Why Narcissists Come Across So Alluring, According To Research

Why we always fall for the allure of narcissists.

Last updated on Sep 06, 2023

speed dating fizkes | Canva

Narcissists love themselves. And, unfortunately, according to science, we love them too, which doesn’t seem fair.

Shouldn’t there be something fundamentally unattractive about a person who finds themselves so attractive? Apparently not.

Emanuel Jauk of Austria’s University of Graz published a study in 2016 in the European Journal of Personality that confirmed our worst fears (and narcissists’ fondest desires):


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People find narcissists more attractive than non-narcissists — at least when it comes to dating.

Jauk set up a study involving 90 people who participated in a series of speed-dating meet-ups. (Speed dating, though lame, acts as a good showcase to gather people’s immediate reactions to potential dating partners.)


Every participant was evaluated to determine their level of personal narcissism. They were also shown pictures of the other speed-dating participants and asked to rank their physical attractiveness. Jauk’s subjects then went through several rounds of speed dating (resulting in almost 700 “dates”) and were asked to rate the people they interacted with.

They were asked to say whether they wanted to interact with each person in a short-term relationship — wonderfully described by the researchers as “arranging meetings purely for intimacy on an ad hoc basis” — or a long-term relationship (a.k.a. let’s go to Ikea together and buy some bookshelves).

The results were very interesting. They clearly showed that, in dating situations, people love narcissists.

There were definite correlations between the people that men and women selected for short- and long-term relationships and their levels of narcissism. To quote a Guardian summary of the study, “Those with the highest scores on the narcissism scale also tended to be perceived as most desirable by members of the opposite sex.”


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While these results might be frustrating for all you non-narcissists out there looking for short- or long-term hook-ups, when you think about it, they shouldn’t be all that surprising.

There are definitely some factors about narcissists that will logically make them thrive in a dating environment.

For starters, narcissists care what they look like. Like a lot. Like way too much. And, while that might be annoying in the long-term (particularly if you have to share a bathroom with them), when it comes to dating, physical appearance does play a huge role in how we select a partner.


We live in a culture of very, very quick first impressions, where your decision to be intimate with someone can be determined by whether or not you found their Tinder picture to be “swipeable.” So, if narcissists (due to their personal craziness) spend all day trying to make themselves look amazing, yes, that probably will favorably work in their favor when they’re out on the town, looking to hook up. It plays to their strengths.

Narcissists are also, by definition, kind of desperate for self-love. They need you to love them as much as they love themselves. And all that self-love means that they have a ton of experience selling themselves.

Every day, they look into a mirror and tell themselves that they are awesome. With all that practice, they’re going to get pretty good at it, which gives them a big sales advantage when it comes to pitching themselves to you. They know all their best angles. They thrive when it comes to presentation. They know how to make people love them.

Does confidence also play a factor? Sure. People who are confident — and people who are smoking hot — have a big advantage when it comes to dating. But Jauk’s study is interesting because it shows that, in dating situations, confidence and physical attractiveness are only smaller factors in the larger narcissist game.


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The big reason it seems like narcissists thrive at dating is that all of the relative “symptoms” of narcissism — attention to physical appearance, flattery, extroversion — make it look like they’re making an effort to their potential partners.

Narcissists get dates because it looks like they’re trying.

This is something to keep in mind the next time you’re struggling to find someone special. Maybe you don’t have to transform yourself into a self-obsessed person just to go home with the hot guy or girl at the bar. Maybe the key is just putting some effort into your appearance, your attitude, and your overall game.


Because, c’mon, people — we can’t let those smug jerks get all the good dates. Let’s take the best parts of self-love, try our hardest, and make things more difficult for the narcissists at Last Call, okay?

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

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Tom Burns has served as a contributing editor for 8BitDad and The Good Men Project, and his writing has been featured on Babble, Brightly, Mom.me, Time Magazine, and various other sites.