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.