The current study addressed this gap using longitudinal data from a community sample of newlywed couples assessed 6 times over the first four years of marriage. First, we examined partner characteristics associated with higher levels of narcissism to determine the degree to which couples were matched on narcissism and related traits.
Results indicated a small degree of homophily but otherwise no clear pattern of partner characteristics for individuals higher in narcissism. These findings are notable in indicating that the effects of personality characteristics on marital functioning may take some time to manifest themselves, even if they were present from early in the marriage.
By definition, narcissism is characterized by some level of interpersonal dysfunction, including an exaggerated sense of self-importance and antagonistic behaviors American Psychiatric Association, This dysfunction is especially relevant for intimate relationships.
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Whereas the high level of antagonism e. For example, Foster, Shrira, and Campbell showed that the low levels of relationship commitment that characterize narcissistic individuals is linked to overvaluing agentic aspects of relationships e. One critical question relates to whether the individuals whom narcissistic individuals pursue, date, and marry have specific personality profiles. Two competing hypotheses arise from the existing literature. In general, the relationship literature finds evidence for homophily effects, such that similar people tend to become romantically involved e.
Given these findings, along with other work indicating that individuals higher in narcissism value self-oriented qualities e. Alternatively, given the antagonistic behaviors associated with narcissism, the opposite might be true: Only recently have researchers Hookup a player relationships with narcissists and sexual dysfunction empirical data on the psychological characteristics of individuals who have or are currently dating narcissistic individuals and the limited evidence available suggests that there is no clear pattern of partner type.
These studies primarily included dating couples, however, so our ability to draw conclusions about the types of partners that narcissistic individuals actually marry is limited. In addition to the question of whom narcissistic individuals marry, it is unclear if and at what point narcissistic traits give rise to relationship dysfunction. Prior work offers conflicting hypotheses.
These studies have generally investigated two components of analytic models: Accordingly, this view would suggest that traits such as those associated with narcissism will be related to initial levels of marital satisfaction and should predict more negative initial levels i.
Alternatively, there is good reason to believe that, in the case of narcissism, relationship dysfunction may only emerge over time. Paulhus observed that strangers perceive narcissistic individuals positively upon initial meeting, but their perceptions grow negative over time.
Extending this finding to romantic relationships, Campbell theorized that partners of narcissistic individuals are likely to rate their relationship satisfaction especially highly early in their relationship, but are likely to endorse lower satisfaction later in the relationship. This has been called the chocolate cake modelin that chocolate cake is initially enjoyable to eat but would become unpleasant or have unpleasant consequences if consumed in large quantities over time.
There are few costs, or risks, to initially engaging in a relationship for a narcissistic individual.
It may bring benefits such as opportunities for self-enhancement e. However, a long-term relationship is associated with effortful costs for narcissistic individuals e.
Taken together, these perspectives suggest that marital functioning for narcissists and their partners should start high but then worsen significantly more than is typical over time.
Some evidence supports this assertion, but only via cross-sectional data thus far. In dating relationships where some aspects of grandiose narcissism were present in both members of the couple, relationships of a longer duration had lower satisfaction than relationships in earlier stages Lamkin et al.
Our ability to answer these foundational questions about the partners of narcissistic individuals and how their marriages unfold is limited in several ways. First, research about outcomes of narcissism in relationships has been conducted primarily using retrospective or cross-sectional data.
Specifically, given the conditional temporal impact of narcissism, it is important for new studies to include methods of analysis that investigate change in functioning over time i.
Second, few studies have taken a dyadic approach to understanding how narcissism manifests in relationships, as much Hookup a player relationships with narcissists and sexual dysfunction the literature focuses on only one member of the couple. The limited research employing dyadic data has used student samples of dating couples, thereby providing potentially questionable generalizability regarding how narcissism impacts partners in more committed relationships.
Examining subscales from the NPI allows for the possibility that certain aspects of narcissism may promote more positive relationship outcomes, others may not affect relationship outcomes, and others may promote more negative relationship outcomes. In addition, although narcissism is often associated with strategies to enhance self-esteem, there is a distinction between self-esteem and narcissism e.
For this reason, it is helpful for studies to establish that patterns that emerge for narcissism especially for certain subscales are not confounded by relations with self-esteem. Lastly, much of this literature has not distinguished between male and female partners in relationships.
It is widely acknowledged in dyadic research that there are important differences e.
There are also known gender differences in narcissism. Thus, it is important to consider gender when answering questions about narcissism in romantic relationships. The design of the sample has several notable strengths. First, the early years of marriage are an ideal time to study these associations, as marital satisfaction declines on average e. The newlywed years also mark a unique period after couples have already made a serious commitment to one another but before their relationship dynamics have become too well-established, thus allowing for the possibility to predict changes in functioning, not just overall level of functioning.
Second, the sample includes data from both spouses, which provides: Including data from husbands and wives also allows us to consider unique patterns of association based on gender.
Our first aim was to examine partner characteristics associated with narcissism. We hypothesized that some evidence of homophily would be present for narcissism itself.
Conversely, evidence of the victim hypothesis would receive some support if partners of narcissistic individuals were high on traits associated with victimization and psychopathology, such as neuroticism and introversion e. Consistent with the chocolate cake and cost-benefit models outlined by Campbell and colleagues, we hypothesized that narcissism would predict better intercepts i. We tested this against the rival hypothesis from the broader marital literature showing that maladaptive personality characteristics typically predict lower intercepts of marital quality.
In doing so we examined overall narcissism as well as its subscales, and also included self-esteem to ensure that any observed effects were specific to narcissism.
We also examined within-spouse e. Participants were drawn from a larger study of newlywed couples that began in in a Northern Florida community surrounding a major state university.
Couples responding to either solicitation were screened for eligibility in a telephone interview. Inclusion required that this was the first marriage for each partner; the couple had been married less than 6 months; each partner was at least 18 years of age; each partner spoke English and had completed at least 10 years of education to ensure comprehension of the questionnaires ; couples did not have children; and wives were not older than Eligible couples, after providing oral consent, were scheduled for an initial laboratory session.
Couples meeting eligibility requirements were scheduled to attend a 3-hour laboratory session within the first 6 months of marriage. Before the session, participants were mailed a packet of questionnaires to complete at home and bring with them to their appointment, Hookup a player relationships with narcissists and sexual dysfunction with a letter instructing couples to complete all questionnaires independently of one another.
At approximately 6-month intervals subsequent to the initial assessment, couples were recontacted by telephone and again mailed questionnaires, along with postage-paid return envelopes and a letter of instruction reminding partners to complete forms independently.
This procedure was used at all follow-up procedures except at Time 5, which resembled Time 1 in that couples completed questionnaires at home and brought them to the laboratory, where they engaged in a variety of tasks beyond the scope of this study.
Narcissism was assessed at Time 3. Accordingly, we set Time 3 as the initial assessment hereafter Wave 1 in the text and tables and examined marital trajectories from this point forward, thereby providing a total of six assessments of marital satisfaction and marital problems from years 1.
One hundred forty-six couples provided narcissism data and are included in the following analyses. Marital satisfaction was assessed at Waves 1—6 using the Quality of Marriage Index QMI; Norton,a six-item scale asking spouses to report the extent to which they agree or disagree with general statements about their marriage e. Five items ask spouses to respond according to a 7-point scale, whereas one item asks spouses to respond according to a point scale, yielding scores from 6 to Higher scores reflected greater satisfaction.