Just because he seems great at first doesn't mean that's the whole story.
He orders for you and you feel special and taken care of.
He walks on the outside of the street when you are walking to the restaurant.
He exudes sex appeal. When he is in on mode, his chest puffs out, he stands taller and his chin is up. He oozes chemistry. He may want to sit on the same side of the table. He will touch you a lot, or maybe not—if you are not one for public display of affection, he will pick up on that quickly and accommodate you.
Charming is his middle name. It wouldn't be surprising if he brought you a gift.
Sounds a lot like the perfect guy, doesn't it? I know — that's what makes it scary.
- Monologue instead of conversation. The narcissist can't help but turn the attention back on himself in the conversation. No matter what you are talking about, he will take the first opportunity to talk about his own experiences. On a first date this is charming because he is charismatic and funny. You might feel a little hurt that he isn't curious about you, but you may brush it off because you don't want to hurt his feelings.
- No real interest in you. At the end of the night, is there anything that he knows about you? Did you hear stories from childhood all the way to present time? Did he tell you about trips, pets and politics? Did he obsess about wine tasting, sports or cars? If you feel a bit neglected on the first date, don't dismiss it.
- Impatient and entitled. Watch to see how he handles delays and interference. If your table isn't ready or the waiter is inattentive, a narcissist has a fit. Complaints and accusations of poor service and poor tipping are all signs to watch for.
- Preferential seating. Your date may be very picky about where the restaurant seats you. He will want a table in a predominant spot and certainly not near the kitchen or in a back corner. Narcissists see themselves as special and deserving of admiration and acknowledgement and they expect special treatment to go along with it.
- It's you, baby. When a narcissist is interested in something you have and senses you can supply a need of theirs, they will be all about you. They are expert on making you feel special; from ordering for you at the restaurant to watching out for you when you are walking in traffic, he will wow you with attention. It is all about satisfying their own hunger for money, control or sex that is motivating their affection for you.
- Pay attention, or else. Your narcissistic date will demand your full attention. They do not do well when you are distracted by someone or something else. He may be sarcastic and tease you about time on your cell phone or the time you spend talking about your day. An expert at kidnapping the conversation, it won't be long before he is talking about himself again. He loves being the center of attention.
- Socially savvy. Your date may be charming and sociable to the wait staff and other dining patrons as long as they are giving him attention and excellent service. He may have strong social skills and readily engage others in conversation. But, if you watch and listen, you will see that they are a new audience to hear his stories and laugh at his jokes. Even though it looks like he is reaching out to others, it is all about him.
- Critiques everything. Listen for a litany of complaints about his life, job, living situation or anything he talks about. Narcissists find fault continually. They go postal over anything they perceive as an inconvenience. He might actually go through a red light because he thinks it has been red too long and he is tired of the city government controlling his traffic flow. (True story!)
- Thank me, please. Manic to feel appreciated and annoyed when he feels dismissed, your date may make sure you know how expensive the dinner was and how much trouble he went through to get the reservations or some other veiled complaint about all the trouble he went to...just for you. No matter how grateful you are though, you never quite feel like he believes it.
- Catastrophic chemistry. A classic sign of narcissism is sexual charm and chemistry. According to New Republic's Jeffrey Kluger, "Men who score high in narcissism, impulsive thrill-seeking or exploitiveness—to say nothing of those who score high on all of them, which some do—also tend to exceed other men in number of sexual encounters in any given week, month or year." Good girls are inexplicably drawn to bad boys. The hotter the chemistry is, the faster you should run away.
If your date has any one of these tendencies, they may be within the normal range of narcissism, meaning you can handle this challenge with humor and clear boundaries. But, if warning signs are sounding off, honor them. Move slowly and get to know this guy. Vet him as if your very life depends on it, because one day it may. If you are in doubt, move on before you move in.
Bad boys are sexy and exciting. Adding toxic narcissism to the mix can set a trap that a turned on woman can easily tumble into. Make sure you have a friend or family member you can confide in and be truthful about this guy. Take your time and get to know him before you get overly involved.