That’s Men: Beware of the narcissist’s magnetic pull
Those of us who muddle through, annoying our partners and being annoyed by them but making a go of it in the name of love, are not so bad after all.
The thought struck me on reading some research from the world of narcissism. Narcissists believe the universe revolves around them.
You or I exist to confirm that they are God’s gift to the rest of humanity.
They also believe they are highly attractive (the original Narcissus liked to spend long hours gazing at his reflection) and that they have no problem getting new partners, including sexual partners.
The rest of us reckon the narcissists are fooling themselves. If only they realised, we snigger.
But it turns out the narcissists may be right. In a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, men – narcissists and non-narcissists – were sent out to try to persuade women on the street to give them their phone numbers.
The narcissists won the day. Not only did they get more phone numbers but they were rated more attractive than the men who were, well, like you and me.
Other studies have also found that narcissists are seen as more attractive and admirable. Oddly, it’s not just their super-confidence but their huge sense of entitlement that attracts people to them.
Unfortunately, narcissists are also manipulative and exploitative. When other people discover this, the narcissist is abandoned by them or else walks away – a narcissist cannot survive without admiration. But they quickly hook up with someone else who finds them attractive for a while.
Then the cycle starts all over again. Most of us mend our ways when we are taken down a peg or two. A true narcissist finds it hard to learn from the mistakes of the past. Neither will a true narcissist work through the disenchantments and difficulties of a long-term relationship between equals.
For these, life brings many break-ups unless they become very conservative pillars of the community in order to continue gaining admiration and acceptance.
Most narcissists are men but women are reported to be catching up fast. The growth in narcissism has been blamed on the self-esteem movement but the individualistic, competitive world in which we live may reward narcissism more than community spirit and this must play a part too.
Narcissists think they’re wonderful but who would want to be one of them? Those of us who fall flat on our faces every now and then but who dust ourselves off and repair our relationships without needing large dollops of admiration have a lot to be thankful for.
Addendum: A few weeks ago I poked fun at naked men on Donabate beach whose sexual shenanigans had upset the Sunday World and who ran for cover when a party of German hitchhikers arrived on the scene. I described the hitchhikers as “serious Germans trudging through scenes from Sodom and Gomorrah”.
Petra, a German reader, emails “to assure you that public nudity, even to the most ‘serious’ of Germans, is about as distressing as the sight of a sheep in a field is to an Irish person”.
“Unless they were trying to get a lift from a boat, those beach-trudging hitchhikers were probably just hoping to join the party – and greatly puzzled when ‘the only gays in the bay’ skedaddled like startled sand hoppers.
“It’s a long way to Tipperary but clearly a longer way yet for the Irish (and the British and the American) members of the human race to a less inhibited state of mind.
“So keep on trudging; we’re already there and keeping the beer cold for you . . . ”
I thought Petra was implying that Tipperary is a nudist colony, that perhaps Michael Lowry had abandoned the casino in favour of nudity to attract the tourists but of course she was quoting the old song.
I trust that the Sunday World and the “startled sand hoppers” have recovered their composure. As for the hitchhikers, I just hope they haven’t been listening to the Anglo tapes.
Padraig O’Morain (pomorain@yahoo.
com) is a counsellor accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His book, Light Mind - Mindfulness for Daily Living, is published by Veritas. His mindfulness newsletter is free by email.