The Conversational Narcissist


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conversational narcissist

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." - Epictetus

You pick up the phone.  It's Jill.  Again.

"Hi sweetie, just thought I'd give you a call!  How are you?"

"Good thanks Jill.  And you?"

"Oh, terrific!  I wanted to tell you about my blah blah blah blah blah ..."

We've all had those people in our lives who seem to yap on about themselves ad nauseam.  Once given the opportunity to talk about themselves, they'll snap it up in an instant showing little regard or interest in what you have to say.  Ever.  And if they do, you know it's a fake mask of politeness.

These people are the conversational narcissists in your life who hog every conversation you have, leaving your head spinning.  Basically, talking to a conversational narcissist is like putting your head in a blender.

So, do you have a conversational narcissist in your life?  There's only one way to find out ...

How To Spot The Conversational Narcissist

Not all narcissists are obnoxious or dislikeable people - in fact, many of them can be charming and appealing ... the only problem is that you hate talking to them.  Why?  Perhaps because you can pick up on the following character traits:

1.  They have an exaggerated sense of self importance.

2.  They're usually absorbed in fantasies of power, success, beauty and/or brilliance.

3.  They have unreasonable expectations of other people, i.e. that everyone else should unquestioningly comply with them.

4.  They overrate the importance of their achievements.

5.  They crave constant validation, admiration and respect from the world.

Keeping these symptoms in mind, it's no wonder that the conversational narcissist loves drilling you with every detail of their lives ad infinitum.  They truly believe that they're that special, interesting and important.  It's part of their personality disorder.

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Which Kind Of Conversational Narcissist Do You Know?

Luckily they're not like Pokémon.  You only have two species of the conversational narcissist to worry about, so don't worry.  These are the:

Active Conversational Narcissist's & Passive Conversational Narcissist's.

So let's explore the first.

Active Conversational Narcissism

This breed of narcissist always ends up shifting the attention onto themselves in conversations.  They do this by giving a few "supportive responses" so as not to appear rude, but end up using more "shifting responses".

Please note that it's normal and healthy to share stuff about yourself, as long as you direct the conversation back to the other person.  At least, this is what the common law of conversational etiquette says.

Example 1 - Supportive

Person A - "I'm going to buy a puppy today."

Person B - "Really?  What breed are you wanting to get?"

Example 2 - Unsupportive

Person A - "I'm going to buy a puppy today."

Person B - "Really?  I was thinking about buying a puppy for my daughter as well!"

Person A - "Oh, yeah?"

Person B - "Uh-huh, I thought that a golden retriever would be ... blah blah blah".

Passive Conversational Narcissismconversational narcissist

This subtle form of conversational narcissism occurs when you share something, and the conversational narcissist withholds their supporting responses until the conversation fizzle's out.

Supporting responses are for instance: acknowledgements that indicate you're listening, e.g "uh-huh", "OK", "Hmm".  They're also statements that demonstrate active listening such as "that's awesome!", "why did you do that?", "what are you planning to do now?"

Passive conversational narcissists withhold these statements, showing disinterest so that the conversation ends up dying - and is directed back to them.  Score!


Person A - "I'm going to the casino tonight!"

Person B - " (Pause) ... oh, right ... (pause)"

Person A - "I'm really excited because I won $200 last week!"

Person B - " (Silence) ..."

Person A - "Have you been there recently?"

Person B - "Oh yeah, I went a few weeks ago with my friends, it's really interesting because we ... blah blah blah".

How To Interact With A Conversational Narcissist

Talking to a conversational narcissist can be draining and tedious - especially if you see there's nothing in it for you.  How about changing the way you look at things?  Don't worry, I don't like the thought of changing something in myself either, especially when it's the narcissist who should change!

The fact is: you can't change anyone, so give up trying now.  The only thing you can change is your outlook and perception.  For instance, you could see talking to a conversational narcissist as a form of interpersonal training.  You could also see it as a way to forge many great qualities such as patience, self-control (forbearance) and focus that all come with listening to a self-absorbed, insensitive and egotistical person.

According to the research I've done, the best way to interact smoothly with a narcissist is as following:

1.  Don't demand much.  Don't expect much.

2.  Accept that you have to listen.  A lot.

3.  Don't worry about boosting the narcissists ego with your acknowledgements (it's not possible anyway).

4.  For swift conversation, resist the temptation of challenging the narcissist's thoughts and desires.

5.  Smile and keep quiet a lot.

I don't necessarily agree with this way of approaching narcissists all the time - but if you're not in the mood to stir the pot, these five rules will help you ease the tension that comes with talking to them.

On the other hand, if you're wanting to end a conversation with them quickly, I've found the following techniques work wonders:

  • Talk about something really boring, and keep repeating what you've just said in different ways.  You'll look a bit manic, but oh well.
  • Stop giving supportive statements and use reverse psychology instead, i.e. become either an active or passive conversational narcissist yourself.
  • Set a time limit.  After half an hour or an hour leave the conversation, no matter what.

I'd love to hear any stories you have about conversational narcissism.  So feel free to share below!

Photo by: Alexander Rentsch

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  • Timothy

    All my life it has always seemed like I had drawn all the conversational narcissists. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy helping them sort out their thoughts and offering support. However, there are also days when you just need someone to genuinely listen to you and understand that you are having a difficult day; these are not people who are cut out to offer you that help.

    So I was wondering, where can you find people like “us;” people who are NOT conversational narcissist? I have yet to find one in my life. Even when people seem to listen to me for an extended time (about 10-15 seconds), my gut still tells me that they are just being polite. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the topics I bring up are interesting because it always generates a healthy conversation. However, as this article clearly explains, there are a lot of conversational narcissists that take the opportunity to shift the attention to themselves. I’d like to be able to establish friendships with those who are not conversational narcissists.

    • Aletheia Luna

      It sounds as though you have a caretaking personality. But although caretakers are kind, giving and selfless, they also tend to serve as enablers. I think you have realized this, and it’s great that you are wanting to reach out and have someone listen to YOUR needs for a change.

      Like me you might be a passive friend-maker. A lot of my life I’ve actually waited for people to befriend me out of shyness … but in the end I found that going out of my way to find friends was the best way. Think about your interests — what inspires and motivates you? Whatever it is, seek for a group of people who love the same thing. The deepest connections are formed with these people. So, you might like to go on a site like, or look in a local forum or newspaper, but however you do it, make sure you seek out people who share something with you. Then, observe. Don’t jump into making friendships, but test the water before you commit.

      That was how I did it!

      Good luck. :)

      • Timothy

        Spot on! Thanks for responding Aletheia! I appreciate your post so much.

        What exactly qualifies as a passive friend-maker? Usually, I am told that I appear stand-offish, aloof, and intimidating. I can’t do much about it since I have appeared to be like this since childhood. My mother commented that I rarely showed emotion, rarely cried as a baby, and tended to be very calm and observant. More recently though, I have tried to appear warm, but I feel that it does not appear natural and instead comes off as mechanical (like a salesman).

        My predisposition can be a defensive mechanism–I am not sure. Although I tend to be very distrustful of everyone in general until they have proven themselves to be trustworthy. Do these qualities constitute that of a passive friend-maker? As bad as it sounds, those who pass the “test” become my “friends” but it only goes so far as in its lopsidedness; I tend to be the one with the resources and they come to me for help. I usually do not need their help, and usually they don’t have much to offer for me anyway. I tend to be a very successful person, but it really gets lonely being at the top all by yourself. Although as well all know, we are human and we are not always in tip-top shape. Like I said, I have not found someone strong enough to support me in times of vulnerability.

        As for what motivates me: someone with a passion for intellectual discussion. My thoughts tend to be very deep and I have yet to find someone with a great listening ear who is willing and can humor me for a while and validate my thoughts. I would also like to hear what he/she can contribute. I love learning. It has been lonely for a while struggling to bottle in my thoughts.

        I’m not comfortable meeting up people online since I tend to assess people real time, like you said, and it’s difficult for me to divorce from my suspicious paradigm towards people.

        Anyway, do you have any advice for me in identifying such people that I am looking for? Especially those in immediate proximity to me (in public, school, etc.)? I would really appreciate it.

  • TaDa

    I just had a major realization that my boss is a total conversational narcissist. She talks and talks and talks about herself, dog and morning activities. She and her best friend (whom also works in the same atmosphere) rarely ask me, “How are you?” After I have engaged them by asking a simple question. Then on, and on and on they go about their lives. Wow. Very enlightening to know that the Shut up and Smile recommendation was on here because that’s all I find myself doing around them. What an eye opening month this has been. I demanded respect on a financial level, and am now seeing other not so pleasant traits start to surface. Interesting enough, this was a very concealed operation on their part. I’m glad (not really glad per say, but I guess misery loves company) to read others comments here and see that this is affecting many other people.

    • Aletheia Luna

      It can be frustrating … but what can you do? You certainly can’t change them (unless they are first willing), so you can only really change your perceptions and realize that everyone has something less-than-perfect about themselves — you and I included!

  • td

    This is a good article. I’ve recently come to the realization that I purposely become friends with narcissist . This is because I grew up in this atmosphere. Since I’ve been researching this, there are so many issues that I deal with that are because I don’t feel heard. Do narcissists breed narcissists? I think so. One thing I’ve found is that passive people tend to become friends with them because its easier to listen than to figure out what to say. And, as I’ve grown and my social skills have improved, I’ve found that you do end up talking about yourself because all of your narcissist friends never ask you how you are. So you become one by dealing with one. Does that make sense?

    And, I’ve tried recently to do better with my more passive friends by asking how they are and learning about them but they just won’t talk. This makes it harder not to talk about myself to fill the void. So I guess I’m seeing both sides of the coin here.

    • Aletheia Luna

      I understand exactly what you mean TD. It’s all about the people you surround yourself with consciously or unconsciously. Luckily you are now conscious of your habit and can start to bring more open and less self-centric people into your life. The company we surround ourselves with does tend to impact greatly on our personalities.

  • AlysonD

    This article is very insightful. I recently met someone in one of my classes and met up with her because she said she rarely gets to meet someone who will get deep into a subject with her, as I did in the class discussions. Soon after meeting her, I realized the only subject she was interested was herself. She revealed her total lack of support for her husband, her current midlife crisis and her plans to change legislation, write books and fund everything with a career as a vocalist, in spite of having no established career as a vocalist. For three and a half hours I listened to her grandiose delusions and then she segued into her husband’s flaws and dissecting his personality, which was from my shallow understanding of it, exceedingly patient and kind. When I left, she acted as if I was rude to do so, and attacked me in several classroom discussions after that day. So blinding was her self image, that she kept referring to her “huge hair” even though she barely had any volume. I kept thinking how nice it must be to see yourself as you would like to be. What a charmed life! To exist without a shred of self doubt or critisism, or reality. A life without a mirror.

    • Aletheia Luna

      Wow Alyson, good on you for managing to break away! I have met a few of these types of people before who seem to have these nauseating victim/persecution complexes, and tend to undeniably believe that the sun shines out of their . . . I think you know what I mean. ;) It must be nice for them, but then again, it must be quite isolating as well.
      Thanks for your contribution. ;)

  • Elmer

    yeah I believe my cousin is a passive conversational narcissist.
    he shows great emotion when sharing his own stories, but when I share my stories, he just stares at me or his phone or whatever with a “ok, are you done talking?” kind of expression on his face. when I finish he’ll say something like “damn, that sucks…I remember one time when I…” and yadda yadda yadda.
    there are times when I start speaking to him about something that im interested in and it is immediately apparent that he does not care. so, out of consideration for him, I finish up what im saying quickly instead of getting deeper into it. yet, he can talk my head off for hours about things I don’t care about. i once told him that it really bothers me that he wants to talk incessantly about his grandmother and how she is crazy (i live with both of them; his grandmother is a saint compared to him). i told him that i don’t side with him most of the time when it comes to his grandmother so there is no point in constantly complaining about her. “IM NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT HER!!!!” i simply told him that i get tired of it and every time you do it, i want to run for the hills with my hands over my ears going “i can’t hear you! i can’t hear you!” he then tells me a sob story about how his grandmother would do mean things to him when he was little (which are obviously exaggerated). he then tells me won’t do it again.
    DOES HE STOP? hell no. he doesn’t care. so now every time he talks about her in a negative way, i become robotic in my responses. if i were to bring up how i told him i didn’t want him doing that anymore, i know he would simply deny the conversation ever happened.

    • Aletheia Luna

      Your cousin seems to have an empathy deficit (most people do these days), in that he is more interested in sharing self-obsessed monologues than actually sitting down heart-to-heart with you. That is often just a product of upbringing, soul age, and personality. I tend to keep a distance from these types of people in life unless they are genuinely open and receptive to assessing how they communicate.

  • Guest

    Great read!
    Another trait I’ve found of conversational narcissists is that they use the terms, “I, me & my” a lot!!

    There is a girl that comes outside & when she does, I quickly leave the area because she will interrupt a conversation & within the first minute, it’s “I, me & my…blah blah blah.”

    • Aletheia Luna

      Yes, I’ve noticed that as well! It is very tedious, especially when there is no kind way of telling them what they are doing. But these are good opportunities to grow, no matter how frustrating they are. Who is the picture of above, by the way?

  • orphan ellie

    I am a middle child, sandwiched between the brilliant older sister, the only boy, and baby sister. I joke that my siblings are all “only children.” They are each total conversational narcissists, and in the occasional obligatory phone calls, I find the speaker button allows me to listen to the stream of talk – all about them- while I watch a captioned movie or pursue a quiet activity. I find it amusing that each of them complains to me about the others talking too much!

    • Aletheia Luna

      It can definitely be frustrating! My own siblings are similar, being a lot more vocal than me. But learning about conversation narcissism helps you to understand this more. Often it comes from the need to be hear and understood, or because of a lack of self-esteem and need to be validated.

  • yupyup

    On a darker note it’s really depressing when you start noticing a long time friend exhibit this behavior. You can see right through them.

    They get quiet when you try to have a deep conversation but, become lively when you focus on shallow topics they know about.

    They compare themselves to you and you are always worse even if their situation has not really changed at all.

    The worst part for me is when you can tell they really don’t care what you have to say or do when they inquire. It’s always a trap to fake interest and keep you around so they won’t be lonely.

    No, never mind. The worst is when their lack of self confidence becomes obvious after they constantly imitate actions that may yield results for you after they insult the action itself on a previous occasion.

    • Aletheia Luna

      Yupyup, it can be really infuriating, and in my experience … really saddening and isolating. Often the best form of action is to move away from people like this in your life, because in the end what true value are they adding to your existence? They act like leeches, and take but never give. Such people are better in the company of similar souls. I hope you manage to find a better friend.

      • yupyup

        I am a co-dependant and apparently that is the type of person that naturally attracts a narcissistic personality. After learning about my behavior I realized that I was actually making excuses for them such as “well, he/she has given me the gift of acquiring interest in this and that” which is not really the truth. I kept trying to convince myself that I was the bad one and it was selfish to think this way.

        So, to prove that I was wrong about them I became completely altruistic every time I visited. This way, by not taking or asking and only giving, I could give them a fair chance to return the favor. Well, he/she loved it. My ex friend seemed so happy to have all the focus on themselves 100% of the time. I was being extremely fake but, I was also noticing the friend would never ask questions about things I took interest in. And we basically had the same interest lol. If anything it would have just been a different point of view. The times I’d slip up and express my opinions, he/she would immediately compare them to his/her own unrealistic expectations so I was never good enough.

        The moment I would question his/her reasons for some of their actions indirectly, he/she would always give me an answer that basically meant “the ends always justify the means” It hurts to ignore them but, I cannot encourage or take part in someone who crosses moral lines just to get what they want. It’s childish to me. We are not kids anymore.

        Have you ever noticed that the parents of people that get taken advantage of usually set expectations on their children they can’t meet own their own? I mean the scapegoat child not the golden child. For example my parent is a narcissist who is manipulative and fake to the outside world but, a monster at home. But, my ex friend has a narcissistic parent and an enabler. So, he/she is actually drinking the kool aid and destroying themselves by living up to their narcissistic family ideals. He/she has yet to acknowledge this so he/she uses people to keep the illusion alive.

        Ty for replying.

        • Aletheia Luna

          Yes, I think you might be referring to the “identified patient” syndrome ( Often destructive or sick parents project their own inadequacies onto their children. This happened to me.

          • yupyup

            I like to keep an objective point of view on facts to avoid confirmation bias. Thus, in my own opinion, they are not destructive or sick.

            To illustrate my point consider a child who would do the same things. In most situations one would say something to the tune of “well why is that kid taking care of his siblings all by themselves. Where’s the parent?” But, in contrast, add 10 or 20 years and most of society would assume that by this time a person should have learned to take responsibility for their actions. So, there is far less compassion and they become monsters instead of emotionally immature adults.

            Ty for your consistent dedication to replying. I am grateful you have not ignored my comments and whether or not you decide to reply, I’m proud to have learned more on this topic from your point of view. Enjoy the new year : b

            • Aletheia Luna

              You too :)

  • Marie

    This is an amazing article! I just recently stumbled upon the term “conversational narcissist” and realized it described someone in my life to a tee! You have inspired me to write my own blog entry – I hope you don’t mind if I link to your article as inspiration. Thanks for the great read!

    • Aletheia Luna

      Not at all Marie, I would be delighted to be referenced! When I first found the term I obsessed over finding as much as I possibly could, especially as I had come in contact with so many of these people in my own life!
      Thank you for reading, and best wishes with the production of your article!

  • CLO

    i think I am this way but I can’t believe it. LOL

    • Aletheia Luna

      We don’t like to believe negative things about ourselves (we equate it as being ‘less worthy’ as people) ;)

  • Lupe

    Haha this perfectly describes my mother. I love her to bits but being around her too long is a huge energy zapper. Great read Luna.

    • Aletheia Luna

      Thanks Lupe! And nice to hear from you again. :) Hopefully you have more ways of dealing with conversational narcissists in your life now!

  • narcissist_survivor

    This post really offers a lot of great suggestions for conversing with a narcissist. It can be so frustrating to deal with this personality type on a daily basis. I will have to come bookmark this page when I’m having trouble. Thank you for posting these strategies.

    • Aletheia Luna

      Happy to hear that you find these suggestions useful narcissist_survivor. :)
      In life we need many social tools, and these are among some of the most important and beneficial (and unheard of!)

      Thank you for reading!


  • Xiaoran Tong

    Dear Luna,
    You analysis about Conversational Narcissist made me feel shame about myself. This shame turns into sickness after reading the comments, being reminded how much torment I can put others through.

    I have to admit that I want the spot light all the time, like you said “crave constant validation, admiration and respect from the world”. I am aware of this and the damage it does, not just to one party – I can feel immense embarrassment, frustration after realizing my lengthy talk (usually to late) because I understand that an unwelcoming person does not deserve flowers and applause.

    Too bad I cannot feel much GUILT aside from embarrassment and frustration, that is to say, the torment a narcissist put himself through dose not conflict with his self-centered, egotistic nature. If we do feel enough guild after torturing our partners, the world will be rid of narcissists became a problem. So yes, it cannot be cured, even if I very much disliked your statement of my hopelessness to cope with it.

    Though I hope there is still other way out. A narcissist can still realize that to pay other’s fair shall of attention is the only way to get the same back (or slightly more perhaps?) . I’m honored to hear people’s serious life story as much as I like to tell mine, at least, and always wanted to be helpful, though I admit it is mainly out of the urge of being acknowledged.

    To some extent I hated your clinical, impersonating tone in the talks of what a Conversational Narcissist is and how to identify one. But it’s been an enlightenment to read your post and get a second hand experience of people’s disgust, which sure would help me become a matured one at least, be that I can’t drastically change into a selfless person anytime soon. It’s just a bit harsh for a long-term narcissist to swallow it down and dig up the ugliest part he usually try the best to hide.

    • Aletheia Luna

      Thank you Xiaoran, for sharing this about yourself.

      I believe that all personality flaws can be overcome, or at least significantly reduced, given the right approach. Now that you are aware of your conversation narcissism, it would benefit you to continue cultivating self-awareness through methods such as mindfulness meditation, and solitary introspection.

      If you truly are a narcissist, you will be primarily seeking out your own benefit from this discovery. In that case, you must realize that you will personally benefit immensely if you come across as a warm, open person who is willing to listen (you will gain a lot more admiration this way, and respect).

      It may be hard to confront these ugly sides of ourselves, but in order for any serious self-growth or self-improvement to occur, we must face these harsh times, knowing that they shape us, and mold us into better people.

      Gradually, with enough cultivating of self-awareness, self-discovery and self-acceptance, you will come to have more empathy for other people, developing the ability to put yourself in their shoes. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but other people will feel less lonely, more heard, and more understood by something you can do.

      I wish you all the very best, and hope you continue to walk along this harsh, but ultimately worthwhile, path of self-discovery.

      – Luna

    • CLO

      this is very common so don’t beat yourself up. Obviously there are nice attributes about yourself otherwise you wouldn’t have any friends to have a conversation with….

      Just do better next time and try to show others that you care about what they say.

      But I have seen many narcissistic people with lots of friends and their posse of friends enable them to be that way… So some people can get away with it and are just fine. If people find you attractive in some way typically they will tolerate you. If you are that selfish and not attractive you do nothing but repulse everyone…

  • Phil

    Agree absolutely! Not only rude but very draining. Have you noticed the narcissists’s energy levels remain high. Pure theft!

    • Aletheia Luna

      Energy thievery, haha, yes! That is precisely what it is Phil. However I do know that many Conversational Narcissists are quite unaware of what they do, in fact, I would say the majority. So it’s not so much that they intentionally set out to make us drained and uncomfortable. I think many of these people simply crave to be heard, to truly be able to connect with another person, but they go about it in the wrong way. Thank you Phil!


  • Alexandra

    Oh my, how this rings true! I have been experiencing a lot of the passive type as of late with an ex. It’s fascinating to observe, once you have become somewhat emotionally detached. Whereas within the relationship I kept getting hurt by the lack of attention to what I wanted to share, now I notice the patterns you describe and do some experimenting with regards to my response. Basically every conversation we used to have when we were together would end up being about him, and sometimes I would scratch my head, not understanding how we went from me trying share something to me responding to what he went on to talk about. The difference here, of course, is that narcissists aren’t much interested in the other person and what they have to say – no matter how ‘close’ they are to them – unless it has direct implications or ramifications for them. It’s hard to wrap your head around when you are the kind of person who cares about others and is curious. Narcissists are only curious when it’s got something to do with them, directly or indirectly. And if doesn’t, they will either give you a flat, non-animated tone or just drift off, leaving you to check in with them if they’re listening. The funny thing is that, just as described here, whenever they tell a story, once you see through a narcissist, you can clearly tell how they’re looking to get one response after another, either about how amazing they are or how poorly they’ve been treated. I had that happen the other day and caught myself in the nick of time. Instead of doing the thing I’d normally do, which is to forget about the fact that what I’ve been saying has all but been ignored, and engage in a conversation about what the narcissist brought up. It was fascinating. I just nodded and smiled and occasionally said half a sentence here and there. The narcissist went (increasingly more desperate, it seemed) from one story to the next about how terrible his life was at this end, and what a great thing he had done at the other. Too bad we were interrupted by a call. I would have loved to find out for how long this would have gone on…
    I apologize for the ramble, and thank you for posting this. It’s bang on. And, if I may, to those of you who struggle with people like that in your life, remember that there are roots to this kind of behavior (often very dysfunctional family history), and that this is a kind of illness. This is not to say that this should be condoned, but I do think it shouldn’t be taken personally, if possible. It’s like being upset with a blind person because they cannot see you. It doesn’t make any sense. Either have some fun with it or run for the hills. I’ve done both and it’s been a good life lesson, also about who I am and what I need in a partner. Never settle for someone who is not curious about you or interested in your life. For people like that you’re much more of a muli-functional service provider than a partner. Again, they can’t see you for who you are, only use you for what you’re good for. Those who have a bit of a conscience or social decorum will exchange other goods for what you bring to the table (for example offer you something material), but rarely, if ever, do they reciprocate warm attentive listening.
    Just to not be one-sided here, I know that I can sometimes take the conversation back to myself. I think I do it because I like to form a connection (as in having common ground), but I’ve learned to catch myself and bring it back to the other person, also because I am, most of the time, actually interested in what they have to say. Always good to observe ourselves too…
    Again, thank you for this post. A very clear overview with great suggestions!

    • Aletheia Luna

      Thank you for your advice and compassion Alexandra. I do believe some narcissists are born the way they are (just as children can apparently be born with psychopathy).
      Many thanks for reading and commenting,


      • ShmarShmar

        Hi Aletheia,

        I think children actually, while young, have a narcissistic phase, simply because their brain hasn’t finished growing yet. Mature adults are on the most part selfless but children are “supposed” to be selfish in order to learn as much about the world as possible. When children are punished for their natural narcissism at a young age by adults, perhaps narcissists themselves wondering while their children aren’t properly concerned with their parents feelings, their development is arrested and this behaviour becomes compulsive. Ironically, it is society’s ideological desire for children to behave selflessly instead of maturing into it that is to blame in my opinion. Abuse of any kind also causes kids to get “stuck” and not develop properly mentally, which may be why it’s possible to pick out narcissistic children from their peers.

  • Misty

    This article just described my dad perfectly. The strategies are really appreciated.

    • Aletheia Luna

      You’re very welcome Misty, thank you. :) All the best with putting the strategies in place,


  • Jenny

    So after reading this I’ve determined that I am a conversational narcissist. I want to stop the behavior but I’m not sure how.

    When I have a conversation with friends and I try super hard to NOT focus on myself I find that I never get to say anything at all about my life. All my energy is spent on hearing opinions they have and the activities that they’re doing. None of them ever ask me anything back, or show any interest at all in hearing my side. As a result, at the end of a conversation I feel empty. And I find myself craving someone to hear me out and take part in MY life for a little bit. And no one ever comes so I just bury it and move on. I feel so lonely. Just recently I lost my job, my car was totaled in a hit and run, and my husband left me. My life is in shambles and sometimes I just want to vent about the miserable, numbing things that are happening to me and feel the comfort of having a friend around.

    And don’t think I haven’t noticed that the ENTIRE above paragraph is all I Me My. And so is this one. I’m completely broken and I don’t know what to do….

    • Aletheia Luna

      Hi there Jenny.

      Instead of looking at your new discovery in a negative light, perhaps you could try changing your perspective realizing that you’ve made a wonderful new discovery that has the potential to better your life, and relationships with people. No one ever said that the path of self-discovery was easy, but with enough effort, will-power and persistence you will be able to break out of your self-destructive cycles present in the Sleep-State.

      I really commend you for opening yourself up and admitting this uncomfortable truth to yourself. Just remember that every single person on the face of the earth suffers from some negative personality trait. You have good company. ;)

      All the best with your new discovery,


  • j.

    Great article! I came upon this while trying to understand a few very close friends that I’ve had for over 15+ years. While trying to cope with several unexpected life changes, (my father was killed, 10 year relationship ended, job loss, mother being treated for cancer, all within a 3 month period) I tried to reach out to those friends and I was completely shattered by the blatant disinterest in anything about me or what was going on in my life.

    Phone calls after phone calls. These events were never acknowledged. And if I ever had a chance to make a slight mention of anything it was responded with the passive conversational narcissism or a complete re-direct about them and what experiences or memories they had about something similar in their past.

    This filled me with so much self-doubt and self-hate. With my personal lost, was I just over-reacting? Am I selfish? It really tore me apart.

    Well, that’s where my search started. How could I have so many very close friends that have absolutely no interest in ANYTHING about me at all? Surely, it must be me if it’s more than just one friend, right?!

    I have one friend who I talk to (or should say, listen to) about 5 nights a week, for hours. She has never answered one of my phone calls in 4 months. But if I miss her call, she will call 4-8 more times over and over until I answer. And even if I call her back right after a missed call, she will not answer but call back immediately.

    Yesterday she sent me a text, “Happy birthday. I hate everyone at work. I should just walkout”

    My birthday is today.

    For now on, I am only going to feed my narcissists on my own time. And if they can’t handle me being not being available to them 24-7 any more, they can go stare into a mirror in those empty hours.

    • Luna

      Thank you for sharing your experiences J.

      I’m surprised that you’ve put up with such people for over 15 years!
      No consideration, no compassion, no interest in your well-being – especially in such a difficult and stressful time in your life – what a pity that you have decided to put up with such people. I also understand how difficult it must be to leave these friends behind after such a long period of time, and after all the time and energy that you have used on them.
      One of the greatest joys I get from writing these articles is to read comments such as this, and I’m delighted to hear that you have finally awakened to the reality of your situation. Conversational narcissists unfortunately lack the ability to empathize with other people, which is why it would be much more beneficial and healthy for you to develop a different friend circle. All the best, L

    • CLO

      Kick them to the curb. Find new friends or just enjoy not being a doormat and being by yourself. It’s not that bad.

  • TwitChic

    Wow, now I know what my friend is, she is exactly a Conversational Narcissist. She has a grade five education, raised in logging camps, and allegedly the person everyone turns to for advice. She is not stupid but she is ignorant. Now I know how to deal with her. Thanks.

    • Sol

      We love hearing all of our reader’s experiences :), You’re welcome!

  • rezzrovv

    Is there ever a cure? What if you are married to a passive conversational narcissist? I find in some circumstance, they will actually bombard with questions but it is almost a penance showing how outwardly focused they can be. Their inquisition doesn’t seem real. I’ve about given up.

    • Luna

      Rezzrovv, that is definitely one of the most frustrating and silently destructive things to deal with in any sort of relationship: a blatant lack of interest shown in you, your concerns, or your interests by the other person, who simply asks you questions out of polite duty. I have come across many of these people (and I would say most people have a tiny streak of narcissism in them), but mostly I would say this is an unconscious display of lack of interest in you, coupled with self-interest.

  • Ed

    I’ve been single for most of my life. I’ve been on lots of dates. Lots. Most of them have been first dates, and that’s where it ended. Although I’ve been out with lots of different types of women, for the most part, they all have one thing in common – they’re all conversational narcissists. They all talk about themselves the entire time I’m with them. Some don’t even ask a single question throughout the entire date.

    I tend to not think of myself as a conversational narcissist. As I often get mowed over by most people I talk with outside of a professional setting, I believe I’m such the polar opposite to the point that it’s unhealthy. And I think this fuels the fire. When I get sucked in to a ‘conversation’ with someone and I am my usual stoic self, I think this adds to the other person’s belief that I actually am interested in what he or she has to say. And as my eyes glaze over, he or she will go on and on about their mundane lives ad nauseam. And, as much as I hate to admit it, the prettier the girl I’m interfacing with, the more I tolerate it. But, no matter how much I like looking at her and fantasizing what it would be like to do this or that to her, the mindless babbling gets old. I might snap out of my daze and mention something about something other than herself. At which point she will stop her babbling and say something to the effect of “uh huh”, and then resume her rambling. I shit you not, this is how almost everyone is.

    And then there are the people who I let into my life. As I’ve been rather unhealthy myself for a long time, I’ve not been very good about cautiously getting to know someone before I start spending time, money and emotions with/on them. As guys are not the talkers that girls are, they are less likely to be conversational narcissists. But they’re out there. It’s always about him: the girl he’s dating, his spiritual experiences, his job, etc. On and on. Buying his dinner? It doesn’t matter. The topic of conversation is going to be him, come hell or high water. And it never changes, it’s always the same every time you’re in his presence. And the stories are always the same.

    The best part: women I’ve dated. There has been only one woman I’ve ever dated who actually shut her mouth occasionally to listen to what I had to say. The only thing different about them was their hair color. They all talked about the same thing – nothing. But I needed to have these experiences. I needed to learn the hard way. And recently I did with the most unhealthy girl I ever encountered. We would be talking (well, she would be talking) and I would mention something and she wouldn’t even acknowledge that I said anything. She would resume blathering about her topic of choice. It was like my voice vanished into thin air before it reached her eardrums. I’ve been out with rude women. I’ve been out with disrespectful women. But I’ve never been out with a girl who behaved as she did. And then there was the time that she was verbally debating with herself about what type of new car she wanted to buy…while we were having sex. I must be the world’s worst lover. I’m actually getting physically ill as I write this memoir.

    What is it about talking about yourself that is so entertaining? You live with yourself 24 hours per day. Do you really have that much to talk about when it comes to yourself? Are you that interesting? Are you the most interesting man in the world on the beer commercials? You’re not.

    Now I’m in yet another situation where I’m tempted to continue seeing a girl who flashed all of the conversational narcissist signs while we were on a date last night. Cute girl. Good girl. But 95% of yesterday’s date – a date that lasted six hours – was spent talking about her mundane life. And because she’s nice to look at, I’m considering going out with her again. I’m fooling myself in to thinking that I should give her another chance and whatnot. And because I’m one stupid son of a bitch, I’ll probably go through with it.

    And then there are those few people with listening skills who actually employ them. I only have a few people in my life who fall in to this category. They are so precious and selfless! Why can’t people realize that it is so much more fulfilling to listen to what others have to say versus going on about what you experience day in and day out?

    • Luna

      Ed – wow – I think your story reflects a lot of other people’s stories, including my own (without the serial dating), so thanks for sharing. :)

      As I read your comment, I couldn’t help but feel sick myself. I would say 75% of most people I’ve ever spoken to, speak about themselves. About 98% talk about absolute vapid nonsense that I hardly think is worth talking about, but hey, we’re all on different levels. You’ll find that many attractive women are very 2-D. They have their looks, their boobs and their butts, so what’s the use of pursuing anything of meaning – when life can be lived so easily? Want a job? Easy! Wear a low cut top and begin flirting and giggling. Men love giggling. It makes them feel like funny hot-shots. Want fancy clothing? Easy! Seduce a clueless rich guy and drain him of money. Of course, I’m not saying that they plan any of this, but instinctively they know deep down that they can get away with anything. They can act like 3 year old children with the personality of brick walls and still get anything they want.

      My advice: stay away from attractive looking women. If what you want is a person of depth and substance, try dating a more average looking woman. Why? Because they’ve had to rely on their intelligence to get what they want in life. If what you want is a one night stand, try reading up on Pick-Up Artist techniques. Not only do you NOT have to put up with the blather of these women, but many of their techniques are quick and simple, and achieve your objective without all the mental pain.

      I’ve wondered that as well: what is so special, unique or insightful about yourself which is worth talking about all day every day? The truth is that many people live asleep. They live in dreams filled with plans, fantasies of money, power and popularity. Their daily lives are consumed with these dreams, and they fill up the empty holes inside of them. Personally I try to keep away from stagnant people like this – they bombard your days with empty chatter.

      Try dating women online as well – also, joining local meetup groups that have the same interests as you will help instil your faith in humanity.

    • LizaBee

      This is a little late reply but, I have recently discovered this diagnosis and have found it in a new friend. Call them out. A graceful female will be able to reflect on herself. You seem insightful into your own faults (falling for a narcissist again and again), why would you date someone who cannot reflect on how she represents herself in a relationship, and listen to information that would benefit a relationship with you? Say, “I really want to share this with you because I think you’d get to know me better.” Show her things like pictures you’ve taken, or a song you like, talk about places you’ve visited, your favorite restaurant. Just because she talks about herself when she’s around you, doesn’t mean she’s not thinking about the small moments you talked back…at home, alone. Talk about worldly things, ask her how she feels about something you’re interested in. How does she feel about the latest episode of breaking bad? Take her out on a date where conversation is minimal- e.g., a batting cage or pool with a kareoke night. Make new experiences. I learned there is no duller conversation than the ones where the other person talks about things they’ve done with other people and how cool it was, when you weren’t there, and rubs your face in it. Change the subject again and again, and if the conversation doesn’t flow around interests you brought up, then it won’t work. Get out.

      • Ed

        It’s not worth it. I think because I’m the stoic type I will always get mowed over. I’m fine being single. Yes, sometimes it’s a bummer when I don’t have anything to do on a Saturday night. And not having regular sex is unfortunate. But whatever…

  • YJohnD

    I think I’ll have to be honest with myself and go ahead and admit I’m a conversational narcissist. Definitely more of an active kind as opposed to the passive kind. The passive kind is blatantly rude. I try not to do it, but sometimes I can’t help it. In my defense, I like to rationalize it as being a part of my inability to “converse normally”. Often I just can’t think of anything to say or figure out other ways to extend the conversation so I resort to narcissistic conversation because I’d like to talk/ keep talking to you either out of interest in the relationship or for feelings of social obligation. But it’s a weakness that I need to work on.

    (Count the “I’s”, “me’s”, or “my’s” in this post! (: )

    • Luna

      YJohnD, I think there’s a bit of conversational narcissist in all of us in different contexts. I can honestly understand why people prefer talking about themselves, especially in situations when talking to a person is like talking to a cardboard cut-out (…like those one-sided conversations we’ve all had with people who answer in monosyllables). I like asking very open-ended questions like “why did you decide that”, “what did you think of that”. Many times conversations with people can be really dull, and the liveliest way to freshen them up is to ask their opinions on something. People love giving opinions! (Just listen to me now!)

      Thanks very much for sharing :)

  • exasperated77

    Sounds likemy dad. Talks about himself unfailingly and if I get a chance to mention how my life is or relate my experience of something he’s talking about he does this thing where his eyes glaze over and he stares into space,daydreaming, totally disconnected from listening until he gets a chance to talk about himself again. On the other hand I have a really, really extrovert friend who does listen but then proceeds to tell me exactly what I should do with unflinching confidence that his advice is the bestest advice ever, he has an answer for everything even when I’m not looking for an answer!

    • Luna

      It’s hard living with a conversational narcissist (or a narcissist straight out) isn’t it? I hope this article was of some use to you. I currently live with what I would consider a C.N as well, and I find the best thing is to just repeat what they say (because asking too many questions after a while is just tedious and fuels the conversation). Soon they become bored and hey presto, you’re out.

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Betty Cattiness

        Most relationships with most people I encounter are unfulfilling because we live in a narcissistic world. People are taught to be narcissistic. A kind, nice person is thought to be “weak”. A person with good manners gets mowed down. A man who behaves as a gentleman is an anachronism. A woman with good manners who doesn’t but in and talk across others is completely ignored. What is Facebook but conversational narcissism? “Look at me and what I am doing throughout the day.”
        I am in the process right now of marking several people off my list of “friends” because they are not really friends. I’m not even sure I know what a friend really is. One so called friend is a woman I have known and worked with for 40 years. I was in her wedding. When I am around her (every 5 or 6 years), I think she is my friend because she seems happy to see me and is attentive, however only talks about her own dramas. When I call her, she is always busy, in the throws of a drama, but says she will call me back. She very, very rarely does. Then I will forget for a moment, want to talk to someone, a warm human voice and will call her again and the same thing happens all over again. It happened last night because I was lonely. I called her, she was watching a movie with her daughter (four minutes to go), said she would return my call and has not. I said, “when, in 6 months?” She didn’t get it. She is so insensitive she can’t imagine I might need to talk to someone myself.. Her dramas that she sets up herself take precedent. She really is not that important to me, but it is fresh in my memory because it just happened. I have deleted her phone number for the third or fourth time.
        Unfortunately she is not the only narcissist I know. As a single person and older, it is difficult to find anyone who has time for a friendship. Most people are completely tied up with their families. A person who is not lucky enough to have this situation is basically out of luck. The world is a tough place.

        • Aletheia Luna

          Betty, such a terrifically enlightening comment, thank you. I think this was my favorite part of your response: What is Facebook but conversational narcissism? “Look at me and what I am doing throughout the day.” I’ve deleted my facebook account many times because of this, but now, because it’s one of the only ways that I can talk to my family members I must keep it.

          The good news is that now you have a well-rounded idea of conversational narcissism, and hopefully this will create some change in your life, and help you to choose who you befriend wisely. It’s truly hard to find someone genuinely warm, attentive and caring these days. This is why the internet is invaluable; not only does it help us reach out to a wider variety of people in our cities, but it provides the opportunity for a long-lasting relationship, one of mutual care.