22 Things Only People Who Were Raised By Narcissistic Parents Will Relate To

22 Things Only People Who Were Raised By Narcissistic Parents Will Relate To

Being raised by narcissistic parents has a profound effect on who you are and how you operate as an adult. Even if you’ve done the work in therapy and are still working through the trauma you experienced as a child, chances are, you’ll still be able to relate to more than a few of the below.

1. You’re a pro at reading subtle hints and clues.

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Being raised by narcissistic parents turns you into an expert at picking up on the tiniest changes in tone or body language. You had to be, to navigate the unpredictable moods at home. Now, you notice the smallest sigh, the slightest shift in demeanor, and you’re often the first to ask, “Is everything okay?” It’s like your senses are fine-tuned to detect the unspoken and unseen.

2. Your independence is off the charts.

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Since you couldn’t rely much on your parents for emotional support, you learned to be fiercely independent from a young age. You figured out how to solve problems on your own, and now, you’re the go-to person for fixing just about anything. This self-reliance is your superpower, although it sometimes makes it hard to ask for help when you really need it.

3. You’re an emotional chameleon.

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You’ve become adept at adapting your emotions and reactions to suit the people around you. This skill was a necessity growing up in a home where you had to constantly gauge and respond to the emotional climate. As an adult, this means you’re excellent at empathizing and harmonizing with others. However, it can also be exhausting, and sometimes you might lose sight of where your own emotions end and others’ begin. Remembering to stay true to your feelings is crucial for your emotional health. (If you struggle to do this, check out our sister site, Sweetn. You’ll be glad you did.)

4. You have a foolproof internal lie detector.

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Years of dealing with narcissistic behavior mean you can spot insincerity a mile away. You’re like a human lie detector. This skill has probably saved you from sketchy situations more times than you can count. It’s a valuable trait, but it also means you can be a bit skeptical, sometimes even when people are being genuine.

5. You’re extremely empathetic and always root for the underdog.

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Growing up, you often felt misunderstood or overlooked, which has given you a huge soft spot for anyone in a similar situation. You’re always rooting for the underdog and are the first to offer a helping hand. Your empathy isn’t just surface-level; you genuinely feel for others and will go out of your way to support them.

6. You’re an expert at de-escalating tense situations.

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Living with narcissistic parents meant you often had to be the peacekeeper. Now, you have an almost magical ability to calm tense situations. Friends might joke that you should be a diplomat or a mediator. It’s a handy skill, but it also means you’ve had to shoulder a lot of emotional labor from a young age.

7. You value authenticity above all else.

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After years of dealing with inauthentic behavior at home, you place a high value on honesty and genuineness in your relationships. You can’t stand fakeness and would rather be alone than with people who aren’t true to themselves. This quest for authenticity makes your friendships and relationships deeper and more meaningful, although it might mean you have a smaller circle of friends.

8. You’re great in a crisis.

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All those years of managing unpredictable moods and situations mean you’re incredibly good under pressure (unlike Rihanna). You don’t easily panic, and when everyone else is losing their heads, you’re the one figuring out a solution. This coolness under fire serves you well in high-stress situations, although it’s a skill you probably wish you hadn’t needed to develop so early in life.

9. Your sense of humor is your shield.

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You’ve developed a sharp, often self-deprecating sense of humor as a way to cope with your upbringing. It’s your shield against the world, and often you’re able to find a laugh even in tough situations. Your humor might be a bit dark or sarcastic, but it’s a coping mechanism that has helped you through many tough times.

10. You’re really careful about who you let your guard down for.

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Having narcissistic parents means you’re very selective about who you trust. You don’t open up easily, but when you do, it’s because that person has proven they’re worthy of seeing the real you. This cautiousness means your friendships are few but deep. You value quality over quantity when it comes to relationships.

11. You’re an old soul.

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Having dealt with so much from a young age, you often come off as more mature than your peers. People might describe you as an old soul, wise beyond your years. This maturity comes from having to navigate complex emotional landscapes at home. While this wisdom is a strength, it also means you might have missed out on some carefree aspects of a typical childhood.

12. You have a strong sense of justice.

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Growing up in a challenging environment, you developed a keen sense of right and wrong. Injustice or unfairness, whether in personal situations or on a larger scale, really gets under your skin. You’re not afraid to stand up for what you believe in, and you’re often the first to speak out against wrongdoing. This strong moral compass is a direct result of your desire to make the world a fairer place than the one you grew up in.

13. You’re exceptionally resourceful.

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Resourcefulness is second nature to you. You had to be clever and inventive to deal with the unpredictability of narcissistic parents. Whether it’s fixing a problem or finding a way to achieve your goals, you have a knack for figuring things out. This ingenuity is something you carry into all areas of your life, making you adaptable and creative in the face of challenges.

14. You tend to be overly responsible.

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You were probably given more responsibilities than a child should have. Now, you find yourself taking on more than your fair share in work and personal relationships. This sense of over-responsibility can lead to burnout, but it’s hard for you to not step up. Learning to delegate and share responsibilities is something you might still be working on.

15. You really appreciate deep, genuine connections.

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After growing up in a superficial environment, you really value genuine, heartfelt connections. You can spot a fake a mile away and have no time for it. When you find someone who is real and authentic, you cherish that relationship. These connections might be rare, but they’re incredibly meaningful to you.

16. You often feel like an outsider.

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Having a unique family dynamic can leave you feeling like you don’t quite fit in with others who had more traditional upbringings. This outsider feeling might follow you into adulthood. You’re used to observing rather than participating, which can make social situations a bit challenging. But it also gives you a unique perspective on the world.

17. You’re very driven and ambitious.

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A part of you constantly strives to prove yourself, maybe because you weren’t affirmed enough growing up. This drive can make you highly successful in your pursuits. However, it’s important to remember to pause and appreciate your achievements, rather than constantly moving on to the next goal. Your worth isn’t just in what you accomplish.

18. You find solace in creativity.

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Expressing yourself through art, music, writing, or any creative outlet might be your way of processing your childhood experiences. Creativity provides a safe space to explore your feelings and thoughts. It’s a form of therapy, a way to heal and understand yourself better. Your creative works are often deeply personal and resonate with others who have had similar experiences.

19. You’re a master at self-sufficiency.

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From a young age, you learned to rely on yourself for your needs, both emotional and physical. This self-sufficiency has shaped you into an incredibly independent person. You’re used to figuring things out on your own, whether it’s fixing a leaky faucet or sorting through tough emotions. While this independence is a strength, it sometimes makes it hard for you to accept help from others, even when you could use it.

20. You value stability in your life.

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Having grown up in an often chaotic environment, you now place a high value on stability and predictability. You might prefer routines and structured environments because they offer a sense of security that was lacking in your childhood. This longing for stability can manifest in various aspects of your life, from your career choices to your relationships. It’s your way of ensuring that your adult life is more controlled and peaceful than your childhood.

21. You sometimes struggle with intimacy.

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Getting close to people can be tough when you’ve been raised by narcissistic parents. Intimacy requires a level of vulnerability that might feel foreign or unsafe to you. You might keep people at arm’s length, not because you don’t want to get close, but because letting someone in feels risky. Learning to trust and open up can be a slow process, but it’s essential for forming deeper, more meaningful connections.

22. You have a complicated relationship with authority.

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Authority figures can be tricky for you. On one hand, you might find yourself automatically rebelling against them, a response to the controlling nature of your parents. On the other hand, you might seek approval from authority figures, replicating your childhood efforts to please your parents. Navigating these complex feelings towards authority can be a challenge in your professional and personal life.

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.