How our love for extroverts may be feeding narcissism

𝓦𝓮𝓵𝓵 𝓣𝓸𝓭𝓪𝔂
Published in
4 min readMar 30, 2024


Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

We live in a society that applauds the bold, the outgoing, and the attention-grabbing. We celebrate those who speak their minds, network effortlessly, and dazzle a room with their charisma. It’s the age of the extrovert. But as we elevate these extroverted qualities, could we be unknowingly paving the way for a rise in narcissism?

Let’s get on the same page about what I mean by narcissism. It’s not just vanity or healthy self-confidence. Narcissism, in its more concerning form, is characterized by:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • An insatiable need for admiration
  • A lack of empathy
  • A tendency to see relationships in exploitative terms

While anyone can have narcissistic traits, clinical narcissism (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is a diagnosed mental health condition.

So, how does our current culture’s emphasis on extroversion play into this? Think about it:

  • Social Media Obsession: Platforms like Instagram and TikTok reward those who put themselves “out there.” Followers, likes, and shares become measures of worth. This environment is ideal for fostering a need for constant external validation, a staple of narcissism.
  • Workplace Dynamics: Many workplaces glorify outgoing personalities. Extroverts may dominate meetings, get credit for collaborative work, and rise through the ranks faster. This can give the impression that success hinges on self-promotion and social domination.
  • The myth of charisma: We often equate charisma with leadership. Yet, history provides countless examples of charismatic individuals who were deeply narcissistic. The charm associated with extroversion can hide manipulative and exploitative behaviors.

Not all extroverts…

It’s important to clarify that not all extroverts are narcissists, and not all narcissists are extroverts. Extroversion is a personality trait focused on deriving energy from social interaction. Narcissism is a pattern of distorted thinking and behavior focused on self-aggrandizement. However, the way we praise and reward certain extroverted behaviors can create a fertile ground for those with narcissistic tendencies to thrive.

The problem is, in the early stages, those with narcissistic tendencies can mimic charming extroverts. They can be:

  • Attention-grabbing: They know how to command a room, tell good stories, and become the center of attention. This feeds their needs for admiration.
  • Superficially sociable: They’ll maintain wide networks, but those connections may lack depth and serve to boost their ego and social visibility rather than foster real intimacy.
  • Initially impressive: In job interviews or even friendships, initial impressions can be very positive. They excel at self-promotion and putting on a dazzling facade.

The difficulty lies in recognizing when healthy extroversion slips into something more toxic.

Warning Signs

So, how do you spot the difference between healthy extroversion and narcissism in the making? Look out for these red flags:

  • Conversations aren’t two-sided: do they constantly steer conversations back to themselves? Lack interest in listening? Does their world revolve solely around them?
  • Craving for praise: Is simple recognition not enough? Do they need consistent, over-the-top admiration and have tantrums when they don’t get it?
  • Handle criticism poorly: Narcissists may deflect accountability, lash out, or deny faults completely. This stems from a fragile sense of self-worth dependent on external praise.
  • “Winning” at all costs: A preoccupation with being the best in all circumstances, even when it means belittling or trampling over others.

Impact on others

Being entangled with someone with narcissistic tendencies can be exhausting and harmful. Narcissists routinely:

  • Exploit others for personal gain.
  • Undermine self-esteem through put-downs.
  • Gaslight to deflect blame and control narratives.
  • Create emotional volatility and drama.

So, what can we do, really?

Changing a whole societal ideal isn’t easy, but it begins with awareness. Let’s remember:

  • Introverts rock, too: Embrace quieter strengths. Introverts possess thoughtful analysis, deep listening skills, and the ability to forge powerful connections.
  • Real leadership isn’t about volume: Seek leaders who demonstrate empathy, foster collaboration, and act with integrity — not just those with the loudest voices.
  • Praise effort, not just results: Emphasize hard work, perseverance, and learning from mistakes along with accomplishments. A relentless need for outward recognition can point to narcissism.
  • Social media sanity: Set limits on usage, cultivate real-world relationships, and be wary of those who build their lives around constant online validation.

It’s time to re-consider on what makes a truly valuable person. While a bit of healthy extroversion adds sparkle to life, let’s celebrate other essential qualities too: kindness, selflessness, genuine connection, and quiet strength.



𝓦𝓮𝓵𝓵 𝓣𝓸𝓭𝓪𝔂

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