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Why Narcissists Are the Black Holes of Humanity

Narcissism is what contributes the darkness to the Dark Triad.

Key points

  • Narcissists are like black holes in that they suck the life, light, and energy out of you.
  • Narcissists suck out of others what they lack in themselves: self-satisfaction, confidence, self-esteem, authenticity, and life contentment.
  • Though it's impossible to resist the pull of a black hole, we can learn to get better at resisting the heavy pull of the narcissist.
XMM-Newton, ESA, NASA (wikicommons; public domain)
An artist's impression of a black hole accretion disk.
Source: XMM-Newton, ESA, NASA (wikicommons; public domain)

One of Kurt Vonnegut's characteristically quirky contributions to the understanding of human nature comes from his novel Slapstick and is the idea that gravity is heavier on some days than on others. It can certainly feel this way when we're exhausted or hungover or find ourselves in regular interaction with a narcissist.

Narcissists are extremely heavy to be around and not in the hip 1970s kind of "heavy": They drag you down, deplete your energy, and leave you feeling exhausted and empty. That's because they figuratively suck the life and light out of those around them, much like black holes in outer space.

A narcissist is a pit of misery.

I knew someone in college who I not-so-affectionately nicknamed a "pit of misery." I didn't advertise this nickname, it just naturally suggested itself to me whenever he was around. He was, in a nutshell, miserable: whiny, self-absorbed, huge complainer, always disgruntled. Trying to be a friend, I'd hear him out, try to be empathic, offer solutions to his endless "problems" but would always come away feeling exhausted, depleted, and just yucky.

People with positive energy, by contrast, have the opposite effect on you: These people make you feel energized, alive, and inspired. You can be yourself with them. You feel good after interacting with them. These are the people who, even when they're down, tend to see a bright side, a silver lining.

When we're young, we're subjected to all sorts of personalities, both nurturing and abusive, and it takes a while (sometimes years, sometimes forever) to become more discerning of who we spend our time with and how much or how little we let them affect how we feel. Case in point: This person contacted me through social media about a year ago saying he'd be in my area and could we meet up. I didn't respond. I don't want to feel that energy again. I've gotten better at cutting off toxic people as I've gotten older and wiser.

Narcissists are like black holes.

Black holes in outer space comprise absolute darkness. Their gravity is so strong that nothing escapes their pull, not even light. Their gravitational pull sucks in any matter that comes close enough. Sound familiar? To be blunt, narcissists also suck—your energy, your light, your hopes and your dreams, sometimes your money—and they try very hard to suck your self-esteem and self-confidence, all because these are things they themselves do not have.

A lot has been written about how narcissists come to be (I highly recommend Dr. Ramani Durvasula's YouTube series on naricissim) but it suffices to say that they are stunted people; chronologically, they're adults, but they stopped developing sometime in childhood, and if you understand them in this way, as children, it is easier to understand their needy, self-centered, and reactionary behavior. They act like petulant toddlers throwing temper tantrums when things don't go their way.

Just like children, they lack the self-confidence and self-esteem, and really just selfhood, that healthy adults have developed over time. Narcissists feel on a very fundamental level that they do not measure up to others around them and are thus perpetually ashamed of who they are, which manifests in hateful, jealous, and manipulative behavior. Like a drug addict in need of a fix to feel "normal," the narcissist projects onto others (with insults and disgusting behavior) what they cannot accept in themselves. They get little hits of "power" or energy by zapping it from others.

Don't get sucked in.

One qualifying difference between narcissists and black holes is that if you're floating in outer space and a black hole happens to cross your path, sayonara, you're toast. Matter cannot physically resist the gravitational pull of a black hole. Not so with narcissists, however, and thank goodness for that.

If you get good at identifying the narcissists in your orbit (see "How to Detect the Narcissists in Your Life" ), you'll have a better chance of avoiding them or at least knowing what you're dealing with if you can't avoid them (say, if they're your next-door neighbor or your boss). You won't get sucked in. You'll know that their misery is theirs to keep and to endure; it's not yours, even if they try to make it yours. Resist the pull of that darkness and focus on the bright stars in your life instead.


Dr. Ramani's YouTube series on Narcissism.

Batel Skater's YouTube on The Narcissistic Black Hole.

Grateful Dead's YouTube "Lovelight" May 7, 1972

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