You won’t realize you’re dating a narcissist. Narcissists are skilled at making people like them.
They can be very alluring and charming and exciting to date. In fact, in one study, it took seven meetings for people to see through their likable veneer. In a dating situation, a narcissist has a greater incentive to win you over—sadly, sometimes all the way to the altar.
Narcissists are often physically attractive, charismatic, and sexually appealing. We’re drawn to their intelligence, entertaining personality, special talents, or professional success. Their company can be pleasurable and never boring.
Dating is a Game
Although some narcissists seek long term relationships, others are expert game-players. To them, “The chase is better than the catch.” Their objective is to receive admiration and get their sexual needs met with little emotional investment. Relationships are considered transactions and work for them as long as they’re getting their narcissistic supply. The closer you get, the more they equivocate. They want their options open with multiple sources to meet endless needs for supply. They check out other prospects and flirt right in front of you!
Although narcissists lack empathy, they possess emotional intelligence that helps them perceive, express, understand, and manage emotions. This enhances their expertise as manipulators. They’re skilled at deception to achieve their aims, sometimes consciously, but at other times, it’s just their style.
They may even believe they’re being sincere. Although in reality, they’re self-centered and emotionally unavailable, initially they may be generous and good listeners. They may even appear to be vulnerable by sharing personal, intimate information. This is a tactic of their seduction strategy. Among their manipulative tactics are flirtation, flattery, and finesse.
Women narcissists are flirtatious and can charm men with their beauty and sex appeal. Then they play cat and mouse, make them jealous, or act nonchalant to hook men into pursuing them. Male narcissists often seduce with lavish gifts, fine dining, and a classy lifestyle. Some narcissists practice love-bombing and shower their partners with attention verbal, physical, and material expressions of “love” that are hard to resist.
In a normal relationship, you grow closer over a number of months or years. But when it comes to a narcissist, one of the biggest red flags early in a relationship is his blatant desire to move quickly.
Dating Revolves Around the Narcissist
It’s natural to idealize our partner in the romantic phase of a relationship. Unfortunately, for those of us who are lonely, depressed, or codependent, idealization can feed our denial of red flags that should caution us to put on the brakes.
It’s also natural when falling in love to want to spend a lot of time with our partner. We may appreciate a man planning a wonderful evening or a woman who knows what she wants, and we’re happy to go along.
We don’t notice that the relationship is developing on the narcissist’s terms. Whereas we seek to please, to the compromise is a painful loss of power.
If we complain, they may act offended and say they’re doing everything for us, but never bother to ask what we want. They like to be in control, and before we know it, we’ve allowed them to control when, where, and what we do and with whom.
At the start, we go along for the sake of being together, but later out of fear. This is particularly perilous for codependents who easily give up themselves and their friends and activities in new relationships.
A corollary codependent behavior is not objecting to the narcissist’s decisions and opinions. In the early stages of dating, we might not express anything that could negatively impact the relationship in order not to rock the boat.
When we hesitate to disagree and not express disappointment, irritation, or hurt feelings, we gradually disappear, and like Echo, we only echo what the narcissist believes and wants to hear. We’re not letting him or her know the negative impact of their behavior. So they have no incentive to change. Accommodating a narcissist feeds their supply and makes codependents and narcissists a perfect match.