If you are a heterosexual woman, it is safe to say you’ve been attracted to a narcissist or psychopath at least once in your life before. May it be in the form of a real-life person in the flesh or someone fictional.
Also, I am sure you very well know at least one woman (or you are that women yourself) who has lamented about the fact she’s an “empath” who “fell victim to a narcissist”, meaning she’s been in an (physically and/or emotionally) abusive relationship with a narcissist before. Now, whether the guy actually had the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is irrelevant; he was certainly at least more narcissistic (and abusive) than the “average” person. Those women usually report they’ve been with their ex for several years, and one asks themselves: How and why? Of course, there is a manipulation tactic called “Gaslighting“, which can keep people trapped in an abusive relationship; but this is not the entire story.
There must be a special draw and attraction to narcissism or psychopathy, otherwise women wouldn’t have gotten in those relationships in the first place.
Personally, I have never been in a relationship with a narcissist or psychopath before. However, years ago I heavily indulged in my attraction to psychopathy – on an intellectual level. I researched the issue as much as I could online, back then. I had this strong fascination for it. But I treated psychopathy like fiction; I didn’t really feel any special kind of attraction to “real” psychopaths, only to fictional ones like the Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Patrick Bateman, Sweeney Todd. I arrived at the conclusion that me not being attracted to “real life” psychopaths is most likely an unconscious mental blockage (and also a healthy self-protective mechanism, which some women seem to greatly lack).
Again, it is quite apparent that on some level, all women are attracted to Dark Triad traits, in one way or another; even those who won’t (consciously) seek out a relationship with a man who possesses those traits.
Why? It is quite simple.
Narcissism and Psychopathy are both the extremes of two universally attractive traits to women: Confidence and Assertiveness/Dominance.
That means that unfortunately, a guy who is a narcissist or psychopath will be more attractive to a woman than any guy who lacks in confidence and assertiveness, on a primarily (often unconscious) sexual level. Or in other words, when it comes to (especially sexual) attraction it is better if the guy has extremely high levels of confidence and assertiveness rather than extremely low ones.
That doesn’t mean women consciously value or want Dark Triad traits in their long-term partner(s), though. And that is the point where unconscious desire and conscious liking divert from each other, and can lead to contradictory attitudes.
It seems as if the whole BDSM “fetishization” in the recent years (aka Fifty Shades) is a manifestation of those unconscious desires finding an outlet, in a culture that looks down on overt masculinity and aggression, in the safety of fictional entertainment.
Christian Grey is essentially a psychopathic narcissist, or a narcissistic psychopath.
BDSM as a whole is very much influenced by (fictionalized or staged) Dark Triad dynamics. The Dom (usually a male) assumes a position that is very much a mix of a Narcissist and Psychopath – he demands his Sub to value him highly and hold him in high regard and follow all his orders, and if the Sub doesn’t comply they’ll get “punished” or “tortured”. Sadism/Masochism in particular is a play of fictional Psychopathy; the Sadist gets into a psychopathic mindset where the pain of someone else is arousing. The Sub and/or Masochist is aroused by those scenarios or experiences mainly because they are physical manifestations of (fake and/or staged) Dark Triad Traits.
It is no coincidence that Christian Grey is a male Dom, and Anna Steele a female (but reluctant; reflecting the conscious reluctance towards Dark Triad traits in society) Sub. BDSM allows a platform to explore Dark Triad traits without the Sub actually experiencing any real psychological or physical harm (when done correctly; in 50 Shades, Grey oversteps his boundaries regularly because he is actually a narcissist and psychopath and doesn’t just “play the part”).
People who criticize Christian Grey as being a narcissist and/or psychopath and therefore look down on “50 Shades” miss the point – the fact he contains those Dark Triad traits is the point. If he didn’t, he’d lose his appealing aura of being a “forbidden Bad Boy”; and that is the ultimate aphrodisiac for women, sad to say. In addition to the Dark Triad traits, Christian is also extremely wealthy and good-looking; those are “bonuses” which make him even more attractive, but the real allure that most women won’t admit to themselves, is his narcissism and/or psychopathy, veiled in the role of a Dom.
There isn’t any real solution to this dilemma of narcissists and psychopaths being attractive against all conscious boundaries; they will always be attractive to women more or less. Many women cannot hold unto their conscious boundaries, they succumb to the siren song of those extremely confident and assertive men. It might help to be aware of those dynamics, what one is attracted to and why; because there is no way to truly eradicate the feeling of being attracted to those traits. I’d go so far as to suggest that the female attraction to Dark Triad traits is as unchangeable as one’s sexual orientation; meaning, pure will won’t make you stop being attracted to narcissism as a woman, nor will it stop your attraction for the same sex if you are homosexual. Or in short: You cannot help what you are attracted to.
Hence there shouldn’t be any shame attached to being attracted to Dark Triad traits; it’s an experience most if not all women on this world more or less share. However, it is crucial each woman cultivates an awareness of this attraction pattern and the manifestation of Dark Triad traits in others – to spot those traits as quickly as possible and avoid them as best as they can.
Entering a BDSM relationship that utilizes those dynamics in a fictional setting (or simply being more “kinky” in the bedroom once in a while) may be beneficial for many women.
That way they can get a taste of the forbidden fruit without being poisoned by it.