top of page

The Price of Difference: When Individuals Expect Conformity at Your Expense

In today's diverse society, it is vital to embrace and celebrate our differences. Our unique characteristics, experiences, and perspectives contribute to the rich tapestry of humanity. However, there are times when individuals may have unrealistic expectations, demanding conformity from others and undermining the value of difference. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of difference and shed light on the challenges individuals face when expected to conform at their own expense, including the narcissism that can be attached to people's expectations of deference.

Embracing Difference

Difference is the essence of human existence. Whether it be our cultural background, beliefs, appearance, or ideas, diversity makes our world vibrant and beautiful. It is important to acknowledge and respect this diversity, as it enables personal growth, promotes empathy, and fosters innovation. Embracing difference means recognizing that no two individuals are the same and that our uniqueness should be celebrated.

Unrealistic Expectations and Narcissism

Unfortunately, there are individuals who, due to their own narcissistic tendencies, expect deference from others at the expense of their own individuality. Narcissism can be defined as excessive self-centeredness and a grandiose sense of self-importance1. Such individuals may believe they are entitled to special treatment and unwavering deference from those around them, regardless of the impact on others' well-being or the suppression of their uniqueness.

Narcissistic individuals demand conformity because it feeds their inflated ego and desire for control. They may see any disagreement or differing opinions as threats to their perceived superiority and attempt to manipulate or undermine those who challenge their authority. Such behavior can lead to an unhealthy and imbalanced power dynamic in personal and professional relationships.

The Impact of Conformity and Narcissism

Suppression of Authenticity:

When individuals are expected to conform to the narcissistic demands of others, they are often forced to suppress their true selves. This suppression can lead to a loss of identity and personal fulfillment, as well as feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.

Manipulation and Exploitation:

Narcissistic individuals may use their position of power to manipulate and exploit those who they expect deference from. They may disregard the rights and needs of others, prioritizing their own desires and maintaining control over those around them.

Erosion of Trust:

When individuals are subjected to narcissistic demands for deference, trust between parties can be eroded. Unhealthy power dynamics and constant pressure to conform can create an environment of fear, suspicion, and insecurity, making it challenging to build genuine and meaningful connections.

Navigating Expectations

While it can be challenging to navigate the expectations of narcissistic individuals, it is essential to prioritize self-acceptance and authenticity. Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Setting Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries and communicate assertively with narcissistic individuals. Clearly express your limits and expectations, and refuse to compromise your integrity or well-being.

2. Seeking Support

Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals who can support and guide you in dealing with narcissistic individuals. Having a network of support can help you maintain your mental and emotional well-being in the face of such challenges.

3. Developing Resilience

Build resilience by focusing on your own inner strength and self-worth. Develop and nurture qualities such as self-compassion, courage, and assertiveness to withstand the pressures of conformity.

4. Seeking Professional Help

If the impact of narcissistic expectations becomes too overwhelming, consider seeking professional help. Therapists or counselors can provide guidance and support in navigating complex interpersonal dynamics.

The Power of Authenticity and Healthy Relationships

The expectation of conformity at the expense of one's difference can be detrimental, particularly when narcissism is attached to the demand for deference. It is crucial to recognize and challenge these unrealistic expectations, standing up for our individuality and fostering healthy relationships built on mutual respect and genuine connection. By prioritizing authenticity, setting boundaries, seeking support, and developing resilience, we can navigate the challenges posed by narcissistic individuals and embrace the power of our unique selves.


American Psychiatric Association. "Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®)". American Psychiatric Pub, 2013. ↩


Want to listen to me discuss this in detail, tune in on Spotify or other listening platforms.

121 views0 comments
bottom of page