Online dating is a bit of a hunting ground for narcissists, but perhaps no dating app attracts more narcissists than one focused solely on instant gratification – Tinder. Here are the five types of narcissists you’re likely to encounter on this popular dating app (and of course, off of it too!):
1. The somatic narcissist.
Let’s face it, Tinder is a wee bit superficial (maybe just a little more than a wee bit) and it has a reputation of hosting highly attractive people – including ones obsessed with their own appearance. The somatic narcissist is one of the easiest types of narcissists to spot on this app: he’s the amateur bodybuilder pumping iron and flexing his biceps in a mirror selfie, hoping you won’t notice the fact that he’s dead inside.
He could also be the hunky businessman who always looks just a bit too polished (wait, why are his eyebrows so beautifully groomed and his hair styled better than yours?). Or, she could the gorgeous, vain, married woman looking to have her thrills on the side. Somatic narcissists tend to be obsessed with their sexual performance as well as their physique – you may find them performing in a very theatrical manner in the bedroom or going out of their way to demonstrate their sexual prowess. These types of narcissists are obsessed with physical appearance, sex, power and the intersection among all three. They have no qualms about bedding multiple people – sometimes, at the same time.
2. The cerebral narcissist.
Wait…are we still talking about Tinder? Tinder tinder? Yep. Cerebral narcissists – those who emphasize their minds rather than their bodies to gain attention – exist on this app (and off it) too. The cerebral narcissist is the one who speaks in long monologues about Proust and Foucault. He or she belittles your thoughts and ideas and presents themselves as someone of superior intelligence. Cerebral narcissists are likely to be clutching their pearls or peering down at you behind their monocle every time they speak.
Cerebral narcissists may be highly successful or accomplished in some way – but rather than using this success to better themselves, they use it to self-aggrandize. They believe themselves to be “above” petty human affairs like basic decency, romance, dating and sex, preferring to focus only on matters of the mind (but secretly, they may also harbor a few twisted sexual fantasies – it’s all a projection of their own crap). Cerebral narcissists employ excessive “logic” and “reason” to rationalize their way out of everything, including their own unsavory behavior and absurd beliefs (usually centered on misogyny, nihilism and a general disdain for humanity). While waxing on all things profound and existential, in reality, cerebral narcissists try way too hard to perform their pseudo-intellectualism. Unfortunately, no one in the audience (or their match list) wants to listen.
3. The covert, vulnerable narcissist.
This narcissist seems to be the sensitive, caring type on the onset – but this is just a mask for his or her haughtiness and contempt. Beneath the veneer of seeming friendliness and quiet introversion, the covert narcissist is secretly competing with you and planning ways to put you down. They are hypersensitive and lash out easily when their egos are injured. They have delusions of persecution and are highly accusatory and defensive. They are also very likely to lash out in narcissistic rage if they are rejected or feel slighted in any way.
Covert narcissists also tend to be pathologically envious because they have feelings of inadequacy mixed with an excessive sense of entitlement. As a result, they sneak in subtle digs at your appearance, your career, your hobbies – what have you – just to test and push your boundaries on dates and to gain the psychological upper hand. They may create love triangles to get you to compete for their attention. Mind you, covert narcissists do not have to be attractive or appealing to do this – many of them have perfected this form of “negging” as part of their pick-up artistry because it’s one of the only ways they can gain power over their targets. These types of narcissists rely on mind games, backhanded compliments, hurtful jokes, and hot-and-cold behavior to “court” their victims. They love-bomb you with affection, only to withdraw and compel you to ‘chase’ them. Solution? Never chase after a covert narcissist – just run.
4. The grandiose, malignant narcissist.
This is perhaps the most dangerous narcissist you can meet on a dating app or off of it. The malignant narcissist has a firm belief in his or her superiority. Malignant narcissists ‘get off’ on power rather than pleasure. They enjoy control to the extreme. They are the ones likely to commit physical and/or sexual assault. They are emotionally abusive and highly parasitic, usually targeting multiple victims to gain access to their resources. Their psychopathic tendencies make them dangerous predators and rather sadistic dating partners in general. Stay away from these types of narcissists whether in real life or online – even just one date with them can make you go down a rabbit hole of self-destruction.
5. The garden-variety “narcissist.”
This “narcissist” is lower on the spectrum and does not really meet the criteria for full-fledged narcissism, but sure does meet the criteria for full-on jerk. He or she still may have some splashes of empathy here or there, but it’s not enough to make them a suitable, emotionally available mate. Garden variety narcissistic types are usually players who are just in it for the sex. They are commonly referred to as “f*ckboys” or “f*ckgirls” (these are the clinical terms, of course). They may not be sadistic, but they’re fluent in mixed signals and selfishness. They use people and dispose of them with alarming ease; they are also known to mislead their targets into believing they want more, only to disappear without a trace and boomerang back when they get bored again. Garden-variety narcissistic types are not nearly as dangerous as grandiose ones, but they are also not worth spending your time or swipe on.