LuckyOtter blogs quite a bit about narcissism and does a great job. She’s been researching narcissism for some time now, while I’ve been researching biology, women, and attraction.
Love is an awesome thing, I much prefer immersing myself in love gone right, but one thing that makes the miracle of love really stand out, is an awareness of how easily it can go all wrong. That is the stuff of nightmares and horror stories. The vampire’s seductive and hypnotizing gaze, that concept must have came from a human psyche that had observed narcissism in action.
So, cult leaders, gurus, narcissists, and assorted other psychopaths, have the power and charisma to pull people towards them, to create attraction. Men get tangled up in these relationships too, and there certainly are female narcissists, but I wanted to focus on women and the biological vulnerabilities we have that sometimes allow these guys to bypass our ability to reason.
Charles Manson just got himself married. The news is full of bizarre stories of former beauty queens hooking up with convicted felons and coming to unfortunate ends. There’s a lot of psychology entwined in there, no matter how beautiful some women may appear on the outside, they don’t feel that way about themselves on the inside. Then there are childhood patterns, what’s familiar and how we inadvertently seek the familiar, even when it comes from a toxic place. Then there is just plain old biological attraction gone awry.
So what can make narcissists so appealing? They give the illusion of thinking highly of themselves, they tend to exude confidence and self worth. That’s attractive to women, and narcissists are quite good at promoting that deception. I say deception, because narcs really are not confident or self assured at all, they’re actually weak and they take arrogance to a whole new level, but women can’t always pick up on those subtleties. There’s also a paradox, a mystery woven in there. Women often are attracted to riddles waiting to be solved. Men for example, who are strong but gentle at the same time, have within them a pleasing paradox. Narcissists words don’t match the feelings they create, so there’s a paradox lurking there, they say these charming things, but there’s something icky going on, too.
For the record, I am not attracted to narcissists, although I can spot them across a crowded room like a radar homing in on a signal. They tend to avoid me like the plague, in fact they can be instantly hostile. I can see them for what they are and I suspect they don’t like it very much. Possibly they pick up on my hostility, I certainly have the urge to expose them as the charlatans and con artists they are.
LuckyOtter quotes Sam Vaknin who wrote “Malignant Self Love” and an interview he gave explaining why he wrote the book. He is a narcissist extraodinaire with the capacity for some self awareness, but only from the perspective of admiring and reveling in his own flaws. He said something interesting however, he said, “This satisfies the enfant terrible in me, the part of me that seeks to be despised, abhorred, derided and, ultimately, punished by society at large.”
That’s it precisely, that’s what lurks in the heart of most narcissists. I have a saying I use frequently, “what you seek, you will destroy.” That actually comes from an old video game, but it’s also a concept in psychology where we fulfill our own prophecies, follow the dark things that lurk in our hearts. People may say they want a good relationship, but even if you find the most perfect person in the world, if your heart is full of darkness, if you seek to be despised, abhorred, derided, you will be compelled to destroy the goodness in another person because it now threatens your prime directive.
That is the danger that lies beneath the surface of narcissism. They are compelled to destroy anything that does not validate and reinforce that deep seated self hatred that lies buried within them. So the kinder you are to a narcissist, the more you try to accommodate them, to comply, the more they will hate and despise you. If you follow this path for too long, they will eventually destroy you.
I talk a lot about men and women and submission and biblical insights into how to make those relationships an even more pleasant dance. Narcissism however, throws a wrench in things, because the worst thing women can do is to try and submit to a narcissist. The more you submit, the more they will hate you, until you really do become the one thing they despise the most.
There’s an old fashioned saying, “men not under authority have no authority.” It’s a really good principle to follow. There are men who are non believers who still submit to an idea greater then their own selves, perhaps their concept of empathy or an awareness of right or wrong. Women can submit to non believing husbands or imperfect men or whatever, and I think it can really help to strengthen relationships. Narcissism however, is an entirely different beast. Anybody trapped in a relationship with that kind of malignancy, is fighting a battle they have very little chance of ever winning.
To those churchian gamers who think if they just figure out how to imitate a narcissist in a quest to exploit women, “exploit” is the key word there. If you think you need to exploit women in order to attract them to you, you haven’t got a very high opinion of yourself. Anybody who believes you have to con, manipulate, or deceive women into loving you, despises their own self and yes, what you seek, you will eventually destroy.