There is a clear difference between someone who has narcissistic traits and someone who is a narcissist. The behaviour will be more frequent and more extreme with the person who is a narcissist. They will have and show stronger feelings or opinions. They will be more serious and more forceful. If you have studied the information on narcissists, you will know when you are dealing with one. It is unlikely that you will confuse what they are or wrongly identify them. Once you have studied the information on narcissism and you identify their behaviour, it becomes very obvious when you are dealing with one.
People who have narcissistic traits might display some behaviours, but they won't be as frequent or as extreme. They will know when to stop, they will know when their behavior is making you uncomfortable. They will have some level of empathy, which makes them understand how you are feeling and makes them want to discontinue their behavior.
A person might purchase a new car and receive a lot of praise or admiration. It might feed their ego for a week or two and they may become self-centered or self-interested. They might feel as though they are superior to people because they have this new car, they might feel as though they are more special or more important. But after some time after the praise and admiration has been received, they've enjoyed their narcissism. They have enjoyed their moment of feeling larger-than-life and their behavior then becomes less intense until they return to normal or how they usually are. They go back to treating other people with respect and having regard for their feelings, wishes and rights. That means it was just a phase or an episode, it went away on it's own.
This can happen with people who have narcissistic traits. They might have a phase or an episode of displaying narcissistic behaviours and you might mistake them for being a narcissist. But it's just someone with narcissistic traits who is having their moment. The behaviour may often go away on it's own or if the person receives constructive criticism, they will then realise the effects that their behavior is having on the people around them. They might apologize and then return to how they normally behave. This can happen with people with narcissistic traits. They are more aware of their behaviour and the effects that it has on people. They are more able to use logic and reasoning to identify the faults in their behavior. People with narcissistic traits can have poor judgement and they can lose awareness of how their behavior affects other people. But only for a moment, this is not something they will experience for a long period of time. It may affect their empathy during that moment, but even then the effects that it has on their empathy will be limited, which means that they will still be able to understand your point of view.
The person with narcissistic traits will have episodes of narcissistic behaviour, but it won't be as intense and they will be able to use facts and information to make a decision. They are still capable of looking outside of themselves, they still have awareness of the people around them and how their behavior might affect them. They are also able to correct their behaviour and in most cases they will correct their behavior because they have no intention of harming people.
The narcissist will harm people and they will make full use of and derive benefit from them, in a way that might be considered unfair or underhand, for the purpose of serving their own needs. They will intentionally go out of their way to take advantage of people. it is not a phase or an episode, it occurs continuously without interruption. They have firmly fixed and established habits, beliefs and attitudes that cannot be changed. It is a clear pattern of behaviour and it has the tendency to spread. It occurs more frequently, it is done with full awareness of the likely consequences. It is done consciously and intentionally, premeditated thought-out and planned beforehand.
They are pathological liars. They cheat on you and they steal from you. They obtain things from you, especially money, through the use of force or threats. They aim to change your behavior or perception through indirect, deceptive or underhand tactics. They hurt you consciously and intentionally, they give misleading or false accounts or impressions and they give false information or evidence. They make personal attacks or abusive remarks, they shift the blame onto you to achieve their desired results. All of these tactics are of crucial importance to regulate their emotions and boost their self-esteem, making them feel as though they are something significant or important.
This is the narcissist. If you confront them on their behaviour, they are not going to self reflect or self examine. They are not going to look at their behaviour and think that they need to stop. This is their way of living, this is their method for emotional survival and it is done consciously and intentionally. If you try to confront them it may cause a narcissistic injury. They are easily hurt, worried or offended by criticism and they will not take responsibility for any of their wrong decisions. Even if you find evidence of their wrongdoing, they will only be focused on avoidance to escape. They will shift the blame on to someone else, this is how they dodge the blame and survive emotionally. This is why the narcissist cannot be cured, because they are going to do whatever it takes to avoid looking at their own behavior. They don't want to self-reflect or self- examine.
If you confront a narcissist, it is going to be very different from confronting someone who has narcissistic traits. If you confront someone with narcissistic traits they will identify that they had a phase or an episode of narcissistic behavior and they will then make corrections. But if you confront a narcissist they will just become more covert. They will act like they understand your constructive criticism, but they will not make any changes to their behavior. Instead they will discontinue any communication with you and then they will secretly make plans to carry out an illegal or harmful action against you.
They will try to make you less confident, less powerful or less likely to succeed. They will try to make you weaker gradually over a long period of time. They will try to turn people against you and they will make up lies. They will deliberately destroy or damage anything that you are trying to create, while acting as though nothing is wrong, but secretly they are focused on turning everyone against you. They want revenge and they are trying to take you apart and pull you to pieces without you even realizing. If they can't do that, they will just leave and you will never hear from them again. Because if they can't live in an environment where they have full control over people's perceptions, then they have no power and a narcissist cannot be without power, they cannot create it on their own. But they have to be around people who are naïve or foolish enough, so that they can trick them into given their power to them. It feeds their ego and regulates their emotions again. It's about emotional survival and if the narcissist cannot trick people into seeing them in the way that they want to be seen, they are just going to leave.
The narcissist does not change or correct their behavior, they do not adapt to their environment or relationships. They create their own environment and they expect people to adapt to them. They create their own world and control and influence people to adapt to this world. If anyone criticizes or objects to their agenda, they will inflict punishment on them. If they can't do that they will just leave and you will never hear from them again. They will move on to something else when no one has made a conclusion about them.
A person with narcissistic traits will show behaviour that only lasts for a limited period of time, it is triggered by a set of circumstances. The narcissist has pathological behaviors that are compulsive, obsessive, habitual and persistent. They have firmly fixed and established habits, beliefs and attitudes that cannot change. They have a limited awareness of their behaviors and they have difficulty acquiring knowledge and understanding through thoughts and experiences. Their thought process is very distorted, which then results in them having poor reasoning skills. This is the difference between a person with narcissistic traits and someone who is a narcissist.