What do Narcissists and Psychopaths look for in a romantic partner?

Some say opposites attract. Others believe similar interests, beliefs, and goals are what brings two people together.

But what do Narcissists and Psychopaths seek in a romantic partner?

A study conducted by C. S. Kay, of the University of Oregon, examines the relationship preferences of people high in Dark Triad traits – Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

As Psychology Today describes, the personality characteristics of the Dark Triad are usually considered malevolent and socially aversive. For instance, narcissists are highly manipulative beings who lack empathy and cannot live without being admired(even if it’s for accomplishments they fabricated).

Meanwhile, psychopaths also tend to manipulate those around them. However, they are much more ruthless compared to narcissists.

As for Machiavellians, along with the manipulation and ruthlessness, they are also incredibly dishonest and would stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Morals and ethics are nowhere to be found within their mindset.

What does it take for someone to attract such a toxic being? 

Kay’s research included 470 people – 65% female and 35% male participants. The study used two measures to identify the relationship preferences of narcissists, psychopaths, and Machiavellians.

The first one was the Self-report Dark Triad. It used a Short Dark Triad scale with 12 items, which evaluated each of the three personality types.

Narcissism: “People see me as a natural leader.”

Psychopathy: “People often say I’m out of control.”

Machiavellianism: “You should wait for the right time to get back at people”

The second one was the Dark Triad in relationship contexts. Here, the scale was altered for analyzing respondent’s willingness to date, get married to, and have one-night stands with people with Dark Triad personality traits. In this part of the research, there were 463 participants, of whom 72% were women. However, this time their preferences were evaluated via the full version of the Short Dark Triad scale – with 27 items instead of 12.

So, here is what Kay’s study discovered about the romantic preferences of NarcissistsPsychopaths, and Machiavellians

1. Individuals high in each of the Dark Triad traits are usually drawn to people with the same qualities. 

Apparently, the notion that having similar interests, beliefs, and ideas brings people together can be applied to individuals with intense Dark Triad personalities. However, the study revealed there are exceptions when it comes to the desire for one-night stands, but only in narcissistic women/men and in Machiavellian men.

2. Narcissists(and some Machiavellianists) favor the same traits when considering long-term relationships.

People who are convinced they have more negative than positive personality traits are prone to tolerating and accepting the same aversive features in others. This tendency is often seen in long-term romantic relationships and marriages.

3. Those high in psychopathy are willing to have one-night stands with other psychopaths, as well as with narcissists and Machiavellians. 

Psychopaths are opportunists. In other words, they take advantage of the opportunities they see. No wonder why psychopathy is closely related to having many past sexual partners and being prone to cheating. This explains why people with suchlike personality traits are eager to have one-night stands with lovers high in any of the Dark Triad personality traits.

The results from Kay’s study revealed that individuals with Dark Triad personalities usually choose their partners according to the theory of positive assortative mating. Simply put, they are attracted to others like them.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comment section!

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