Why Do Women Fall For Narcissistic Men?

Why Do Women Fall For Narcissistic Men?

Ever fall hopelessly for a man who was more in love with himself than he was with you? Get in line.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

“We tend to be attracted to people who possess the four qualities (flashy and neat dress, charming facial expression, self-assured body movements, and humorous verbal expression) that narcissists tend to (initially) possess…After the first meeting, narcissists were rated as more agreeable, conscientious, open, competence, entertaining, and well adjusted by the other members of the group.”

That’s all well and good, and it explains why charmers make strong first impressions. But further studies show why they’re such bad relationship partners:

Ever fall hopelessly for a man who was more in love with himself than he was with you? Get in line.

“Narcissists don’t play well with others, and this becomes clearer in the long-term. Narcissists don’t tend to do well in long-term relationships, and suffer from all sorts of intra- and interpersonal problems. Paulhus (1998) found that after the seventh roughly 2.5 hour student work group session, narcissists were rated by the other members of the group as less agreeable, less well adjusted, less warm, and more hostile and arrogant.”

So, the article asks, “What are we supposed to do, intentionally go for those who show the traits that are exactly the opposite of what is generally considered attractive?” The author suggests that the answer is an unequivocal YES:

“My message to all those who are sick of being duped by narcissists, assholes, chauvinistics, etc. is to change the script entirely. Girls, next time you go to a club, approach every single guy you see who looks shy and awkward and is standing in the corner of the dance floor sipping his drink too fast. Give the guy a chance who approaches you and isn’t smooth at all but seems like he is genuinely interested in you. Give those a chance who don’t at first display all four super attractive qualities and see if after talking to them for a little while and you’ve given them a chance to open up a bit, if they start to naturally turn on the qualities you are seeking in a potential mate/friend. If they truly aren’t attractive after getting to know them, then you might want to look elsewhere, but give them a chance.”

Personally, I think that’s a little bit extreme. Not every single well-dressed, confident, funny guy is a toxic narcissist (cough, cough), and you shouldn’t avoid all engaging men like the plague. But nor should you be seduced by them. The qualities that matter most in a 40-year-marriage are not necessarily displayed in an online dating profile, in a 15-minute party conversation, or on a brief coffee date. And you’d be well-served to give men who are not so “smooth” a good fair shake before you determine they’re not worthy of you.

One other amusing conclusion from the author:

“I think blogging is a terrific arena for narcissists, if not the best arena imaginable. Narcissistic bloggers can get a constant stream of admiration from complete strangers in the form of comments after each blog post. The blogger doesn’t have to value the commentator or form a relationship with the commentator. In fact, the commentator is helping to feed the narcisstic blogger’s addiction for instant admiration. And comments that are too critical can easily be deleted.”

Um, no comment.

Read the article here. Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.

Join our conversation (79 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 31
    Sparkling Emerald

    Sara #29
       I am confused, in your list of narcissist traits you list feeling superior to others and fragile self esteem.  Don’t they cancel each other out ?

    1. 31.1
      Mrs Happy

      Sparkling Emerald @ 31:
      Feeling superior to others and a fragile self esteem do not cancel each other out. They can be complementary.
      Narcissism is a personality trait (we are all narcissistic to some degree, some people much more than others, it’s a spectrum). Everyone has personality traits, they are not a disorder.
      Narcissistic personality disorder is a diagnosis made when someone’s personality and way of relating to others in the world, their overall functioning (e.g.in areas like work, study, relationships), is actually impaired, because of their symptoms. It is narcissistic personality traits taken to extreme.
      Most people who have higher than average levels of narcissism, still wouldn’t qualify as having narcissistic personality disorder.
      One of the clinical features of people with narcissistic personality disorder, is, at the centre of their being and sense of self, their belief about who they are and their self worth, they are very fragile. (That’s partly why they prioritise the superficial so much, as a counter to this deep fear. E.g. “if I’m with this gorgeous partner and I have smart friends and I mix with high-worth people, I must be of value”.)
      People with the disorder are very clinically interesting in how extremely fragile they are. A major blow to their thin external layer of narcissism sees them collapse psychologically. There isn’t much underneath holding the inflated ego up. For example, someone with this disorder may have their wife leave them, and then they will try to suicide, because they think/fear that as a result of her departure, their standing in the community will fall, that others will perceive them as less worthy.
      One feature of narcissism as a personality trait that some people find annoying, is when a person is narcissistic (thinks and communicated how really great they are at something/many things, and believes they are superior to others) but doesn’t have anything to back it up (i.e. actually isn’t that talented or superior). Though some cultures have different thresholds for accepted behaviours here. For instance, British are stereotypically very humble, and even in the face of a major accomplishment, will downplay their talent in that field. Whereas someone from a different country may vocalise how wonderful a violin player they are, how they have toured, are feted, and played with the best, and then you find out they’re pretty average…one has to be careful to distinguish between culturally acceptable behaviour/boasting, and a tendency to narcissism.

  2. 32

    Karl, I tend to agree with you, but to take it a step further, there is the clinical personality disorder of Narcissism and then there are those who maybe just have tendencies but not a personality disorder.  Based on my interaction with one who is full on NPD and one who just has tendencies, one huge distinguishing factor is their ability to be grounded in reality.

  3. 33

    @Karl – You’re right, I just read the synopsis, not the actual article. Oops
    @Sparkling Emerald – I didn’t come up with that list, I located it online

  4. 34

    @Karl – Ok one more thing and then I’m done. I read the article, and its interesting. But I don’t feel like its mind boggling. The study itself that they are using with the 73 freshmen isn’t exactly a great control group. I mean, they’re saying the people  are narcissists like its a fact, when in reality they took a “self-report narcissism questionnaire”. That isn’t exactly the same thing as being diagnosed with narcissism as starthower68 points out. I was just noticing the disparity because from what I had previously read only a small portion of the population would be diagnosed as actually narcisitic. I found this exerpt under US NEWS Health – “This past summer [a study of] a nationally representative sample of 35,000 Americans found that 6 percent of Americans, or 1 out of 16, had experienced [clinical narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)] at some point in their lives. And there was a big generational effect. You’d expect that people who are older would have a higher percentage of having experienced this because they’ve lived so many more years. But only 3 percent of people over 65 had had any experience with NPD, compared with almost 10 percent of people in their 20s. Given that you can only diagnose this when someone is 18, that’s a pretty short number of years in which to have this experience” So about 6% of the population would actually qualify, and they make a great point. The previous study had been of 18 year olds and only a specific group of them in this one class. That isn’t a broadbased study that they’re gleaning these conclusions from.

  5. 35

    The problem with identifying a narcissist is that we can all have a bit of it in us. e.g. I know I can be a bit self absorbed and rave on about my stuff to friends, can be sensitive to criticism, and sometimes can be a bit insensitive.
    However to have narcissistic personality disorder means having more traits and expressing them more strongly. When you know you are not a perfect person, when you meet a full blown narcissist you may make allowances for the behaviours you observe. e.g “”öh we can all make the occasional catty comment””, ” I can be self absorbed so if he talks non stop and doesn’t ask questions about me, I have been guilty of that”” etc
    However, the defining characteristic of narcissists is lack of empathy. LOok for lack of empathy. Mind you some narcissists know they lack empathy so they will mouth the words they know they are expected to say in certain situations., which can throw you off a bit until you add up all the  mean, disdainful comments.
    Believing that you’re better than others
    Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
    Exaggerating your achievements or talents
    Expecting constant praise and admiration
    Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly
    Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
    Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
    Taking advantage of others
    Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
    Being jealous of others
    Believing that others are jealous of you
    Trouble keeping healthy relationships
    Setting unrealistic goals
    Being easily hurt and rejected
    Having a fragile self-esteem
    Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

  6. 36

    I just left a four year relationship with a narcissistic man who also exhibited extreme jealousy and control. It is true exactly how they go way overboard and put you in a pedestal in the beginning, doing everything imaginable to sweep you off your feet, that lasts about 6 months, then the mask is pulled off and you are left with the worse nightmare guy u could ever know if your life!!! Run as fast as you can, save your soul and never look back. They are extremely sick really abusive. I have never knew this kind of man could exist. I am extremely grateful that I did not marry him. They are sooo deceptive and manipulative. It’s one scary relationship that will rock your world and damage your soul so bad that you will never think you can heal again. Trust me, always look for the guy who doesn’t know how to pick up women, who fumbled and blushes when he tried to talk to you, because that is the one who will win a wants heart and show her the love that is rare. Not the cocky I am on top of the world better than anyone else guy-b2

  7. 37

    I agree with Evan that not every confident, well-dressed man is a narcissist. And not every shy, awkward man has a heart of gold. Two of the worst narcissists I’ve ever known were shy and awkward and not very physically attractive who, rather than charm, used guilt and sob stories to reel people in. They were both absolutely toxic people. Some of the meanest, most self-absorbed people I’ve known have been shy and socially awkward. It’s better to understand the red flags and character traits of narcissism so you can recognize them for what they are, regardless of the package they come in.

  8. 38
    Anon Narc Survivor

    Be careful! I feel head over heels in like with what turned out to be a mask for a full-blown, covert narc: and he was the quiet, shy, awkward one sitting in the corner. I would always seek him out and say hi. I projected all this goodness, none was really there. Once we were together: He was condescending, mean, judgmental, self-absorbed, withholding of affection and even a Happy Birthday. Totally toxic and enjoyed humiliating me in public, putting me down, disagreeing with everything I said, very contemptous (esp of my kindness). I felt stupid and incmpetant around him (I have a masters and quickly made it to management in my company, so I know this was a prejection). So was my last shy guy. So no my “type” is NOT the OVERT narc, I get turned off by that…but even my type, the shy guy, can be narc’s…best thing to do is take it slow, watch for signs and red flags, and wait for the mask to drop :/

    1. 38.1
      Lowflyin Lolana

      Yep. Me too!

      Empathy is always the sign. If the person doesn’t have it…that’s the indicator

  9. 39

    what about narcissistic women? Narcissistic men abound, but I’d love to read a post about them. My mother is your classic narcissist. For years, I had tried to define the behavior that demolished her family. In the shinning of her marriage, she was an angel. People all around love her. But no one could fathom her behavior if they spent even a week in our household. famous English playwright wrote a quote a quote that shook me at my core when I read it:” 

    “It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”

    This is what the narcissist capitalizes on. To the world, they are gracious, hardworking, and honorable. My mother is, in fact, a hardworking and ambitious woman. She is a doll to everyone she meets. Many people know her in our hometown and simply love her. But they haven’t gone past her public self and descended into the nightmare that she created at home.
    My father was an uneducated scum. He was an embarrassment. He had the heart of a hyena. He had no clue how to raise his children, and couldn’t even provide for his family (he was making $250k/year). she was college-educated and a wonderful catch; he forced her to marry him. According to her, she had to marry him because his incessant presence made her give in.
    Her children did whatever they wanted–stayed out past 2 at the age of 12, stole, ditched school. But it was all my dad’s fault. They inherited his bad genes–his aggressive gene, and his dislike for school gene. Everything good in her children came from her. Every negative consequence that was due to her poor actions were everyone else’s fault. The washing machine broke because my dad bought poor quality ones. Did she forget that she washes her clothes one at a time?? But no, she is NEVER at fault. Ever. Her daughters talk too much and are annoying; no one will ever want to marry them.  
    The list goes on and on. Her ability to say one thing and vehemently deny it a minute later when confronted never ceases to amaze me. Our attempts to reason with her and to instill some clarity in her became akin to punching a brick wall…over and over, like screaming but nothing comes out. 

    1. 39.1

      In the reading on NPD’s that I have done, it takes a major “injury” to their psyche to get them to wake up.  I have a friend, whom I believe has NPD; he is a great friend. But being romantically involved with him (I was briefly) was the worst.  It took me a few years to get over that one.  I probably needed the lesson as I was very naive.  He went through a couple of situations that I was sure would break him, but they really didn’t.  I can’t imagine what it would take to break the facade.

  10. 40

    I am apparently an expert now on dating narcissists. I think that the reason why women end up and stay with them is because they had self-esteem issues at the time they met the narcissist, and then the narcissist’s selfish behavior sends the relationship on a damaging spiral downward, creating more self-esteem issues. Then the woman thinks that she can fix everything by changing him or herself. It’s like living in this dark, desperate world trying to fill an empty hole with the narcissist’s scraps of attention and love. Conflict resolution? Forget it. It’s never their fault. In my experience it takes 1-3 months to see their true colors. You have to learn to recognize the soul-sucking behavior and manipulations, or be at a point in your life that no one can get under your skin, resulting in the rejection of the narcissist.

  11. 41

    I guess its easy to think mean people have a diagnosis because its hard to relate to if you’re a nice person. And the higher degree of meanness the more I want to diagnose the person. I wonder what makes them tick and whats driving the behaviour. I think mean behaviour is reinforced socially and it breeds mire meanness. Hence the saying ( you become who you hang around). Low life types personify this and you find they tend to congregate together and back eachother despite everything as in each one feels the other makes them feel ever so slightly less awful about themselves.

  12. 42

    Most if not all men have narcissistic traits and even psychopathic traits. I would say I score slightly higher than a lot of men on the narc traits but I live a wonderful independent life and rise above social conditioning. 

    Who wants to be “normal” pah!

    We do tend to go for the borderlines women though..just to feed our ego 🙂

    I’m off to start my bog! 

    1. 42.1

      Speaking of which, I suppose all guys wanting the younger gal should take heart. If Charles Manson can snag one, anybody should be able to.

  13. 43

    I am a narcissist magnet – both men and women can sense in me a deep desire to help and connect with people, to listen to them with my complete attention and empathise with them completely (due to my mother being a narcissist herself and setting me up as her surrogate parent).

    Unfortunately this is wreaking havoc on my life. Everywhere I go I keep meeting people who one minute seem to cherish the ground I walk on while in the next they are completely devaluing me and everything important to me.

    They never really take the time to get to know me. They either tell their sob stories and have me help and listen or just talk about themselves for ages and then ask me closed ended questions at the end that don’t really allow me to express my personality properly. Everything they want to know relates to them or some need they have – it’s not really about me. It feels almost like interrogation, like they’re just going through the motions, ticking boxes.

    After a while of this they feel they have an adequate picture of ‘me’ based on this information they’ve gathered. Then they begin to set me up to fulfil their needs (at the expense of my own, most of the time). I always think to myself, oh my needs will be met! At some point my needs will get some attention! I’m going so far out of my way here they just have to be! But no – they never are! It’s always all about them. And when you start to assert yourself, start to ask for what you want, guess what happens? The process of rapid devaluation starts.

    You’re not good enough. You’re stupid, the things you like are bad, you’re weird, and oh – by the way – you are the one that’s selfish! Never mind you just spent time and effort giving this person what they wanted based on the inferred promise that eventually your needs would be met – you’re being completely selfish by asking for what you want!

    If you’re lucky they’ll figure out a way to gracefully dump you when they realise you won’t play their game anymore. If you’re incredibly unlucky they’ll manipulate you into giving them what they want, and they’ll keep you hooked on the sugar; what’s your trigger? Sympathy? Admiration? Yes you give me what I need, you’re special, you’re amazing, so beautiful, so smart, I can’t live without you, I want to be clsoer to you; oh, wait, you want something? You’re kind of stupid. Why are you so needy? I need some time to myself.

    Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.

  14. 44

    Well they certainly Fit right in with them.

  15. 45

    Woman love them because they have materiels, money, and looks. Noticed the car in the picture? It ain’t cheap.

  16. 46

    The very sad thing is that much more women are like that today since many of them are very spoiled and selfish.

  17. 47

    I think maybe there is a misconception that Narcissists are all beautiful. Perhaps if they were, we wouldn’t be so off-put by their negativity. The worst narcissistic trait is a self importance to such a degree (fueled by insecurity) that the narcissist sees others as mere extensions of themselves. They see others in terms of what they can gain from them.

  18. 48

    Most women who date narcissists do so because they’re co-dependent or borderline – a man who isn’t narcissistic doesn’t want screwed up women anyway.  A woman who’s fed with assholes but cant resist them wants good breeding stock from a more primitive perspective, but even your modern day feminist is trying to force all the beta males out of the picture, even though she spends most of her time by herself. Humanity and pair bonding habits need to evolve – technically we’re about 50 years behind the times in that half the alpha male population is in prison by the age of 30, and half the geeks of the world have bigger hands than Donald Trump and have access to all the resources – something’s not adding up psychologically – just create a little  but of tension, doesnt mean you have to pretend not to be interested – in fact if pretending not to be interested bags a man a hot chick, probably means she’s gonna turn into mayhem in short order. Bottom line is there are healthy people out there – both men and women – lots of them – but the unhealthy ones have learned how to fool the rest of us – we just have to learn how to spot them and say “NO!”

  19. 49

    Most women who date narcissists do so because they’re co-dependent or borderline – a man who isn’t narcissistic doesn’t want screwed up women anyway.  A woman who’s fed with assholes but cant resist them wants good breeding stock from a more primitive perspective, but even your modern day feminist is trying to force all the beta males out of the picture, even though she spends most of her time by herself. Humanity and pair bonding habits need to evolve – technically we’re about 50,000 years behind the times in that half the alpha male population is in prison by the age of 30, and half the geeks of the world have bigger hands than Donald Trump and have access to all the resources – something’s not adding up psychologically – just create a little  but of tension, doesn’t mean you have to pretend not to be interested – in fact if pretending not to be interested bags a man a hot chick, probably means she’s gonna turn into mayhem in short order. Bottom line is there are healthy people out there – both men and women – lots of them – but the unhealthy ones have learned how to fool the rest of us – we just have to learn how to spot them and say “NO!” Also narcissistic leadership is out of style in the modern innovative world – they are not empathetic and can’t be create, and most especially can’t allow others to create through empowerment, so narcissism is severely limited in its traditional stomping ground of the industrial ago – has anyone noticed more authentic leadership emerging (and no Donald Trump is not authentic – he’s just a very good bullshitter). So make your choices wisely ladies – pick some who excites you without boring you – or face a lifetime of misery and unhappiness – I would know – I’m married to a borderline and it is my responsibility – even though they can be extremely hard to detect – only wish I had done a psychology degree – i would have been much happier and would have made much better choices for myself – for =now I’m stuck with an asshole! 🙂 The first step to solving a problem is realizing you have one – and then next you can attempt to resolve it.

  20. 50
    Jeannine Udqall

    As a rule, I have found that Narcissistic men show their colors by reacting in a nasty, hostile way when a woman asserts herself or shows any disagreement.  The Jeckkyll and Hyde personality comes out and it should be a huge turn off.  The denial can be thick and that is what has always kept me trapped and coming back for more humiliation, rejection or abuse.  It is very easy for me to now spot who is truly a nice person and who is just a fake putting on the “nice act” all in the name of getting admiration and validation.  Check for your boredom and feelings of being disrespected.

  21. 51

    Ugh, *there.

  22. 52

    I haven’t met a good looking, successful guy who isn’t a narcissist. They all seem to be. Heck if hey are just good looking…

    I hate to say it, but it’s a man’s market. Unless you are a thin, beutiful 25 year old or have tons of money.

  23. 53

    my buddy is one i told him i had to have a major surgery and he tells me he has stomach cancer …ya i know right.

  24. 54

    Well nowadays many women are real narcissists more than men are lately.

    1. 54.1
      Karl R


      According to the National Institute of Health: “Prevalence of lifetime NPD was 6.2%, with rates greater for men (7.7%) than for women (4.8%).”

      NPD means Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

      Once again, you’ve made a broad accusation against women, even though the evidence shows the exact opposite. As I’ve pointed out to you at least a dozen times before, it’s your negative attitude towards women that kills your chances.

  25. 55

    No one wants to deal with narcissistic men haha, but in the end, what kind of women they marry? Is there a chance for them to have a happy wife and marriage, or do they end up alone?

  26. 56
    Gina Diodati

    Guess what happens when you go over to that quiet shy guy at the bar? You think “He looks really sweet, quiet, caring etc. He looks “cute” at best but you can tell he give zero fcks about his looks. You on the other hand, all done up and is relatively quite attractive. You think “I want a nice guy, not the most entertaining, rich, attractive guy. I want someone I can really connect with.”  This is what happens, that quiet shy guy turn out to be an emotional unavailable mommy issue sociopath or AKA The Covert Narcissist!  My advice, date yourself and get pets!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *