Here's the thing. Narcissists are obnoxious. Narcissists are repulsive. Narcissists are off-putting. I mean, don't go far. Just look at me.
And yet, when you talk to victims of narcissistic abuse and narcissists in general, they describe narcissists as sexy, irresistible, attractive, seductive. How come? Why this discrepancy between reality and image, impressions, impressions managed and impressions absorbed? Why this gap, this gulf, this abyss between how victims describe narcissists and the truth about narcissists?
This is the topic of today's video.
No, I'm not going to say it aloud. Why narcissists are irresistible.
My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Narcissism. I'm also a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty who see up Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies all over the globe.
Before I proceed, two announcements. Tomorrow for the holidays, of course, I'm going to post a video about the psychology of loners, psychology of schizoid personality.
Second announcement. There are two dozen playlists on this channel, thematic playlist divided by themes. It's a search tool. You know, the dreaded response, search the channel whenever you post a comment. So go to the playlist, find the relevant theme and then scroll through the videos in the playlist and you're very likely to find your answer.
And now to the topic. Narcissist, attractiveness, sexuality and irresistibility.
Of course, the obvious thing is that narcissists and borderlines, by the way, promise you they don't always deliver borderlines, deliver much more than narcissists, but they both promise you the best sex you've ever had.
Disinhibited, kinky, promiscuous, experimentative, no boundaries, no limits. Come here and realize all your fantasies, including the socially frowned upon, beyond the pale, socially unacceptable lines.
So this promise of unbridled sex, the kind of which you've never had is very alluring.
Many people fall for it. Many people regard the borderline and the narcissist as a reification of unconstrained sexuality, the ability to explore all the corners and nooks and crannies of one's fantasy world.
Now this is more true when it comes to the borderline. As far as implementation and delivery, the borderline is much better than the narcissist.
The narcissist usually is a disappointment in bed, is a very bad lover, even somatic narcissist, or actually should I say somatic narcissists are much worse than cerebral narcissists when it comes to performance in bed.
But putting that aside, they have this aura, they have this image, they have this reputation for being great lovers.
Lovers will take you to places you've never been, lead you down paths you've never visited and explore together with you, urges and drives and passions that were long dormant or frowned upon as I said.
So this is the surface reason. And many people, when you're many victims, when you ask them, why did you gravitate towards the narcissist? They said, well, he promised me great sex. And in the case of borderline, she delivered the best sex I've ever had in my life.
And when you ask victims, what do you miss the most? They very often answer the sex, the likes of which I've never had and never likely to have again. It's like a promised land, a paradise, a garden, a terra incognita, where one wanders and comes across exotic animals and acts and indescribable acts.
So but this reason is very superficial. It cannot account for the irresistible, irresistible, irresistible of the narcissist.
The wrong perception of the narcissist is charming, is seductive, someone with whom you could have the best psychosexuality of your life, not only the sex, but the psychological elements surrounding the sex.
And so there is here a misrepresentation, this false advertising, which works.
Are these messages subliminal? Does the narcissist push buttons? Does he trigger you in any way? What is the secret?
The secret sauce, excuse the pun, of the narcissist.
Another issue is the uncanny valley.
Now, it's well documented that more or less on a first encounter, there is a sense of unease, a sense of discomfort, a sense of something gun or eye, something off key, something wrong.
Now the vast majority of people on a first date with a narcissist, they experience this uncanny valley, they experience this discomfort, this ominous kind of ambience, these things that are about to go bad feeling, this gut instinct that tells them to run away, this intuition that keeps warning them, the alarm bells, they experience all this, but they deny these things because for example, they're very lonely and they're willing to compromise and they're willing to suppress all these warning signs and red alerts just in order to be with someone, anyone, even a narcissist.
But the uncanny valley is a universal reaction.
But in yet the reaction to this reaction, the second step, having experienced the uncanny valley, the reaction is not universal. Uncanny valley is universal, the reaction to the uncanny valley is not universal.
The narcissist generates in people what we call polarized mate selection responses.
Let me translate this to English. The narcissist is irresistible to some people with highly specific psychological profiles, for example, the borderline or the codependent or the people pleaser. These subgroups in the population, again with a highly specific psychopathological profile, react to the narcissist as if the narcissist were an irresistible proposition, something that cannot be turned down. They are like in a state of trance or hypnosis, they're out of control. They are being rendered robotic or automatic. They relegate or outsource their functions to the narcissist. From that moment on, he is in full charge of their behaviors.
So this is one reaction. All others find the narcissist repulsive and creepy.
So we have a polarized reaction. Either you find the narcissist, a monster, someone to avoid, a freak with bizarre emanations, a miasmic creature.
And then of course, it's a yuck, yikes reaction. It's like just wanting to stay away, something slimy.
So that's one group of people. Or you find the narcissist utterly the answer to your sexual dreams and to your romantic dreams. No one finds the narcissist, no one is indifferent to the narcissist. Either you hate the narcissist, either you reject the narcissist, either you find the narcissist in unacceptable proposition or you were drawn to the narcissist inexorably without any self-control and unable to stop the gravitational pull of the narcissist to somehow oppose it or confront it.
No one is in the middle. No one is totally oblivious to the narcissist, totally indifferent to the narcissist, couldn't care less about the narcissist. There's no one like that.
So the narcissist creates polarized reactions.
And now I want to delve a bit into the etiology.
The reasons that the narcissist provokes these amazing behavioral transformations and shifts in people, as if the narcissist was some kind of neutron star or black hole and its gravitational field or pull diverts you from your orbit as if you become a planet of the narcissist or ejected by the narcissist.
So what are the reasons?
Number one, danger. The narcissist is scary. Now he's not scary overtly, not always. He's not scary explicitly. Only psychopathic narcissists are. But when you're with a narcissist, there's always a sense of menace, a sense that something bad may happen, might happen. Doesn't have to happen, may not happen, but definitely might happen. There's always an expectation of a loss of control and an external locus of control that may lead you to bad places, definitely to make bad decisions and bad choices.
So there's a sense of danger.
And danger is an aphrodisiac. If you are a thrill seeker, a novelty seeker, or a risk taker or risk seeker, if you have this in your personality, you respond well to adventure, to defiance, to recklessness, to aggression, to thrills, to novelty, to risks, to the unexpected and the unpredictable.
If all these arouse you and excite you, then the narcissist and the psychopath and the psychopathic narcissist, malignant narcissist, they're your perfect match because they deliver these almost on a minute by minute basis.
You perceive if you're this kind of person, a novelty seeker, a thrill seeker, risk taker for this kind of person, you perceive danger not only as an aphrodisiac, but you perceive it as a winner strategy.
The fact that the narcissist and the psychopath generate risk zones or risky zones around themselves, the fact that they introduce chaos, indeterminacy and uncertainty into the environment, renders them in your eyes winners as if they are god-like figures who are able to determine the future in a way that it is not always expected.
So danger, sexual attraction and impression management, rendering the narcissist and the psychopath winners and we are attracted to winners.
Now, don't confuse winners with alpha males, the monosphere nonsense. Winners are people who prevail, people who guarantee favorable outcomes, can extricate, extract favorable outcomes from the environment.
Danger is an aphrodisiac and self-confidence is an aphrodisiac, especially in the case of the overt narcissist and the psychopath.
There is a broadcast, a constant transmission of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Now, this is extremely attractive because many people need and require external regulation. If you're with a self-confident person, if you're with a person whose self-esteem is stratospheric, skyrockets, then this kind of person can regulate your emotions, stabilize your moods, provide you with solutions, mediate reality for you, protect you from pain and hurt and worse.
This kind of person is a rock, is an entity, which is essentially angelic or god-like, divine.
So the narcissist overt, manufactured, affected, ostentatious self-confidence is a huge, huge lure. It's very alluring and attractive because it allows you to relax, to let go. You kind of hand over leadership of the situation to the narcissist. He becomes your guide. It involves regression with a parental figure.
So people with daddy issues or mommy issues would be very attracted to the narcissist because the narcissist communicates self-confidence is parental in nature. And this is the idea of the dual mothership, my principle of the dual mothership.
The narcissist broadcasts to you, you don't need to think, you don't need to make decisions, you don't need to choose, you don't need to sort out between alternatives and you don't need to bear the brunt of the consequences of your actions. You can hand over responsibility to me. I can be your mother. I can love you unconditionally, but at the very same time, I can provide you with a womb-like matrix, a womb-like environment.
There is an alleviation of responsibility.
Now many people who are attracted to narcissists, who find narcissists irresistible, they have auto-plastic defenses. They tend to blame themselves. When things go wrong, defeats and failures, when people feel bad, the typical victim would blame herself. She would feel guilty and ashamed, as if she's responsible for everyone's wellbeing and happiness.
And again, when I say she, he and he is a she, half of all narcissists are women.
So when the narcissist, when you first come across a narcissist, his self-confidence and self-esteem inform you of the possibility that you could just let go. You could hand over everything to the narcissist and he will take care of everything.
And therefore, you don't need to feel guilty anymore. It's not aboutonly about abrogation of responsibility, it's also about soothing. It's a comforting thingsoothing thing. It's a comforting thing because if you're not responsible, you're not guilty. And if you're not guilty, you shouldn't feel ashamed of yourself.
So in other words, the narcissist's self-confidence negates the bed object. It silences the bed object in you.
And this is very parental and very loving, deceived is very loving and very caring and so on and so forth.
Of course, it triggers sexual arousal and definitely romantic attachment.
The narcissist offers to you literally on the first date, a shared fantasy. And the shared fantasy is a panacea. It's a cure, cure all. It solves all your wounds. It solves all your problems. It takes care of your future. It makes you feel unique, chosen.
The shared fantasy is Disneyland. So the narcissist is partly irresistible because of his ability to spin a narrative or yarn, a piece of fiction, a movie in which you are the star. Indeed, this is the hole of mirrors.
When you get infatuated with the narcissist, when you're sexually attracted to the narcissist, when you find the narcissist irresistible, it's because the narcissist idealizes you. The narcissist allows you to see yourself, to perceive yourself through his idealizing gaze as a perfect entity, sexual, drop dead gorgeous. He is gorgeous and you drop dead.
It's an autoerotic thing.
So the Faustian deal with the narcissist, the deal with the devil is a twofer, a double yummy. You can fall in love with the narcissist, limerence and infatuation. You can be attracted to the narcissist, you can want to have sex with the narcissist. Also because you would end up having sex with yourself. You would end up falling in love with your idealized perfect rendition for the first time in your life. Maybe you will, you, you will experience true self love, unconditional self love.
The way a mother loves, you'd be able to parent yourself in effect.
And all this is part and parcel of the narcissist package.
And one of the main reasons you find him attractive.
The narcissist sex is performative. The narcissist must abate with your body. The narcissist uses your body to induce in himself arousal and gratification that is essentially self centered.
The narcissist in sex is a performer and actor. The emphasis is on performance criteria and benchmarks and yardsticks. It's all very quantifiable. You can exercise in accounting.
And so in having sex with the narcissist, during the sex with narcissist, you're being objectified and dehumanized and very often degraded.
Many narcissists engage in essentially sadistic practices.
Now, even when the sex is fully consensual and even when actually the narcissist is catering to your fantasies, you're the one who introduced these fantasies into the sex. The narcissist is just there to enact these fantasies, a kind of role play.
Even in these cases, there is a feeling of objectification. Even when you have misled yourself into believing that you're fully in control because you are the source of consent and you are the fountain, the origin of the fantasies that you're both working on within the sexual act, you still feel somehow objectified. You still feel as if the narcissist depersonalizes you and derealizes the entire scene as if it was all some kind of dissociative hallucination or delusion.
And the narcissist uses your body on the one hand could be perceived from the outside as dehumanizing and so on and so forth.
But actually many victims report sexual excitation and sexual arousal because they're able for the first time to see themselves as sexual objects through the narcissist eyes and then to realize all the fantasies that they could not openly discuss and agree on with previous partners.
On the other hand, as the relationship progresses, the sex tends to become formulaic, repetitive, routine, rigid, like everything else in the narcissist life.
Narcissism is a personality disorder, a rigid pattern.
But initially, the fact that the sex is performative, the fact that you're being regarded as 100% a sex object and the fact that you could introduce your fantasies into the sexual encounter and be assured and guaranteed that they will be carried out to the letter, this is an irresistible offer.
Very few people can resist this.
Now, everything I've said until now pertains to the overt narcissist, the grandiose narcissist, which we increasingly are beginning to consider in the literature as a subspecies of a psychopath.
What about the covert narcissist?
Well, the covert narcissist and the cerebral narcissist.
These are two types.
The cerebral narcissist is essentially asexual. And so women would not find the cerebral narcissist irresistible or even attractive, definitely not sexy.
The energy and the broadcast of the cerebral narcissist is utterly sexless, neutral.
So he's a neuter.
So the cerebral narcissist is a special case among narcissists, even when the cerebral narcissist is overt, even when his brain, his intellect and his intelligence are on spectacular fireworks display, even when sapiosexual partners, women, if he is a man, even if sapiosexual women approach him overtly, explicitly, and offer themselves to him, it would never transform itself. The exchange, the communication would never convert itself into sex or into anything resembling sex or into romance into any type of interaction, which is intimate.
So the cerebral narcissist sometimes is perceived as attractive and even sexy or irresistible, mainly by sapiosexuals, sapiosexuals are people who are attracted to intellect, to intelligence.
And so this is the constituency of the cerebral narcissist, but he would never allow this to be translated into anything but verbal exchange.
And if there's any attempt at flirting or courting, he would walk away.
In part, this gratifies the sadistic urge of the cerebral. This way he, by walking away, he frustrates the other party, which gives him a sense of omnipotence and uniqueness. He doesn't need sex, it renders him superior somehow. He is not subject to animal instincts and beastly drives, like all others. He is not like all others.
So that makes him unique. And so this is the cerebral.
The covert narcissist is sexual. He is not asexual. He wants to have sex.
But of course, he's shy and timid and fragile and vulnerable.
So here's the problem with this.
And so many covert narcissists become de facto incels, involuntary syllabus, with all the baggage of incels, poor self-image and rage at the other party, at other people for not initiating and a sense of entitlement to sex and so on.
So the whole incel package is built into the covert narcissist.
The covert narcissist feels that he has to bribe women to just look at him, to even look at him, to regard him at all.
Exactly like the overt narcissist, the covert narcissist is infantile and cannot maintain a relationship with another person, a woman if he's heterosexual.
Both covert and overt are faced with this problem. Their immaturity, their stunted or arrested development and growth, their lack of coherent ego or self-constellated integrated self, this renders them non-entities. They look like men. They may even speak like men or act like men, but they're not real men. They're non-men.
Same with women, of course, who are narcissists. They're not real men and women. They can't be real men and women because the gender role involves elements of maturity, of adulthood and other empathy and other components or ingredients which are missing with the narcissist.
So the narcissist knows in advance that he has to bribe the covert narcissist, knows in advance, he has to bribe the other party, a woman if he's heterosexual, to even pay attention to him.
And all narcissists know that their relationships are doomed because of past experience and because they realize that they don't possess the skills, the minimal skills to maintain and sustain a relationship with another person.
And it is bound to end up badly. Betrayal, cheating, infidelity, divorce, discard, devaluation, acrimony, hatred even, and so on and so forth.
So what these narcissists do, they assume the catastrophize. They assume that the relationship is likely to end up in betrayal.
The betrayal could be infidelity, could be any other form of betrayal. And so they assume the betrayal by pushing the partner away. They encourage and induce the partner to betray them at their behest. They neglect the partner or they feign indifference, see if I care, or they subtly encourage the partner to walk away.
And if none of this works, they devalue the partner, abuse the partner, and discard the partner.
But the covert narcissist and the cerebral narcissist, as distinct from the overt, what I'm about to say does not apply to the overt or grandiose narcissist.
One could even say that what I'm about to say is the exact opposite when it comes to the overt and the grandiose.
So the cerebral and the covert are also craven. The cowards, I mean in the simple sense of the word, they're scared all the time. They're also paranoid. So their paranoia feeds into their craveness and cowardice.
They seek the approval of peers in order to fend off possible aggression, verbal or physical. So they gang up on their own intimate partners with others.
So if the covert narcissist is in company and let's say he's a man and his intimate partner is a woman, although as I said, half of all narcissists are women and 10 to 20 percent of population are homosexual. So you can definitely apply everything I'm saying to all these combinations.
I restrict myself to a heterosexual example.
So if a man, if a covert narcissist who is a man, is with his wife or girlfriend in company and she's being attacked by other men, he is not likely to be protective of her. On the very contrary, he will gang up on her with these other men because he would be scared, afraid of protecting her and confronting these men. And even when the covert narcissist partner, intimate partner, is approached by other men, flirted with, courted openly, preyed upon by other men in his presence, he is not likely to react. He's too terrified to do anything. He's just likely to slink away or pretend that he's oblivious to what's happening or encourage a situation, thereby gaining a sense of control.
I made it happen. So covert narcissist and cerebral narcissist.
And by the way, cerebral narcissist, when I say cerebral narcissist, it doesn't matter if they are actively cerebral or if they are, they have temporarily transitioned to a somatic phase because there's a dominant type and a recessive type.
A cerebral narcissist in whatever stage, a cerebral narcissist would typically, and a covert narcissist, would typically encourage their intimate partners to cheat, to seek others.
And the idea is to get rid of a partner somehow, at least for a while, or maybe even permanently within the separation and individuation phase, but also, and no less crucially, to preempt inevitable infidelity, regaining a sense of control.
She did cheat on me, but it's because I encourage her to cheat on me. I put her in touch with her lover. I made it happen. This is called an external solution to potential modification.
So coming back to the issue of irresistibility and sexiness and attractiveness and so on, so forth.
Cerebral narcissist may attract sub-resexuals. When they're in somatic phase, they may attract everyone. Similarly, covert narcissists may attract partners and do attract partners, but that's because of false information, false advertising, misrepresentation.
The attraction in the case of narcissists wanes and fades very fast and is replaced with trauma bonding.
So the narcissist doesn't remain irresistible or sexy or charming or amazing or for long.
Actually, the whole thing disintegrates and is dismantled and fades, like by the third meeting or fifth meeting or something. It's very fast. It's the the alacrity with which the narcissist's charisma and aura fade and wane is amazing.
And then the victim transitions to a more realistic view of the narcissist.
And a realistic view of the narcissist is that the narcissist is an infant who is petulant, obnoxious and seriously repulsive.
But then it's too late. The victim had become a hostage and is captive to intermittent reinforcement and other techniques and training and so on and to the trauma- bonded shared fantasy, wherein she had become addicted to the whole of mirrors effect and to the dual mothership.
The narcissist, like a spider, has captured her in his web.
When the partner wakes up to the situation, when she sobers up, many partners walk away. Others who are weaker or perhaps have ulterior motives and hidden agendas, gold diggers, for example.
So other partners don't walk away. They don't break up either because they don't have the moral spine to do so or because, as I said, they have good reasons to stay, money, for example. So what they do, they elope with other men, sometimes ostentatiously in order to triangulate and sometimes secretly and discreetly.
But even when they covert narcissist or the cerebral narcissist finds out and even when it's done in his presence, these narcissists are too cowardly. They are ingratiating and they are also self-defeatist.
The pessimists, they say, "What's the point of fighting? I'm going to lose." Remember that the covert narcissist has an inferior perception of himself, an inferiority complex, an active dead object.
So the covert narcissist and the cerebral narcissist do not regard themselves as attractive in any sense of the word and definitely realize that they're not able to satisfy the needs of a mature partner, especially the sexual needs of a mature partner and even the romantic or need for intimacy.
So they give up in advance. Whenever the partner shows interest in another person, they just give up because they don't believe they can compete with that other person. They have nothing to offer.
A common way of putting it, even a 10% man is superior to the covert narcissist or the cerebral narcissist who are 0% men.
So they experience humiliating modification by the other party, not by the intimate partner, but by the person the intimate partner teams up with. They're mortified by the fact that they are being egregiously disrespected and ignored.
This negates the grandeur of self-perception as perhaps or inspiring or feared or respected by other people.
When the intimate partner of a covert narcissist or a cerebral narcissist no longer finds the narcissist attractive or sexy or irresistible or whatever and she gravitates towards another person.
This is mortifying, it's humiliating, it triggers all the shame in the narcissist because it challenges the narcissist's fantastic inflated grandeur self-image as perfect as I don't know feared or respected or so.
The narcissist in this case undergoes modification and usually the partners of cerebral narcissist and covert narcissist, they select alternatives to the narcissist which present themselves as saviors or rescuers or fixers or healers or moral crusaders.
The alternative to the narcissist, the guy who poaches the narcissist's girlfriend or the guy who poaches the narcissist's wife or the woman who poaches the narcissist's husband or her boyfriend, they usually paint the narcissist as insufferably haughty, bullying, contemptible, craven, monster or fraudster and in vast majority of cases they're absolutely right so it's not a difficult task.
And then there's what Cartman called the triangle, the drama triangle where there's the narcissist who is cast by everyone involved, is an irredeemable, incorrigible abuser, there's the savior or rescuer or healer or fixer or crusader who saves or rescues the damsel in distress which is who is the narcissist's intimate partner.
In all this process, attraction, sexiness, irresistibility, lures, all these shape shift all the time, Cartman was the first to describe it actually in his work.
At some point the narcissist's intimate partner may and very often does re-idealize the narcissist and so finds him again charming and irresistible and attractive and gravitates towards him and away from the savior and the rescuer and then the triangle or the cycle starts again.
So this is the picture as you see romantic and sexual interactions between narcissists and their intimate partners or potential intimate partners are not clear cut and they cannot be reduced to a simple formula, depends who the narcissist is, cerebralism, covert, reacts one way, overt, grandiose overt, reacts another in another way, depends who the other party, the intimate partner is, is she a borderline, is she a codependent, does she have daddy issues, does she have mommy issues, is she there just for the sex and to realize fantasies, does she find the narcissist irresistible because he is self-confident and her self-esteem, is it his money, is she looking for a sugar daddy or is she a gold digger?
There are numerous scenarios but all of them involve the narcissist pathology, the narcissistic pathology.
Remember pathologies resonate, pathologies amplify each other, pathologies identify each other instantly, pathologies react to each other and pathologies merge and fuse in a fantastic space to create a third pathology which is the fantasy itself and all the attractiveness and sexiness and charm and charisma and aura and irresistibility imputed to the narcissist by himself if he is grandiose overt or by others if he is cerebral and covert, they are just artifacts, they're not real, they're ingredients and elements and figments of fantasy.
Like everything else in the narcissist world none of this is happening, it's all a dream state or a nightmare state depending which side of the equation you are and it all fades and wanes and evaporates into tendrils of ectoplasm and smoke and mirrors and so we need to look deep in each and every case.
One of the things you have to do as a victim of narcissistic abuse is ask yourself why did I find him attractive? Did I actually fall in love with myself? Was it a narcissistic reaction? Did I find the danger, the risk, the thrill, the adventure irresistible not the narcissist? Was the fantasy what I was looking for? Did I want to escape, escape, avoid reality, escape from reality? Was I giving up on my life? Was I rejecting life and handing it over to my narcissist, to the narcissist so that he can manage my life or micromanage my life?
What was at stake here? You should ask yourself all these questions because if you don't it's going to happen again and again.
This is what is known as repetition compulsion. ###