Narcissists struggle to have romantic relationships for several reasons; one of them is because they do not know how to resolve conflicts. It is normal for couples to have disagreements, but clinical worker Sharon Thomas states that narcissists believe they can do no wrong. As far as they are concerned, they are perfect and if there are problems, the other person is to blame.
Unfortunately, narcissists do not have the capacity to love their partner in the traditional sense; but as you will read, they do love their partners in their own way. If you have been in a relationship with a narcissist for some time, you will know that at the beginning, they showered you with undivided attention, gifts and compliments. But as time went on, things drastically changed; they withdrew, and in some cases, narcissists can become abusive.
Studies suggest that narcissists only engage in transactional relationships, which means unless they have something to gain, they won’t stay. Whether it’s self-esteem, enthusiasm, or money, a narcissist will ensure they take everything they can and then move on to another relationship. So whether you are falling in love with a narcissist, you are considering getting into a relationship with one, or you are concerned about the wellbeing of a friend or family member, you are interested in knowing the answer to the following question – Can a Narcissist fall in love and will a narcissist ever find true love?
Will a Narcissist Ever Find True Love?
Can a narcissist feel love? Yes, they can, but because they don’t like feeling vulnerable, they self-sabotage to protect themselves. The problem with narcissists is not that they don’t feel love, they don’t know how to show love. When a narcissist decides to separate from their partner, they do so to recover from their wounds; and after a while, they return.
A narcissist typically shows feelings of love at the beginning of a relationship when they are not so vulnerable. This generally takes place during the love bomb stage (which I will discuss shortly). During this phase, their partner usually idealizes them because of how loving they appear. But once the cracks in the relationship start to show, the narcissist begins to feel inadequate and empty in the relationship. These feelings become a boundary to them developing a loving and intimate connection with their partner.
How do Narcissistic Relationships differ from Normal Relationships?
Neuroscientist Rhonda Freeman studies narcissists and has come up with several conclusions regarding how a narcissist experiences love. Narcissists are always chasing stimulation because their brains are hypersensitive to rewards. The object of their desire activates their reward system and feel good hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin and norepinephrine are released in abundance. However, love is more than a feeling.
When the average person stops to consider what love looks like, they will mention things like sensitivity, compassion, commitment, honesty, mutual support and authenticity. Amongst others, these things are experienced when a bond has been established. Freeman goes on to explain that once those initial feelings of infatuation wear off, the person in the relationship with the narcissist is now invested in the union and has formed an attachment.
In a normal relationship, this is when a deeper connection is formed between two people as it becomes apparent that their feelings are more than surface level. However, the narcissist fails to attach at this stage and now starts blaming their partner for their boredom.
In fear of their significant other discovering that they are not perfect, the narcissist will avoid emotional conversations. They go to great lengths to protect their grandiosity, and it hurts them deeply when others don’t treat them as someone of significance. Narcissists do not like to acknowledge their feelings; therefore, they protect themselves by finding ways to humiliate their partner.
It appears that the narcissist is incapable of love because they cover their vulnerabilities by withholding emotional intimacy. They attack or withdraw to deflect pain; narcissist don’t like to hear their partner being compassionate towards them because it makes them feel as if they are being judged. Despite the mask they wear, their inner voice is constantly telling them they are unworthy, and when empathy is extended towards them, it confirms this voice.
What Does it Mean When a Narcissist Says I Love You?
If you are falling in love with a narcissist and asking yourself what does it mean when a narcissist says I love you? The answer lies in their definition of love; a narcissist is capable of feeling love for you, but they are also capable of knowingly and intentionally causing you pain, and to those with a sound mind, this is not love.
The Charming Narcissist
In the early stages of dating, narcissists shower their partners with an outpouring of love. But according to Robert Johnson, this is a part of the transactional process. They are playing a game, and their main objection is to win. The narcissists wants the love and admiration of the person they are pursuing; and to do so, they use manipulation tactics that manifest in the form of promises of commitment, romance, flattery, generosity and expressions of love. This process has been termed ‘love bombing’, and the prospect becomes overwhelmed with the level of attention they are receiving.
It is uncommon to hear about the rewarding aspects of loving a narcissist; narcissists are often extremely charismatic and charming. They have a magnetic pull that draws you to them and they can be incredibly seductive. Narcissists are captivating and magnificent storytellers, they will weave in the history of events, mind blowing statistics and trivia quotes that have the listener sitting on the edge of their seats hanging on their every word.
When a narcissist decides that they want you, they will make you feel like the most precious person on earth. Once you get trapped in their web of splendor, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with a narcissist. People who have been in a relationship with a narcissist state that the highs are heavenly and the lows are hellish.
How long do Narcissistic Relationships last?
In general, a relationship with a narcissist will not last longer than a few years. Nevertheless, when they do decide to marry, it is because they have accepted the positive feelings they have developed towards their partner even if they are based on shared interests and friendship.
But their romantic escapades will dwindle to nothing, and they will go to great lengths to avoid intimacy. The narcissist will often become angry, critical and cold; this is especially true when they are challenged or don’t get their own way. When they do cater to their spouse’s needs, it is because they are looking for something in return.
You will never make a narcissist happy unless you are willing to accept that they are right at all times. If not, they will quickly withdraw their love and you will become a victim of their rage.
Understand the love the Narcissist is Capable to Give
When you stop trying to get the narcissist to love you through your lens; and understand that their perception of love will never be the same as yours, it will become much easier to have a relationship with a narcissist. In response to the question, what does it mean when a narcissist says I love you? In short, it means that you have effectively catered to their needs in a way that has brought them the utmost satisfaction.
Are All Narcissists Abusive in a Relationship?
Narcissism is a term that has become synonymous with abuse; however, the condition is a lot more complex than implied by the prevailing image. Contrary to popular belief, humans in general are narcissists because they think of themselves first. Using the flight attendant example, when you board a plane, before take-off the flight attendant makes an announcement. You are told that if the plane crashes, you should put your facemask on first before helping anyone else.
This is a natural state, as it is impossible to help anyone else when your needs have not been met. Narcissism is closely linked with healthy self-regard and assertiveness. However, when a person suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the individual’s ego becomes so inflated and their sense of entitlement so extreme that it negatively effects their daily life and the people they are surrounded by.
By definition, narcissists do not think about the needs of others and therefore, the potential for abuse is high. They justify their behavior because they see themselves as superior beings. It can be difficult to have a relationship with a narcissist because they do not consider the feelings of others; therefore, some might argue that this opens the door to emotional abuse.
A narcissists behavior can decline into more obvious forms of abuse when certain risk factors are at play. These include problems such as substance abuse and anger, which can erode the judgement and inhibitions that serve to regulate behavior. Financial difficulties are an additional risk factor, since the narcissists self-worth is derived from the false outward image, when their sense of self is threatened, it causes them to lash out.
Therefore, it is more accurate not to label all narcissists as abusive, but to view their condition as existing on a spectrum. At one end, they are extremely toxic, and at the other, just overly self-absorbed. Although a narcissist’s selfishness has the potential to cause problems in a relationship, they are not always abusive.
Can a Narcissist Learn to Love?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders document that narcissists do not experience empathy, they are unwilling to identify or recognize the needs and feelings of others. Studies conclude that there are structural abnormalities in the regions of the brain responsible for emotional empathy. Therefore, their ability to express care and concern on an emotional level is significantly impaired. On the other hand, they are capable of cognitive empathy, which is the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective. But they are only motivated to do so if they are going to get something out of it.
What is Love to the Narcissist?
If you want a narcissist to love you in the traditional sense, this is only possible if they acknowledge their condition and seek professional help. Some narcissists are willing to change, others are not. With the help of a psychologist, narcissists can develop empathy and learn to know who they are on an emotional level. The process involves learning to relinquish their addictive need to feel superior and accept support from others in a mutually emotional, caring and fulfilling way.
Can The Narcissist Change?
According to Psychologist Wendy Behary, three things are required for lasting and significant change to take place in the life of a narcissist:
- Leverage: A narcissist must feel that they are in danger of losing something meaningful before they will make the decision to go into therapy. This is often the threat of losing their status, their job, or their partner. Once a narcissist is willing to expose their vulnerability, they are ready to change.
- A Good Therapist: When it comes to treating narcissism, a good therapist is difficult to find. For treatment to be effective, the therapist must be strong enough not to get drawn in by the narcissists charm, or the type of person who is easily triggered. They should be capable of setting boundaries and sticking to them.
- A Therapeutic Approach: An example of a good therapeutic approach for narcissism is ‘schema therapy.’ The aim is to help narcissists to break free from harmful coping styles and self-defeating patterns that have developed from childhood so that they can reconnect with their core feelings.
Essentially, to cure a narcissist, their brain needs rewiring; this is possible if they are willing to go through the process. But it is only after a narcissist has been cured that they can learn to love their partner in a traditional way.
How Does Love With a Narcissist End?
In response to the question, Can a narcissist fall in love, and will a narcissist ever find true love? The answer is yes; but as discussed, not in the traditional sense. Despite some of the terrible things that narcissists say and do, they are human. They might hide their feelings, but they do have them and much of their behavior is often due to the traumatic pasts they have had.
If you are falling in love with a narcissist, the majority of people will tell you to run. But if you feel strong enough to handle their split personality and their definition of love, and you don’t feel as if you are being abused, you can make the relationship work.
Did you like this article? Please share it with your friends.
References Used for this Article