More threads by unlpsychstudent

Recently, one of my roommates and I have not been getting on as well as we normally do (we've been best friends since middle school). While I'm sure some of these tensions arise from simply living together, I know there is something more going on. I'm about ninety-percent certain that my roommate suffers from a superiority complex. The following signs seem to be evident:

1. Always seems to need people to acknowledge his "achievements" and his "obvious superiority" over others (usually the entire male population).

2. Every time I state an opinion (in a nonthreatening manner), he refuses to recognize my feelings as valid and contradicts them nearly one-hundred percent of the time.

3. Often belittles my positive characteristics and points out my flaws (for example, I'm a musician, he is definitely not; so, he always finds a way to dodge out of going to my concerts and won't engage in any conversation with me about my band. On the other hand, I'm a little overweight, and he loves to point this out whenever we're exercising together).

4. He is unwilling to compromise his opinions (he is always right, and refuses to see anyone else's view).

5. One of the most infuriating things: both my brother and I (my brother also lives with us) have girlfriends that often come over. My roommate knew each of them before my brother and I started dating them; for some reason, he feels the right make wildly inappropriate sexual jokes with them, put his arms around their shoulders, tickle them, hug them all the time, etc. The other day, my girlfriend a some sort of stain on the chest of her t-shirt. My roommate, instead of simply pointing this out, stares at it and with his finger must point it out and try to rub it away! I've talked to him about this before, mostly to no avail.

6. The list goes a little further on, but to spare you more reading, I'll bring up this one last point; when I met my roommate in middle school, he was socially aloof, a little shy, and frequently put himself down. It's been a gradual slide from seeming inferiority to superiority the last six years! Now, he refuses to come out when I have parties, but still maintains a dominating attitude after everyone leaves.

Don't get me wrong, I love the friendship we have and I don't want to break up anything (mostly because I value the friendship, but also because we're on the lease for another eight months!). I would really, really appreciate some advice on how to live with this, maybe even provide some kind of help for him to resolve whatever feelings of inferiority he is compensating for (without inflating his ego!). Please let me know if you've been in this situation and what you did to resolve it/any ideas you have! Thanks, I appreciate any answers you may have so much!


Daniel E.
Keeping your sense of humor may help. Though your friend may be more shy than narcissistic, this may be relevant:

Keep a sense of humor. One upside: Narcissists can be entertaining, if you keep a sense of perspective. Frederick Rhodewalt, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, describes one assistant professor who joined the department softball team. Although he had no experience with a ball and bat, his background in tennis gave him enough of an edge that he won the batting title for the league. "And for a few months, every time I saw him in the office, he'd be carrying that trophy," Rhodewalt laughs.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Also recognize that it was Alfred Adler who introduced the concept of the "superiority complex", which he characterized as a defense mechanism constructed by individuals who were unable to overcome an inferiority complex.

Thank you for the advice! Although, I'd really like to point out (perhaps it was my misphrasing), my roommate is most definitely not shy in public situations, nor with small groups of people; he is what I would sometimes describe as antisocial rather than shy (being antisocial is one of the affects of the superiority complex in fact). Believe me, I have tried to keep my sense of humor, but it is hard to joke with him; he tends to nitpick just exactly WHY my comment or observation is incorrect/not funny. But thank you!


Yes, I've recognized this (I'm slowly becoming a fan of Adler through my studies) and believe Adler's theory to apply in this case. What I'm unsure of is what Adler's, if any, proposed solution/therapy for a problem such as this is?
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Daniel E.
he tends to nitpick just exactly WHY my comment or observation is incorrect/not funny.

Maybe if he got a girlfriend he would have someone else to focus on, or at least someone else to harass.

Similarly, people can get catty and more obsessive if their isn't anything exciting for them going on or if they are busy trying to do nothing (procrastinating). So just recognizing that he has nothing better to do than argue about the finer details of a point you made may make him seem more pitiable, and therefore, seem less abrasive. It may also help you to focus less on what he says and more on whatever activities are taking place, kindof like when driving where you can listen to what a person is saying but that is, hopefully, not the main focus.
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Great point actually (though he does have a girlfriend, she currently lives in California and is generally unavailable)! Perhaps some of this tension will resolve itself naturally when school starts up again next week. Thanks for the great theory!
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