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with Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT

Why Are We So Fascinated by Narcissists?

People with narcissism live in world that focuses on themselves all day, every day. The world in which the narcissist “lives” is quite distorted, filled with self-indulgence, thoughts of superiority, and double standards. Interacting with a narcissist can be both confusing and frustrating as the narcissist has little to no insight into social norms, appropriateness, and how to use empathizing behaviors. Expecting the narcissist to see beyond his or her own personal needs and desires is nearly impossible to accomplish. One of the best ways to cope with a narcissistic person is to stop looking for depth in a puddle, it is not there. Recognize that the narcissistic person is skillful with panning faces to adopt sympathy and empathy to which he or she does not possess.

So, what’s the fascination with narcissists? Well to discuss the obvious, narcissists are usually very charming, they are often the most popular at “first sight”. Unfortunately, many tend to focus on the exterior, which for most narcissists is well put together, almost immaculate. Without knowing them most people are drawn to them, narcissist appear well versed and engaging. As expected, narcissists tend to be more liked at first sight. Also, as predicted, narcissists exhibited neater, tailored, and flashier appearances, more charming facial expressions, more self-assured body movement, and more humorous verbal expressions. Narcissists are more popular at first sight because of the cues they produce, you looking for someone caring, the narcissist shows you caring, you looking someone worldly, the narcissist shows you worldly, looking for charming, the narcissist has that base covered as well. The external veneer, although appealing is very thin. As such, the more you chip at the surface the more likely you are to “see” the real person.

Narcissists harbor a sense of entitlement as he or she will exploit others to secure what they want. They tend to feign interest in the wellbeing of others in order to appear caring, nurturing, and empathetic. Yet to those closest to the narcissist, they are seen as cold and disinterested, demanding obedience and threatening to disown others for opposing their wishes. They may splurge on unneeded and unnecessary material items while criticizing others for wanting more than the bare necessities.

Genuine Person vs Narcissistic Person

• Sensitive and Caring vs Feigning interest and empathy
• Calm, yet good humored vs Insensitive, yet hypersensitive
• Harmonious and diplomatic vs Combative and Oppositional
• Willing to share, comfortable with or without attention vs Attention seeking and demanding
• Feeling everyone is equal vs He/she is entitled, harbor feelings of entitlement
• Slow to anger or upset vs Quick to anger
• Considers the inside the most important quality vs Status and appearance-oriented
• Does not need or require admiration or affirmation vs Needs admiration and affirmation
• Can share wit others unselfishly vs Competes with others without others knowing they are in a competition

Narcissists truly believe they are more valuable than others, even better looking than most. They often display extreme confidence and total indifference to other people’s feelings. Which for some makes them worth while to get to know, compare it to the thrill of the chase. Of course, physical attraction is essential in any relationship. But the problem with trying to have a genuine relationship a narcissist is that they wear out those around them with demands for attention and adoration, which if not satisfied prompts them to abandon the “relationship” and seek that approbation from others.

Why Are We So Fascinated by Narcissists?

Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT

My name is Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford PhD, MFT, CRS, CMFSW, BCPC I have a PhD in forensic Psychology specializing in familial dysfunctions and traumatic experience. I work with individuals and families struggling with familial dysfunctions, trauma, rape, and incest. I also have a masters in Marriage, Couples, & Family therapy. I am a certified relationship specialist with American Psychotherapy Association (#15221). I have more than 15 years in the field of mental health, relationships, and behavioral sciences.

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APA Reference
Bates-Duford, T. (2018). Why Are We So Fascinated by Narcissists?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Dec 2018
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