The Two Faces of Narcissism in Romantic Relationships

The German researchers tested the NARC model by conducting an elaborate series of investigations intended to parcel out the effects of the two dimensions of narcissism on relationship quality measures at both the early and later stages of a couple’s history. The crux of their approach rested on the NARQ, a questionnaire measure previously tested by Back et al. (2013) in their study of narcissism’s “bright” (admiration) and “dark” (rivalry) sides. Here are examples of NARQ questions for each dimension:

Admiration dimension:

1. Mostly, I am very adept at dealing with people.

2. Being a very special person gives me a lot of strength.

3. I am great.

Rivalry dimension:

1. Most people are somehow losers.

2. I want my rivals to fail.

3. I can barely stand it if another person is at the center of events.

You might be wondering how anyone could be attracted to a person who endorses the items on the Admiration dimension. However, keep in mind that this is how people respond to a questionnaire; it is not necessarily how the same individuals would behave when they’re trying to win someone over. You might also think that being high in rivalry would condemn you to never being liked by anyone else. However, as shown in the Wurst et al. study, the desire to beat others doesn’t show up right away in new relationships.

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