How to Deal with the Narcissist in Your Life
Okay, maybe it's more complicated than that. It's very easy to fall for the charm of a narcissist; and since charm often equals sexy, and sexy often equals sex, things get messy fast. Paradoxically, narcissists are often quite faithful in the early stages of relationships, because what frequently leads people to cheat is insecurity: If you're afraid the person you love doesn't love you back, you begin looking for your next landing spot. Narcissists can't conceive that they're not adored, so they don't go through that phase.
But they'll cheat soon enough, because for narcissists, a relationship is all about how the partner enhances their own self-image. That means always trading up to someone who's younger, prettier, richer—or just plain newer. Narcissists will lie about where they've been and what they're doing; they'll listen less and less when you speak (not that they ever listened much to begin with), and they'll leave you flat if you don't leave first.
If you're married to a narcissist you're in a lot deeper. Here you must confront the problem squarely and suggest—indeed, insist on—either marriage counseling, individual therapy for your spouse, or both. Narcissists resist that, since the nature of the condition is that they don't accept that anything is wrong with them. But stand your ground—and if that doesn't work, consider leaving the marriage. You deserve better.
This broad rule holds for both sexes, but when it comes to romance, women really are in greater peril than men. A 2008 study, by a researcher at New Mexico State University, looked at the improbable attraction many women have to men who exhibit the so-called dark triad of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and impulsive thrill-seeking. The paper crunched the statistics and found that these men outscore other men in number of sexual encounters in any given week, month or year. If you're seeing or married to one of these guys, that alone argues for getting single or unmarried fast.