When you think of someone with narcissism, do you imagine someone who is a stuck-up prude?
Do you imagine someone who spends hours in front of a mirror, looking at every inch of their face or body?
While these stereotypes might be true in some cases, in other cases, the signs of narcissism are quite subtle.
In fact, many of us might have some traits of narcissism, but that doesn’t mean we have a narcissistic personality disorder or NPD.
This is to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder can give off a demeanor that is fun, playful, and even charming.
People who are considered “nice guys” can be narcissists, especially if they become abusive later on in a relationship, or if they have negative thinking patterns of narcissism.
It’s important to remember that looks are deceiving, as are first impressions.
Just because someone seems like they’re a “nice guy,” doesn’t mean that they aren’t, underneath that persona, a narcissist.
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Before we talk about who is considered a narcissist and the implications of this, we should first talk about what it means to be a “nice guy.”
For most people, someone who is a nice guy has certain traits such as:
- Complimenting your looks
- Doing chores for you
- Acting in a chivalrous manner
- Having a good career
- Having a good set of friends
- Being polite and well-mannered
- Treating you like you’re the most important thing in their life
- Being well-educated
These are the typical traits of a “nice guy.” On the other hand, someone who isn’t a nice guy, or someone who is a jerk, might be a guy who:
- Ignores you
- Flirts with other girls
- Doesn’t text back
- Doesn’t bother to listen to you
- Will only engage in conversations that are about themselves
If these last set of characteristics sound eerily like a standard narcissist, that’s because they are.
If you’ve ever seen the film American Psycho starring mega Hollywood star Christian Bale, you might have a sense of who a narcissist is.
But no, not all narcissists are psychotic serial killers (like portrayed in the movie).
However, many of them are quite charming, according to studies that examined people’s first impressions of a narcissist and continuing impressions.
These studies found that people who were narcissists were actually seen, initially, as:
- More agreeable
- More conscientious
- More open to ideas and communication
- Competent in their area of studies
- More entertaining, such as witty and funny
- More well-adjusted, since they appeared very self-assured of themselves
Why is it that narcissistic people were seen as highly charming and charismatic in the beginning?
Well, narcissists are people that believe they are highly superior to others.
Although they need validation and do have low levels of self-esteem, people who are narcissists also feel a sense of entitlement and know that they are the “best” among others (at least this is what they think).
The minute a narcissist begins to feel they are not being validated or valued, they will begin to seek out validation from others.
This can be seen as self-centered, egotistic, and even needy or clingy.
The saying “all things must come to light” is very true of narcissists, especially once they enter into a relationship.
In fact, the same study also showed that after only two and a half hours, the same group of students that once found the narcissistic group members to be charming began to view them in a negative light.
This is, unfortunately, an all-too-common reality for people that get involved with narcissists in relationships.
In addition to their ability to:
- Be sure of themselves
- Exude confidence
- Be attractive
- Be charming
- Treat you with kindness
There are other tricks up the narcissists’ sleeve that might take you off guard once their mask comes off.
Getting into a relationship with a narcissist might seem like a dream come true at first.
You might find yourself constantly bombarded with gifts, affection, sex, and compliments.
Unfortunately, while this can be a dream come true with the right partner, when done by someone who is a narcissist, however, this is known as “love bombing.”
Love bombing is something that occurs early on in a relationship with a narcissist. It typically looks like being “bombed” with compliments, affections, gifts, attention, and adoration by your partner.
For the narcissist, finding a mate is not about finding someone who is at their level, or who they want to admire and devote themselves to. It might not even be about love.
For the narcissist, someone who is a good partner is someone who will constantly validate them, boost their self-esteem, make them look “good” in front of friends, such as a trophy wife or husband, and someone who will add to their lifestyle and persona.
However, these are not realistic standards that can be achieved by anyone.
So, the narcissist will try to make do by preying on men and women who have low self-esteem, aren’t aware that they are a narcissist, and who view them as being the perfect mate.
How do they get them to view them as the perfect mate? The narcissist will begin love bombing their partner in an effort to get them almost addicted.
However, pretty soon, the narcissist will take away this love bombing.
They will give less and less to their partner, who will be left dumbfounded as to why their partner is suddenly changing their personality.
If you’re being love bombed and now are onto the next stage of the narcissist tactic, you might begin to feel undervalued.
Your partner might even accuse you of being clingy, of needing too much attention, or of being too used to the affection.
After a while, it’s difficult for the abused partner to understand why the love bombing stopped.
The partner might do extra things to get on the narcissist’s good side again, such as allowing them to break past their set boundaries, giving them more compliments, or even allowing their partner to put them down.
Thus begins the cycle of abuse for a narcissist.
The answer to this is pretty simple. If someone who is a narcissist showed their partner their true colors from the very beginning of a relationship, it would be easy for the abused partner to refuse this relationship and walk away.
Unfortunately, it’s common in abusive relationships for the partner to continue to be dumbfounded and doubt they are being abused despite their narcissist partner’s continuous behavior.
Men and women might think about the “good times” and the “honeymoon phase” after an abusive cycle.
This abusive cycle is like this:
- Your partner abuses you
- You feel bad and want to walk away
- Your partner stops the abuse and starts love bombing you again and promises to change
- You decide to stay
This cycle can be incredibly difficult to break without professional help, and people with narcissist personality disorder know this.
Thus, it’s important to get professional help if you notice the signs of a narcissistic partner.
Even if they were once a “good guy” in your eyes, this is simply a tactic to get into a relationship with someone vulnerable.
People with narcissistic personality disorder can be charming, and they can even be well-liked upon initial meeting.
However, this charm never lasts, and you might become involved, unwittingly, with someone who is a charming, yet abusive and narcissistic person.
You have the power to break away from someone who is a narcissist.
Even though someone who is a narcissist might have started off the relationship as a “nice guy,” and might even enthrall you into a cycle of abuse, there is always hope available to break away from this relationship.
Contact a therapist or your local authorities if the relationship escalates to physical violence.
And remember, it’s never your fault and there are people who will support you through this difficult period.