A question we got, but didn’t get to answer, from one of our community members during a live Q&A session the other day was, “What do narcissists fear the most?”

The seven things narcissists fear the most are criticism and rejection, being exposed, not being special or unique, losing control, being abandoned, being dependent on others, and intimacy.

In this article, I will guide you through each of these fears to help you better understand narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

1.) Criticism and Rejection

The first item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is criticism and rejection.

You see, despite projecting an image of confidence and superiority, narcissists fear being exposed as a fraud or as less than perfect. 

A narcissist having a nightmare about being exposed.

Their identity is built on the perception of being superior, admired, and respected. 

When they face criticism or rejection, it doesn’t just hurt – it destabilizes their sense of self, making them fear the possibility of any imperfection coming to light.

2.) Being Exposed

The second item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is being exposed.

Suggested Reading: What Happens When You Expose a Narcissist to Others?

You might have already known this but narcissists construct a “false self” that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and flawless. 

The purpose of this false self is to hide their true self from public view.

Why?

Well, we will talk about this more later on but despite their grandiose self-perception, narcissists feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

So the purpose of their false self is to protect them from the feelings of shame and inadequacy associated with their true self. 

Therefore, the fear of exposure is fundamentally the fear that their false self will be destroyed and that they will have to exist without the protective shield it provides.

3.) Not Being Special or Unique

The third item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is not being special or unique.

For a narcissist, being special or unique is a way of asserting their superiority and affirming their worth. 

A narcissist showing his grandiosity.

If they are not exceptional, then in their view, they are worthless or unimportant.

Suggested Reading: How Do Narcissists See Themselves?

Their identity is built around the idea that they are superior to others, and this self-perception is maintained by the belief in their own specialness and uniqueness. 

So, the reason they fear not being special or unique is because they believe it would mean they are unimportant, unworthy, and even non-existent in the eyes of others.

4.) Losing Control

The fourth item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is losing control.

Suggested Reading: 8 Ways Narcissists React When They Can’t Control You

A narcissist’s need for control is a defense mechanism against the underlying thoughts, feelings, and emotions they struggle with that I mentioned earlier in this article.

If you don’t remember, I am referring to the feelings of being unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak that narcissists have suppressed within themselves.

By controlling their environment, relationships, and the perception others have of them, they can maintain the illusion of their grandiosity and perfection. 

They fear that without strict control over their world, they will be forced to confront the inadequacy they feel at their core.

In their eyes, losing control means the collapse of the carefully constructed facade they’ve built to shield themselves from their perceived flaws and inadequacies.

5.) Being Abandoned

The fifth item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is being abandoned.

While narcissists may seem dismissive or derogatory towards others, these attitudes are designed to hide their deeply-rooted fear of abandonment. 

You see, narcissists rely heavily on others for validation and emotional support because they use it to uphold their grandiose self-image. 

To a narcissist, abandonment doesn’t just mean being alone; it means losing a critical source of their self-esteem and self-worth. 

They fear that without others to reflect their carefully constructed image back at them; they will have to face the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions they have suppressed within themselves all alone.

6.) Being Dependent on Others

The sixth item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is being dependent on others.

Narcissists project an image of self-sufficiency and superiority, but the truth is they have an emotional dependency on others for validation. 

This fear of dependency is essentially a fear of this contradiction being exposed. 

What do I mean by this?

Depending on others contradicts the image narcissists want to present to the world. 

This is because they believe being dependent on others means being seen as weak in the eyes of others.

A narcissist struggling with feelings of being weak.

Because of this, the idea of needing someone else threatens narcissists’ self-perception as independent and superior beings.

For this reason, narcissists are terrified of being dependent on others, even though they have an emotional dependency on others for validation. 

7.) Intimacy

The seventh item on my list of things narcissists fear the most is intimacy.

Suggested Reading: Why Do Narcissists Avoid Intimacy? (4 Reasons)

Despite a deep desire for connections and affirmation, narcissists fear true intimacy.

Why?

Intimacy requires vulnerability, authenticity, and the ability to empathize, which are areas where narcissists typically struggle.

To be truly intimate with someone else, they would have to let their guard down and expose their true self, including their perceived flaws and weaknesses. 

This is one of the most terrifying things in a narcissist’s world and would never happen because narcissists fear being truly seen by others.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

The seven things that narcissists fear the most are:

  1. Criticism and rejection
  2. Being exposed
  3. Not being special or unique
  4. Losing control
  5. Being abandoned
  6. Being dependent on others
  7. Intimacy

Understanding these fears can provide you with valuable insights into the behavior of people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you have a great rest of your day.

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.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.
Share this post to help others trust their experiences.

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About This Article

We used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create parts of this article to enhance its accuracy and readability. It underwent a strict human editorial process before being published. See additional information.

4 Comments

  1. She disappeared for 2 weeks after Xmas, when she inevitably came back I just said no thank you im not interested. I hope she feels rejected.

    1. Hi Joh,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I’m sorry you had to go through that.

      But congratulations on sticking to your boundaries with her.

      It doesn’t matter if she feels rejected.

      What matters most is that you are protecting yourself.

      Keep it up!

      All the best,

      Elijah

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