Narcissism Works at First, But Not for Long

When you’re trying to make friends fast, narcissism can work for you, but it isn’t going to last.

The question of popularity is more complex than you might initially think. There are certain ways that individuals make friends, keep friends, and build real, emotional bonds with the people around them the most. A new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin set out to determine how people go about making and friends, and what characteristics tend to keep friends around the longest.

The study measured the popularity of first-year college students by organizing them into 15 study groups. During the first week of their assignment to a specific group, they were asked which person in the group they liked being around the most. They asked the same question again three months later.

Before participating in the study, each student completed standard assessments that gauged their personality traits, levels of narcissism, and their emotional intelligence.

The study found that when strangers are put into a group, those who score highly in narcissism personality traits enjoy an early stage of admiration and companionship among their peers. However, the likeable traits of their narcissism wares off not too long after, and they cease to be able to sustain positive relationships with growth and development.

The study also found that those who have the strongest social skills and the highest intelligence emotionally, tend to be the most successful when it comes to true friendships. They have a modest amount of initial admirers, but overtime they end up with the most.

The authors state in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: “It seems that a quieter and less needy ego, coupled with abilities to perceive, understand, use, and manage emotions, ensures better relationships in the long run.”

The conclusion of the study makes a good deal of sense. The emotionally intelligent do not see making friends and influencing others as an end; they understand that a lasting relationship that grows, changes, and develops is more beneficial. Narcissists see only admiration as the end all be all of existence.

Perhaps what’s most interesting about the study is that being emotionally intelligent and being a narcissist aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Some narcissists have a high emotional intelligence, and this is seen through their ability to read people, know what they want, and most importantly, understand what they want to hear.

People can also score very low in narcissism and emotional intelligence, which is a bad combination when making friends.

Most people fall right in the middle when it comes to being narcissistic and being emotionally intelligent. This is a good thing, as it means most people probably do well when it comes to making friends. You need to be likeable at the beginning in order attract friends, but you also need to be emotionally intelligent in order to keep those friends around.

Everyone has narcissistic tendencies, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all narcissists. It only becomes an issue when making friends, being liked, and earning the acceptance of others is the end goal. If you want to make friends, you have to be willing to develop, grow, and sustain those relationships. Every relationship takes work, including friendships.

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