Male narcissist

Naomi Carr
Author: Naomi Carr Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

The term narcissist often refers to someone who is arrogant, manipulative, and grandiose. Narcissists can display a variety of traits, which may differ from person to person and vary depending on the gender, age, and background of the individual. It can be helpful to know the different ways that narcissism can present, to help recognize and manage harmful traits and behaviors.

Male narcissist

What is a male narcissist?

A male narcissist refers to a male who exhibits narcissistic behavior or has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Male narcissists may display different behaviors to a female narcissist, although some traits will inevitably overlap.

A narcissist is someone who displays some or all of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder. NPD is one of ten personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) [1].

To be diagnosed with NPD, individuals must meet several of the following criteria [1][2]:

  • Inflated or fluctuating self-esteem
  • Often very arrogant and entitled
  • Manipulating or deceiving others for personal gain
  • Displaying aggressive behaviors
  • Sensitivity to criticism and shame
  • Constant need for validation and attention from others
  • Strong desire for power and success

NPD is more likely to affect men than women, although recent research suggests that it is likely to present differently depending on gender. Additionally, studies indicate that there are two prominent types of NPD, known as overt and covert narcissism [3][4].

Overt or grandiose narcissists have very high self-esteem, display aggressive behaviors, and are externally expressive. In contrast, covert or vulnerable narcissists have very low self-esteem, are more sensitive to criticism, are more withdrawn, and are more internally expressive [2][4].

Is narcissism different in men than in women?

Studies have shown a significantly higher prevalence of NPD among males, suggesting that females are less likely to develop the condition [3][5]. However, this may be partly due to the gender differences in how the condition presents, the wording of diagnostic criteria, and biases from diagnosing clinicians [5][6].

For example, gender differences in the presentation of NPD can include [3][5][7][8][9]:

  • Typically, females are more likely to experience covert NPD, while males are more likely to have overt NPD. This indicates a significant difference in how the condition develops depending on gender.
  • Males are more likely to behave aggressively than females.
  • Females are more likely to use manipulation tactics and passive-aggressiveness than males, particularly involving social integration and reputation.
  • Males tend to have less ability to empathize with others compared to females.
  • Males are more likely than females to seek positions of power and authority.
  • Males tend to be more motivated by financial success and leadership than women. Whereas women tend to be more motivated by or concerned with physical appearance.
  • Males are less likely than females to seek professional advice and treatment.
  • Males are more likely to react to criticism with hostility, whereas females are more likely to experience shame.

Some of these differences can be attributed to gender stereotypes and expectations, which are demonstrated and modeled from a young age. As such, if a child is at risk of developing NPD, the parental and societal expectations they experience due to their gender are likely to influence the symptoms and traits that develop [6][8].

Similarly, gender norms and stereotypes can also impact how people are diagnosed. The higher prevalence of NPD amongst males may be because males are more likely to experience this condition, but it could also be significantly impacted by misdiagnoses and biases [6][9].

It is important to note that these gender differences may not apply to all individuals with NPD, as presentations of these traits can vary depending on several factors aside from gender.

Generally, females are more likely to have covert NPD, while males are more likely to have overt NPD. However, males can also experience covert NPD. Additionally, research suggests that there are fewer gender differences in this type of narcissism [3].

Male narcissist traits

The traits of a male narcissist may vary from person to person but typically will include [1][2][4][5][9]:

  • Always wanting to talk about themselves and redirecting conversations about other topics
  • Being arrogant and boasting about or exaggerating their accomplishments
  • Regularly seeking admiration and attention from others
  • Believing they are more important than and superior to everyone else
  • Believing they are entitled to special treatment
  • Assuming everyone is envious of their success, attractiveness, or personality
  • Using manipulation tactics to get what they want, such as love bombing, gaslighting, telling lies, spreading rumors about others, or coercive control
  • Having very superficial and short-lived relationships that only serve to benefit them
  • Exploiting and deceiving friends, family, partners, and acquaintances for financial or personal gain
  • Showing little or no interest in anyone else’s needs, achievements, or discussions
  • Insulting and being condescending to others
  • Rapid mood swings, such as having a short temper and displaying sudden anger and hostility
  • Becoming verbally or physically aggressive when challenged, criticized, or humiliated
  • Seeking positions of power or authority in their career
  • Impaired ability to show empathy or concern for others’ needs, emotional difficulties, or well-being

How to deal with male narcissists

Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging and draining, so it can be helpful to know how to manage these interactions. It may be helpful to utilize the following:

  • Learn more: Learning more about traits of NPD and narcissism can help with recognizing manipulative tactics and abusive behaviors. This can provide the necessary knowledge to avoid or cope with challenging situations and interactions with narcissists.
  • Set boundaries: Make clear and blunt statements about behaviors and language that you will not tolerate or accept. This can help to protect you from difficult situations and can provide clear boundaries to the narcissist, so they know what to expect in their interactions with you.
  • Don’t compliment or criticize: Narcissists thrive off compliments and are sensitive to criticisms. As such, avoid saying things that could be interpreted in either way and attempt to maintain neutral and noncommittal language. This way, you are likely to avoid being used for their gratification and validation and are less likely to encounter aggressive or hostile responses.
  • Keep interactions short: The longer you interact with a narcissist, the more likely it is that they will attempt to pull you into one of their exploitation or manipulation tactics. Avoid long conversations, only communicate necessary information, and don’t tell them any personal details.
  • Avoid them completely: If you can, the best way to manage a narcissist is to avoid them completely. It may not always be possible if they are a family member or work colleague. However, if you are encountering emotional or physical harm from a narcissist, it is advisable to end all interactions with them if possible.
  • Seek professional help: Following a relationship or repeated interaction with a narcissist, it is common to experience negative impacts. Seeking professional treatment and advice can help manage these effects, by processing and overcoming the harm that has been caused.

Treatment for narcissists

Many people with narcissistic traits do not choose to seek professional diagnosis or treatment. Often this is because they do not experience any impairments or feel that they need professional help. However, some people with NPD experience symptoms of other conditions for which they require support, such as depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse [4].

Treatment is available to help people manage symptoms of NPD and comorbid conditions, and may include psychotherapy and medication. Receiving professional advice and treatment is the most effective way to manage and reduce mental health symptoms [2][4].

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5thEdition. Arlington, VA: APA
  2. Mitra, P., & Fluyau, D. (Updated 2023). Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In: StatPearls [Internet].Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from
  3. Grijalva, E., Newman, D.A., Tay, L., Donnellan, M.B., Harms, P.D., Robins, R.W., & Yan, T. (2015). Gender Differences in Narcissism: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 141(2), 261–310. Retrieved from
  4. Caligor, E., Levy, K.N., & Yeomans, F.E. (2015). Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Diagnostic and Clinical Challenges. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(5), 415-422. Retrieved from
  5. Hoertel, N., Peyre, H., Lavaud, P., Blanco, C., Guerin-Langlois, C., René, M., Schuster, J.P., Lemogne, C., Delorme, R., & Limosin, F. (2018). Examining Sex Differences in DSM-IV-TR Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptom Expression Using Item Response Theory (IRT). Psychiatry Research, 260, 500–507. Retrieved from
  6. Paris, J. (2007). An Overview on Gender, Personality and Mental Health. Personality and Mental Health, 1(1), 14-20. Retrieved from
  7. Boursier, V., & Gioia, F. (2020). Women’s Pathological Narcissism and its Relationship with Social Appearance Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Body Shame. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 17(3), 164–174. Retrieved from
  8. Klonsky, E.D., Jane, J.S., Turkheimer, E., & Oltmanns, T.F. (2002). Gender Role and Personality Disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 16(5), 464–476. Retrieved from
  9. Green, A., MacLean, R., and Charles, K. (2020). Unmasking Gender Differences in Narcissism Within Intimate Partner Violence. Personality and Individual Differences, 167, 1-6. Retrieved from
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Naomi Carr
Author Naomi Carr Writer

Naomi Carr is a writer with a background in English Literature from Oxford Brookes University.

Published: Oct 25th 2023, Last edited: Feb 6th 2024

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Oct 25th 2023