Is Your Intimate Partner Narcissistic Or Just High Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem has been a buzzword for quite a while. But another word that’s getting a lot of traction these days is “narcissism.” And unfortunately, some people mistakenly consider that having a strong, positive judgment of yourself is somehow connected with narcissism.
Narcissists sometimes, but not always, have a very high opinion of themselves. But not everyone with high self-esteem is a narcissist.
Let’s have a closer look at narcissism to see how it differs from healthy, high self-esteem so you can finally know whether your romantic partner is a narcissist or just happens to be one of the lucky few who know their worth.
What is Narcissism?
First, we need to realize that some people suffer from narcissistic tendencies while others have a narcissistic personality disorder.
When a person is interested in or admires themselves excessively, whether it’s their personality, physical appearance, or both, it’s narcissism.
Self-obsession, conceit, and egotism are words to describe narcissistic tendencies.
Furthermore, selfishness, a lack of empathy, entitlement, and needing admiration from others are behaviors and beliefs that narcissists exhibit.
But for narcissism to be classified as a personality disorder, those beliefs and behaviors have to be so extreme that they disrupt a person’s relationships and ability to lead a healthy life.
Narcissism and Self-Esteem
Not all narcissists have high self-esteem. In many cases, the opposite is true.
A lack of self-worth and low self-esteem can cause some people to engage in approval-seeking behavior and become obsessed with themselves to make up for lack of confidence.
And just because someone has high self-esteem doesn’t make them a narcissist either if their sense of high value is grounded in healthy, productive views of their abilities and value.
Here’s what we need to remember: While people with high self-esteem often feel confident in their own abilities, narcissists take it a step further and feel superior to others.
A person who feels superior always compares themselves to others and often puts them down because they threaten their status as “the best” at something.
A person with high self-esteem doesn’t need to compare themselves because they are confident in their own capabilities.
This distinction between self-esteem and narcissism is essential.
Most self-esteem is based on recognizing and acknowledging our value and achievements, skills we’ve mastered, along with our standards and values.
But narcissism is fear-driven. The fear of being seen as weak or of failing drives this way of thinking, as does an unhealthy focus on oneself and a need to be seen by others as the best.
Most narcissists are, at their core, insecure and feel inadequate, which is the opposite of having high self-esteem. They feel envious and can be hostile towards anyone they feel is a threat, whereas people with high self-esteem often use compassion and cooperation in their interactions with others.
Self-esteem and narcissism can be seen as two ends of a spectrum, ranging from dominance (narcissism) to equality (self-esteem).
Knowing the difference between these two constructs is key to understanding why having high self-esteem is essential and is not directly correlated with becoming a narcissist.
And in a time when self-proclaimed “experts” on narcissism seem to be popping up everywhere, especially in social media, it helps to do a little bit of research on the matter before mistakenly judging your intimate partner to be a narcissist.
It’s healthy for everyone to acknowledge their value and worth, to realize that they are a person of quality who has something to offer. Living with a sense of high self-esteem and high self-worth is good; being conceited and feeling superior isn’t.
Since these two ideas are very different ways of thinking about oneself, you can relax and safely focus on boosting your self-esteem without worrying that you have narcissistic tendencies.