Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
Can a Narcissist fall in Love? 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 unconditional 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 partners.
Can a Narcissist Fall in Love?
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; narcissists 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 to 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 want 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 Narcissistic 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 you should put your facemask on first before helping anyone else if the plane crashes.
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 affects 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 Narcissistic 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.
Reading Suggestion: 11 Typical Examples of Narcissist text Messages
A narcissist’s 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 judgment and inhibitions that serve to regulate behavior.
Financial difficulties are an additional risk factor since the narcissist’s 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 documents that narcissists lack 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?
Can a Narcissist change their behavior? 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.
So, Can a Narcissist Fall in Love?
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 real love, and you don’t feel as if you are being abused, you can make the relationship work.
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8 thoughts on “Can a Narcissist Fall in Love? Will a Narcissist Ever Find True Love?”
My husband is a Narcissist and we have been married for over 20 years. The last few years have been horrible and just so hard for me. The emotional and mental abuse is devastating, the cycle of abuse continues. I love my husband and have learned the hard way that I can not make this relationship work. The daily name calling and unstable moods are to much. There is no intimacy ever! Its a very cold and loveless marriage. After reading this article and several others and watching videos I have come to realize that he can never love me and to stay in this relationship is very unhealthy mentally and physically. Its very confusing and very sad.
I feel you Kahla! I gat married at 16 years old we been married for 45 years, he was my first and only boyfriend I have no relationship to compare it to! It was a lot of things I did like in are relationships but I guess I managed to make it work, but the last 3 years have been a nightmare is like a different person that don’t know, by reading this article I realized he is definitely a Narcissist he has each and everyone of the characteristics, very,very SAD😢😢
I’m realizing that I am through and through a narcissist. I dont want to be. But for some reason I am. I have always looked for validation in extremely shallow ways. I have always felt like I dont really have anything to offer anyone, so naturally all I have to offer is a rather messed up sense of humor and sex. It really sucks realizing that I dont really have much human emotion or attachment because I always thought that I love extremely hard I never even noticed that it was because I am self centered. I absolutely hate myself for putting my wife through this. She’s always stood by me even after I messed up really bad I never saw flirting or sexting as cheating for some reason even though I know that its wrong. I never did it with the intent of hurting anyone I did it just wanting to hear the positive things about me that I dont hear as often as I used to from my wife. I used to be called her imperfectly perfect man, unfortunately I felt like she only saw me as a failure the last couple of years and I forget all the positive things she has told me and all that sticks to me are the negative judgements and I noticed I dwell on them. I really hope I can learn to be human again
I was a narcissist and I wasn’t aware of my personal disorder until I started studying psychology. Unfortunately, more often than not behind narcissistic disorder is how the narcissist was brought up. My dad was a narcissist, my mum was very cold woman, I never heard of her I love you, or any encouragement, I learned from young age how to be very independent.
But I was very self-centered, I thought I was doing no wrong by cheating, lying, and hurting people, simply because I was just emotionally blind. There was always self pithiness and low self-esteem behind, narcissistic anger, and so on and so forth.
Some people say narcissist cannot love, it’s not truth, I lived in my own way and very deeply, but, once a person did something wrong I would devalue and discard that person very quickly because I though that I was bigger than that. The feelings of emptiness and feeling Of loneliness is just so overwhelming. I love animals so much because I feel their love is pure and they cannot hurt you like humans do.
Please do not be angry at a narcissist, continue to show empathy towards them, their anger and emotional abuse has nothing to do with them, it’s their own way of showing love, because when they were kids, that’s how caregivers were shoving them love by criticizing them and humiliating them.
They find very hard time to say I love you or feel empathy towards others as they are so concerned on themselves. However, haven’t said that you are not obligated to stay With them on the relationship, set your boundaries, but do not fight fire with fire. Deeply inside they are sensitive, loving but badly wounded creatures
I have a business connection with a narc and am falling hard for him. Initially, we fought a lot because I’m a strong independent woman who didn’t like being told what to do even tho’ he tried to come across as protective and caring.
I realize he lacks empathy which is perfect for the business he runs but, means he’s not available for the comfort and support I’d like even as friends, let alone more. We share a lot of interests and values. He has integrity and is sometimes vulnerable and self-aware with me. We have a connection that can run hot/cold but he has never once in the last couple years been mean, angry or dismissive. The same cannot be said about how he treats people under him from what I’ve heard.
I’m considering transitioning our business connection to deeper involvement and really care for this man. He is getting older and possibly ready for change? I want a future w/him but also want to see some positive movement towards healing before committing to it. The work would be a good testing ground for how we relate. He knows that I “get” him on a level few ppl do. He let slip something about our future the other day and then tried to cover for it.
I’m careful not to shower him with too much attn and it seems to work for us. So many questions, so few answers. I’m already too emotionally invested to run away but at least I have my independence and a strong sense of what I’m dealing with. Is there more hope of change with age and self-awareness?
Think again; most are very dangerous people because they are in a constant state of anger. They might even beat you. It’s not about you; it’s about them only. You can’t reason with an unreasonable person. Their personality is part of the dark triad: Physocopath, sociopath, narcissist. All killers are narcissist, but not all narcissists are killers. That element alone is dangerous. You are only a source of supply to their demonic behavior. Godspeed.
Run as fast as you can!
Narcissists may be capable of feeling love, but their understanding and experience of love may differ from that of non-narcissistic individuals. Narcissists often have a distorted sense of self, which can affect how they relate to others and form attachments. They may also struggle with empathy and have difficulty putting themselves in other people’s shoes, which can make it challenging for them to develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
In addition, narcissists may struggle with vulnerability, which is an essential component of love and intimacy. They may fear being rejected or abandoned, which can lead them to avoid emotional intimacy and push others away.
While it is possible for narcissists to find love and have healthy relationships, it often requires a significant amount of self-reflection, therapy, and personal growth. It is important for individuals who are involved with narcissists to set boundaries and prioritize their own well-being, as narcissistic behavior can be harmful and toxic.