How to Differentiate Self-Love From Narcissism

I often see myself in the dilemma of perceiving my actions to be narcissistic. The reality is we are all narcissists at varying levels, depending on circumstances we choose to give, receive, or let go; unapologetically.

Choosing your happiness and shelter is essential.

As much as we grow up developing relationships with people around us, which is vital for survival, it requires many compromises.

Those compromises should come from within and selflessly. Otherwise, when it is a forceful action, we often get entangled in a series of dramatic concessions that life may be laying down for us.

Self-love may have a variety of definitions. However, at times one can mistake self-love with self-centeredness as well as the attitude of extreme narcissism. The act of standing up for yourself — that might seem like fleeing from the situation or fighting for your existence. Either way, it is love for yourself that impulses you to move forward with the action.

In other words, it is knowing yourself — what is better for you and what is not; that drives your responses to events.

Narcissism

Nowadays, most relationship-based posts are about how selfish human beings can be and how to detect them early. However, a person has a considerable range of complexity in any circumstances; hence, we forget the difficulty to perceive even after knowing them for years.

Yes, narcissism is a trait that leads to a toxic relationship.

The relationship is unhealthy because the other person is not secured in himself/herself either. If you are a secured “giver,” you will enjoy being with a narcissist. However, when both parties are insecure receivers, the balance is lost. Otherwise, the world will only have singles who are never really good to mingle.

Narcissism is a characteristic that arises from being self-centered in a way that sucks the oxygen out of the person in front.

However, a person being a narcissist does not mean he/she is showing “self-love.” Yes, they love themselves, but they only “LOVE” themselves, which means they ONLY think about what he/she wants, needs, likes, and what they do not like. They DO NOT care how their actions might affect the next person or, even per se, how manipulative they can be to create chaos in someone’s mind.

At the same time, we might wonder- is the person indeed a narcissist or he/she is choosing themselves first due to some underlying reasons that one may not be knowing.

I believe there is a fine line between standing up for oneself and being a narcissist.

Photo by Askar Abayev on Pexels.com

Self-Love

We all go through different phases of our life.

We experience things that shape us to become and embrace a personality that defines us. Moreover, it helps us choose the people we would like to spend time with and the relationships and work we would like to pursue. Having integrity and grounded.

The concept of self-love comes to play a role when we become secure in ourselves. It is NOT learning to love ourselves to the extent of becoming selfish but instead learning to evolve in our journey.

The more we experience, the more we grow.

We accept and learn who we are and how we can grow emotionally and psychologically to become a better version of ourselves. The ability to identify our responses to events- what we can tolerate and what we cannot, how much we can give in to grow, and how far it will emotionally drain us.

As Esther Perel precisely mentions in one of her blog posts, that self-love is-

Our ability to see ourselves as a flawed individual and still hold ourselves in high regard.


Understanding that self-love is more than “ME” and “I,” and it is instead “This is who I am because/when such and such happens.”; is crucial if one wants to improve his/her way of living.

However, this does not mean we continue to sign-up for the wrong.

Understanding “self-love” in relationships

Most often but not, we lose our identity when we are in a not-so-healthy relationship. However, compromises are essential and play a subtle role in keeping the bond between the two individuals involved.

Meanwhile, each of us has different attachment styles that result from our past experiences. We might like someone and their personality; however, we know the relationship will not be fruitful because of our insecurities. Hence, we leave.

While leaving, some of us can explain; some of us do not know how to face the awkward truth.

What matters is KNOWING something/someone is not for you early on. However, embracing oneself in such a scenario is crucial.

Here, one may label some of our actions as narcissists.

Yes, because we did not play it well. We could not define our boundaries and think about how our efforts might enact in the other person’s life.

However, that does not negate the fact that we ignore what will work for us and what will not.

Understanding self-love in relationships is crucial. The self-love comes in the form of actions that-

  • help us maintain our individuality while being together;
  • encourage us to mindfully act on our efforts while accepting compromises for our partner/friend/family members;
  • allow us to comfortably articulate our feelings at the right moment while understanding the other persons’ emotional maturity;
  • help us know what we want/need while accepting change is an inevitable entity we embrace every day;
  • allow us to be compassionate to others while standing up for ourselves;
  • let us decide what is correct for us without demeaning the others.

Now-a-days our tolerance towards each other has reduced, and the score of relationship failures has increased. With the rise of the concept of self-love, narcissism has become the prominent trait that one will find- in any form of relationships.

We do not deny that there are extreme narcissists who are born and raised in a particular orientation. However, the more self-centered we become, our submissive traits often emerge in front. If we are not conscious, we fail to maintain the difference between acknowledging ourselves and choosing ourselves based on advantages.

With the growing competition and extreme social media-oriented lifestyle, people disregard the value of genuine relationships that requires work and efforts to stay-in. The trend of self-love has forced us to look like a narcissist.

Self-love, in today’s concept, has become a marketing tag. However, we forget that we deal with our surroundings, increasing love and respect for ourselves. The actions we take define who we are- hence, good or bad; if they are correct, we love ourselves.

7 thoughts on “How to Differentiate Self-Love From Narcissism

    1. Hi, thanks K E Garland. Indeed I am still in my process to distinguish narcissists/ narcissism distinctly. And I also feel somehow our lifestyle in this generation have kind of pushed our limits to think ONLY about ourselves. And we lose the balance between healthy self-love and healthy giving. What do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

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