Narcissistic Charm Can Easily Blindside

Narcissistic Charm

What is narcissistic charm?  It’s the all the attention, flattery and interest a narcissist might show you at the outset of a relationship. Now, there’s nothing inherently bad about a person displaying these behaviors. It’s often simply a part of the wooing process. But as I’ve written before, a person’s interest doesn’t necessarily mean they have genuine regard for you. That’s why these days you have to be particularly wary of charmers. And it’s all too easy to mistake someone’s interest in you for regard. (See: Abuse Victims Mistake Interest for Regard.)

Narcissists don’t need others in the healthy way most of us do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have desires of others. So, when they see something in you they like or want to possess it (or you), they can really turn on the charm. They’ll put on their most appealing face. And they’ll do their best to make you feel special, too. But that’s when you have to be the most careful. It’s too easy to get swept off your feet and still have no idea who they really are. Moreover, you can be made to feel ever so special to them without ever really knowing what designs they actually have on you.

Relationships Born of Narcissistic Charm

Narcissistic charm often plays a key role in relationships that turn out to be abusive and exploitative. Such relationships follow a typical course:

  • Someone shows tremendous interest in you.
  • They do everything they can to make you feel special.
  • They tell you everything they you’ve ever wanted to hear.
  • Only slowly do they reveal how grateful and admiring of them they expect you to be.
  • And even more slowly than that do they reveal how disregarding of you they can be if you don’t meet their expectations.
  • In time it becomes clear that while they once might have had some use for you and did all they could to win you over, they never really had any positive regard (i.e. genuine love) for you (especially the person you are at the core).
  • You finally realize how badly they have used and abused you. But you’ve invested years and mounds of time, energy, and often, money. So, it’s hard to walk away.

(See again the “Slot Machine Syndrome” discourse in In Sheep’s Clothing.)

An Even Subtler Charm

Narcissists can deliberately charm as a way of seducing you. But you can also allow yourself to be seduced in subtler ways, too. The quiet confidence some narcissists exude can be almost intoxicating. That’s especially true for those struggling with insecurity of some sort. Such insecurity can breed emotional neediness. And it can be overwhelmingly flattering when someone you think has is all together (based on their projection of that confident image) has taken a big interest in you. But once again, this is inherently problematic because interest alone does not equal regard.

The Answer

So what’s the answer to this dilemma? How do you avoid succumbing to narcissistic charm? The answer lies in two things: knowing your worth, and knowing where it truly comes from. Those most vulnerable to narcissistic charm simply don’t know their true value. And that prompts them tend to seek external validation. Looking outward for validation makes anyone vulnerable. It’s also a gateway to emotional dependency.

External approval seekers are the opposite of narcissists. Narcissists are pathological in their excessive and unfounded sense of their worth. They may solicit your attention and admiration. Such things pad their already inflated ego. But they don’t require your approval. They already think they’re great. And in the more pathological cases, they just know they’re great. Contrarily, those they target for relationships are often plagued by self-doubt. So it’s easy for them to get bowled over by the attention and interest the charming narcissist might show.

In the coming weeks I’ll have more to say on healthy self-worth.

14 thoughts on “Narcissistic Charm Can Easily Blindside

  1. My husband was an external approval seeker , constantly looking for validation . This seemed to be at the root of his “sex addiction” . In fact, very often he would rather be praised for pleasuring an acting out partner than receive any pleasure himself. He sought validation compulsively along side acting out sexually.
    Do I misunderstand the distinction you are making Dr. Simon in regard to external approval seekers versus narcaciisst? We were both told he is a narcacist . Maybe someone can reply to help me clarify my understanding of the point Dr. Simon is making.

    1. Peggy,

      I don’t believe sex addiction exists for probably 99 percent of the men who claim to be mere victims of a sex addiction. Your husband is 99% likely to be up to his eyes deep in porn. Long term porn users are most often the so-called sex addicts. They’re perverts more than anything.

      As to men who SEEM to be more interested in pleasuring a partner than receiving any pleasure, most often those ‘sex addict’ guys are trying to prove what studs they are, and it’s about them and their vanity and ego as a supposedly superior lover, rather than actual interest in a partner, and that partner’s pleasure.

      Ever heard guys brag about how long they can last in bed? It’s not about actually pleasing the woman, but rather it’s a contest among men as to how ‘manly’ they are. Again, it’s about the man’s ego. How good and talented of a lover he is. His ego is the focus, not you.

      It’s a competition in his own head. stroking his ego. nothing much to do with you at all.

      1. This . Absolutely this . My ex was a habitual porn user and was a “ pleaser” in bed . However , he seemed to get very little physical enjoyment out of the act . What he did like was thinking he was the best lover , most endowed , most skilled etc …..

        I believe the term sex addict is an excuse for people to cheat . If it’s not on the DSM , I’m not buying into it .
        As soon as I realized the ex was a covert narcissist and a somatic one at that , I filed for divorce .
        It’s been almost 3 years and the thought of even going on a date with a man causes me horrible anxiety .

        1. Isabelle,

          The thought of any woman (or girl), going on a date with a man (or boy) should be terribly anxiety-provoking. Men are predators. Men are rapists. Men are manipulative, selfish, predatory, sexist, porn-using, misogynists.

          Maybe 1 to 5 percent of the male population is not predatory, rapey, vile, violent, abuser misogynists, but that’s about it. Of that 1 to 5 percent, almost every last one is married (and are the type to stay married for life).

          There is something like nearly 30,000 users purchasing porn per second to the tune of $3,000 per second being spent on porn. Every second.

          Any man who claims to not be a porn user, he is lying. 99 percent chance he is lying. Of those who use porn, even if they quit, their deviancy remains, as the operant conditioning of masturbating to orgasm watching some filmed debasement, defilement, gang rape, degradation of women tends to do that.

          Robert Jensen talks about how despite having not viewed porn in ‘x’ amount of time, when he is asked when the last time it was he saw porn, I believe he replies “yesterday”. Because those vile, horrific, raping, defiling, degrading, woman-hating, violent, perverted porn images/videos are burned into a man’s memory, so at any time, he can recall the filmed deviancy, the filmed gang rape of some poor, prostituted, raped, beaten, humiliated, debased, degraded woman.

          Girls today shouldn’t date. Not with internet porn infecting that generation. And boys and men are no innocent victims. The violence and rape turns them on and gets them off. Watching some poor woman be spit on, beaten, debased, abused, and bloodied ought to cause them to weep and/or sit there in horror, but nope, the men and boys consume it with great pleasure and excitement and proceed to orgasm to such depravity.

          Don’t believe the lying males. If they are men, they are using porn. And if by chance you encounter a man who doesn’t use porn, it is most likely he is devoutly religious, and married for life. I was most fortunate to grow up in a household like that, but most other households have nasty, disgusting, vile, deviant fathers handing off porn to the deviant son, and that was before internet porn made it accessible and free, 24/7. One web-search away is all it takes now.

          Your internal sensors are correct, Isabelle. Your anxiety is well-founded. Pay attention to your nstincts, they are telling you the truth. Ignoring unease and anxiety is your perpetual peril. Same with every last other woman or girl out there.

          Maybe it’s not a fun truth, but truth it is. No woman should be allowing her daughter to date in this age, given the super-predators created by internet porn.

    2. Peggy, you might want to read some of the articles on the different kinds of narcissists. I think that will help answer your questions. Also, remember, using others and manipulating others into padding your already bent-out-of-shape ego is not the same as being dependent upon external sources of validation. Still, there’s some common ground in all character disturbances about not knowing one’s true worth, and, more especially, from where that worth derives.


  2. Thank you for replying . I think you are writing his “sex addiction” is not about me ? Yes, of course not. I too am unsure if in fact there is such an addiction. I just got a bit mixed up there regarding diagnosing narcissism in persons who are compulsively seeking external validation . And that he did .
    Kind of you to reply!

  3. Thank you Dr Simon . Your reply is helpful ! I understand the distinction you are making and the last point.
    All the best to you.

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    My husband left me and he is already having an affair with another woman he met, been hanging out with her for months. She is also married with two kids of her own. They planned to move in together but she basically spend every night with him at his motel he stays until they can get their own place. My husband has no license, therefore i have to give him a ride to and fro to work everyday Because his new “gf” still gives her husband ride to, they work together. When my husband came around me, he acted like we’re cool and we should just talk like nothing is going on. He completely ignores me every time i talked about our marriage, he never gives me a straight answer other than its been over for long time, we were still very much having sex at least two to three times every 2 months. We got into a fight one night and the next thing he did was to moved out our house and moved into a hotel, instantly this married woman was there with him every night and they basically been talking through fb. Out of jealousy and so much pain inside me i had to go on a personal research how i can get my husband back into our marriage again. But i was recommended to a genius spell man, Doc Muna by name marvelspelltemple@gmail. com was his email ID. This man told me everything i needs to know and everything i needs to do. i attended to them and right now my husband is back home and we just had a romantic sex and he keep saying i love you to me every day and night and never to let go of me no more.

  5. I think as I consider a question I asked my NM (narcissistic mother) once, which was “What makes you happy?”, her answer was all the more telling, buying me stuff (at 45) was her answer. And much as I would have liked to say that it was because she wants to do something nice for me, I don’t see it now. Because it depends on what she does with the gift-what does doing that do for her? A narcissist will do one thing in my case: throw it back up in my face. Or will use it to manipulate me. Don’t accept a gift from a narc, it rarely, if ever will be just that.

    Many times, I have had my NM tell me what I wanted to hear, things any child or human being wants to hear from other human beings, and any child wants to hear from their parents. But it will undoubtedly be interspersed with some very hateful messages which will just as quickly, disappear to be again replaced by what can only be described as hateful.

    Certainly, the most destructive thing I have ever done was to go to my mother for approval. Joyce Meyer calls it approval addiction. Which in my view is a good descriptor. Learn to find approval from within. It is easier said than done and I am only now just learning. I am still as I began posting here a couple years ago, unlearning a lot of years of bad habits. I look to God for the approval I need. And if I must have approval from someone in human form, I do not go looking for it from a narcissist.

  6. JC,

    Nice to hear from you JC and hope all is well with you. I have found the CDN give gifts they prefer to give, something they like, not what we would like. Like you said, there are often hidden strings attached and it is best not to accept anything from a narcissist.

    It is normal human need and desire to want acceptance and approval from those who would normally love us. Again, when coming from a narc it is best to get that approval from ourselves, God and others.


  7. Has anyone started to see the commonality and pattern repetition is all these messed up dynamics?

    Batterers and their victimized wives
    Pimps and their stable
    Narcs and their victims
    Psychopaths and their prey
    Cults and their indoctrinated ‘believers’

    All such victims are more accurately described as captives. The indoctrination, coercive control, brainwashing, terror, threats, etc. all serve to keep the victims in a state of perpetual control. Victims are captives.

    I’m not so sure that narcs are distinctly different. Who cares if its a narc, a psychopath, someone with the antisocial personality disorder slapped on them, or whatever other labels the medical industry has created? Does it matter? No. I’d argue that it does not.

    A pedophile operates toward his prey the same that a wife-beater operates toward his targeted wife. The seasoning that a pimp does to turn out a new victim (prostituted women are victims and slaves and captives) is the same that a wife-beater does to his terrorized wife. Same thing with cult leaders, like Warren Jeffs.

    It’s the same thing. It’s all the same. There are patterned dynamics that happen in each setup. It’s predation. All of it is predation.

    Has anyone else seen this, too? I wonder if people don’t want to busy themselves with making careers out of this or that purportedly particular pathology, when it’s really all the same. It really is. It’s predation. It’s criminal. It’s abuse. It’s coercive control. It’s domestic terrorism. It’s really the same core across the board.

    I don’t see the reason for making distinctions. In short, it’s evil, wicked people preying on targeted victims. May they go to hell, sooner than later. Nothing else will stop them from continuing to victimize. No need to understand or study them further. They all use the same setups, the same coercive control, the same brainwashing and indoctrination, the same inculcation of control, the same underlying terrorizing of the victims (be it overt threats, or a sensed, implicit, dangerousness of any resistence, dissent, or disobediance).

    It’s really one and of the same. The only chance victims have is if they have others helping them or resources available to them, and even then, it’s really a matter of luck — did they luck out and get the predator who won’t stalk and eventually murder them for daring to escape or not? Some predators become preoccupied with other victims. Some predators end up in jail, and their flying monkeys desert them so they can’t run things from their cell. Some predators, thankfully, die and hopefully have no surviving family or friends to continue their predation in proxy. And some aren’t that talented, resourceful, well-educated, etc. so as to be able to cleverly skirt the law, remain out of jail, or otherwise instill so much fear, damage, or discrediting and ruination on their victims they need not worry about law enforcement intervening.

    The world is an evil place. The powerful (especially the illegitimately powerful) prey with impunity on the powerless. The dynamics of the evil predators are basically one and of the same. Pimps act like narcs. Narcs act like wife-beaters. Wife-beaters act like pedophiles. They are all the same. I see no need to give them any disctinctiveness, no need whatsoever. The universal dynamics of predation. That’s what it is.

    Hope you victims out there know how lovely you all are and that you didn’t deserve it. Nothing draws predators quicker than vulnerability and being a decent, kind, loving, caring person in this wretched world is an incredible vulnerability to have.

    And in case anyone is feeling stupid for having been victimized, even Dr. Hare, who created the now standard psychopathy test, talked about how he’d been taken in by psychopaths and he studies them for a living and “should know better” but alas, the devil’s children have their evil father’s knack for deception, etc. So, in short, even Dr. Hare, whose bread and butter throughout his career has been devoted to studying psychopaths, has been taken in by them, too.

    Another researcher, I forget the name, was commenting on how incredible the finesse possessed by these predators is, and how, he’d know he was about to interact with a diagnosed psychopath, a convicted criminal, a hardened predator, and yet he’d even get taken in by some of them. And he conducted his research in prison, so his subjects were in handcuffs, and yet there’s an incredible finesse some of them possess.

    Anyhow, a predator is a predator, is a predator. Doesn’t matter which label is given to your particular abuser, doesn’t matter at all. General society might believe there is an importance in distinguishing one over the other, but that’s because of so much misinformation and disinformation.

    What, in the end, do we have? Evildoers. That’s it.

    I wish general society would grasp such better, perhaps then, there’d be less scrutiny, judgment, and condemnation of victims. Perhaps the sympathy wouldn’t be perversely placed on the poor, poor, misguided criminal, but rather on his victimized prey. Perhaps general society would care about battered women more, and see how asking asinine questions like, ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ isn’t appropriate whatsoever. Cults. Pimps’ stranglehold of their prostitued out stable. Or run-of-the-mill, all-too-common wife-beaters and their captives (victimized wives).

    1. Well stated and I agree completely. Their tactics are frighteningly similar and they adjust them as the situation or the victim adjusts. The only comfort I find in this is that now that I am aware, they are easier to spot and stay away from. Thank you for the reminder that we are not stupid for being fooled, they are very skilled. It’s easier to spot them now and protect myself, but it’s not a sure thing. They prey on vulnerability, they are predators and opportunists.

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