What Does a Narcissist Want in a Relationship?

Narcissists are incredibly complex creatures; on the one hand, they can be very self-involved to the point that you think they don’t even see you, and at other times they can be love bombing you so badly that you don’t know how you’ll ever get away from them.

So what does a narcissist want in a relationship with such hot and cold personalities?

The answer is quite simple: themselves. They want someone that makes them feel good at any cost. Sometimes that’ll mean they need mountains of praise and admiration from you.

At other times they want to bask in a fantasy relationship where all the drug-like infatuation they feel at the beginning of a relationship lasts forever. They don’t want a relationship that takes work, which, unfortunately, is all healthy relationships.

10 Traits a Narcissists Wants To See in a Partner

Narcissists are usually searching for a very specific type of partner. They need someone that’s moldable, unquestioning, and open to their manipulations.

They need a person who can make them feel powerful and never leave them, no matter how they treat their partner.


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If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you might be wondering how they chose you – what parts of personality drew them in? Below are some of the classic traits narcissists look for in a romantic partner.

10 Traits a Narcissists Wants To See in a Partner

#1 Loyalty

Most narcissists want someone that they’d describe as loyal. They need to believe you’ll have their back unconditionally. But, unfortunately, loyalty is a one-way street for them, and they want someone that will tolerate an abusive relationship. 

Narcissistic partners rarely feel that they need to show loyalty. Once they’ve extracted everything they can from a relationship, they’re ready to discard you and move on to a new partner.

#2 Someone That Doesn’t Ask Questions

The narcissist’s ego is incredibly fragile and doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny. They don’t like to be asked why they’re acting a certain way and they don’t like to examine their feelings.

Narcissists simply want the freedom to do and say as they wish without suffering too many consequences.

#3 Unstable Self Esteem

Narcissists simultaneously want someone that makes them look good, and someone they can control. A partner with low self-esteem would be easier to manipulate and might not have the high-status qualities they’re searching for.

High self-esteem partners won’t tolerate the narcissist’s ego and are harder to squeeze narcissistic supply from. 

What the narcissist needs is someone with unstable self-esteem, the type of person that looks very put together on the outside, but inside they’re insecure and easily hurt. Narcissists hone on these weaknesses and use them as pressure points to secure more supply when it’s needed.

#4 Guilty Feelings

A certain segment of people always feels guilty, even when things aren’t their fault. They replay situations over and over again, looking at what they may have done wrong to cause the negative outcome. They’re often not responsible for the outcome and have no means to change it.


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Narcissists use that guilt to their advantage, turning every criticism or challenge from their partner into something to feel guilty for. If you call the narcissist out for being cruel or manipulative, they can turn it around and say you never recognize them for all that they do for the relationship.

#5 Empathy

Empathetic people feel like they can experience their partner’s emotions as their own. This makes them better able to understand the people around them and opens them up to manipulation.

Narcissists use emotional displays for control; if they want someone to feel sorry for them they put on a face that indicates sorrow, even if that’s not what they’re truly feeling.

#6 Someone That Feels Responsible For Others

Narcissists appear to have an outsized ego, but it’s incredibly fragile and needs careful nurturing at all times. They need a partner who will reassure them and boost their ego whenever they need a hit of attention.

People who feel an intense responsibility for others will go out of their way to make their partner feel secure, even when their partner is manipulating that sense of responsibility.

#7 High Status

Having the opportunity to raise their own status is of the utmost importance to a narcissist, and a great way to accomplish that is by having a high-status partner.

Obviously, they won’t be interested in a partner that’s of a higher status than them, this would humiliate them.

Someone of similar status is best, and then they can devalue that partner should they ever look like they might overtake the narcissist in status.

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#8 Someone Who’ll Set Aside Their Needs

Narcissistic partners need someone who’ll put them at center stage and ignore their own emotional needs so long as the narcissist wants more supply.

Often, these are people who grew up needing to fix a family situation – divorced parents, younger siblings neglected by the parents, or a relative with substance abuse problems.

These people are compelled to help others, even when it’s detrimental to their own physical or mental health. Narcissists latch onto this, knowing they’ll always be in control so long as their partner wants to fix their broken personality.

#9 Passivity

Narcissists are always looking for situations where they have total control. In a relationship, they need someone that’s pliant, a partner that’s just along for the ride. Narcissists also desire attention and praise for taking charge in the relationship.

#10 Forgiveness

Someone that forgives easily and often is a perfect target for abusers. They need to know that all it takes to get back into their partner’s good graces is a bouquet of flowers and an apology.

Narcissists are unlikely to change their negative behaviors, so they’ll need an exceptionally forgiving partner for the relationship to work.


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How Does a Narcissist Want to Feel in a Relationship?

How Does a Narcissist Want to Feel in a Relationship?

Given how much time and effort go into making a relationship work, it’s hard to believe that a selfish narcissist would want to go through the trouble.

Though they never want a relationship in the first place, they want a chance to feel good about themselves. These are some of the selfish feelings narcissists chase when they’re in a relationship.

Feel Powerful

One of the strongest emotions for narcissism is their sense of power. They are certain that they should make the rules and set the terms of life.

In a relationship, they need to be seen as the dominant force. If you challenge them in any way, you’ve irreversibly harmed their pride and are likely on the road to being discarded.

Feel More Important Than You

Nothing is more bothersome to a narcissist than someone outshining them. This puts them in a complicated situation because they can’t be with someone who makes them look bad, but they can also be without anyone who might take the spotlight away.

Narcissists must find a happy medium for a partner, so they can feel superior to you, without feeling like they’re out of your league.

Feel Noticed

From their perspective, it always feels like the world isn’t recognizing the amazing talent of the narcissist.

Whether it’s their good looks, how they are excelling in their career, or something as simple as how they prepared a meal, there’s never enough praise for the things a narcissist is doing.

Narcissists love when their partner sees what they’re capable of and heaps praise upon them.

Feel Worshiped

Narcissists are brimming with self-love and they need their partner to be feeling that same love towards them.

Not only that, they need that partner to express that love to the fullest whenever they’re around, and especially when anyone else is around. Narcissists want others to see that their partner worships the ground they walk on.

Feel In Control

One of the defining features of narcissism is a desire to feel like you’re in control, at every moment.

It’s that ego fragility that makes narcissists so dangerous to be around; they can snap at any moment when they feel threatened.

As such, narcissists are much more comfortable (and easier to be around) if they feel like they’re in control. They’re also happier when they’re in a relationship with someone they can control.


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FAQ: What a Narcissist Wants in a Relationship

As with any relationship, a narcissist’s love isn’t just one thing. It takes many forms, but all of them are in service to the narcissist’s ego.

Being in love is just a way of saying that they are being provided with a steady narcissistic supply for a narcissist. These are some of the most common questions that pop up in narcissistic relationships.

What Does a Narcissist Do in a Relationship?

They want the power to get what they need. It’s difficult for narcissists to regulate their feelings independently, so they look to outside sources to do it.

That regulation often comes from their romantic partner, and the narcissist expects their partner to fill the hole in their ego whenever they’re feeling a little insecure. 

 To ensure a steady source of supply, narcissists in relationships seek power and then wield mercilessly. They want to control and they get it by demeaning their partner until that person’s self-esteem is just as fragile as their own.

What Do Narcissists Want From You?

A narcissist wants you to fill in all the little cracks in their ego. They want you to recognize all of their good qualities and ignore the unsavory ones.

They want you to make them look better whenever you’re together. They want you to get out of the way when they go looking for a new source of supply.

Most of all, they don’t want you to have any feelings that might overshadow their own. In their world, they’re the only person that matters.


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What Do Narcissists Do at the End of a Relationship?

The one thing you can always count on in a relationship with a narcissist is that it is going to end. What that ending looks like and how long it lasts is an open question, but a narcissist will always tire of their supply source at some time or another.

Most narcissistic relationships end not with a bang, but with a whimper. For weeks or months before a narcissist ends a relationship, they’ll be devaluing you.

They want you to know how little you’ve come to mean to them and they need to convince themselves that you’re not worth sticking around for. Usually, this stage involves insults and emotional manipulation. 

Following a devaluation period, the narcissist will discard their partner – cut ties and move on. This typically means they’ve found a new source of supply and no longer need their partner. Unfortunately, they may call upon their old partner at a later time when their new supply source fails.

How Do You Tell If a Narcissist Loves You?

They don’t. Regardless of what they tell you, the narcissist does not love you in the usual sense of the word.

When the relationship is getting going, they might profess their undying love for you and say you complete them as a person. This is a fleeting feeling though.

They love how you make them feel, and you can’t keep that feeling going forever. Narcissists always get bored of their supply source; the novelty of a new partner is simply too intoxicating to pass up. 

In a Relationship With a Narcissistic Personality?

Dating or marrying a narcissist is almost always a losing proposition for the partner.

The narcissist will never concern themself with your needs and any love directed towards you will be in the service of getting the narcissist what they need.

Unless they can overcome the personality disorder, the narcissist will only ever care about themself.

Your best option is to leave the relationship, or if you’ve been discarded, cut off contact with the narcissist so they never come back to you.


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Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

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