What is Communal Narcissism & How Do You Deal with It?

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Many of us know someone always willing to lend a hand. They always seem kind, friendly, and accommodating. They seem like the best friends you could ask for and put the group’s or community’s needs ahead of their own.

However, you can tell that something about them isn’t quite right. Maybe your gut is telling you the truth because you’re dealing with a communal narcissist.

What is Communal Narcissism?

Communal narcissism is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with presenting oneself as exceptionally compassionate, caring, and honest. Communal narcissists seek admiration and validation from others within their community or group, portraying themselves as selflessly devoted to the group’s well-being.

They project an image of empathy, kindness, selflessness, and morality. And you’ll hear a lot about their generosity and service – from them. You will often find them in positions of power within their communities or groups, presenting themselves as democratic and trustworthy leaders. However, communal narcissists exhibit typical narcissistic characteristics. It is always about them, never about others. Others merely exist to provide a narcissistic supply.

They may display selflessness, devotion to the well-being of their community, and even self-sacrifice. They will act as if your best interests are at their heart. However, the behavior of a communal narcissist is motivated solely by a desire for the attention and admiration of others rather than genuine concern for their well-being.

At their core, these people are self-centered, with an exaggerated sense of their importance and entitlement. They can be aggressive and even cruel, so a relationship with a communal narcissist is typically abusive and draining.

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How Does Communal Narcissism Differ from Other Types of Narcissism?

While other types of narcissism are characterized by an inflated sense of self-grandiosity and self-importance, in communal narcissists, this exaggerated sense of superiority is tied to group settings.

Their humility, sacrifice, and good deeds serve only to gain admiration and validation. They ensure that their good deeds are always recorded to get recognition for their efforts. The communal narcissist will lash out at the very same people they claim to be helping if they don’t get the praise and validation they expect.

Examples of Communal Narcissism

Communal narcissism can manifest across various roles and contexts.

  • Example one: Spiritual narcissist

A narcissistic spiritual leader who believes their religious group is superior to others uses faith and spirituality to manipulate others and obtain a narcissistic supply.

  • Example two: Narcissistic parent

A narcissistic mother who spends her entire life putting others ahead of herself to get validation for her greatness. In reality, she uses her power and influence over her children to manipulate and control them.

  • Example three: Toxic coworker

The person in your office who gives the impression of being devoted and hardworking while in reality assigning tasks to others and then taking credit for others’ accomplishments. They will keep track of everything they’ve ever done for you and expect you to repay them eventually.

Communal Narcissism

What are the Signs of a Communal Narcissist?

Communal narcissists may be tricky to spot because they come across as friendly and caring people. However, some common behaviors are almost always present if you scratch the surface.

Here are some signs of a communal narcissist.

1) Extreme Dedication to Moralistic Charities or Causes

Communal narcissists seem preoccupied with charitable works and other moralistic causes. But they choose charities that align with their values and beliefs and often seek leadership roles within the charities they support, using their power to manipulate and control others.

2) They Come Across as a Martyr

Communal narcissist always makes a point of showing how much they sacrifice for others. At the same time, they will degrade or lash out at those who don’t share their interests and values.

3) They Make a Big Show Out of Their Work or Contributions

When a communal narcissist does you a favor, they ensure you never forget it. They will constantly remind you of their generosity and sacrifice. Because they feel unworthy without constant validation, everything they do has to be posted, written about, or photographed.

4) They Are Obsessed with Taking Credit

Communal narcissists are arrogant and see themselves as superior in their community or group. They will brag about their altruism, humility, and sacrifice. They need constant reassurance that they are morally superior, so they will take credit for other people’s accomplishments, undermining their contribution.

How Do Communal Narcissists Behave in Relationships?

At the beginning of your relationship with a communal narcissist, you may be showered by their generosity and attention. But they will use generosity and kindness to manipulate you and gain control of your relationship emotionally.

Communal narcissists are concerned about how others perceive them, so they carefully project a public image of humility and concern while being abusive and cold-hearted at home. They violate your boundaries and use emotional manipulation tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or hoovering to maintain control. A communal narcissist will never be able to truly connect in their relationships due to their lack of empathy and genuine concern for others.

How to Deal with Communal Narcissists?

Dealing with a narcissist can be frustrating and distressing. However, here are some strategies to protect yourself and navigate the relationship:

Set boundaries. Create emotional distance and let the narcissist know which behaviors you will not tolerate. They will try to violate boundaries but stay firm and determined.

Practice self-care. Put your needs first. Eat well, sleep well, practice mindfulness, and find positive support.

Keep interactions to a minimum. You restrict your narcissistic supply by limiting your interactions with a communal narcissist.

Keep in mind their façade. Don’t be swayed by a communal narcissist’s tactful words and good deeds.

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Seek professional help

A relationship with a communal narcissist can mentally, emotionally, and physically exhaust you. Communal narcists are arrogant, controlling, and self-centered, just like other narcissists.

Their generous, humble, and compassionate public image is always linked to recognition and validation within their community or group. They obsess over being recognized for their good deeds. If they do not receive the validation they believe they deserve, communal narcissists will reveal their true colors and abuse those they were supposed to help.

If you find out you cannot navigate a relationship with a communal narcissist on your own, seek professional help. A coach can help you identify communal narcissist behaviors and develop coping strategies.I can assist you whether you need help managing your relationship with a communal narcissist or developing a plan to leave the relationship. If you need help dealing with narcissism, contact me to set up a free, empowering conversation.

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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