What type of narcissist is the most difficult to date? A new search has an answer

Psychologists often divide narcissistic personalities into three categories: grandiose narcissists, titled narcissists, and vulnerable narcissists. New research published in the Personality Research Journal investigates which type of narcissist presents the most challenges for romantic relationships.

“It is important to establish first that the fundamental core of narcissism is conceptualized by exaggerated perceptions of one’s own importance,” says study co-author Kennedy Balzen of the University of Texas at Dallas.

Beyond that, there is considerable variation in how narcissism manifests in people. For instance:

  • Grandiose Narcissists tend to be socially daring individuals who pose as better than they typically are (i.e. many behaviors related to narcissistic grandiosity reflect increased levels of dominance and extroversion (e.g., boastfulness). while grandiosity has been linked to various negative interpersonal outcomes, it is also associated with charm and initial attractiveness.
  • Authorized Narcissists are those who continually expect special treatment because they see themselves as special or different from others. People with higher levels of narcissistic rights typically focus on how to take advantage of themselves, even if it comes at the expense of others.
  • Vulnerable Narcissists tend to be oversensitive to social criticism and feel better than others but in a more private or withdrawn way. It is often considered the most maladaptive or problematic form of narcissism.

To study the effects of these three forms of narcissism on romantic relationships, the researchers recruited a sample of 108 heterosexual couples who had been in a relationship for at least three months. They asked participants to complete a questionnaire measuring different facets of narcissism. For example, grandiosity was measured via agree-disagree items such as “I’m genius” and “I show others how special I am.” The duty has been measured by means of elements such as “I like when another person is inferior to me” and “I want my rivals to fail.” And, vulnerable narcissism was measured with items such as “When people don’t notice me, I start to feel bad about myself.”

Next, the researchers sent participants a series of “daily diary” questions measuring various experiences in their romantic relationships, such as their overall satisfaction with the relationship, the degree of jealousy they felt in their relationship, and the extent to which they were aware of the ‘relationship alternatives.’

They found that:

  • Grandiose narcissism was not related to any of the relational outcomes they measured. In other words, it could be argued that grandiose narcissists are the “easiest” type of narcissist to date.
  • Authorized Narcissists reported greater non-sexual jealousy in their relationships. They also perceived more clearly the alternatives available to their romantic partners. The finding that entitlement is related to a greater perception of available alternatives might indicate less concern for loyalty to a current romantic partner and therefore pose a threat to the relationship.
  • Vulnerable Narcissists also showed greater jealousy. They also showed significantly lower relationship satisfaction.

“Overall, our findings support previous research showing that entitlement and vulnerability are associated with maladaptive outcomes in established romantic relationships,” the researchers say.

A full interview with Kennedy Balzen discussing this research can be found here: Which type of narcissist is the most difficult to have a romantic relationship with?


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