There’s a stereotype out there about the kind of people that are in abusive relationships, particularly women in abusive relationships. You might be tempted to think that the kind of woman a narcissist would choose to marry would fit that stereotype of a weak, easily manipulated, and submissive woman. But you’d be wrong.
Narcissistic men often choose to marry successful, strong women. Those are the women who are good for their image, which is what they want. They also get a thrill out of manipulating an intelligent, beautiful woman because it makes them feel that much more superior if they can dominate them.
To understand why a narcissistic man would choose a successful woman, you have to understand what motivates a narcissist’s every move. It’s what’s at the heart of narcissistic personality disorder. Let’s take a deep dive into that dark heart for some important insight into why narcissistic men choose strong women.
What Does a Narcissistic Man Look for in a Wife?
Narcissistic men want to present themselves as powerful and superior to other people, particularly men. They often rise to positions of power in the workplace, and they frequently marry beautiful, successful women.
It’s tempting to think that a narcissistic man would want a submissive woman who would bend to his will, but that simply isn’t the case. Narcissistic men want the quintessential trophy wife. She should be beautiful, smart, and successful.
He wants this to show off his prowess to other men and women around him. As a child, the narcissist experienced some kind of trauma that made him believe his true nature was hopelessly flawed. Out of a profound sense of shame and self-loathing, he buried that true self deep inside.
To interact with the world around him, he constructed a false self-image, but that false self can’t prop up the grandiose ideas he came to believe about himself. He told himself he was superior, maybe even omnipotent, but he needs a steady stream of adoration in the form of external validation to sustain those grandiose ideas.
That’s why he manipulates people, and he has learned to do that well from an early age. By the time he is ready to look for a spouse, he doesn’t want someone that offers him no challenge. He wants someone who will affirm his superiority simply by being who she is, and he enjoys playing the game with her.
Nothing validates the narcissist’s grandiose ideas about himself more than being successfully able to manipulate and control an independent, successful, and intelligent woman. It gives the ultimate sense of self-satisfaction.
He can show her off to his friends and colleagues and brag about how much she loves him. Then he can go home and manipulate her to get what he wants.
How Does a Narcissistic Man Get a Strong Woman?
If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, you know they can be very charming at the beginning of a relationship. He also tends to look for an accomplished woman who is a little bit insecure.
Most truly successful people are a little bit insecure. Truly competent people second-guess themselves all the time. What’s more, research shows that competent people will downplay their competence to appear warmer.
That means a successful, competent woman might downplay her accomplishments when she’s trying to appear feminine to a man she’s interested in. A narcissistic man can easily read that as insecurity, and there probably is a little bit of that too.
Most women who are successful in our modern world have had to work twice as hard to show they can do the job. That leads to them second-guessing their decisions for fear of making a mistake and looking like they aren’t up to the task at hand.
Enter the charming, narcissistic man who’s able to seem supportive, interested, and loving – a veritable Prince Charming. During the initial idealization stage of their relationship, he seems awed by her accomplishments. He also seems so supportive and a willing listener to her innermost fears.
Of course, he’s taking note of those fears so that he can use them to his advantage later on. To this woman, he seems like her soulmate. She can’t imagine a better match, but unfortunately, she will find out the truth, usually when it’s too late.
What are the Stages of a Relationship with a Narcissist?
When a narcissist enters your life, you typically experience the idealization stage first. This is where they are supportive and loving and interested in everything you have to tell them. They really are, too, because they are gathering data about you.
This stage usually goes on until the person becomes completely enamored of the narcissist. Romantic partners of narcissists often describe feeling as though they had found their one, true soulmate. They can’t imagine a better fit.
Once the narcissist has learned what they need to know about you, however, things begin to change. It begins with unreasonable expectations about how you should treat them. They may start becoming offended by the most minor, unintentional slights. These could be things you would never consider to be something offensive.
Narcissists are also experts at distorting things you say. This is because they must be hypervigilant to any threats that could expose their flawed true self. So everything you say becomes a hidden insult. At this point, you start to see episodes of their rage.
Narcissistic rage varies from full-blown blowups to icy cold silent treatments. In either case, when the relationship gets to this point – often after you’ve married them already – it has entered the devaluation stage. From this point on, the narcissist will become increasingly critical.
It’s at this point that many people will leave a narcissist, but if you don’t leave, it’s likely they will discard you at some point. The discard, though, is unlikely to be permanent, and they may re-enter your life at a later point in time.
To sum up, the three stages are idealization, devaluation, and discard. The narcissist does this with everyone in their life, but it is more intense with their romantic partners.
Can It Ever Work Out with a Narcissist?
The answer to that is that it’s possible but unlikely. Most people want a genuinely loving, supportive life partner. To be loving and supportive, you have to have empathy for other people and be able to focus on their needs.
That’s not something narcissists can do. They have to remain steadfastly focused on getting their narcissistic supply of adoration to prop up their self-esteem. Without that, they face a mental breakdown known as a narcissistic collapse.
That makes it difficult for you to get what you need out of a relationship with a narcissist. If you can accept that certain needs like compassion and empathy must be met by other people in your life, perhaps you can make it work.
To do that, however, you’ll have to set up clear, strong boundaries and enforce them with every violation. You also have to push back on their manipulative tactics and shut down their episodes of rage whenever they occur. You also have to accept being the only one in your relationship who prioritizes your needs.
It’s a lot of work for most people, and that’s why narcissists tend to marry multiple times. They cycle through romantic partners, and they often cycle back again. They can even come back after years of being apart.
Narcissistic men look for accomplished women to marry because it makes them look good. They want that trophy wife who proves to everyone that the narcissist is, indeed, superior. It seems counterintuitive to think they would look for this kind of woman, but it actually fits well with their personality disorder.
If you have a narcissistic husband who is willing to seek treatment for his narcissism, you must read this article about how to help him heal. It not only has some valuable insights, but it also offers hope for saving your marriage.
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