Female narcissists and sociopaths are insidious, covert, and often underhanded in the ways they prey on their victims. Just like male narcissists, they lack empathy, are callous, sabotage others, and have an excessive sense of entitlement and need to be at the center of attention at all times. What is especially revealing, however, is how they treat other women who threaten them in any way. Here are the three behaviors they engage in towards other women which expose their predatory personalities:
1. Victim-shaming and enabling of abusers.
Female narcissists love to be the center of male attention, and nowhere is this more evident than in their mentality towards male abusers and serial predators. These are the types of women who write love letters to the likes of Ted Bundy, defend the predatory boyfriends who have preyed on their own children, and adopt a “Pick Me” mentality to garner male praise, even at the expense of other women. They rush to defend abusers (unless it serves them to morally grandstand otherwise), to blame the victim, to constantly steal the spotlight from other women they are threatened by in social settings, and even attempt to seduce men who are already in committed relationships. One of the biggest attitudes you’ll quickly pick up on in a narcissistic individual is a lack of empathy and contempt for others – and that includes even for the victims of heinous crimes such as domestic violence (whether psychological or physical) and rape. These “rape-enabling attitudes” are a surefire sign you are dealing with someone narcissistic. Narcissism has even been proven by research to be linked to the acceptance of rape myths and victim-shaming attitudes (Willis, Birthrong, King, Nelson-Gray, & Latzman, 2017; Jonason, Girgis, & Milne-Home, 2017).
Female narcissists are no different; they have contempt for victims and would prefer to enable abusers like themselves. They have no moral qualms about who they harm in the process of creating their harem of male suitors and sustaining relationships with those who serve their ego. They are more than happy to throw any women, even empathic women who have only supported them, under the bus to do so.
2. Relational aggression towards other women out of pathological envy.
Female narcissists and sociopaths engage in covert and underhanded bullying when it comes to other women, especially women who threaten to outshine them in any way and pose a threat to her having the spotlight. As Dr. Seth Meyers writes, “The narcissist’s thinking goes like this: Any threat to her or his temperamental ego must be identified and erased immediately. If the threat continues, it must be annihilated by any means necessary.” There have been studies that have linked malevolent envy with darker personalities such as those who embody the Dark Triad – narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy (Lange, Paulhus, & Crusius, 2017; Veselka, Giammarco, & Vernon, 2014).). This malicious envy is associated with Machiavellian behaviors such as deception, sabotage, and spreading rumors about the envied person. This will be no surprise to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of sabotage, smear campaigns, or blatant misrepresentation by envious narcissistic people. Unlike benign envy which can motivate people to improve themselves, malicious envy is said to drive “negative thoughts about the envied person, attentional focus on the competitor, and behaviors directed at undermining the other’s performance.”
In order to attack women who pose a potential threat, female narcissists and sociopaths engage in covert put-downs, fear-mongering, the spreading of rumors, shaming and policing. Think of the narcissistic mother who repeatedly picks at her daughter’s weight, the narcissistic sibling who micromanages her sister’s love life to sabotage it, the narcissistic co-worker who spreads rumors about a talented colleague, or the female narcissistic friend who shames other women by saying things like, “Should you really be wearing such a short skirt?” to women she is jealous of. They may couch their insulting, depraved behavior in faux concern, attempting to depict themselves as deeply invested in another woman’s welfare. They may express “fear” about whatever behavior takes the attention off of them (for example, simply existing proudly in one’s skin or owning one’s beauty), claiming that behavior would pose harm to the victim somehow. They may even label their victims as “cocky” or getting too “full of themselves” should the victim demonstrate even a modicum of self-assurance. Of course, what female narcissists are really invested in is ensuring that attractive, successful women do not get to feel confident, because that would pose “harm” to the female narcissist’s ego.
3. Targeting vulnerable and younger populations.
Age should never be equated with maturity, and this becomes even clearer when it comes to the female narcissist in later stages of her life, who develops even more severe insecurities about her perceived competition. This type of bullying is especially rampant when the female narcissist targets women who are half their age and more vulnerable as they are still progressing in their psychological development.
Empathic women flourish as they get older and encourage younger generations; narcissistic women become more spiteful, and carry their hatefulness even into old age. These predators have already enjoyed this younger phase of their life, but rather than encouraging someone who is still learning to be self-confident, they choose to trample on younger women much like one tramples on a flower before it gets a chance to bloom. As Dr. Karyl McBride notes about the narcissistic mother, “Mothers are usually proud of their children and want them to shine. But a narcissistic mother may perceive her daughter as a threat. You may have noticed that whenever you draw attention away from your mother, you’ll suffer retaliation, put-downs, and punishments. A narcissistic mother can be jealous of her daughter for many reasons: her looks, material possessions, accomplishments, education, and even the girl’s relationship with her father. This jealousy is particularly difficult for her daughter, as it carries a double message: “Do well so that Mother is proud, but don’t do too well or you will outshine her.”
It is sinister enough when narcissistic mothers target the self-worth of their own daughters, terrorizing them from childhood because their very presence, youth, and beauty threaten them. Yet female narcissists don’t just target their daughters for their bullying and put-downs – they can target complete strangers and their “friends” as well. Whether it’s the attractive co-worker they are threatened by, a confident and successful acquaintance or even a complete stranger on social media, the female narcissist uses a plethora of shaming and policing tactics to degrade other women who dare to “shine” in any facet of their existence.
The Big Picture
If you have encountered a female narcissist, know that this is not your fault. These types bully those they are threatened by. Don’t dim your light to cater to their envy or belittling attempts to make you feel small. In fact, take the female narcissist’s attacks as an indication that you deserve to shine even more brightly and visibly. Cut ties with anyone who uses these tactics and stick to building friendships with women who celebrate you and encourage you in becoming confident. If you get put down covertly or overtly by a female narcissist, remember that there is something wrong with them, not you. Their issues and insecurities are not your responsibility, and you are not obligated to shrink to meet their needs or stroke their ego.
Jonason, P. K., Girgis, M., & Milne-Home, J. (2017). The Exploitive Mating Strategy of the Dark Triad Traits: Tests of Rape-Enabling Attitudes. Archives of Sexual Behavior,46(3), 697-706. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-0937-1
Lange, J., Paulhus, D. L., & Crusius, J. (2017). Elucidating the Dark Side of Envy: Distinctive Links of Benign and Malicious Envy With Dark Personalities. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,44(4), 601-614. doi:10.1177/0146167217746340
McBride K. (2013). Will I ever be good enough?: Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers. New York: Atria Paperback.
Meyers, S. (2018, July 03). What makes some narcissists mean, competitive, and jealous. Retrieved December 28, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-is-2020/201807/what-makes-some-narcissists-mean-competitive-and-jealous
Veselka L., Giammarco E. A., Vernon P. A. (2014). The Dark Triad and the seven deadly sins. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 75-80. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.01.055
Willis, Birthrong, A., King, J. S., Nelson-Gray, R. O., & Latzman, R. D. (2017). Are infidelity tolerance and rape myth acceptance related constructs? An association moderated by psychopathy and narcissism. Personality and Individual Differences,117, 230-235. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.06.015