Monday, November 2, 2009

The Narcissist In Love

My next several blogs will be sharing information regarding "The Narcissist" I hope others will find them interesting as well!

The Narcissist In Love

As bad as narcissistic behavior can be in a coworker, golf buddy or relative, it's worse in a romantic partner. Male or female, narcissists are the quintessential sharks: Self-confidence and charm make them highly appealing in the early stages of attraction. Since narcissists are very concerned about appearance, they're likely to be well-groomed and fashionable. "He was into nice things, the best brand names. Everything was about treating himself well," says Lynn, a 30-year-old consultant in San Diego, about her ex-boyfriend. "And he was totally charismatic. After we were going out for a while, I could see him turn it on and off when he wanted something."

Lynn found out that her boyfriend was what Campbell, author of When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself, calls a "game-playing" lover. Campbell found that narcissists' need for power and autonomy leads them to shun commitment—and to cheat. Romantic relationships become just another way for them to pump up their own self-image. Narcissists look for mates with very high social status (for example, looks or success) which complements an inflated sense of self.

Lynn's narcissistic boyfriend was a poker player, and she says now that the relationship was just like a sport to him. "He would figure out the landscape, and he was never willing to gamble more than he was willing to lose," Lynn says. "He told me I had qualities he was looking for, but also that he needed to see other women."

After nine months, they broke up, also typical for narcissists, whose relationships don't last long. In Campbell's studies, "relationships with narcissists were more satisfying initially, and then dramatically less satisfying at the end," he says. The extreme example might be Scott Peterson, who was charismatic enough to attract a beautiful wife—and coldhearted enough to murder her when he wanted to move on.

Obviously, most narcissists aren't killers, but they do tend to be very unsatisfying mates. If he's had a string of relationships, if he can't stop talking about how much people admire him, if he gets easily riled when he doesn't get what he wants—he may not be just another commitment-phobic man. He's a narcissist.

Unfortunately, anyone can be seduced by a narcissist. One misconception is that only those with low self-esteem date someone who's so self-centered, but people with normal self-respect can also end up involved with a narcissist. They have decisive, take-charge personalities in a society that shuns wishy-washiness.

And after all, they're experts at making people admire them. Best-case scenario: when narcissists date each other. That way, both can have a self-confident, impressive and shallow mate—and leave the rest of us in peace.

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