Narcissist Traits: Male vs. Female
Narcissism has gained significant attention in recent years, but Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) remains one of the least-studied personality disorders. While there is still much to discover about NPD, researchers have found interesting differences in how men and women express narcissistic traits.
Definition of Narcissism:
In everyday conversations, the term narcissism is used loosely, but clinically, NPD is a genuine mental health disorder defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). People with NPD display a lack of empathy, appearing self-consumed with a constant need for attention and admiration. Behind their self-importance, they often harbor uncertainty about their self-worth. The exact causes of NPD are not fully understood, but genetics and upbringing are believed to play a role in its development.
Male vs. Female Narcissistic Traits:
Socialization differences between men and women lead to variations in their general personality traits, including those associated with narcissism. Studies have shown that male narcissists tend to exhibit less empathy for others than their female counterparts. Female narcissists, on the other hand, are more likely to display envy towards others.
Expressing Narcissistic Traits Differently:
Narcissistic men and women demonstrate their traits in distinct ways, impacting various aspects of their lives:
- Control: In seeking dominance over others, narcissistic men often resort to power and manipulation, while women may use guilt, neglect, martyrdom, or sex to control situations.
- Anger: Male narcissists tend to be more aggressive and explosive when angry, whereas females lean towards passive aggression, often withholding love and attention.
- Money: For men, money often becomes a means to boost self-esteem, leading to a focus on attaining wealth through any means necessary. Women may prioritize spending money, especially if it belongs to someone else.
- Appearance: Male narcissists emphasize an image of wealth, charm, and success, while female narcissists may obsess over maintaining a perpetually young and sexually appealing appearance.
- Fidelity: Both male and female narcissists demand unparalleled attention from their romantic partners and may seek it elsewhere if unfulfilled. However, their approach to extramarital affairs can differ, with men being more overt and women using subtler methods.
- Parenting: Female narcissists often view their children as extensions of themselves, pressuring them to be perfect and special. They may manipulate the children against each other. In contrast, male narcissists might see their children as competition for their partner’s attention.
The Impact of Narcissism on Relationships:
Being in a relationship with a narcissist presents unique challenges. NPD often goes undiagnosed, leaving partners unaware of the self-serving and uncaring nature of their significant others. Narcissistic relationships can become co-dependent and challenging to maintain in a healthy manner.
Coping with a Narcissistic Romantic Partner:
Living with a narcissist can be emotionally draining, but there are ways to cope:
- Set Clear Boundaries: Define acceptable behavior in the relationship and establish consequences for crossing those boundaries, even though a narcissistic partner may resist.
- Don’t Internalize Their Comments: Narcissists use criticism and insults to manipulate, but it’s crucial not to internalize their hurtful words.
- Avoid Accusing: Accusations can trigger more anger and manipulation, so it’s best to stay calm and communicate using “I” statements.
- Refrain from Blaming and Belittling: Fighting fire with fire only adds to the turmoil, making it essential to maintain composure and dignity.
- Seek Support: Having a strong support system can help you distinguish between normal behavior and narcissistic abuse, ensuring you maintain your emotional well-being.
While narcissism affects both men and women, they express their narcissistic traits differently due to societal influences and personality variations. Living with a narcissistic partner can be challenging, but understanding and setting boundaries can help maintain a healthier relationship. Seeking support and professional help can provide valuable resources for coping with the complexities of living with a narcissist.
- How common is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
- NPD is relatively rare, affecting about 1% of the population. However, many individuals may exhibit narcissistic traits without meeting the criteria for NPD.
- Can narcissistic traits change over time?
- Yes, some research suggests that narcissistic traits can change with age and life experiences. However, significant personality changes are relatively uncommon.
- Are there effective treatments for NPD?
- NPD is challenging to treat because individuals with the disorder often lack insight into their condition. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be helpful in some cases.
- Can narcissists have healthy relationships?
- Narcissists can struggle with maintaining healthy relationships due to their self-centered nature and lack of empathy. However, with proper therapy and effort, some individuals with NPD may improve their relational skills.
- How can I protect myself in a relationship with a narcissist?
- Setting boundaries, seeking support, and prioritizing your well-being are crucial in dealing with a narcissistic partner. If the relationship becomes emotionally or physically abusive, consider seeking professional help and potentially ending the relationship.