Narcissists are known for their intense sexual energy and desire to gain closeness through intimacy. As you probably know, they can be highly affectionate and charming when they want to be.
Of course, it’s also well-known that they often physically cheat on their partners or engage in suspicious, flirty touch with others to gain attention. But is touch a way for them to gain closeness? Or is it something far more sinister and manipulative?
Do narcissists like to cuddle? And when they cuddle with you, is it because they genuinely enjoy the closeness, or are their motives far more manipulative?
This article will explore how emotional intimacy intersects with desire for power, control, and attention? It will also dive into how sexual behavior can reveal telling clues about how a person might treat you as their romantic partner. Let’s get to it.
Why Do People Cuddle?
Cuddling usually feels good, but why are we drawn to such closeness?
First, it’s important to understand that humans are wired to crave touch. Growing research on physical affection shows that bonding with another person boosts our physical health. Regular cuddling can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and decrease cortisol.
Cuddling also releases oxytocin (often known as the love or cuddle hormone). We experience oxytocin when we feel bonded to another human. It’s the same hormone released during child labor and lactation, facilitating a strong bond between a newborn and its mother.
When you cuddle with someone you care about, you tend to feel safer and calmer. Couples who cuddle tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction. They also indicate fewer sleep disturbances. Finally, frequent cuddling may even decrease chronic pain symptoms, as research shows that snuggling together yields similar benefits as therapeutic touch.
In other words, we cuddle because it feels good and because we seem to inherently recognize that it supports our mental and physical health.
How Do Men and Women Differ with Cuddling?
Among heterosexual couples, the common cliche is that women want to cuddle and men want to sleep after sex. But is there any truth to this mantra- or is it just a funny schtick in romantic comedies?
As it turns out, the answer is more complicated than a simple cliche. First, biology may play a key role in understanding post-sex behavior. The body releases many neurotransmitters after orgasm, which can induce drowsiness. This effect may be more prominent in men than women.
After sex, men experience increased testosterone levels. In some cases, they fall asleep. But other times, to keep that testosterone “high,” they move onto a concrete task like taking a shower, smoking a cigarette, or grabbing something to eat. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to bask in their surge of oxytocin.
Furthermore, women are often conditioned to believe that sex and intimacy are intertwined. Therefore, the cuddling or pillow talk after sex can feel just as important as the physical pleasure itself.
Even though men may not seem to enjoy cuddling as much, they still benefit from such closeness. While research on the topic is fairly limited, one study examining long-term couples revealed that men who reported frequent kissing or cuddling with their partners were, on average, three times more satisfied with their relationships than men indicating less affection. Interestingly, extra cuddling time didn’t have a significant impact on women.
That said, more physical affection was associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction. This applied for both men and women, and women indicated the sex improved with time.
Do Narcissists like to Be Touched?
Now that you know the virtues of cuddling and touch, how do these rules apply to narcissists? Do they reap the same benefits? And do they share the same motives as others?
It depends on the type of narcissist, your relationship with them, and their current needs at the time. For example, during the love-bombing phase, many narcissists thrive on touch to build a false sense of closeness with their partners. It can certainly seem like they can’t get their hands off you! Other times, they might seem to hate being touched.
Let’s explore different motives for different narcissists.
Somatic Narcissists and Cuddling: Touch Is Validation
Somatic narcissists, in particular, gain their narcissistic supply by flaunting their physical appearance and sexual attractiveness. They are obsessed with how they look, and they expect you to worship their beautiful selves!
Somatic narcissists value their bodies more than anything else. They may spend hours in the gym or thousands of dollars at the plastic surgeon’s office. Some somatic narcissists present as overly cocky. Others are far more insecure and need continuous validation about how good they look.
Being “ugly” is a somatic narcissist’s greatest fear- ugly is synonymous with worthlessness.
As a result, they tend to love being touched (along with praise for how they look). They have an unquenchable thirst for such approval, and they want you to feel like you’re incredibly lucky to have the privilege to be in such close vicinity to their bodies!
Somatic narcissists love when you cuddle them. They want you to lavish them with affection, to show them that their body is the greatest gift in the world! However, don’t expect much in return- again, they’re so focused on how others perceive their bodies that they won’t pay nearly as much attention to you.
Sexual Narcissists and Cuddling: Touch Is Power
Sexual narcissists obtain control by seducing others. Sexual activity gives them a thrill- it makes them feel important and even invincible. Sex is a powerful game, and they want to manipulate the rules to win it whenever they want.
On the surface, it may appear like sexual narcissists love to be touched. Their kissing, cuddling, and other forms of affection can be highly erotic. But touch is just a means to an end, as it’s a funnel that helps them feel empowered and special.
Sexual narcissists are also apt to cheat on their partners. Even if they claim to value monogamy, their narcissistic supply comes from sexual attention. So, if they aren’t physically betraying you, they’re still likely to cross the line by flirting with others.
Cerebral Narcissists: Touch Is Childish/Shallow
Cerebral narcissists require continue validation for their minds or intellect. They seek cognitive challenges, and they gravitate towards dynamics where people will praise them for their wisdom.
In many ways, touch and sex are beneath them- they might judge it as impulsive, weak, or even gross. To make matters worse, a cerebral narcissist might shame you for acting too immature or needy for wanting physical affection. They will also criticize past partners for the same reasons. Furthermore, they will often withhold sex and demean others for being “slutty” or “irresponsible” for having sexual desires.
It should come as no surprise that cerebral narcissists rarely want to cuddle with their partners. To them, sex may be purely mechanical. For example, let’s say they want to have a baby. In this case, they might meticulously track ovulation or other critical variables to determine the optimal times to have sex. There is no emotion behind the act itself.
The cerebral narcissist often demeans cuddling as pointless and juvenile. They would rather spend their time doing something they deem “productive,” regardless of your feelings.
Malignant Narcissists: Touch Is Their Decision
Malignant narcissists can be physically and emotionally abusive in their relationships. They are dangerous and volatile, and being attached to one can have devastating consequences.
Many narcissists can comprehend that their actions harm people. But malignant narcissists are one step further. They thrive knowing that they can seemingly control how you feel or think.
In extreme cases, malignant narcissists will become violent with others, especially if things don’t go their way. They may become explosive when they become angry. In addition, they might also physically or sexually assault you to “show you” who calls the shots.
Malignant narcissists won’t usually cuddle with their partners. Cuddling often feels too soft or vulnerable. They will only use cuddling if they want to apologize for their actions or otherwise gain your approval after hurting your feelings.
Can Narcissists Be Affectionate?
Absolutely. As you probably know, most narcissists are quite affectionate during the love-bombing phase. In fact, they tend to be too loving and overbearing when you first begin dating. Let’s explore the lifespan of narcissistic touch and affection.
The Love-Bombing Phase
At the beginning of the relationship, narcissists often feel consumed by their intense emotions. You seem to be the missing puzzle piece in their life, and they want to thank you with their endless love and adoration. These actions aren’t intentionally manipulative- at that moment, you’re in the honeymoon phase and wrapped up in different hormones.
The love-bombing phase is a dizzying time for new couples. Your partner might compliment you incessantly and go on and on about how much they love you. They want to spend every day together. They talk about how you’re destined for marriage or soulmates and how nobody else can understand them as you do.
Even if things feel like they’re moving fast (and they usually are), the narcissist has a way of seemingly convincing you that everything is going to be all right.
The love-bombing phase can last for several weeks or months. During this time, it may feel like the narcissist can’t get enough of you. In their eyes, you’re perfect. Subsequently, you may feel completely obsessed, and it’s as if they have accepted every part of you.
What Happens After Love-Bombing Ends?
When it comes to long-term relationships, all love-bombing eventually ends. No matter what, narcissists start finding issues with their partners. Because they tend to see the world in extremes, an issue can be anything that disillusions their perfect fantasies of love and connection.
In many cases, the narcissist stops love-bombing once the relationship becomes too comfortable or predictable. For example, maybe you start setting a boundary about wanting to spend more time with friends. Or, perhaps you no longer wish to have sex as frequently.
These boundaries are normal, expected progressions within romantic relationships. However, any of these slight changes may trigger their fragile ego and cause narcissistic rage. The fantasy has changed- you’re no longer flawless and infallible.
This change confuses the narcissist. Now they’re left feeling vulnerable again. They don’t know if all their needs will be met anymore. And so, they cope in the ways they know how: manipulation and control.
Once the narcissistic supply feels threatened (even when you know you haven’t done anything wrong), the narcissist will start gaslighting you. They want you to feel guilty for hurting them or changing without warning. They also desperately want things to return to the way it was- where everything feels perfect all the time.
Affection During Devaluation
Narcissistic rage can cause the narcissist to devalue you. This happens when they start gaslighting you or making you feel unimportant. Devaluing can be tumultuous for partners- one moment, you felt like you were perfect. Now, it’s like you can’t even breathe the right way.
Devaluation also feels chaotic because narcissists turn their tactics on and off when it’s convenient. As a result, you never really know what to expect. One day, they might be extremely upset and refuse to speak to you. The next, they’re asking you why you’re so quiet and withdrawn.
To complicate matters further, many narcissists remain affectionate with their partners in public. At home, for instance, intimacy might be off the table entirely. But around others, they might kiss and hug you freely. They want others to admire your relationship and perceive them as a flawless partner.
Affection to Get What They Want
Narcissists also tend to be affectionate when they think it “matters.”
For example, let’s say you both get into a big fight. You keep going back and forth without any resolution. You get into bed and expect to fall asleep angry. Instead, the narcissist moves closer and starts cuddling and kissing you. Maybe they even initiate sex.
What’s going on here? Is the fight over? Yes…and no. The narcissist is likely feeling rejected and threatened. Instead of working through those feelings, they use affection to try to smooth over the conflict. They want to return to the normal status quo without actually putting in any emotional work.
Unfortunately, engaging with their pattern often reinforces a sense of false hope. For example, you might feel immediate comfort and start believing things could change. You may believe the narcissist is “just stressed” or that your relationship will turn back to the way it was. But just as they know they have “gotten you back,” they return to their usual cruel tactics.
In these cases, narcissists use touch as a selfish tool. Cuddling, for instance, isn’t a genuine expression of love, remorse, or intimacy. Instead, it’s an easy way to get what they wanted- your forgiveness, closeness, or willingness to stay in the toxic relationship.
Affection within an Affair
Narcissists often engage in affairs once they start devaluing their partners.
By this point, the new love interest can sustain their narcissistic supply temporarily. That person seemingly fulfills the needs you cannot meet. And so, they become affectionate all over again- but this time, they reserve it for someone else.
If it all sounds unrealistic, it’s because it is. The narcissist has a delusional sense of what will (and will not) sustain their happiness.
Do Narcissists Kiss Their Partners?
Yes, but the motives are different than when other people kiss their partners.
Kissing has evolutionary roots- it’s a way to detect a potential partner’s sexual vitality and mating behavior. In typical romantic relationships, kisses trigger various hormones like oxytocin and testosterone. Kissing is also socially acceptable- it’s a way to greet people and signal your gratitude for them.
Some narcissists simply tolerate kissing. Their motives are cognitive and calculated. They know kissing- along with other forms of physical affection- builds an emotional connection with another person. This connection helps maintain their
Kissing In Public
Narcissists may use kissing as a way to “show you off” and tell the world they belong to you. If this is the case, the kisses tend to be dramatic and flashy.
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s challenging to detect this behavior. This is because you’re usually distracted by your own enamored feelings! You may feel flattered by their generous displays of affection. This is usually in the same vein as loving all the pictures or statuses they post telling people how much they love you.
But love-bombing, as you know, comes with an expiration date. And once that date arrives, the kissing and affection tend to wane dramatically, at least when it’s just between the two of you. At this point, you’ve reached the devaluing stage, a complicated time where the narcissist suddenly seems to find fault with everything you say or do.
Do Narcissists like to Hold Hands?
Like kissing, it depends. As mentioned, narcissists usually have no problem being affectionate in front of other people. They want to maintain a perfect image in the public eye. In most cases, they want others to perceive them as a wonderful spouse or partner.
The relationship is much different when it’s just the two of you. Affection can be emotionally vulnerable, and this vulnerability repels narcissists. They don’t want to do things unless it serves their needs at the time.
That’s why all affection can vary dramatically. If a narcissist holds your hand, it’s because they’re benefiting from it. That benefit might be a sense of security, validation, power, or control- it all depends on their situation and your relationship.
Do Narcissists Like Sex?
Sex is complicated when it comes to being with a narcissist. During the love-bombing phase, sex is the glue that often bonds the relationship. It may be the backbone of your intimacy, and it’s easy to assume that good sex makes for a good relationship.
Sex helps fill the narcissistic supply and can satisfy many other needs.
Sex, of course, feels good, and in healthy, loving relationships, both partners strive to satisfy each other mutually. Open, honest communication helps each other understand different needs and desires.
But this egalitarian communication doesn’t exist with narcissists. Instead, they often only focus on themselves in the bedroom. They tend to decide the type of sex, frequency, and timing. Once they get what they want, they lose interest in the act altogether.
If they do focus on meeting your needs, they often brag about it incessantly, as if they’re the only ones capable of bringing you such pleasure. They might share intimate details about your sex life with others, even if you ask them not to.
Sex can go hand-in-hand with control. For example, a narcissist might guilt-trip and coerce you into having sex (or certain kinds of sexual acts) even if you’re not in the mood. They might complain about how other partners enjoyed doing X or wanted more Y.
Often, a partner wants to avoid narcissistic rage, so they will give in to the narcissist’s demands. It often feels easier than putting up a fight. Over time, the pattern reinforces itself. The narcissist gets the sex they want. Their partner “bears through it.”
Remember that sexual coercion is a form of abuse. Sexual coercion can be challenging to pinpoint, but some examples of it include:
- Asking for sex repeatedly (and complaining if the partner isn’t in the mood).
- Making comments about ‘blue balls’ or ‘being so horny’ with the intention to induce guilt.
- Encouraging substance use to lower your inhibitions.
- Refusing to use protection.
- Making threats about having sex with other people.
- Insisting that you “owe” them sex for whatever reason.
- Calling you names like a “tease.”
If you feel pressure to have sex with a narcissist, it’s probably due to a form of coercion. Coercion can quickly spiral into sexual assault, and it’s essential that you seek protection and safety if this occurs.
Many narcissists like sex because they like the idea of winning. With this framework, sex is a game, and you are just another player they need to beat.
As they keep winning games, they become more and more competitive (to keep filling their narcissistic supply). This explains why narcissists often cheat on their partners- the chase is more alluring than the “prize.”
Narcissists also like sex because they know it’s associated with a sense of commitment. Because narcissists have such vulnerable egos, they constantly rely on validation from others. Knowing that you’re “tied to them” offers security.
Many narcissists want secure relationships, marriages, or families because it gives them a sense of importance. With this mindset, sex becomes a way to keep their partners entangled with them.
Of course, the commitment is often one-sided. Once they decide they want to be with you, they expect your unconditional loyalty. But it’s entirely optional if they want to stay loyal to you.
Do Narcissists like to Be Alone?
It depends. Of course, narcissists absolutely like having other people around to fulfill their narcissistic supply. However, they can also be very introverted and prefer solitude.
More overt narcissists tend to thrive when they are in the center of attention. They want to flaunt themselves and be adored for it. You know this narcissist when you see them- they take up all the space without any regard. Their energy is everywhere, and they interrupt and belittle others without remorse.
These narcissists struggle with alone time. They tend to be clingy to others. They want to go out and socialize at all hours of the day. Even if they
Covert narcissists can be far more subtle. They may present as more shy and insecure around others. They might need alone time to reflect or engage in their hobbies. At times, they may even crave so much alone time that they become neglectful in the relationship or other responsibilities. If confronted with this selfish behavior, they show little empathy and often become defensive.
Even if narcissists appear to enjoy being alone, they still want attention. They might spend a great deal of time interacting with people online or sharing on social media. Or, they may use the alone time to work on projects intended to gain approval from others (like writing a book or working on a new business idea).
Final Thoughts: Do Narcissists Like to Cuddle?
It’s impossible (and presumptuous) to generalize all narcissistic behavior. Some narcissists like to cuddle. Others don’t. But in nearly all cases, cuddling is just another way to fuel the never-ending narcissistic supply.
Narcissists struggle to be genuinely intimate with their partners. They lack the authentic empathy to understand your desires in the relationship.
Of course, this selfishness and inability to attune to your needs can be frustrating. Like most people, you might long for intimacy and closeness.
With that said, it’s your responsibility to advocate for your own happiness. Your well-being shouldn’t suffer for someone else- you deserve to be with someone who honors and respects you.