A narcissist is a person with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, who lacks empathy and craves admiration and validation from others. Narcissistic behaviors can span a wide spectrum and reach an extreme in the form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), affecting around 6.2% of the adult population in the United States. Those with NPD display various negative behaviors including entitlement, the exploitation of others, lack of boundaries, and superficially prioritizing their appearance and achievements.
These individuals are preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, or attractiveness, and may become angry or defensive when their superiority is challenged. The effects of NPD can interfere with maintaining healthy relationships, interfering with interpersonal connections and working collaboratively with others. Psychotherapy is typically the treatment for NPD, involving the development of self-awareness and empathy, and learning strategies to manage behaviors and improve responses to challenges. Recovery from NPD requires significant effort and commitment from the individual seeking treatment.
Can a Narcissist Fall in Love?
Yes, a narcissist can fall in love, but the nature of their love may be different than that of a non-narcissistic individual. Narcissists may fall in love with someone who they believe will enhance their own image or status, or who can provide them with the attention, admiration, and validation they crave. In some cases, this love may be more about what the other person can do for them rather than a genuine, selfless connection.
A narcissist’s ability to truly love and connect with another person may be limited by their lack of empathy and preoccupation with their own needs and desires. While it is possible for a narcissist to experience feelings that they may perceive as love, it may not be a healthy, sustainable relationship based on mutual respect and empathy.
6 Reasons A Narcissist Can’t Stay In Love
Narcissists may struggle to stay in love due to their lack of empathy, difficulty forming meaningful connections, and tendency to prioritize their own needs and desires. Some of the underlying reasons why narcissists may struggle with staying in love include:
An inflated sense of self-importance
Narcissists may have difficulty staying in love due to their inflated sense of self-importance. Individuals with narcissistic traits may view themselves as superior to others and believe that they are entitled to special privileges or recognition. This preoccupation with their own achievements and self-image can make it difficult for narcissists to form healthy relationships based on mutual respect and empathy. In romantic relationships, narcissists may struggle to see their partner as an equal or to acknowledge their own flaws or areas of weakness.
They may become defensive or aggressive when their sense of superiority is challenged or may feel that they are better off on their own rather than in a relationship that does not fulfill their own desires and needs. Ultimately, the narcissistic tendency towards an inflated sense of self-importance can make it difficult for individuals to form healthy, lasting relationships with others.
A need for admiration and validation from others
This needs for external validation can make it difficult for them to feel satisfied and fulfilled in a romantic relationship. They may find themselves constantly seeking praise and attention from their partner, rather than focusing on building a connection based on mutual respect and support.
This can create a dynamic where the narcissist becomes overly dependent on their partner for validation and may react badly when they feel they are not receiving enough attention or recognition. Ultimately, this need for admiration and validation from others can create a sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction that makes it difficult for the narcissist to sustain a healthy and fulfilling long-term romantic relationship.
Lack of boundaries
Individuals with narcissistic traits may struggle to establish appropriate emotional boundaries in their relationships, which can interfere with their ability to form deep and meaningful connections. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as a tendency to over-share personal information or to insist on knowing everything about their partner’s life while revealing little of their own.
Narcissists may also struggle to respect their partner’s boundaries, such as insisting on constant communication or disregarding their partner’s need for alone time. This can create a dynamic where the narcissist’s partner feels stifled and unable to maintain their own identity within the relationship. Over time, this lack of boundaries can lead to resentment, conflict, and ultimately, the breakdown of the relationship.
Preoccupation with their own success, power, or attractiveness
Narcissists may struggle to stay in love because they have a preoccupation with their own success, power, or attractiveness. Individuals with narcissistic traits may prioritize their own achievements and desires over those of their partner, leading them to become “blind” to the needs and desires of their partner within the relationship. Additionally, their focus on their own success and status can lead to a sense of superiority that makes it difficult to relate to others as equals.
This preoccupation with their own success, power, or attractiveness can make it difficult for the narcissist to form a truly healthy and fulfilling long-term relationship based on mutual respect and support. Instead, their desire for personal accomplishment and recognition may prevent them from recognizing the value that their partner brings to the relationship, or give them a sense of entitlement that can ultimately damage the partnership over time.
Tendency to manipulate and exploit others
Narcissists may have trouble staying in love because they have a tendency to manipulate and exploit others. Individuals with narcissistic traits may use tactics such as flattery, coercion, or guilt to control their partners and get their own way, rather than respecting their partner’s autonomy and needs. They may also be quick to shift blame, deny responsibility, or make excuses for bad behavior, all while presenting themselves as victim.
This manipulative behavior can create a sense of insecurity and mistrust within the relationship, as the narcissist’s partner may feel that they are being used or taken advantage of. Over time, these patterns of manipulation and exploitation may erode the emotional foundation of the relationship, making it difficult for the narcissist to sustain love or commitment over the long term
Focus on themselves can make it difficult to truly connect with someone else.
Individuals with narcissistic traits often prioritize their own interests, goals, and desires over those of their partners. They may also be guarded, and unwilling to open up and share their true feelings or thoughts, which can make it challenging for their partner to get close and create a lasting bond. Additionally, the narcissist’s need for admiration and attention may make them seek validation from others instead of receiving it from within the relationship. As a result, it can be difficult for the narcissist to form an intimate connection with another person that extends beyond superficial moments or fleeting encounters.