Narcissism is an interesting phenomenon. In a world obsessed with selfies and validation on social media we are all, in many ways, guilty as charged. But real narcissism has a black heart that goes far beyond the desire for someone to think you look cute on Facebook. All smoke and mirrors, the narcissist creates an illusion and gets you to buy into it. They are shape shifters, constantly morphing into what they think you want them to be and, although they may share similarities, male and female narcissists operate in very different ways.
Recognise these people?
The Female Narcissist
A lot more difficult to spot than her male counterpart, the Female Narcissist seems super fun and rather harmless. Maybe she has a baby doll voice. Maybe she looks like a lickle fwuffy bunny, but don’t buy it. It’s a ruse to disarm you because beneath the simpering, this sugar-coated Poison Ivy is always looking for ways to metaphorically slit your throat. She’ll spread rumours about you, try and sabotage your progress and all the while promote herself as the wide-eyed peacemaker, her eyes welling up with tears as if someone has flicked a switch.
Obsessed with her appearance, FN’s hackles will go up like a wolf if she sees another woman who’s prettier. She lacks self-esteem, so her ability to attract is where she believes her true worth lies and as such, she’s almost never single. The FN is an emotional vampire who feeds on the approval of others because without this she has no idea who she is. All internalised rage she doesn’t know how to handle, the Female Narcissist is probably the reincarnation of Lucretia Borgia. Don’t eat her food. She’ll make you ill.
The Male Narcissist
What a rip-roaring relationship this is. You’ve literally never felt so adored. And so listened to! The Male Narcissist has scoped you out and he knows all your dreams and aspirations. Now he’s going to reflect them back at you in a razzle-dazzle display that will leave you breathless. He’ll wine you, dine you and write your will across the sky in stars. In fact, he’ll probably use this exact line and say he stole it from T.E Lawrence, whilst ordering you another martini.
He gets you, don’t you see? You’re soulmates. You’ve become this alarmingly quickly because a few weeks ago you didn’t even know him, but whilst you’re caught in the headlamps of his intensive gaze, everyone else seems frankly vanilla.
The honeymoon period of this relationship will be historic. The Male Narcissist is obsessed with notions of idealised love and romance, so expect superlatives to fly around like dandelion clocks. They’ll be hotels with marble bathrooms; they’ll be log fires and room service. You can really talk to MN because as a perpetual bullshitter, he is a master of words. The conversation will shine so brightly you’ll think you’re in movie and you are. It’s called Sleeping with the Enemy and MN’s prowess in the bedroom is the only thing he’s not lying about.
It all starts going wrong with MN the moment he realises the game is won and he’s earned your trust. Perpetually fending off boredom, he’ll start to create drama for no reason. He’ll tell you you’re mad or jealous or unstable and what was idolised before will be criticised with forensic intent. You’ll think you’re in a play. It’s called Gaslight.
If you’re unlucky, you may go several cycles with MN. You may even stay with him for years and years because he’s created an addiction with him as chief supply. If your luck is catastrophic, you may find yourself friendless, foreclosing on your house with your career in the toilet. The Male Narcissist isn’t wired for empathy. His humanity centre was shut down for renovation years ago.
Run. Run like the wind.