The narcissist is not able to handle any kind of criticism, whether constructive or not. They are hypersensitive. They can dish it out but cannot take it. They make jabs at you or your loved ones and then pretend that they did not. For example, he may say that you look fat in that outfit, then when you react to the hurtful comment he says “I am just kidding, you are so sensitive!” Narcissists quickly turn it around and make you the one with the problem. Or they flat out deny that their statement was meant to be offensive and say that you are reading into their comment negatively.
Narcissists do not “fit in” when around a group of people, no matter how hard they appear to try. The narcissist is like a stoic rock post standing amongst the trees. It may try to mimic the height of the trees, but it cannot ever become a tree. It is simply not made of the same stuff. Because narcissists are not able to feel emotion, they cannot identify with people’s feelings and needs. When you think back to his sense of humor, you may remember him being fun and silly and able to laugh at jokes, trying to blend in. However, he reacts differently if the jokes are made at his expense. He may lash out at the joker, or act wounded and as a victim.
The narcissist views himself as perfect and does not want to be seen by anybody as less than so. Therefore, any joke that is aimed at him will make him react in a oversensitive manner. The narcissist is easily offended because jokes at their expense puts them in a less than perfect light. My narcissist could never even be called a pet name that he viewed as undignified. Once I sweetly teased him that he could get lost coming home from the grocery store. Then he overreacted by saying “That is not nice! Why are you being so mean to me? I cannot believe you would talk to me like that!” Even though, he routinely missed his turns so often that it became comical. However, it was ok for him to make jokes at my expense, and when I spoke up, he would accuse me of “being no fun, or too sensitive.”
My narcissist was almost a prude about certain things, he would never pee when I was in the bathroom, he was terrified that I might see him in an vulnerable position. I wouldn’t have looked, but I thought that after seven years of marriage we could let the boundaries down a little bit. Who cares? But he always made a big deal out of it and kicked me out of the bathroom, even if I was busy brushing my teeth, so that he could use the toilet.
God forbid if I had stressful day and would be a little bit testy. He felt that I should have a smile on my face at all times. If I didn’t, he would make comments like “Why don’t you just be happy?” Well, nothing irks me like someone telling me how to feel. I felt that he was trying to strip away my rights to my own feelings. He never let me just be cranky without serious consequences. He would call me out and start a fight with me, instead of just giving me some much needed space, which would have made me in a much better state of mind. Then after the brawl, I would have no choice but to “put on my happy face” or else face another dispute. So in the end, he always won.
Heightened sensitivity to people’s remarks is a trait of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is a type of paranoia that is difficult to live with. My narcissist always took offense to even innocent comments by coworkers, my family, and me. It always made me unsteady when he would ask me what I thought other people meant when they talked to him about something that day. I would have to constantly bring him back down to earth by saying that people are not out to get him, or to take jabs at him, but that he reads into their ordinary conversations. He still did not believe me. He would accuse me of being too trusting and naive. I touch upon this kind of paranoia in my other article, What are the signs of NPD?
This oversensitivity does not get better, the narcissist never “loosens up.” They are always getting their “feelings hurt,” even though they don’t have feelings like you and me, they are empty inside.
18 thoughts on “Narcissists are hypersensitive, easily offended and have no sense of humor about themselves”
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This is so true, when my husband used to laugh along to something funny on TV I would notice he wasn’t really laughing. It was uncomfortable to see him pretending. The only time he got a kick out of something is when he got the advantage over someone or something!
My Narcissist pretended to laugh when we were around my family. His reaction would be over the top and loud. My whole family would then ask me if he was faking because it seemed contrived. Thank you so much for your comments!
they really cannot help it nor be cured. stay away from them as much as is possible. at work they are capable of trying to gather opponents against you if your presence is an embarrassment to them (e.g. you have to point out errors they have made which must be corrected for the good of all). most people will not detect it unless they are one of the targets of the narcissist. If you are married you can divorce. If they have successfully sucked up to the big boss at work, you are in BIG trouble. Avoid him where possible and stick to yes no answers if possible. Keep all offensive emails for later legal action 🙂 The workplace should protect you and manage the narcissist or the employer will be sued, not the person with the personality disorder.
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At one time husband and myself both went to a live comedy show ..it was one of the best, well known TV comics in the country.
He did not laugh at all for the first half an hour and then slept all the way through the loud clapping screeching and laughter all around him all the rest of the show.
Also it is absolutely true about easily taking comments personally or in a bad humour when in a group of friends of mine, when we first met.
Worst of all was trying to joke with him about anything on a telephone call.
Dull dreadful short calls when we were dating.
I had no idea then that this was a Narcissistic symptom. Thanks so much for your posts.
I actually found your posts after looking up ‘No sense of humour ‘ as a characteristic symptom in a search engine after researching his ‘issues and differences ‘ for years.
I had been under the incorrect illusion that he maybe had Aspergers Syndrome for years, despite many searches and discussions. Not many people seem to mention the lack of humour on their symptom for Narcissism
Thanks so much for the enlightenment!
They have zero sense of humor about anything or anyone. They take everything seriously, negatively, and they believe the worst case scenario, never give anyone a chance to explain what really happened. If you can run …. Absolutely ridiculous
My narc ex would only “laugh” at slapstick/physical-type humor when someone would get hurt, although I can’t even call it laughing. He would say something was hilarious with a completely serious face, then give this completely unnerving robotic, android “ha ha” laugh like he was trying to imitate a human response. Same thing in a group of people. He would “laugh,” but it was usually delayed and you could tell he didn’t get the tone of the joke and was simply mirroring normal human behavior. Hypersensitive and paranoid, he was convinced that anything I found funny — on the tv, in a book, anywhere — had to be a dig at him in some way. Over time, I found myself completely shutting down my sense of humor just to keep the peace. Everything was so heavy and negative. He wasn’t happy until he’d turned the atmosphere in the car, around the kitchen table, etc. to one of doom and gloom and us sitting there in miserable silence. They’re happiness vampires.
Thank you for your comment! I feel your pain!!! It is so strange when you live with someone like this, most people cannot understand until they are victims of it.
Absolutely! I also found that once he had me right where he wanted me, suppressing my own happiness in order to marinate in the misery HE created, he would then tell me that I was a drag to be around and why couldn’t I be like (insert name of my close friend here to triangulate and make me jealous), who was always supposedly happy? So I would then smile – but not too small a smile or else I was making him feel bad (because mentally he is 4 years old, after all) and not too big a smile or else I must be cheating on him (paranoia and projection). So many toxic behaviors — and that was just about smiling! Please keep writing, racheljaners, as it gives me and many others much-needed clarity on the insane, topsy turvy, never-can-win hell of a relationship with someone like this.
Thanks for this. The narcissists inability to laugh at themselves really isn’t talked about enough. And it’s a much better metric than “low” empathy. If the psychiatric community could just make ups their minds whether it’s “low” or “no” (terms which are manifestly NOT synonymous) empathy that needs addressing in regard to identification of narcissism, then gauging a potential narcissists empathy would be a better metric than it currently is. In lieu of this, the inability of the narcissist to laugh at themselves will certainly do.
Well said! They really have no sense of humour unless it’s at somebody else’s expense!
This is true. However we must try to remind ourselves (it is hard) that they cannot help being the dickheads that they are. In the workplace i blame the fools above the dickhead who fail to protect the people below him/her in the organisation, and even believe the fuckwit is RIGHT. Morons. These people should know better . It is amazing how weak people are when it comes to calling out straight out LIES told be the narcissist.
Why make excuses for them, ‘brad’? If someone holds a gun to their head they can modify their behaviour. If their boss is going to punish them, they hide their behaviour, so it IS a choice, when they do harm.
It is a lack of moral boundaries and ethical guidance and discipline. It CAN be done – I struggle with these behaviours in myself, but compared to my Narc sister, I am a pussycat. Unfortunately this leaves me vulnerable, but I long ago realised the depth of problems and said I’d rather be a victim than a perpetrator if I had to choose one or the other. Preferably neither of course. So I enacted the Non-Narcissist’s Pledge and stopped lying and manipulating people as much as possible. No, it is NOT easy, but one MUST be the person with whom the buck stops, and not pass it on to another generation or similar. I am far from perfect in this and can certainly see why Narcs don’t even bother trying, but with strong moral frame it IS possible somewhat and certainly in smaller areas and choices, it is possible for Narcs to do the right thing. You just have to convince them that it is in their interest in the long term, which is not necessarily true or possible of course. But what’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander, and we’re all (somewhat!) human and have things we can appreciate in common like decent behaviour. Well, ideally.
My point is that ALL moral behaviour is similar in justification, and Narcissists COULD see the benefit of it, they just (rightly or wrongly, as it’s gambling) think that is for suckers, and they are clever for ‘hacking’ the social system.
They deserve to be judged when they cause problems, as it is still a choice at the end of the day.
Apart from that, you are bang on point of course! There are MANY cowards in positions of power. Arguably what happens when you reward abusive, cowardly females in the workplace with validation and money. But maybe men were always cowardly too. However, if one is forced to compete with women in the workplace, remember they will have a whole host of office politics and nasty bitchy behaviour (potentially, with respect to genuine, civilised women who have managed to grow up before polluting the workplace with unresolved childhood petty issues like Narcs do). I have female friends who don’t get on with such women and complain about them regularly. Read The Myth Of Male Power by Warren Farrell for some insight into these issues and salary equality etc. Written in 1995, still valid, cites its sources in-line and AFAIK hasn’t been debunked by Feminists. Of whome Warren Farrell considers himself to be a card-carrying one, in theory (alienated from the movement by its corruption as he will explain).
i had a narc friend for a few years before i jumped out – it was like witnessing a cult leader at work. the telling signs were, 1) belief they were special and had special powers, 2) wanting to associate with people who either facilitated that feeling of specialness or where others were regarded as special themselves (sometimes other narcs), 3) inability to laugh at themselves, to the extent that they looked for hidden meaning in the most ridiculous of things, and, 4) dangerous and extreme retaliatory tactics if challenged, ribbed, ridiculed or of course rejected. have to agree with the comment above about slapstick humour too – without doubt, that was their preferred humour.
Thanks for your comment Michael!