Ellen M. Lerner
4 min readOct 26, 2021

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Can Someone Have Narcissistic Traits but Not Be a Narcissist?

Absolutely. I think it is safe to say that we all have had our moments where we can be a bit self centered or focused on our own lives more than the lives of others.

Life is not always easy and if you are going through a bad time, it seems quite normal to focus on what is happening around you as opposed to being your normal, caring, compassionate self.

Narcissistic personality disorder is not very common. You can look up the statistics for yourself. NPD is worlds apart from having narcissistic traits or acting Narcissistic from time to time.

I have yet to meet a ‘perfect person.’ That does not make them malicious or evil…it makes them human. However, some people are so caught up with narcissism that they simply can not separate these two drastically different concepts.

I have heard theories from one spectrum all the way to the other side…I have heard that having any sort of ego in any way is bad. Plain and simple. I have also heard that small doses of narcissism can actually be healthy. Equating to ambition, drive, and success. The difference is, if you do not have a disorder, you are not willing to destroy others to achieve that success. There is an enormous difference in my opinion.

Many people have some vanity in them. Again, not so grandiose that it compares to ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ however, people like to look nice. I see nothing wrong with that. However, when it starts to become an obsession (working out 7 days a week, 4 hours per day….constantly getting expensive and dangerous plastic surgery, etc.) that’s when you need to start to pay attention to your priorities as well as your mental health.

There is nothing wrong with feeling good for getting praise for a job well done. It feels good when someone tells you that you have done something special or important. It should not be all you focus on, but receiving a compliment is a nice thing and it’s even nicer when you are the one giving the compliment.

It is also extremely important to be proud of ourselves. People can be extremely hard on themselves and it’s important to stop for a moment and say to yourself…’You did something you should be proud of. You worked really hard and even when times got tough you didn’t quit.’ I see nothing wrong with that either.

However, people with narcissistic personality disorder not only will never be happy for you for something important or special you did, they will never be happy or proud of themselves because deep down they feel worthless. I understand they give off the impression that they think they are better than everyone else, but deep inside that isn’t the case. They carry disappointment, disalusiment and most especially shame. They may appear to be on top of the world, but they will never admit the truth to anyone. They are lost souls looking for anything to take away the pain inside. And all the while, they will destroy you in the process. They may want you to look at them as ‘Godlike’ but they truly do not feel this way about themselves. As I said, having some narcissistic traits and having actual NPD are worlds apart. You truly can not even compare them….

In other words, people with Narcissistic personality disorder don’t simply like attention and praise. They aren’t just temporarily thoughtless because they’re so wrapped up in themselves that they fail to consider those around them. Instead, people with NPD are fundamentally unable to live normal lives; they do not have the emotional capacity to engage in healthy social interactions, experience loving, generous relationships, or form realistic understandings of themselves.

Moreover, they generally don’t care or recognize that their thoughts and behaviors are maladaptive, nor do they seek to change. As a result, people around those who suffer from NPD are often deeply affected, sometimes even traumatized and tormented by their interactions with them.

Having self confidence and self esteem is a good thing, in my opinion. As long as you are always grateful for what you have and remind those who have brought you joy just how special and important they are and what they mean to you. Never take anything for granted and always be grateful for the many blessings that you have been given. We have all been given gifts. Some do not recognize these things because they are in a bad place or fail to see the good and only recognize the bad. That’s when you need to change your perspective. Once you do that, amazing things start happening…especially after a trauma where you think you will never be the same…just like being in a relationship with a pwNPD.

Once you find the strength to walk away and regain your power your entire outlook on life will begin to change. You will feel good about yourself once again, and as I said…feeling good about yourself is such an important thing. That does not equate to an overinflated ego and it does not make you a narcissist. It makes you a human being and as long as you always try to be a good one, I suppose a tiny bit of narcissism never hurt anyone.

That’s just one girl’s opinion.

Thank you.

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Ellen M. Lerner

My name is Ellen. I am a Composer. A Pianist and Vocalist. A Student. A Writer and most of all...I'm a Survivor.