We got this question from our community: “Why do narcissists create so much drama?” I looked into it. Here’s what I learned.

Broadly speaking, a narcissist will create drama to get attention and validation, to feel powerful and in control, to divert attention away from their shortcomings, to test the loyalty of those around them, and to paint themselves as a victim.

In this article, I’ll walk you through each of these reasons to help you grasp a better understanding of the possible reasons the narcissist in your life is creating drama.

1.) To Get Attention and Validation

Narcissists crave attention and validation from those around them.1

They often see creating drama as a reliable way to become the center of attention because they feel validated and significant when all eyes are on them.

For example, imagine you’re at a friend’s birthday party, and everyone is laughing, joking, and having a good time.

A group of people having a party.

But suddenly, a narcissistic friend of yours starts exaggerating a small incident, claiming they were deeply offended by a joke made earlier in the evening.

The situation escalates quickly, with the narcissist at the center, demanding apologies and dominating the conversation.

This scenario is an example of a narcissist creating drama to ensure they receive the attention and validation they desperately crave.

Related: Why Do Narcissists Want to be Admired and Praised?

2.) To Feel Powerful and in Control

Generally speaking, for a narcissist to feel emotionally stable, they need constant reassurance that they are powerful and in control.2

Unfortunately, one of the ways they get this reassurance is by using drama to manipulate and maintain control over their relationships.

You see, by creating situations of conflict or distress, they can see how much influence they have over others’ emotions and actions (this is power and control).

For example, consider a situation where a narcissist feels that their partner is gaining too much independence or attention from others.

This makes them feel insecure, so they start a baseless argument or accuse their partner of being unfaithful without evidence.


Well, doing this creates a scenario where the partner feels the need to defend themselves and focus their attention back on the narcissist.

When this happens, the narcissist feels reassured of their power and control because they were able to dictate the partner’s behavior.

3.) To Divert Attention from Their Shortcomings

When faced with criticism or when their flaws are highlighted, narcissists often create drama to divert attention away from their shortcomings.

They do this because they believe they can avoid accountability and scrutiny by shifting the focus to something or someone else.

For example, let’s say the narcissist in your life is criticized at work for missing an important deadline for a project.

Someone calling a narcissist out for being lazy and unprofessional.

To shift everyone’s attention away from their mistake, they start a rumor about a coworker and decide to create a big scene over a minor issue.

This is an annoying but typical example of a narcissist creating drama to divert attention away from their shortcomings.

Related: 7 Ways Narcissists React to Criticism

4.) To Test Your Loyalty

This can be hard to believe, but generally speaking, deep down, narcissists feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

These painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions they struggle with often cause them to feel incredibly insecure in their relationships.

To manage their insecurities, narcissists often create drama to test the loyalty of the people closest to them.

For example, imagine you have a narcissistic family member who tends to exaggerate conflicts.

One day, they tell you about a massive fallout with a family friend over something seemingly trivial and press you to take sides.

This scenario is their way of testing your loyalty because they are creating drama to see if you’ll stand by them.

The reason they do this is because having people stand by them during these manufactured crises is a massive source of reassurance.

And they use this reassurance to convince themselves that they aren’t unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

Related: 12 Mind Games That Narcissists Play

5.) To Paint Themselves as a Victim

When people label themselves as victims and blame their problems on external factors, it is called self-victimization.3

It is very common for narcissists to create drama so that they can paint themselves as a victim to make others feel sorry for them.

For example, consider a scenario where a person who has narcissistic tendencies is part of a community group.

They volunteer to lead a project, but soon, it becomes clear they’re not putting in the required effort.

A group confronting a narcissist for their unfairness.

When the group gently confronts them about their lack of contribution, they lash out, accusing the group of not supporting them and being set up to fail from the start.

They weave a compelling story of how they’ve been overburdened, misunderstood, and unfairly criticized, despite their “best efforts.”

They share this story not just within the group but with others outside of it.

Painting themselves as a dedicated volunteer who was let down by the group’s lack of faith and support to make anyone who listens feel sorry for them.

Related: Why Do Narcissists Go Into a Depression?

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

As a general rule, narcissists will create drama for the following reasons:

  • To get attention and validation.
  • To feel powerful and in control.
  • To divert attention away from their shortcomings.
  • To test the loyalty of those around them.
  • To paint themselves as a victim.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave a comment below; I’d love to connect with you!

And if you want to learn more about narcissistic behavior patterns, check out our newest articles. They’re full of great information about this topic.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. C. Nathan DeWall, Laura E. Buffardi, Ian Bonser, W. Keith Campbell, Narcissism and implicit attention seeking: Evidence from linguistic analyses of social networking and online presentation, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 51, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 57-62. ↩︎
  2. Ronningstam, Elsa, and J. T. Maltsberger. “Narcissistic personality disorder.” Personality disorders (2005): 277-327. ↩︎
  3. WebMD, (2022, February 03), What Is a Victim Mentality? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-a-victim-mentality ↩︎

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