Have you ever wondered if there are gender differences in narcissists? Well, I wondered that very thing recently so I did a little research. Turns out, narcissists are more alike than different regardless of gender. That said there are a few specific differences in the behaviors of narcissistic men and women.
We’re Only Human
Before we get started on this topic, if you’re unsure of what a narcissist is, please read Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) first. One caveat I’d like to mention is that all human beings have narcissism in them. Normally, it’s a healthy amount that helps them accomplish goals, have self esteem and confidence to work, try new hobbies, and have healthy relationships. It’s when the narcissism is overdeveloped in a person that it becomes a disorder. I always like to remind people of this fact because it tells us that some of the behaviors we see in a narcissist, we see in ourselves in small (healthy) doses.
Remember that the narcissist will find supply not only in his spouse but friends, and business associates as well. That’s why it’s good to recognize the behaviors and spot when you’re being targeted and used for the narcissists supply. In this post, I show examples of the behaviors in domestic relationships but some of these could be applied to friendships and business partnerships etc.
Pre-Historical Roles of Men and Women
It all stems back to cave-man days. Big shocker, right? Man hunts and gathers and the woman keeps the nest and bears the children—blah, blah, blah. What does that have to do with 2017? Everything, unfortunately. I guess its ingrained in our gender based societal roles. Women seek material security and men seek power and recognition for the hunt.
What this means for 2017, is that women still inherently seek men who can financially care for them and their offspring. Men still hunt and gather, only instead of doing it in the wilderness, they do it at the office. It sounds archaic but as I said, it is an inherent need and not a primary basis for relationships. Gloria Steinem would likely cringe at the statement.
Not surprisingly, according to this academic study, narcissists tend to conform to conventional roles even more so than the average guy or gal. Why? Because it’s the easiest way to find acceptance on a large, social scale. They don’t like to stand out as being different or rebellious because that would not be conducive to securing their supply (victims). Instead, they conform to society’s gender role expectation to fit in and please their target.
Work & Domestic Roles That Provide Power
For example, a male narcissist is often found to be in a rather powerful work role such as police officer, teacher, coach, politician or religious leader. Not only do these work roles grant them a certain level of power, they also contribute to a traditional image. The man being the provider thus attracting his supply. I’m not saying by any means, that all men in these types of work roles are narcissists…not the case. Simply, these are some examples of the kind of work they do.
Narcissist women place more importance on their appearance, sexuality and charm than men do. They tend to highlight their domestic skills to attract their supply. They are also extremely enthusiastic sexually in order to snare their male target, but this will wane. While charm and appearance are important to the male narcissist, it’s not nearly to the same degree.
Sticking to traditional roles and avoiding being a rebel can work for both genders.
Are Men and Women Narcs Really Different?
On the whole, they are very similar and certainly have similar goals—that is to exact resources and use their supply to further their social needs. The main difference between them, is that men are more aggressive, seek powerful positions and expect to be rewarded generously at work. This is also referred to as the Leadership/Assertiveness facet of NPD.
While the female narcissist may crave this kind of power, she is not normally found to be seeking it. It strays from the traditional role of women in society. Simply put, women are considered bitches for seeking what narcissist men make their life journey—POWER.
Below I have summarized gender differences worth noting.
5 Key Gender Differences In Narcissists
- She’s extremely concerned about her physical appearance-make up, clothing, hair and nails must be near perfection. This is all about snaring her supply. He’s extremely concerned with his income level, work position and is not afraid to be aggressive to achieve his career goals.
- She begins her relationships with men in the same way, extremely accommodating and supportive. If he has children, she’ll nurture and care for them while he’s working. She’s a domestic goddess. What happens later though? She begins to chip away at her man’s dreams, goals and his overall person. She also, lessens her domestic contributions or forfeits relationship promises. He is less likely to give up his time to support her goals, career pursuits or domestic responsibilities. Even in the beginning, he will place his goals and career above hers. He’ll be charming about it, but he will not be a supportive house husband.
- He must be in control almost every minute. If he can’t control the outcome of most everything in his life, including his wife, girlfriend or mistress—he will flip out and have a tantrum. She is willing to forfeit control for the rewards she will gain from her supply.
- She uses her children as small maids and butlers. Children to the female narcissist are not much more than little servants for her to utilize to get out of her domestic responsibilities. Narc Men have little use for underage children. In their view, small children are useless and worse, compete for supply. As the children reach adulthood, the narcissist father will attempt to use them as a means to his end or as an extension of himself.
- She is a drama queen. In relationships, she will be the one to call the police, make false reports. She has no qualms about taking her partner’s/husband’s reputation and dragging it through the mud publicly. He is cool, collected and remains in control of himself while spreading lies about his partner/wife.
The key differences between the narcissist’s gender still result in similar outcomes—full use of their supply. Interestingly, from the research paper and articles I’ve read, the narcissist mother can potentially cause more damage to young children than the narc father. This is because of her domestic, stay-at-home role. The father is more likely to focus his destructive behavior outside the domestic realm, at least while children are young. That said, he has his own special brand of child abuse for teen/adult children.
It’s worth noting that males are more likely than females to be narcissists, based on the evaluation facets of NPD.
“…some scholars have noted that “the symptomatology of narcissistic personality resembles very highly the masculine sex role stereotypic of men in our culture, including physical expressions of anger, a strong need for power, and an authoritative leadership style” (Corry, Merritt, Mrug, & Pamp, 2008, p. 593). In addition, the prevalence of lifetime narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is greater for men (7.7%) than it is for women (4.8%)”-University Of Nebraska Study 2014
In conclusion, the gender differences are slim between male and female narcissists. They both lack empathy for others and put their own needs above everyone else. Their tactics may vary slightly, but their agendas are similar—that is to use and abuse their supply.
What have you noticed regarding gender differences in narcissist behavior?
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Image of woman; Unsplash by Matthew Kane.