• Narcissists are self-absorbed, they believe they’re superior to others, and they can be incredibly hard to handle.
  • A new study reveals another frustrating quality: they aren’t deterred from asking someone out even if the individual is in a relationship.
  • This study conducted four experiments to understand “mate poaching”: the first concluded that narcissists were drawn to short and long-term sexual relationships with people in relationships.
  • The second experiment, however, found that only narcissistic women were persistent in mate poaching.
  • The third experiment said that narcissists were not particularly interested in people in relationships, and the fourth found that they were interested in short-term involvement with people in relationships.
  • The researchers conclude that narcissists are not specifically interested in individuals that are taken, but they are more likely to engage in mate poaching than others.  

Odds are you know a narcissist. In fact, you probably know one pretty well. These are the people who make everything about them: your sister who brags every chance she gets at family dinner, that one friend who makes everything about him, or that coworker who takes all the credit for a group effort. These people are self-obsessive. They’re hard to handle. And they place themselves at the top of the totem pole.

Narcissists and Relationships—New Research Reveals…

What else do we know about narcissists? Well, according to recent research, they don’t care if you’re single or you’re taken—if they’re interested, they’ll probably ask you out regardless. This study, “Are narcissists more attracted to people in relationships than people not in relationships?” says these self-absorbed individuals aren’t specifically seeking out people in relationships, but they aren’t afraid to ask out the unavailable either.

First and Second Experiment: Narcissists “Poach for Mates”

To reach these findings, the team of researchers conducted four different experiments. In the first, they assessed 247 college students from introductory psychology courses using a common 40 question test. Additionally, the study participants filled out two different surveys: a personality survey and another survey designed to measure an individual’s experience with “mate poaching.” Ultimately, narcissism was associated with short and long-term attempts at sexual relationships with people already in relationships. However, the second experiment—which was designed to test the results of the first—found that only narcissistic women reported persistent attempts at mate poaching.

Third Experiment: Not Particularly Interested in the Unavailable

In another experiment, another group of 249 students were asked to sum up the perfect potential partner as one would on popular dating sites. Then, they were shown a picture of an individual who fit that description and were told that they were also interested in the participant. Additionally, some study subjects were told the target was single, while others were told the target was taken. Then, they were asked again about their level of interest in the target. This particular experiment did not yield the same results as the first two: narcissists were not particularly interested in people in relationships.

Fourth Experiment: Interested in Short-Term Involvement

And in the last study, the researchers gathered another 240 subjects and again measured narcissism scores as well as their likelihood to engage in mate poaching. The results proved similar to the very first experiment’s results: they found that narcissists had a greater likelihood of hooking up with the target… but only in the short-term.


In consideration of all of these studies, one pattern emerges: narcissists are more likely to engage in mate poaching than others, but they are not specifically interested in people who are unavailable or already in a relationship.


Brunell, A. B., Robison, J., Deems, N. P., & Okdie, B. M. (2018, March 27). Are narcissists more attracted to people in relationships than to people not in relationships? PLOS. Retrieved March 28, 2018 from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0194106

Ohio State University (2018, March 28). Narcissists Don’t Hunt for Partners Who Are Already Taken, But That Does Not Stop Them. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved March 28, 2018 from http://neurosciencenews.com/narcissist-mating-relationships-8702/