The trend towards increased narcissism in the population has been steadily upwards since the 1970s or even earlier. Almost every personal characteristic related to narcissism rose between the 1950s and the 1990s including assertiveness, dominance, extraversion, self-esteem and the individualistic focus. The adults today have absorbed narcissistic values from their parents and the media messages created by older people. 75% of narcissists are males, but women are continually exhorted to be assertive and so we can expect narcissism to rise among women.
The narcissistic approach to relationships
Narcissists are both exciting relationship partners and very bad ones. Their approach to relationships is simple: it is all about them. It is useful to think of a narcissist as needing to “feed the ego” in the relationship. If the relationship provides sufficient food, it works, and if not, it doesn’t.
In addition, narcissists regard relationships on par with material goods as being interchangeable. One trophy partner can be exchanged for another so long as the relationship delivers status, esteem and attention. A narcissist sees a relationship partner as fuel. Narcissists use others to power their status and power and when the person no longer provides that, she can be dumped.
Whenever we look for a life partner, we look for a caring, committed spouse. Twenge and Campbell, who have written on narcissism, believe that people also look for the “fun” and energy elements in a relationship, the exciting, confident, charismatic and outgoing partner. Narcissists’ secret to success in securing romantic relationships is that they are good at delivering the sizzle upfront but then fail to deliver the caring which is the central pillar in relationships.
Partners of narcissists
Partners of narcissists often express how they feel “used up”, “sucked dry”. Many cases of violence occur when a narcissist feels rejected, criticized or abandoned. Partners are often devastated to realize that after years and a lifetime of trying, the person never cared for you at all. If you are dating a narcissist, staying in the relationship will leave you ultimately feeling unfulfilled and you should consider exiting for a healthier, more stable partner.
How a psychologist can help?
Psychologists are trained to identify personality disorders. They also have objective measures to help them confirm a narcissistic personality. This will help you decide on the right course of action for yourself.