Welcome To The Dark Triad

Have a thing for bad boys? They might fall into these categories.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Have a thing for bad boys? They might fall into these categories.

Ever dated a guy you knew was bad for you but couldn’t help falling for his charms anyway? You might call him a bad boy, but there’s a more technical name for the characteristics of guys like that: the Dark Triad.

The Dark Triad refers to three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. While the names are enough to make you instinctively want to steer clear of them, we tend to be drawn to such people. Here’s why...

Hey there, bad boy

Reading all these, you can’t be blamed for wondering why anyone would want to date anyone exhibiting these traits. But at the end of the day, the attraction to a bad boy is pretty evident. Despite these “dark” qualities, it’s normal for guys (or girls) exhibiting these traits to be charming, fun and generally good-looking (hence the narcissism).

Dr. Gregory Carter, who teaches at the York St. John University says that those with Dark Triad traits tend to have “superficial” charm. “[These men] tend to dress well, have a high level of self-adornment and have relatively smooth body language.”

They also tend to get what they want. “Psychopathy is associated with a lack of neuroticism and anxiety, which may facilitate the pursuit of one’s goals through adverse conditions… Similarly, narcissism is associated with aggrandisement, and Machiavellianism is associated with being socially manipulative, both of which may aid in reaping benefits for oneself at the expense of others, especially in initial periods of acquaintance,” says psychologist Peter Jonason. He goes on to suggest that men with Dark Triad traits therefore are more successful with short-term relationships because they come across as more confident and put-together.

Headed for disaster

But while these qualities are attractive at the beginning, you might want to steer clear of those with Dark Triad traits. Such people tend to be reckless and willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want, so it’s quite possible someone with these traits will eventually get in trouble one way or another.

As psychologist Noam

Shpancer puts it in Psychology Today: “People who rate high on Dark Triad characteristics may find career success, but not in the way most of us want our kids to achieve it, and they are likely to finish their careers in some form of disrepute. You probably wouldn’t want one as your boss, friend, or long-term partner.” Ain’t that the truth.

 Images 123RF.com Text Karen Fong
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The mouthful of a term is derived from the 16th century writer Niccolo Machiavelli. His book The Prince was a treatise on how to acquire and maintain political power by any means necessary. Someone described as Machiavellian uses others – whether by manipulating their emotions or telling them what they want to hear – to get what they want.
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Someone’s a narcissist if he loves himself more than others. While they may come across as confident or self-assured at first, narcissists take self-love to unhealthy levels, seeing themselves as being smarter, more attractive and generally superior to others. They like competition and also like to win. They tend to be selfentitled, and don’t take criticism well.
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Psychopaths are generally known to have a basic lack of empathy. They’re unable to care about the feelings of other people and tend to be callous and insensitive. They’re also known to be creative and very skilled liars when it suits them, and can be impulsive, heartless and hostile