The Mating Grounds

Is Your Altruism Just Narcissism? Understanding Communal Narcissism

Understanding Communal Narcissism: Why Do People Seek Validation Through Altruism? Have you ever met someone who is constantly boasting about their good deeds?

From volunteering every weekend to donating to numerous charities, they seem to be a saint among us mortals. However, there may be more to their altruistic behavior than meets the eye.

Welcome to the world of communal narcissism, an aspect of personality disorder that is often overlooked but can have a significant impact on how someone behaves. What is Communal Narcissism?

Communal narcissism is a term used to describe a type of narcissistic personality disorder where an individual is obsessed with projecting a positive self-image to others regarding their altruistic behavior. This type of narcissism tends to manifest in people who perceive themselves as having particularly admirable or praiseworthy traits, resulting in a patronizing, holier-than-thou attitude.

Traits of a Communal Narcissist

Communal narcissists often have a superiority complex, which makes them feel like they are above everyone else. They believe they possess traits such as empathy, kindness, and generosity, making them superior to others.

However, these traits are often exaggerated and channeled through an air of self-promotion rather than authentic altruism. They tend to align themselves with social causes rather than individuals, holding firm beliefs and advocating for specific groups or ideologies.

Though their intentions may seem genuine, the need to impress others with their good deeds often overshadows the actual social cause itself.

Examples of Communal Narcissism

Communal narcissism can manifest itself in various ways, such as in the workplace, volunteering, donations, unsolicited advice, attention-seeking, and social causes. In the workplace, a communal narcissist may take on a project that others have been working on for months or years, only to take credit for their hard work and bask in the glory of a job well done.

They may also take on roles of leadership, both officially and unofficially, in order to dominate and control others. When volunteering, communal narcissists may demand recognition for their good deeds, insisting on making public speeches or featuring prominently in photographs.

Their generosity may come with conditions – they expect others to think and act just like them, doing things in the exact way they deem appropriate. Their donations, while generously given, often come with a catch – they expect their name to be featured prominently at the donation event or on a plaque afterward.

The act of giving itself is often overshadowed by their need for recognition. They may also offer unsolicited advice, believing they know what is best for others.

The communal narcissist will not stop until their advice has been heeded, and they often take negative feedback or rejection personally. Finally, communal narcissists may align themselves with social causes and use their perceived status to raise awareness.

However, instead of being effective advocates for the cause, they often engage in virtue signaling, engaging in symbolic actions instead of actually engaging directly in the cause.

Signs of Communal Narcissism

Now that we have a better understanding of what communal narcissism is and how it can manifest itself, we can examine some of the key signs that someone may be exhibiting this type of behavior.

Focus on a Specific Charity or Cause

A key sign of communal narcissism is a fixation on a specific charity or cause. They may become obsessed with a particular organization or movement, investing all of their time, effort, and resources into it.

Their involvement may be due in part to the fact that doing so feeds their ego and creates a positive self-image, rather than a genuine concern for the cause.

Fixation on Public Image

Communal narcissists tend to prioritize their public image over everything else, even if this means neglecting their personal beliefs or values. For example, they may be hypocritical in their behavior, acting one way publicly but engaging in the opposite behavior in private.

Wanting all the Credit

A communal narcissist will always seek recognition and attention, whether it’s for an individual accomplishment or for a group effort. They will demand applause and credit for their hard work, even if others have contributed more or have worked harder.

Creating Conflict at Public Events

Communal narcissists tend to create conflict at public events. They may do this in order to assert their dominance or to maintain their social status.

This is particularly true in politics or social hierarchy situations, where communal narcissists often feel entitled to control and receive the deference of others.

Looking Down Upon Others

Another sign of communal narcissism is a tendency to look down upon others. We all know people who scold or admonish others for things that seem minor.

Communal narcissists tend to do this on a regular basis, acting like they know what’s best for those around them.

Seeking Validation for Good Deeds

Finally, seeking validation for good deeds is perhaps the most recognizable sign of communal narcissism. This occurs when someone insists on being recognized, applauded, or celebrated for their good deeds, even if it means demanding attention during group events or throwing a temper tantrum until they get what they want.


Communal narcissism may not be as well-known as other forms of narcissism, but it certainly can be just as harmful. Whether it’s in the workplace, volunteering, or social activism, the desire to project a positive image to others often overshadows genuine altruism, and ultimately leads to behavior that is self-serving rather than others-focused.

By identifying the signs of communal narcissism, we can gain a better understanding of this disorder and work to prevent it from taking root in our own lives.

Challenges of Being in a Relationship with a Communal Narcissist

When in a relationship with a communal narcissist, one can face various challenges that can affect their emotional well-being. Here are some of the challenges you may face:

Public Persona vs Private Behavior

Communal narcissists tend to present themselves differently to the public as compared to how they behave in private. They may present a kind, selfless image in public while being critical, insensitive, and self-centered at home.

This dichotomy can cause great distress and confusion as it becomes hard to reconcile the two distinct versions of their personality.

Neglect of Significant Other

Communal narcissists can be completely self-absorbed, leading to neglect of their significant others. These individuals put their own needs and interests above all else, even those of their partners.

As such, their actions can come across as insensitive, leading to feelings of hurt, frustration, and even resentment.

Outbursts of Anger

Communal narcissists may experience outbursts of anger when their behavior is called into question. This anger can be directed towards their partners and other loved ones, causing harm to their emotional and mental state, leading to long-term emotional distress and loss of self-esteem.

Dealing with Communal Narcissists: 5 Strategies

Living and dealing with communal narcissists can be challenging, and it can be hard to know how to handle them. Here are five strategies that can be helpful in managing those relationships:

Don’t Question Them

Communal narcissists may be hypocritical in their behavior and expecting them to admit their faults can lead to confrontation and denial.

Instead, it may be beneficial to recognize their flawed behavior but avoid questioning them directly.

Learn to Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is crucial when dealing with communal narcissists as it provides a framework for respect, refusal, and self-protection. This may include identifying what behaviors you will not tolerate and communicating them clearly to your partner.

Don’t Get Swept into Neglecting Your own Values

It is essential not to get swept away in your communal narcissist’s behaviors by neglecting your own values. Staying true to what you believe can provide a foundation for stability, allowing you to maintain your self-respect and personal core values.

Limit Your Interactions

Limiting interaction with communal narcissists is essential, especially for those who tend to be overly generous with their time. By interacting with them on an as-needed basis, you can mitigate the impact of their behavior on your emotional and mental health.

Practice Self-Care

Practicing self-care is vital when dealing with communal narcissists. Engaging in hobbies, exercise, rest, and other self-care practices can help you recharge and maintain a healthy relationship with narcissistic individuals while staying centered on what matters most to you.


Communal narcissism can create significant challenges for individuals in relationships with such individuals. It takes considerable effort to manage and balance the relationship, but by setting limits, being aware of and maintaining personal values, and engaging in self-care practices, it can be possible to navigate the relationship while protecting one’s emotional and mental health.

5) FAQs on Communal Narcissism

As awareness of communal narcissism continues to grow, it’s not surprising that people have questions about this personality disorder. Here are some frequently asked questions about communal narcissism.

Treatment of Communal Narcissism

Is there any treatment for communal narcissism? Like most personality disorders, communal narcissism cannot be cured.

However, therapy and counseling are often recommended as a form of management. Coping strategies such as boundary setting, self-care, and learning to identify and avoid triggers can also be effective in managing the disorder.

Communal Narcissism as a Mental Health Condition

Is communal narcissism a recognized mental health condition? Yes, communal narcissism is recognized as a personality disorder characterized by abnormal behavior and patterns of thinking.

Individuals with this disorder have an inflated sense of self-worth, lack empathy for others, and have an excessive need for attention and affirmation.

Likability of Communal Narcissists

Why are communal narcissists often liked by others? Communal narcissists can be very charismatic, projecting an image of kindness, generosity, and selflessness.

They often perform good deeds and present themselves as supportive and empathetic to others’ needs, making them seem like a wonderful helper rather than a person seeking attention. Their public image is often one of approval and admiration, which further adds to their likability.



Effects of Communal Narcissism

Communal narcissism can have many negative effects on relationships and emotional well-being. It can cause stress, frustration, and make it difficult to communicate with the person in question.

Emotional effects of abuse can be an unfortunate side effect of being in a relationship with someone who has this personality disorder.

Seeking Help for Communal Narcissism

If you or a loved one suspects that they may have communal narcissism, it is crucial to seek professional help. Therapy, counseling, and support groups can be instrumental in managing symptoms and preventing further harm to themselves or those around them.

In conclusion, communal narcissism is a complex personality disorder that can have many adverse effects on individuals and their loved ones. By learning how to identify it and learning how to manage and set boundaries effectively, individuals can live healthier and happier lives.

It is crucial to recognize and understand communal narcissism so that individuals that might exhibit these patterns of behavior are armed with the relevant knowledge to make changes in their life. In conclusion, communal narcissism is a complex personality disorder that can have a significant impact on individuals and their relationships.

It is characterized by an excessive need for admiration and attention and often takes the form of false altruism. Recognizing the signs of communal narcissism is crucial in managing relationships with individuals who display these behaviors.

Strategies such as setting boundaries, self-care practices, and limiting interactions can help individuals protect their emotional and mental health. Understanding and working through the challenges of dealing with communal narcissism can lead to healthier relationships and an improved quality of life.

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