Narcissistic men and relationships
Narcissists. Handsome and charming, they have a way of pulling us into their snares with little warning. It’s kind of like watching one of those Animal Planet shows where your heart just breaks for the furry creature that’s about to get devoured.
Imagine a voice-over with a British accent: “In the field, the zebra leaps happily, not sensing the cougar that lies in wait.” We brace ourselves for the inevitable outcome.
Well, we’re not exactly zebras but you get the metaphor. Many of us will fall for men who are narcissists and here’s why.
Narcissistic men have a chip that empowers them to detect vulnerability
In turn, they will adapt and modulate their strong personalities to your situation, thereby making you the center of their world. Before you know it, they’ve got you under their control.
Secure gay men men
That said, even with the initial charm, securely attached men are more likely to spot what makes a narcissist tick. They can tell the difference between strength and bragging, stability and control because they trust their own judgment.
Such men are also comfortable with close connections and know what a healthy relationship looks like.
Vulnerable gay men
This just isn’t true gay men whose emotional needs weren’t met earlier in life. Sadly, many lack an inner voice that helps them identify the difference between a strong guy with good intentions and a jerk who’s only out for himself.
You are more likely to fall for a narcissistic man if your background includes:
- Growing up with an alcoholic parent
- A childhood where you were shamed for being gay
- Physically or verbally abused
- Suffering from body image issues [link]
- Serious problems with self-esteem
- A long struggle with depression
If you identify with being a vulnerable gay man, here’s five ways you unknowingly continue to do this.
1. You confuse love with sex
The narcissist loves being in control and the rush that controlling someone gives him. Your neediness gives him lots of opportunities for both.
Because you’re so hungry for love and affection — and still trying to fill the hole in your heart left by an unloving parent—you’re unlikely able to notice how he manipulates you.
You stay focused on the make-up sex and the warm feelings of reassurance you experience when says not to worry. The reality? It’s about him, not you.
2. You’re accustomed to being manipulated
This is alas true if your mom/dad was high in narcissistic traits (combative or controlling). You’ve taken this blueprint from childhood and projected onto adult relationships with men.
Thus, you are less likely to notice the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which he exacts control over you. You may also misread his gestures as being about care-taking or thoughtfulness when they’re all about control.
3. You mistake mind-games for passion
Studies show that narcissists love playing games in relationships and the roller-coaster you find yourself on, made possible by both your behaviors and his, is often mistaken for the exciting and all-consuming romance promoted as true love in our culture.
The sad truth is that in their quest for that passion, many insecure gay men who have faulty blueprints of what a healthy relationship looks like often reject a suitor who’s predictable and emotionally stable as “boring” for someone high in narcissist traits who seems “thrilling.”
4. You are attracted to “Bad Boys”
This point goes hand in hand with number three. By definition, bad boys are emotionally unavailable. They more effort you put into trying to win their love, the greater you get sucked in.
Here’s the thing – narcissists are incapable of loving anyone. Simply put, they aren’t wired to feel empathy towards others. Instead, they’ve learned to fake affection, usually temporarily, to obtain their needs.
5. Your codependency gives him power
The final way some gay men fall for narcissists is through unintentional neediness. In the beginning, he’ll sweep you off your feet. Like a horse drawn to water, you keep going back for more.
In time, the narcissist intentionally pulls back. Using emotional manipulation, he withholds his faux emotional and physical affection, thereby leaving you feeling confused and anxious.
The end result is a codependent dynamic whereby you become dependent upon him to feel good about yourself.
Exploring why you appeal to the narcissist and facing your behaviors head on will help you from repeating the cycle of pain.
That, fellow Zebras, is a powerful thing.
Raskin, R., & Hall, C. (1979). A narcissistic personality inventory. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1981-08131-001
Streep, P. (2016) Unloved women and narcissists. Psychcentral