Vulnerable Narcissism and Romantic Conflict




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Individuals high in vulnerable narcissism often encounter difficulties in their interpersonal relationships. (Lannin et al., 2014; Zeigler-Hill & Besser, 2013). However, the literature on vulnerable narcissism has rarely investigated how these individuals function in their most important relationship: their romantic relationship. Conflict in this relationship is an especially important situation to study for at least two reasons. First, the ways in which couples manage their conflicts is predictive of long-term relationship success or deterioration (Gottman & Levenson, 1999). Second, individuals high in vulnerable narcissism are more likely to engage in conflict, as compared to individuals low in vulnerable narcissism (Krizan & Herlache, 2017). The current study investigated global relationship satisfaction, conflict presence and behavior, and post-conflict mood and satisfaction using a two-week daily diary with heterosexual romantic couples (N = 215). Results first replicated past research in that individuals high in vulnerable narcissism reported less overall satisfaction with the relationship and more conflicts during the diary period. Second, individuals high in vulnerable narcissism reported less satisfaction, worse moods, and more contemptuous behavior on days with conflict, as compared to individuals lower in vulnerable narcissism. Future research should investigate ways in which individuals high in narcissism can effectively manage their conflicts and the negative emotions associated with it. However, the above effects were not observed for the partners of individuals high in vulnerable narcissism. Specifically, these partners were no more or less satisfied than partners of individuals low in vulnerable narcissism. Further, partners did not perceive that individuals high in vulnerable narcissism were particularly contemptuous. Future research should investigate whether there are any defining characteristics of partners of those high in vulnerable narcissism. Additionally, researchers will benefit from knowledge on how best to measure contemptuous behavior.



Narcissism, Conflict (Psychology), Unmarried couples