Background

Is your DATE a NARCISSIST? (EXCERPT with Conor Ryan, Eyes Wide Open Podcast)

Uploaded 12/17/2023, approx. 13 minute read

about if a young woman is embarking upon a relationship with a man and she thinks everything is going great, she's fantastic, she's loved this guy, he's fantastic, but there's something she feels is not right. How could that young woman, any woman, what's the checklist for her to try and figure out is this guy potentially a narcissistic abuser? What would your perspective be? And then I want to ask you from the male perspective. In 1970, there was a Japanese, of course, Japanese roboticist, and he came up with a concept of uncanny valley. Masahiro Mori was his name. He suggested that as robots become more and more human-like, as they become, as we become androids, we are going to develop an extreme feeling of an ease in their presence, not because they don't resemble humans, but because they have become indistinguishable from humans. And yet something in us, gut feeling, intuition, instinct, call it what you want, something in us is going to signal to us. This is not a full-fledged, fully baked human. Something is off key. Some note is wrong in this symphony.

And he called it the uncanny valley.

When you come across a narcissist or a psychopath, regardless of the setting, you are likely to have an uncanny valley reaction. You're likely to react to the narcissist and psychopath as if they were not fully human, not fully composed, not full-fledged, not fully put together or put together wrongly, or there's an off key or something. And it's going to know it. It's an intuitive thing. Yeah. We know, for example, that when two people meet, they exchange a gigantic amount of information via smell. They exchange about 100 items via smell alone, including the composition of the immune system. Many of the genetic properties and so on so forth are exchanged within a split, a microsecond on a first encounter of less than two meters distance. Wow.

So a lot of information is being exchanged. Body language, of course, micro expressions, facial expressions, the way I come here, a lot is exchanged. Some argue that the vast majority of information is exchanged non-verbally on a first encounter. That's why first impressions.

So what you're saying, Sam, is for a young woman or any woman, is really trust your innate instincts, your intuition as the number one reference point. A hundred percent.

But this is the first line of defense. This is the Maginot line. And then start to observe, is he breaching the boundaries? Does he treat you as an extension of himself? Does he make decisions for you? On the first date, he orders drinks without consulting you. Or he chooses a restaurant. Or he decides what you're going to do during the evening. You're going to watch a movie now.

So that's a breach of boundaries and ignoring your autonomy, agency and independence.

Second thing, and by far the most critical, how does he treat others? Because with you, it's an act. Narcissists interact with potential intimate partners in a sequence that is Kabuki sequence. It's rigid, it's dictated and it's never changing, immutable.

So the first thing they do is they love them. Love bombing starts subtly the way he looks at you.

So with you, it's an act. You can't trust the information that you gather by being with the narcissist on the first date. Instead, monitor and observe how the narcissist relates to other people.

So the waiters at the table, other people. Because there he won't bother to act.

But there's nothing to gain from them. So obviously he'll show his true self, if you like.

Moreover, underlings and subordinates and service providers provoke, trigger the narcissist's grandiosity is worth features. Narcissists are in distance a bit sadistic. This provokes his worst features.

Similarly, pay attention to what happens in stressful situations when things don't go right somehow. Does he become paranoid? Does he become aggressive? Does he curse? Does he break things? Does he pay a lot of attention to them? His speech patterns are crucial. Narcissists are not really interested in other people. They want to talk about themselves. Or when they pretend to listen to you, they're planning their next performance.

So he's likely suddenly to ask a question, the answer to which you've already provided. He was simply not listening. He's likely to talk about himself, his work, his accomplishments, his brilliant future, and so on and so forth.

I'm doing this to you in this interview, actually. My speech patterns are to some extent disrespectful.

So it's an indicator of narcissism. These are enough.

How do you mean, Sam? Give me an example. In this interview specifically.

I'm leveraging you to say what I want to say. I know that.

And that's typical in an interview, in any interview, up to a point. And beyond that point, it's disrespectful.

Now, I don't disrespect you because I think you're unintelligent. I actually think you're intelligent. So there you have my respect.

But I disrespect you because you are a tool. You're an instrument. You have no separate external existence.

Narcissists are not capable of perceiving the externality and separateness of other people because they've never been able to separate from the maternal figure and individuate. Narcissism is a failure in separation and individuation.

So they are still symbiotically enmeshed with a maternal figure in their mind. And they relate to other people the same way.


We are one now. And of course, because we are one now, you are not external. You're not separate from me. Because we are one now, and because clearly I'm superior to you, then you are my tool, my instrument.

What else?

From a female perspective, I think we know, we understand what a woman, a young woman, should be looking for. Is there anything else before we switch it to the male perspective?

Yes. The alacrity of the process. He would want to marry you on a second date and plan on having three children with you on a third date. The speed is abnormal. It's unnatural. We want to move in with you by the end of the first date. Very common occurrence, but move in with you on the first date.

Join bank accounts. Whatever. The speed should alarm you seriously.

The narcissist relates to potential intimate partners via a process known as shared fantasy. It was first described by Sander in 1989. The shared fantasy, inter-shared fantasy, the narcissist creates a script, the equivalent of a theater play or a movie, and then he casts you. It's casting central. He casts you in a role. And you're supposed to play this role within the fantasy.

Now within the fantasy, you idealize each other. The narcissist first idealizes you, and because you will have become ideal, it idealizes him. He's in possession of an ideal object, you. Only an ideal person can possess an ideal object. So that makes him ideal.

And this process is known as co-idealization. And then the shared fantasy progresses into its inevitable conclusion, which is devaluation, separation, devaluation, devaluation, separation, individuation.

So the narcissist converts you into a maternal figure. By the way, even in same-sex relationships, even when the narcissist is a woman, the narcissist converts the intimate partner into a maternal figure because the narcissist wants to reenact the early conflict with the biological original mother and wants to separate from them and become an individual, wants to grow up through the agency of the intimate partner.

So the intimate partner becomes a mother. And then the narcissist needs to push her away. And the only way he knows how to do this is to devalue her. And then he separates from her and discards her. This process is autonomous, automatic, and ineluctable. There's absolutely nothing you can do.

If you're the best conceivable partner, most loving and caring and empathic and holding you, you name it, you sacrifice yourself, you're co-dependent, you're a doormat. Nothing is going to help because the narcissist needs to devalue you and separate from you because you are his mother, you're his new mother.

Of course, the narcissist gives you the same treatment. He becomes your mother. He provides you with unconditional love. He regresses you to a much earlier age.

And that is why this whole relationship is apropos, our earlier conversation, is addictive. The partner doesn't fall in love with the narcissist. The partner falls in love with herself through the narcissist's gaze.

The narcissist idealizes her. And then he gives, he provides her with access to this idealization. And then she falls in love with her own idealized image. It's intoxicating. It's exactly what happens to a baby with his mother.

The mother idealizes the baby and the baby gains access to his nascent self, to his emerging self through the mother's gaze.

So initially, the baby's self is idealized. And that's why all babies are narcissists. They're narcissists because the mother, the mother idealizes them and then they come to believe this. They come to create a self around this idealization.

And that allows them to take on the world, to explore the world. This is the sequence.

The mother idealizes the baby. The baby feels god-like. The baby feels idealized. And now he can take on the world because he's god.

It's a critical, healthy feature of early childhood. The mother's gaze is crucial in pushing the child away from her and into the world. It's as if the mother is saying, listen, baby, you are god. You're ideal. You don't need me. You don't need me anymore. You can take on the world. Go ahead. Take on the world.

And the child begins to explore the world and then discovers that there are other people in the world and develops object relations, the ability to interact with other people.

This is all very crucial. What the narcissist does, he takes himself and his partner and he regresses both of them to age two prior to this stage of separation and individuation.

And they become enmeshed. They become a single unit. Oh, dependent. And trauma bonded.

Is that the kind of phraseology we would use?

They're creating their own trauma and bonding themselves together.

Trauma bonding is a controversial and misunderstood concept.

Laman thinks that trauma bonding is that you bond with the narcissist because he has the capacity to traumatize you and then the capacity to reconcile with you.

Intermittent reinforcement, black and hot and cold.

So the narcissist loves you and the narcissist hates you, but he has the capacity to love. So you become addicted to this cycle.

Say he hates me now. He's aggressive. I need to get his love back. But I need to get it. I will get his love. Not that I need to get his love. I know that I will because intermittent reinforcement is the pattern of the relationship.

So if I wait long enough, I'll get the love back. And there's no love like it. As I just said, this is the kind of love that the mother is for the baby. It's unconditional. It's oceanic. It's oceanic. It's all consuming.

Exactly. So it's worth waiting for.

So this is the layman's interpretation of trauma bonding. But the truth is that it's much deeper and seriously pernicious than all.

It's what the narcissist does. He triggers your other traumas. He triggers previous traumas. He pushes the buttons, the trauma buttons in you. And because he's the one to push the trauma buttons, he acquires omnipotence over you. Only he has the power. His finger is on the button. Only he has the power to remove it. And you want him to remove it more than anything.

Many, many victims are actually there. They remain there, not necessarily because they expect the narcissist's love or they can't live without it or they're addicted to it. But as a form of pain relief, it's the only person who can take away the pain is my narcissist. Or if the other partner is also grandiose, the only person who can restore my grandiosity is my narcissistic partner.

So it's a restorative function in many ways.

I think we have a good understanding of it. And I think we have a good understanding from a female perspective of what to look out for. I think the alacrity thing is very, very interesting as well. I hadn't considered that the speed at which the narcissist, the male narcissist will move this relationship process forward. This is something really for women to look out for, as well as the other things we touched on.

Now let's reverse this. And let's talk about men, a young man. He meets a girl. He finds her amazing. What should he, should he be looking out for the same things? Or is there subtle differences, subtle nuances here?

It's a good question.


The warning signs with the male narcissist is essentially about control. Control, power, power plays, a symmetry of power and so on.

The warning signs with the female, so before I answer your question, well into the 2000s, 75% of people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder were men. And even today in the text of the DSM-5 text revision published one year ago, it still says that 50 to 75% are men.

The truth in the field is that half of all people diagnosed with personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorders, nowadays they're women. Women have caught up with men. And women have caught up with men because women have become men.

This is not somebody. These are studies by Lisa Wade and many others, which have proven again, I think very conclusively that women have adopted the male stereotypical gender role and have become men in the gender sense, not in the genitalia sense or the biological sense.

They become men in the... It's performative. Gender is performative. So they perform as men, but they not only perform as men, they regard themselves as men.

For example, this famous study conducted in 1980 and then again in 2020 and women were asked to describe themselves. In 1980, they chose eight out of nine adjectives, which were typically stereotypically feminine, caring and pathetic, soft. In 2020, they chose eight out of nine adjectives, which were typically stereotypically masculine, strong, tough, competitive, ambitious, etc. So it's not only performative. Their self-perception has become utterly masculine.

Why am I mentioning this? Consequently, a masculine disorder, narcissistic personality disorder is now universal because everyone is a man. Even women are men.

So they required male mental health disorder.

Additionally, the distinctions that used to exist in the 80s and distinctions I wrote about in the 90s, for example, between the manifestations of pathological narcissism in women and in men, these distinctions have all but evaporated.

Male and female narcissists behave identically with one exception. And that exception is what is known as histrionic exception.

So male narcissists are controlling and antisocial, controlling and antisocial. Female narcissists are controlling less antisocial than men and they're histrionic.

When I say histrionic, they place an emphasis on the way they look, appearance, rather than substance, for example. They minimize their intellectual and academic accomplishments. They act hyperemotional. And even to some extent, slutty, the raunch culture.

So they would emphasize hyperemotionality, external appearance. Hypersexuality as well? Hypersexuality, definitely. There would be teasers, the chase, sexual chase, and so on.

So they would introduce sex and looks into the equation in a way which in principle should make you feel uncomfortable, either because you feel hunted or because the superficiality and artificiality of this behavior is so evident and so pathetic that is bloody embarrassing.

So these are, so all the signs of the male plus histrionic behavior.

But women narcissists would act identical to the men when it comes to decision making, alacrity, all this, they would act identical. They would just add to it ostentatious sexuality.

Actually, we discovered in studies that women with histrionic personality disorder and women with narcissistic personality disorder do not like sex at all.


Hello, everyone. I hope you enjoyed that conversation. That's an excerpt from an episode with Professor Sam Vaknin on the psychology of narcissism. The main episode should be right about here and the subscribe button should be right about here. I certainly found the conversation very interesting and I think there's a lot of value there and hopefully, yeah, people can share and enjoy Professor Vaknin's thoughts and wisdom.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Spot a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date

There are warning signs to identify abusers and narcissists early on in a relationship. One of the first signs is the abuser's tendency to blame others for their mistakes and failures. Other signs include hypersensitivity, eagerness to commit, controlling behavior, patronizing and condescending manner, and devaluing the partner. Abusers may also idealize their partner, have sadistic sexual fantasies, and switch between abusive and loving behavior. Paying attention to body language can also reveal warning signs.


Narcissist's Reactions to Abandonment, Separation, and Divorce

Narcissistic abusers often resort to self-delusion when faced with the dissolution of a meaningful relationship. They may adopt a masochistic avoidance solution, punishing themselves for their failure, or construct a delusional narrative in which they are the hero. Some may become antisocial psychopaths, while others develop persecutory delusions and withdraw completely from social contact, becoming schizoids. Finally, some abusers resort to an aggressive stance, becoming verbally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive towards loved ones.


N-Magnet: Narcissist's Ideal Victim?

Narcissists are not drawn to empathic, sensitive people, but rather repelled by them. Victims of narcissistic abuse come in all shapes, sizes, professions, genders, and ages, and there is no specific profile. People should not think of themselves as a "narcissist magnet" and instead review their life in detail to see that they have control over their destiny and can learn from their experiences. Bed relationships, no matter how harrowing, are opportunities to learn lessons.


Narcissist's 10 Body Postures, Psychopath's Physique

The text discusses the body language and body image of narcissists and psychopaths. It delves into the complex relationship these individuals have with their bodies, including how they use body language to manipulate and control others. The text also touches on the treatability of body dysmorphic and somatoform disorders through therapy.


Narcissist's Fantasy Sex Life

Narcissists and psychopaths often have a fantasy-based sex life that reflects their psychodynamic inner landscape, including fear of intimacy, misogyny, control-freak tendencies, auto-eroticism, latent sadism and masochism, problems of gender identity, and various sexual deviances or failures. Their fantasies often involve the aggressive or violent objectification of a faceless, nameless, and sometimes even sexless person, and they are always in unmitigated control of their environment and the people in it. The narcissist's self-exposure to their intimate partner often elicits reactions of horror, repulsion, and estrangement.


Women Narcissists

Male and female narcissists differ in the way they manifest their narcissism, with women focusing on their body and traditional gender roles. However, both genders are chauvinistic and conservative, as they depend on the opinions of those around them to maintain their false self. Women are more likely to seek therapy and use their children as a source of narcissistic supply, while men may view their children as a nuisance. Ultimately, there is no psychodynamic difference between male and female narcissists, as they both choose different sources of supply but are otherwise identical.


Coping Styles: Narcissist Abuses "Loved" Ones Despite Abandonment Anxiety

Narcissists abuse their loved ones to decrease their abandonment anxiety, restore their sense of grandiosity, and test their partner's loyalty. Abuse also serves as a form of behavior modification, as it signals to the partner that they need to modify their behavior to avoid abuse. Coping styles for dealing with abuse include submissiveness, conflicting, mirroring, collusion, and displacement, but some of these styles can be harmful and should be avoided.


Fear of Intimacy, Cheating, and Preemptive Abandonment

People who fear intimacy will choose partners who are also afraid of intimacy, and they will both make sure there is no intimacy in the relationship. Abusive relationships are mutually exclusive to intimacy, and people with fear of intimacy choose abusers as their partners because being abused is their comfort zone. Narcissists are terrified of losing their source of secondary narcissistic supply, usually their spouse or intimate partner, and they push their intimate partner away to allay their anxiety over the impending and ineluctable loss of the relationship.


Narcissist: Women as Sluttish Huntresses or Sexless Saints

Heterosexual narcissists desire women but are frustrated by their inability to interact with them meaningfully. They hate women virulently, passionately, and uncompromisingly, and their hate is primal, irrational, and the progeny of mortal fear and sustained abuse in early childhood. Narcissists are infinitely pessimistic, bare-tempered, paranoid, and sadistic, and their daily routine is a rigmarole of threats, complaints, hurts, eruptions, moodiness, and rage. They are their own worst enemy and cannot conceive of life in one place with one set of people, doing the same thing in the same field with one goal within a decades-old game plan or career path or relationship.


Your Empathy as Narcissistic Injury: Narcissist Never Learns, No Insight

Narcissists reject empathy and intimacy because it challenges their grandiosity, and they become paranoid and aggressive when someone tries to be intimate with them. Narcissists lack empathy and access to positive emotions, leading to a truncated version of empathy called "cold empathy." Narcissists are self-aware but lack the incentive to get rid of their narcissism, and therapy is more focused on accommodating the needs of the narcissist's nearest and dearest. Cold Therapy is experimental and limited, as it removes the false self but does not develop empathy or improve the narcissist's interpersonal relationships.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2023
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy