The Narcissist versus Mr. Perfect

How do narcissists do it? How do people with such absurd and damaging behaviors convince seemingly normal people to adore them, to view them as Mr. Perfect? Why do women fall in love with them? From the perfect, beautiful beginning to the ugly and painful end, it sometimes seems as if all narcissists read the same manual about how to hook a victim. 

Appealing or Appalling Traits

It is easy to fall in love with this type of person, mistaking him for Mr. Perfect, because you do not realize their true colors until it is too late. Many narcissists have fragile self-esteem yet hide that by being smooth talkers and overly confident. When you are starting a relationship with someone like this, it is easy to be manipulated into loving their persona-the person you want them to be, not their true self.

If narcissists were just ‘jerks’, they would be easy to spot and avoid. However, they are entertaining and exciting as well as aggressive and manipulative which makes them compelling and magnetic. Narcissistic men have a keen interest in charming females and engage in successful, time-tested sexual strategies. Because many women look for a man who is confident and will give them attention, they are easy prey for a narcissist. Many women are unknowingly attracted to narcissistic men because these men are able to manipulate people into believing what they want them to believe. Narcissists can ‘be’ anyone you want them to be – or rather, anyone they think you want them to be.  These men will do all they can to please you and woo you into a relationship if they feel it will make them look better. Women see this attention as positive for the relationship and end up falling in love. So how can you tell if he IS Mr. Perfect (i.e., perfect for you) or if he is a narcissist? The following chart should help you discriminate before you lose your heart to someone who will simply batter it then discard it.

 Narcissist: Mr. Perfect:
Will brag about his perfect family Will say positive and negative things about his family
Will be perfectly romantic Will be romantic
Will build your self-esteem to new heights (put you on a pedestal) Will build your self-esteem with realistic compliments
Has grandiose fantasies-feels he is special, unique, superior Has positive, realistically based sense of himself as an individual
Is overly confident Is confident
Feels he is above the law Law-abiding
Has to be the center of attention and re-directs attention back to himself if anyone else gets the spotlight Enjoys the spotlight but also lets others enjoy the spotlight
Is energetic, impulsive Is energetic, may or may not be impulsive
Is extroverted Is extroverted
Stresses short-term commitments Stresses long term commitments
Feels many others are inferior to him Feels most others are his equals
Speaks of exaggerated, faux achievements Speaks of truthful achievements
Must maintain flawless, perfect image Will admit weaknesses
Will never admit to being wrong Will admit to being wrong
Feels he is more important than others, feels entitled Feels important but does not feel entitled; appreciates it if given special treatment
Good sense of humor, funny Good sense of humor, funny
Entertaining and exciting Entertaining and exciting
Manipulative Not manipulative
Prefers to be admired rather than liked Prefers to be liked rather than admired
Overreacts to small slights May be disappointed but doesn’t over-react to small slights
Charming Charming
Power-oriented May be power-oriented but not to exclusion of other values
Exploits others Does not exploit others
Arrogant Confident
Marked need for attention Enjoys attention from others

The narcissistic blend of dazzle and callousness, like light and dark, guarantees no shortage of sexual and romantic partners at the outset. However, first impressions don’t always last, especially in the case of narcissists. Campbell and his colleagues found that people who date narcissists are highly satisfied for about four months, at which point they report a rapid decline in relations. Ironically, the four-month mark is when people start to reach peak satisfaction when dating non-narcissists. Yet the initial excitement and charm offered by the narcissist is hard to resist.