Why do we fall for them when we know we shouldn’t?
Narcissists LOVE themselves. And, unfortunately, according to science, we love them too, which doesn’t seem fair.
Shouldn’t there be something fundamentally unattractive about a person who finds themselves so damned attractive? Apparently not.
Emanuel Jauk of Austria’s University of Graz published a study in the recent edition of the European Journal of Personality that confirmed our worst fears (and narcissists’ fondest desires):
People find narcissists more attractive than non-narcissists — at least, when it comes to dating.
Jauk set up a study involving 90 people who participated in a series of speed-dating meet-ups. (Speed-dating, though lame, acts as a good showcase to gather people’s immediate reactions to potential dating partners.)
Every participant was evaluated to determine their level of personal narcissism. They were also shown pictures of the other speed-dating participants and asked to rank their physical attractiveness. Jauk’s subjects then went through several rounds of speed dating (resulting in almost 700 “dates”) and then were asked to rate the people they interacted with.
They were asked to say whether they wanted to interact with each person in a short-term relationship — wonderfully described by the researchers as “arranging meetings purely for sex on an ad hoc basis” — OR a long-term relationship (a.k.a. let’s go to IKEA together and buy some bookshelves).
The results were very interesting. They clearly showed that, in dating situations, people LOVE narcissists. There were definite correlations between the people that men and women selected for short- and long-term relationships and their levels of narcissism. To quote a Guardian summary of the study, “those with the highest scores on the narcissism scale also tended to be perceived as most desirable by members of the opposite sex.”
While these results might be frustrating for all you non-narcissists out there looking for short- or long-term hook-ups, when you think about it, they shouldn’t be all that surprising.
There are DEFINITELY some factors about narcissists that will logically make them thrive in a dating environment. For starters, narcissists CARE what they look like. Like a lot. Like way too much. And, while that might be annoying as hell in the long-term (particularly if you have to share a bathroom with them), when it comes to dating, physical appearance DOES play a huge role in how we select a partner.
We live in a culture of very, very quick first impressions, where your decision to have sex with someone can be determined by whether or not you found their Tinder picture to be “swipeable.” So, if narcissists (due to their personal craziness) spend all day trying to make themselves look amazing, yes, that probably will favorably work in their favor when they’re out on the town, looking to hook up. It plays to their strengths.
Narcissists are also, by definition, kind of desperate for self-love. They need you to love them as much as they love themselves. And all that self-love means that they have a TON of experience SELLING themselves.
Every damn day, they look into a mirror and tell themselves that they are AWESOME. With all that practice, they’re going to get pretty good at it, which gives them a big sales advantage when it comes to pitching themselves to you. They know all their best angles. They thrive when it comes to presentation. They know how to make people LOVE them.
Does confidence also play a factor? Sure. People who are confident — and people who are smoking hot — have a big advantage when it comes to dating. But Jauk’s study is interesting because it shows that, in dating situations, confidence and physical attractiveness are only smaller factors in the larger narcissist game.
The BIG reason it seems like narcissists thrive at dating is because all of the relative “symptoms” of narcissism — attention to physical appearance, flattery, extroversion — make it look like they’re making an effort to their potential partners. Narcissists get dates because it looks like they’re TRYING.
Which is something to keep in mind the next time you’re struggling to find someone special. Maybe you don’t have to transform yourself into a self-obsessed a**hole just to go home with the hot guy or girl at the bar. Maybe the key is just putting some effort into your appearance, your attitude, and your overall game. Because, c’mon, people — we can’t let those smug a**holes get all the good dates. Let’s take the best parts of self-love, try our hardest, and make things more difficult for the narcissists at Last Call, OK?
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: New Study Explains Why Narcissists Are SO Damn Attractive.