Narcissists hate it when you look good.
Because it means they don’t stand out as the most attractive person in the room.
Whether it’s because you have a new haircut, you’ve lost weight, or you’ve got a new wardrobe, a narcissist will find ways to bring you down.
When that happens, you might wonder: why does this keep happening? Why can’t they be happy for me? How did I offend them?
These are all valid questions that come from being in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens when a narcissist sees you looking good:
What do they feel?
When a narcissist sees you looking good, whether they’re your friend, colleague, or even partner, they feel extreme levels of fear and self-doubt.
Aside from being obsessed with their looks, narcissists lack self-confidence and have very low self-esteem.
This is because, at their core, narcissists don’t truly believe that they are good enough.
When they see you looking good, it triggers the same self-doubt and insecurity that it does for any other person. They feel insecure about their own appearance, and therefore feel self-conscious.
This feeling of self-doubt and insecurity is so uncomfortable for narcissists that they will do anything to make themselves feel “normal” again.
Unfortunately for those around them, this often involves trying to make them feel bad about their appearance.
How do they act?
Depending on their level of narcissism, a person may react in one of a few different ways when they see you looking good.
They might lash out with criticism or insults, try to one-up you by looking better than you do, or they might try to undermine your appearance by putting you down.
These kinds of reactions are signs of insecurity and self-doubt, which a narcissist is trying to cover up with negative comments or actions.
They are not trying to be hurtful; they are just trying to make themselves feel better.
Unfortunately, it often has the opposite effect.
Many narcissists will try to one-up you by looking better than you do. This is a very common strategy for them to try, as it is a way for them to prove that they are better than you.
This can manifest in different ways, from them wearing a more expensive outfit than you at a fancy event to trying to one-up you at the gym.
Narcissists want to be the best at everything, and when they see you looking better than they do, they want to make sure that they are better than you in every way possible.
This can be hurtful to you, especially if you put a lot of effort into looking good or if you are trying to improve your health by eating better or working out more.
If someone is constantly trying to one-up you, it can be a very upsetting and frustrating experience.
Because of the insecurity and self-doubt that narcissists feel when they see you looking better than they do, they may try to undermine your appearance.
What else will they do?
1) They’ll criticize you
Criticizing you is an easy way of making you feel bad.
It might be obvious or subtle, but it will happen.
They could come right out and say that they don’t like something about your appearance, or they could be slick about it and criticize your new look in a roundabout way.
For example, “Oh, you’re so brave getting that haircut! I’d never dare cut my hair so short, I can’t pull off looking like a boy. But if you like it…”
This has nothing to do with whether or not the narcissist likes you. You looking good will simply bring out the worst in them.
2) They’ll shame you
If a narcissist feels that you look better than them, they won’t hesitate in shaming you.
Shame is such a powerful emotion in that it makes you feel small and insignificant. It’s as if a narcissist can look into your eyes and see every bad thing you’ve ever done.
A narcissist will shame you for letting them down, for not getting what they want, and for daring to think you’re better than they are.
I used to be best friends with a narcissist for years and any time she thought I was better than she was at something, she’d find a way to make me feel not just bad, but ashamed.
If she thought my dress was nicer than hers, she’d tell me I looked like I slut.
If I was doing well at my job and wanted to treat her to lunch, she’d say I was showing off my money and trying to make those less fortunate feel bad.
It’s cruel, but it happens. Most narcissists like to be the center of attention and the best way to do that is to make others feel small.
It took years to figure out what she was doing to me and to be able to cut her out of my life for my own well-being.
3) They’ll gossip about you
This is another way a narcissist can bring you down.
A narcissist will gossip about you to friends, family, and even co-workers. It might not be as obvious as, “Hey, did you hear about so-and-so?” but they’ll say something.
You might get a side-eye or a whisper behind your back.
A narcissist will gossip about your looks, success, your new relationship, or anything else that makes you feel good.
4) They’ll resort to manipulation and control as a form of punishment
A narcissist might try to manipulate you or control you to punish you for being better than them at something, even if it’s because you look good that day.
Narcissists have all sorts of ways to punish you for being better than them.
5) They’ll turn it into a competition
Narcissists are incredibly competitive.
They find joy in being better than others, and they always have to be on top. It’s pretty sad really, it means that they only find value in themselves if they’re better than other people.
If you’re friends or in a relationship with a narcissist, they’ll turn everything into a competition.
They’ll try to prove that they’re better than you and that you’re worth less than them.
If you buy a nice jacket, they’ll buy an even flashier and more expensive one than you did. If you get a new bag, they’ll be sure to get an expensive flashy brand that you could never afford.
Whatever you do to look and feel good, they’ll do it too, but they’ll go big to outdo you.
They don’t get that those things don’t matter to you.
6) They’ll try to make you envious
If you’re happy and you feel good and look good, the narcissist in your life won’t be able to be happy for you, oh no.
They’ll be envious of you and will in return try their hardest to make you envious of them.
Maybe you have a new boyfriend and are in love and have a natural glow. Well, your narcissist friend will brag about how her millionaire boyfriend is taking her to the Bahamas for the weekend. Or she’ll tell you how “hard” it is to decorate her huge, fancy, new house.
The narcissist will bring up times in their life when they were more successful, more attractive, or more popular. They’re hoping that you’ll feel a pang of envy.
They’ll try to take away your happiness, don’t let them.
7) They’ll start a fight with you
They can’t stand you looking better than them.
If they can’t compete or make you feel bad in some other way, they’ll pick a fight with you!
They might tell you that you’re too proud, that you’re too vain, or that you’re trying too hard.
They might insult your hair, your clothes, or your skills. They might call you names and say that you are a terrible friend or partner. They might say that you aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, or popular enough.
It will feel weird. That’s how it was with my narcissistic friend. I couldn’t understand what was wrong – I could tell she was trying to pick a fight but I didn’t understand why. I didn’t want to fight.
I thought it was my fault, that I’d done something to offend her. It wasn’t until much later that I understood that she had a personality disorder and that I didn’t do anything wrong.
Ways to respond when a narcissist finds out you look good
Being best friends with a narcissist for so long, I learned that a narcissist can’t stand someone else being happier, more attractive, more successful, or more of anything really.
In fact, even when I was sick, my narcissistic friend would find a way to make it about her – if I had the flu, she had a horrible migraine that was just “killing her”.
Now, you can’t change how a narcissist feels, but you can change how you react to their behavior.
Whether you are trying to lose weight and you’ve been eating healthily and working out and want to show off the results, or you’re just happy and it shows, don’t let the narcissist bring you down.
Don’t let anyone take away your confidence or make you feel bad for looking and feeling good.
Here’s how to respond:
1) Stay confident regardless of the insults or criticisms
Although it may be a natural reaction to be hurt by the narcissist’s insults, it’s important that you stay confident.
If someone tries to bring you down, there is no reason for you to help them. Simply ignore their insults and focus on yourself. Understand that they have a condition and can’t help themselves, it’s nothing to do with you.
2) Confront the narcissist about their behavior
Narcissists are often so wrapped up in their own insecurities that they don’t even realize how they are making you feel.
When they notice that you are upset, you can confront them and explain the impact their words or actions have had on you.
At this point, they may realize that they have been hurting you and try to stop.
If they don’t, they may be too far gone to change.
3) Know that this isn’t your fault
It is easy to feel responsible for the actions of your narcissistic friend or partner.
However, it is important to know that it isn’t your fault that your partner is insecure. You can’t change someone’s feelings, and you are not responsible for them.
4) Look your best regardless of their actions
The only way that a narcissist can truly be defeated is if you don’t let them control you.
Regardless of their actions, you should always try to look and feel your best. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and wear nice clothes.
By doing so, you are living your best life and showing your narcissist that they can’t get to you.
5) Be honest with yourself
If you feel like you have tried everything to confront the narcissist in your life and they aren’t willing to change their behavior, it may be time to end the relationship.
It is not healthy for you to be in any sort of relationship where you feel constantly attacked. It’s simply toxic.
Talk to someone else about how your partner is making you feel
It can be difficult to find the motivation to confront a narcissist about their behavior, especially if you have tried in the past and nothing has changed.
When you feel like you can’t deal with the situation on your own anymore, it is important to talk to someone else.
Whether it is a good friend, family member, or even a shrink, it can be helpful to get some outside perspective on the situation.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
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