical to interrupt — you’re just trying to tell a story, right? — but experts say this is another common habit among folks who have a big ego.

Egotistical people tend to interrupt others because they feel that what they have to say is much more intelligent or important, clinical psychologist Nancy Irwin, Psy.D., tells Bustle. If you’re cutting people off for this reason, or at all, it’s definitely time to make a change.


You Hold A Position Of Power

Not everyone with a powerful job is egotistical, but Irwin says those with large egos do tend to crave the attention and prestige that comes with high-ranking positions. Egotistical people often want to be the CEO, president, or manager. They also live for the opportunity to boss people around because it plays into their ego’s desire for power and to be “better” than everyone else.


You’re “Overwhelming”

There’s a time and a place for assertive voices. But if you talk over others on a regular basis, consider why that is. According to Irwin, many egotistical people speak loudly, move fast, and use grand gestures in order to divert attention or hide the fact they don’t know what they’re talking about. If you relate, or have been called out in the past, Irwin says it might be a sign you’re addicted to the appearance of importance — and yes, that’s the ego talking.


You Hate Losing

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It’s completely OK to be competitive, whether that means trying hard at work, giving it your all in a sport, or even getting hyped up at board game night. If you’re egotistical, though, you might find that you’d literally do anything to win because to you (and your ego) losing is almost embarrassing. "If you lose, that validates your deepest, darkest fear that you are inferior," Irwin says, which is why you might even lie or cheat in order to get ahead.


You Rarely Connect With Others Socially

It’s one thing to make friends laugh and be the hit of a party, but take note if you regularly get so caught up in snagging the spotlight that you don’t connect with others. "You might leave a social gathering and realize that you don't remember what anyone else said, or that you don’t have strong feelings about what they said — unless it was a negative response to your ideas or how much time you took to discuss them," psychologist Robin Hornstein, Ph.D., tells Bustle.

This is a sure sign you were focused on yourself in an egotistical way, but you can make a change. The next time you’re out socializing, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this person or situation?” According to Hall, it’ll keep you open to seeking information and engaging with others in a more mutual dynamic. “People want to feel heard and validated,” she says. If you’re willing to have some give and take, you’ll develop way healthier connections.


You Always Take Full Credit For Successes

Egotistical people aren’t good at sharing success. It might happen at work, where you try to take full credit for a big deal. Or in group projects at school, where you put your name at the top of the paper and talk the most during the presentation. (Sound familiar?)

“It is OK to have high expectations of one’s self, but portraying yourself as the greatest person alive will certainly contribute to being egotistical,” Dr. Kruti Quazi, MA, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, tells Bustle.


You Have A Hard Time Admitting When You’re Wrong

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While it isn’t always easy to admit when you make a mistake, have bad luck, or poorly manage your time, A.J. Marsden, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College, says it’s nearly impossible for egotistical people. They’re much more likely to blame others, which may explain why you pretty much hate apologizing or admitting when you’re wrong.


You’re Super Opinionated

Can you have a conversation without inserting your opinion, getting into an argument, or loudly telling someone they’re wrong? If not, take it as a sign.

Egotistical people rarely consider the points of view of others and are often very opinionated, Marsden says. "Because they are self-absorbed, egotistical people are focused solely on their own point of view, image, and preferences.”


You’re Bad At Writing “3 Things I’m Grateful For” Lists

Sometimes it can feel tough to express gratitude — but for some, egotism certainly plays a role, especially if it’s been a lifelong problem.

"Egotistical people often feel that they are better than other people and therefore they do not feel it necessary to thank others for their help," says Marsden. They also have a sense of entitlement, which can make it tough to feel grateful for the things they have or achieve.


You Choose Friends Strategically

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Take a look around the table the next time you get dinner with friends. Are you all carbon copies of one another? In some cases, egotistical people choose to spend time with folks who are exactly like themselves as a way of reinforcing their self-esteem, Marsden says. If you all share the same taste, ideas, and opinions, it’ll be easy to feel “right.”

It doesn’t always work this way, however. Some egotists will make a huge effort to hang out with folks a rung or two above them on the social ladder in an attempt to move up. Others will choose friends who they believe aren’t as “good” as them so that they get to feel superior.


You Always Have To Be In Control

Yet another sign? If you always have to be the leader, the one driving the car, the one choosing the music, or calling all the shots. Whatever it is, know that egotistical folks always have to be in control. “If they are not, they may feel as though they are being disrespected and become belligerent and angry,” Quazi says “They have a hard time working/playing on a team.”


You Actually Have Low Self-Esteem

The main reason why it can be tough to recognize egotistical habits is because they often stem from low self-esteem. “Contrary to popular belief, most egoists do not have a positive image of themselves,” Quazi says. “They hold a lot of insecurities, and to combat those insecurities, they portray themselves as cool and confident individuals so that others do not realize [it].”

It’s why you might embellish stories to make them more interesting, put others down, or seek validation from everyone you meet. If you recognize any of these habits or traits in yourself, Quazi recommends seeking help and support before it leads to anxiety or depression, or damages any of your relationships.

Studies referenced:

Day, N. J., Townsend, M. L., & Grenyer, B. F. (2020). Living with pathological narcissism: a qualitative study. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 7(1).

Brunzel, J. (2020). Overconfidence and narcissism among the upper echelons: a systematic literature review. Management Review Quarterly, 71(3), 585–623.


Erin Dierickx, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist associate

Dana Hall, LCPC, clinical therapist

Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C, licensed clinical social worker

Nancy Irwin, Psy.D., clinical psychologist

Robin Hornstein, Ph.D., psychologist

A.J. Marsden, Ph.D., assistant professor of human services and psychology

Dr. Kruti Quazi, MA, LPC, NCC, CCTP, C-DBT, licensed professional counselor

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