Narcissists can be charming, charismatic, seductive, exciting, and engaging. They can also act entitled, exploitative, arrogant, aggressive, cold, competitive, selfish, obnoxious, cruel, and vindictive. You can fall in love with their charming side and be destroyed by their dark side. It can be baffling, but it all makes sense when you understand what drives them. That awareness protects you from their games, lies, and manipulation.
Narcissists have an impaired or undeveloped self. They think and function differently from other people. The severity of narcissism varies. Some people have more symptoms with greater intensity, while other narcissists have fewer, milder symptoms. The following discussion thus may not apply to all narcissists to the same degree.
Despite having seemingly strong personalities, narcissists are actually vulnerable. Psychotherapists consider them “fragile.” They suffer from profound alienation, emptiness, powerlessness, and lack of meaning. Due to their extreme vulnerability, they crave power and vigilantly control their environment, people around them, and their feelings. Displays of vulnerable feelings, such as fear, shame, or sadness are intolerable signs of weakness both in themselves and others. Their defense system protects them but hurts others, especially when they feel most insecure.