Baffling Reasons Narcissists Think They’re Above The Rules

Baffling Reasons Narcissists Think They’re Above The Rules Shutterstock

Have you ever wondered why some people act as if the rules everyone else follows don’t apply to them?

Studies suggest that about 0.5% of the global population and 5% of the U.S. are considered narcissistic. While it’s more common among males and those assigned male at birth, narcissists are amazing liars and effectively hide their behaviors from others (commonly referred to as “covert narcissism”).  Due to this inconsistency in statistics, it is difficult for experts to estimate how many people truly have NPD. Nevertheless, those that do act in ways that are frustrating at best and downright inappropriate at worst. Here are some of the complex reasons behind the narcissistic belief that they are excused from following the rules.

1. They feel a sense of entitlement.

Entitlement is the belief or feeling that one deserves privileges or special treatment without necessarily earning it. In addition, this includes expecting others to do things for you, acting selfishly, not showing gratitude, feeling like a victim, and feeling insecure. While a narcissist may think they’re either exceptionally superior or exceptionally lacking, they may also believe the world owes them everything. 

Furthermore, narcissists believe that they are better than everyone else. For example, they feel they deserve praise, attention, and compliments more than others.  They may also try to prove their importance by making themselves the center of attention or doing good deeds in front of people. This type of behavior inflates their ego, therefore creating a sense of superiority in the narcissist.

2.  They lack empathy.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is described as self-centered, feeling superior, using others, and lacking empathy. Narcissists seek admiration, they only do things for their own gain.  They always think, “What’s in it for me?” before doing anything.  They can’t empathize with others as it is viewed as a threat or a weakness because it hurts their ego. A narcissist’s empathy solely depends on a fragile sense of self-importance. Their sense of self shatters when criticized. When their ego is damaged, it can induce negative or toxic behaviors such as not following the rules.  Real empathy is consistent, while performative empathy is often superficial and skin-deep.

3.  They have a victim mentality.

Having a victim mentality in narcissism means that when an individual acts innocent, they can manipulate situations to get sympathy from others or even deflect accountability for their actions. This behavior often portrays the narcissist as unfairly treated or “the victim”.

Studies from 2003 suggest that people with high levels of narcissism actually may perceive themselves as victims of interpersonal offenses more often than those who do not have the disorder. Furthermore, a 2020 qualitative study found that individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder learned the victim’s mentality behavior from a family member.

4. They’re all about manipulative evasion.

Instead of answering a question directly, narcissists often avoid or deflect. Narcissists redirect attention elsewhere. This primary strategy manipulates and controls situations to go in the favor of the narcissist. These individuals with NPD and other personality disorders gain control in these situations using evasion. If a narcissist is trying to get out of something, this tactic is a common practice among those with NPD.

This is just one sneaky trick narcissists use to keep you addicted to their drama.

5. They’re natural attention seekers.

Those with high levels of narcissism crave being in the spotlight or the main focus. They are skilled at making sure that all eyes are on them. Narcissists may steal the show from someone else, or create drama. They will do whatever it takes to get attention.

Attention-seeking behaviors include being overly dramatic or exaggerative, seeking external validation, being over the top with their behavior, seeking sympathy, or having extreme anger issues.  That is why narcissists may break rules or laws. Narcissists use many methods to increase their self-esteem, keeping a high and exaggerated opinion of themselves.

6. They may have experienced severe childhood abuse or neglect.

Studies suggest that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) often play a major role in the development of narcissistic personality traits, this is especially common for the vulnerable type.

Furthermore, some research connects NPD to ACEs to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect. For example, imagine students sitting in a classroom. The teacher asks these students to raise their hands before speaking. Most students will follow this rule, whereas a narcissistic student may consistently speak out without raising their hand, disregarding the teacher’s instruction.

While a student speaking out of turn isn’t necessarily a sign of abuse, some of these are signs you didn’t get enough affection as a child. I also want to point out that not everyone who experiences ACEs ends up with narcissistic personality disorder.

7. They have a disruptive attachment style.

Narcissists or people with narcissistic traits were mistreated or not properly cared for as a child. That often leads to people having anxious or avoidant attachment styles. For example, someone who has NPD may seek constant validation and reassurance from others due to having an insecure sense of self-worth. In rule-breaking, these people may disregard workplace or social norms because they feel they deserve separate or special treatment.

Common attachment styles associated with narcissism include avoidant, insecure, and anxious attachment. In fact, studies indicate that both types of narcissism are largely related to insecure attachment styles. Whether narcissists act out in more grandiose or vulnerable ways, their childhood and daily life experiences are a deciding factor.

8. It’s learned behavior from a family member.

Narcissism is considered a learned behavior by many professionals. Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical Psychologist and NPD expert, believes that narcissistic traits are imprinted on an individual by growing up in a dysfunctional family unit. These negative traits are then passed down from generation to generation. These traits are often learned through abuse, abandonment, or betrayal.

For example, in the workplace, people with narcissistic traits may regularly break rules by taking credit for others’ work or manipulating situations to their advantage. This behavior is often observed by a child from a caregiver, who then picks up on the toxic trait. This is known as “modeling.”

9. They have dysregulated emotions.

Dysregulation or emotional dysregulation is when you have trouble controlling your emotions. That causes large mood swings or sudden and drastic changes in how an individual feels about something small. This type of dysregulation can cause violent and often rageful outbursts in those affected by the disorder.

Signs of emotional dysregulation include mood swings or emotional instability, impulsivity, trouble calming down, angry outbursts, and a history of unstable relationships. About 15% of people with NPD experience depression, and only 13.5% have anxiety. Additionally, another 17% of individuals have other mood disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder. Furthermore, as many as 39% of people with BPD may also have NPD.

10. They think it’s a normal response to rejection.

Funny businessman rejecting to give interview to journalist. Stop sign. Man from recruitment management stopping interviewing lady, fraud, unhappy customer complaining, demanding compensation

When narcissists get rejected, it is common behavior for them to act in cruel, aggressive, or even dismissive ways. Often that can mean being cut off from them. In contrast, narcissists may reject you in certain situations if you have not rejected them first. That will trigger toxic behaviors in narcissists. For example, if you no longer hold value to the individual with NPD, it is common for the survivor of narcissistic abuse to get discarded or ghosted.

11. They don’t know how to take responsibility for their actions (or simply refuse to).

Taking responsibility, admitting mistakes, and taking blame may be difficult for the average Joe, however, for narcissists, it is almost impossible. Narcissists feel they are perfect, while still suffering from behavior that is self-hatred.

They can’t admit fault not because they love themselves, but because it would challenge their entire identity, thus impacting their insecure sense of self. Individuals who have NPD may bend or break social rules or norms to get out of taking accountability for their actions and toxic behaviors.

12. They like playing mind games.

People who have NPD may use manipulation tactics or mind games to assert their power or dominance. These behaviors come from their egoism, superiority, or a “god complex.” These people play games to control others in relationships, boost their fragile egos, seek validation, and get admiration from others. 

For example, imagine a gathering at a social event. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder may disrespect the boundaries of other guests or take over conversations. That may include interrupting or dominating the spotlight. These are only some baffling reasons narcissists think they’re above the rules.

13. They completely lack self-awareness.

Narcissistic woman looks egotistically

Those with narcissistic personality disorder or those with narcissistic traits usually lack self-awareness. Generally, people wonder if those with NPD realize that they are causing problems or disrupting lives. Additionally, they may acknowledge that problems exist, but the blame is always on others instead of themselves.

Narcissists lack self-awareness, which may add to any criminal or non-criminal rule-breaking. While being the target of narcissistic abuse is often hurtful, many narcissists are actually unaware of how deeply their actions and words can impact others. Furthermore, there is some sense of right from wrong, but there is no understanding or empathy towards the survivor of narcissistic abuse.

14. They don’t respect healthy boundaries.

When setting healthy boundaries, the average person without NPD will respect and adhere to those relationship rules. However, a narcissist will find healthy boundaries annoying and attempt to gain control or assert dominance. The narcissist may respond with toxic tactics to make sure that the target of their abuse doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Healthy boundaries are important because they help empower us and maintain our unique identity outside the relationship.

15. They don’t play by the same rules as you.

Two young beautiful girls©iStock/teksomolika

People with NPD tend to think they know best, they make their own rules as they go. That is one reason it is so difficult to communicate your feelings to someone with these toxic traits. They don’t understand empathy, nor do they feel they should. For example, imagine a group project where someone with narcissistic personality disorder decides to make their own rules for the project without asking the rest of the group. The reason is that they feel their ideas are better, so they instead decide which way the group project should go. This behavior is toxic and inconsiderate to those involved.

Rebecca is an experienced Professional Freelancer with nearly a decade of expertise in writing SEO Content, Digital Illustrations, and Graphic Design. When not engrossed in her creative endeavors, Rebecca dedicates her time to her family and friends. When not focused on her passion for creating, writing, and editing content, she harbors a deep fasciation for Psychology and human behavior.