There are certainly several characteristics that all narcissists share in common. They all lack empathy, they are all masking a fragile self-esteem with a facade of bravado, and they can all fly into that notorious narcissistic rage at the drop of a hat. But you might reasonably be wondering if there are distinct differences between male and female narcissists.
While both male and female narcissists are trying to achieve the same overall goals, they often go about doing that using different means. The 7 areas where there have several notable differences in their approach are:
It’s helpful to examine each of these areas and discuss just how male and female narcissists differ. In general, as therapist Shannon Petrovich says, “… females are generally more scheming, passive aggressive, and manipulative, and males are more prone to the more outward and aggressive modes of controlling others,” but let’s examine some differences in the specific areas mentioned above.
While narcissists typically believe they are attractive individuals, men will use their charm to enhance their appearance and lure in females. Women, on the other hand, will use their charm to gain the upper hand over any potential partner.
Additionally, female narcissists often become obsessive about their appearance and may even have plastic surgery to enhance it. They particularly fear aging and losing their looks as they feel that will mean they will lose their romantic partners and the narcissistic supply they provide.
For male narcissists, it’s a little different in part because society in general doesn’t put as much emphasis on male looks. That means they can handle aging a little better with respect to their appearance.
Narcissists are generally very good at seducing romantic partners, but the way a male narcissist seduces is distinct from how a female narcissist entices a lover. Men use their charm whereas women tend to use their bodies.
Women will wear more provocative clothing to attract a mate, but they do so specifically to achieve their goal of seducing someone they’re interested in. Men turn on the charm. This also reflects societal differences regarding how men and women are valued.
There’s also a distinct difference between male and female narcissists with respect to how they view and obtain money. While all narcissists love money because they believe it is the source of power, men obsess more about how to get it whereas women are focused on spending it.
Men will often even resort to stealing money if it is necessary because they believe it is what will give them what they truly desire. Again, this is related to society’s perception about the male role as provider for his family. Narcissists are not immune to cultural influences, and they will often become obsessive in their desire to succeed in their various roles. They will do almost anything to avoid being seen as a failure.
For women, the obsession with money concerns how to spend it, and they will often spend excessively. They use material possessions to enhance their attractiveness and showcase their status. Female narcissists will often spend well beyond their means and commonly put their family’s finances in jeopardy.
Both male and female narcissists have no shame or remorse for any of the actions they take that are related to money acquisition and spending.
Narcissists frequently cheat on their partners in a committed relationship, but it is more common for male narcissists to be serial adulterers. They will have several extramarital affairs since this strokes their fragile self-esteem.
As for female narcissists, they tend to behave more like the black widow spider. They more commonly idealize their mate, but in the end, they devour them by emasculating them. Once they no longer respect them, they no longer remain faithful in the relationship. They move on to their next victim.
In either case, the spouse or partner will never get out of the relationship what they have put into it. You can simply never be enough or love enough for a narcissistic partner, be they male or female.
At the heart of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) lies an undeveloped sense of self and a fragile self-esteem, but male and female narcissists experience confidence differently.
Male narcissists actually are able to gain their confidence from within. They simply believe in their own braggadocio. Female narcissists, however, are more dependent on comparisons they make between themselves and other people.
To feel good about herself, a female narcissist must feel superior to those around her. That’s true whether her superiority comes from her looks or her abilities. She will thrive when she feels she is better than someone else in a head-to-head comparison.
All narcissists love to compete and win against other people in their lives, whether at work or at home. Male narcissists consider all other males to be rivals while females will try to dominate other women.
For men, this shows up more frequently in relationships between brothers and with their male children in their personal lives. At work, they compete against their male colleagues and typically brag endlessly when they win.
For women, they will compete with their sisters and girl children at home, and they will seek to thoroughly dominate other women in the workplace. They compete on multiple levels including their physical looks and abilities as well as their intelligence and any talents they possess.
Narcissists will typically choose a favorite child to dote on while leaving any other children to feel as though they are not worthy of their parent’s love and attention. Male narcissists, however, see children as more of a nuisance and will frequently complain about them. They might also see them as competition for their spouse’s attention and can even become jealous.
Female narcissists tend to see their children as extensions of themselves no matter the age of the child. They view their child’s accomplishments as a reflection of their parenting. They tend to be highly critical of their children as they push them to succeed. Unbeknownst to the child, that’s not just a desire to see them be successful, it’s because their success reflects their mother’s parenting.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the difference between male and female narcissists, you can begin to see how their behaviors often mirror societal expectations. As externally validated individuals, both male and female narcissists care deeply about what others think about them.
That means that they are deeply affected by societal expectations and have a distorted view of what it will mean if they are unable to live up to those expectations. This fear is what drives the way they treat the people in their lives whether they are lovers, friends, or family.
With a better understanding of how male and female narcissists differ, you might also be interested in this article about whether narcissists in general feel socially awkward or not.
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