Why Do Narcissists Struggle With Intimacy?

The emotional barriers of the narcissist come as no surprise to those who have been victim to neglect in relationships.

Neglect doesn’t have to be physical – it is all ways of connecting with your spouse. Intimacy would mean being vulnerable. A narcissist will not allow that to be seen by anybody.

Narcissists hate intimacy for reasons that will both shock and surprise – but don’t for a second think it’s anything to do with you!

Understanding this will change your understanding of narcissistic behavior forever.

Buckle up – Let’s get to it.

What is Intimacy?

Most people here just come right out and say, “Sex!”

Well, if you thought that, you wouldn’t be wrong. Sex is a form of intimacy, but intimacy doesn’t begin and end there. 

If you’re looking at relationships in general, you’re also going to want to consider intimacy to be:

  1. Emotional intimacy. Think about how you share thoughts, talk about your feelings, and generally try to connect through conversation. This kind of intimacy also allies the exchange of emotional support. Guess what you need for this? Empathy! The very thing a narcissist lacks. 
  1. Physical intimacy. Clearly sex includes this, but you’re also going to want to consider kissing, hugging; anything that involves touch and physical closeness. 
  1. Experience intimacy. What do you share with people? Think about all your shared experiences and building a partnership together through making memories. 

Now think about this:

What of those does the narcissist struggle with?

Answer: All of it!

Unveiling the Narcissist’s Fear of Closeness

It’s going to be a trick and a half to dig out the narcissist’s fear of closeness.

Do you want to unveil them, or will it end up making things worse?

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It’s fair to say you ‘re going to want to peel away the veil for yourself, and not for the narcissist. They’ll only deny they have an issue, and it’ll cause further conflict for you. 

Shallow Connections

The whole idea of avoiding intimacy is to avoid deep relations with anybody. 

Narcissists fear anything other than shallow connections. They love to people at arm’s length, and remain attention-seeking from afar. Sure, they don’t mind a hug, and tey are partial to sex, but none of it really means anything. These brief displays of affection are really to tick boxes and at a push, brag.

Other than that, you can forget it.

The Narcissist: Longing for Connection, Fearing Vulnerability

Deep down, and I truly believe this, narcissists want to know what true intimacy is like. They’ll never admit this, which is why it’s best not asked or spoken about in front of any narcissist (unless you want to witness their rage). 

You’ll notice the narcissist covers up what they really want by overly exuding other emotions. 

Why don’t they just drop their guard and get closer, you might wonder.

The simple answer I can give you is:

It’s not a guard. It’s a real inability.

Narcissists are terrified of being vulnerable for these reasons:

  • Self-perception

The narcissist’s fragile self-esteem is masked over completely by their grandiose and egotistical sense of self. If they were to be vulnerable, this would totally contradict the image they try to push onto others.

  • Perception from others

Narcissists don’t want to be seen as weak or inadequate. It’s a total threat to their desire for admiration.

  • Control
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True vulnerability that comes from being intimate implies a loss of control of some kind. Narcissists will want to avoid that at all costs, and won’t want to give their power away.

  • Manipulation

Would you see vulnerability as an avenue to manipulation? 

No way!

Narcissists won’t undermine themselves by allowing themselves to be intimate. 

  • Fear of dependency

Narcissists hate not being self-sufficient. Letting themselves be vulnerable would mean they may become dependent on others. 

A big no-no!

Narcissists will not be threatened by any of it!

  • Sensitivity to criticism

Narcissists don’t want to invite potential criticism to their lives by being vulnerable. They think there is a big risk of this if they are.


Because they are so sensitive to anything critical thrown their way.

Hard to believe, when they dish it out so generously, right?

The Consequences: Your World

Intimacy is something we all want in some way, shape or form. If you’re in a relationship, intimacy is the difference between being friends and being lovers. 

Over the course of time, the narcissist’s lack of true intimacy will begin to affect you in several ways. 

You’re bound to feel rejected. When you repeatedly put yourself out there and hang your heart on the line only for it to be ignored, neglected or ridiculed – it hurts. 

There’s the possibility that you will look inward and think, “What is it about me that is so unlovable?” Blaming yourself for their lack of ability to be intimate is wrong and damaging to you.

Lack of intimacy is known to cause anxiety and depression symptoms too. The worry of what the rest of your relationship will look like. 

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Wondering why the connection isn’t there. Sad that it isn’t. A lack of intimacy is a real rejection. You truly care about somebody who is refusing to give you the basics of any romantic relationship. 

This is hard, I understand!

Behind Closed Doors

You’ll know the narcissist better than anybody, so behind closed doors you’ll know the problems you face with their lack of intimacy. You’ll be privy to their excuses, or the way they laugh off not hugging you properly.

They’ll kiss you goodbye before work, but they will do it automatically. There won’t be any meaning behind the quick act.

As time passes, the lack of intimacy will work its way through you and leave you wondering what to do next. 

The Lonely Charmer

It’s how I’d describe the narcissist perfectly. They really are the lonely charmer, and they will surround themselves with people yet still, deep down, feel very alone. 

The connections that other people have are what the narcissist views as something they long for, but will instead ridicule them.

Those who hug or show affection will be “soft” or “pathetic.” They’re saying these things because they’re trying to make themselves feel better for not being brave enough to show the same levels of vulnerability. 

That won’t stop them from being able to charm though. They will do so in ways that are comfortable to them.

Don’t expect any of what they say or do to be accompanied by real intimacy or affection.

It is beyond the narcissist’s remit.

LEaving you forever wondering where their heart is, is probably a good reason to question what you really want.

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