Are you getting to know a narcissistic person and often thinking, “Are they putting on a show of love?”
Loving a narcissist can be frustrating — you keep doubting their love for you.
They may shower you with “I love you’s,” but you keep feeling something is off. And you often wonder, “Can narcissists love truly?”
Get answers to all your big questions on a narcissistic love relationship.
Can Narcissists Love?
Yes, narcissists can love, but it is more of a show of affection that is based on conditions rather than true love. Their love is a transactional event that they use to get validation, praise, and servitude. Narcissistic love is pretentious, egocentric, dominating, manipulative, and possessive.
True love is built on respect, generosity, and concern, but a narcissist’s self-love is bigger than their interpersonal love.
For someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a romance is often an elaborate show of kind and caring gestures to secure the person as their narcissistic supply.
“A narcissist in a relationship will change the rules and expectations constantly, making it impossible for you to keep up.”
7 Reasons Why Narcissists Can’t Truly Love
Here is why a love relationship with a narcissist cannot love you truly:
1. A narcissist’s love is one-directional.
Narcissists crave love, but their love is one-directional, flowing only to them.
That means, while your love is for them, their love towards you is also ultimately for them.
Their show of love is to get your love in return. Unlike a “give more than take” kind of love, theirs is a “take and only take” kind.
2. Their love is transactional love.
Narcissists expect you to put their needs first.
They will give you love as long as you give them their validation. It’s difficult to romance them since they constantly belittle you for “disrespecting” them.
3. They crave to boost their self-esteem (ego).
Narcissists use their “love” as a tool to bind you in the relationship and boost their ego.
Their exaggerated self-importance and emotional shallowness prevent them from making the genuine connections vital for a good and long-lasting relationship.
4. Narcissists lack empathy and compassion.
Narcissists struggle to understand other people’s feelings and emotions. Their typical reaction to a friend’s success is that of jealousy and envy.
Since they are unable to feel the pains of others, it is difficult for them to build empathy-based bonds.
5. Narcissists are attention-hungry people.
Narcissists put their own egos above their partner’s well-being. And it’s more than being self-absorbed.
Their desperate craving for attention, admiration, and validation causes them to disregard their partner’s needs and problems.
6. They are always trying to manipulate you.
Narcissists use love bombing to lure you into a relationship by pretending to be in love with you.
They can weave unrealistic capers and envious accomplishments to trap you.
Then they manipulate and gaslight you to control and dominate you, making it challenging to form a healthy and equal partnership.
7. Emotional intimacy is hard for narcissists.
Narcissists wear masks and crave deep emotional connections, but fear showing their vulnerable side, resulting in only surface-level relationships devoid of emotional intimacy.
10 Facts About Narcissistic Love
- Can narcissists love their children? A narcissistic parent may love their children, but this love is often conditional and based on the child meeting the narcissist’s expectations.
- Can narcissists love animals? Narcissists may show affection towards animals, but it is typically conditional and self-serving. They are quite capable of harming pets.
- Can narcissists love another narcissist? Some narcissists may form relationships with other narcissists, but it’s likely to be a volatile and competitive dynamic.
- Can a narcissist fall in love permanently? Narcissists usually cannot love you for long since they understand love as a superficial and conditional (give-and-take) interaction.
- When does a narcissist know you love him? A narcissist knows that you love them when they feel they can manipulate and control you into providing them with the admiration and attention they crave.
- How do you tell if a narcissist loves you? Narcissists usually show their love by showering you with attention and gifts, idealizing you, and mirroring your interests and behaviors.
- Can narcissists love their parents? Narcissists may have a complex relationship with their parents, either idolizing or resenting them.
- Do narcissists love their mothers? Narcissists often have a complicated relationship with their mothers, either putting them on a pedestal or feeling intense resentment towards them.
- Can a narcissist ever have a relationship that is healthy? A narcissist can have a successful relationship if they work hard, go to therapy, and get social support to learn the skills for a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
- Can narcissists be cured? No, unless the narcissist is in therapy, they cannot behave like normal people. Your best bet is to avoid getting into a destructive relationship with this haughty self-centered person.
12 Signs That You Are Falling For A Narcissist
Narcissists lure you in with charm and charisma but then devolve into their trademark narcissistic abuse cycle.
Here are twelve signs that you are falling for a narcissist:
- They are incredibly well-behaved in the early stages of romance and go to great lengths to impress you.
- They mimic your positive behaviors and expressions to manipulate you into believing they are likable.
- They have a lot of confidence in their abilities and love to be praised, often showering you with attention and gifts to earn your admiration.
- They do not take criticism or negative feedback well and may give a blank look when corrected.
- They, especially the grandiose ones, are egocentric, arrogant, aggressive, and exploitative, showing contempt for those they perceive as socially inferior. They often yell at others and can be harmful to your pets.
- They do not have many long-term friends, as people tend to avoid them. Narcissists are known to use manipulation and exploitation of others to achieve their goals.
- They have a sense of entitlement and expect special treatment from others, including unreasonable levels of respect, love, care, and attention.
- They bolster their fragile self-image with fantasies of success, power, beauty, or ideal love, believing they are special and unique. But deep inside, they suffer the shame of being mediocre and average.
- They crave constant admiration and expect you to praise them every time you talk to them.
- They rarely feel guilt, remorse, or regret after hurting or abusing others.
- They do not trust you entirely and are almost paranoid about signs of betrayal from you, often putting your trustworthiness to the test.
- They make excuses for their weird behaviors, often blaming you for their actions, and even using aggression to get you to agree to their version of events.
What happens when a narcissist falls in love?
How to know when a narcissist is falling for you? How do they show their love?
Warning: A narcissist wants you in their life to secure your love, manipulate you into validating them, and inflate their ego. Look out for red flags like a lack of empathy or a constant need for praise.
Here are some specific love behaviors of a narcissist:
- They try to win you over with grand gestures, intense flattery, and excessive attention.
- They show extreme eagerness to spend time with you and lavish you with expensive gifts.
- They present themselves as wealthy and successful people who can meet all your material needs.
- They often boast about their qualities and achievements and are often given to humble-bragging.
- They do not support you during your difficult times and may belittle your successes and awards.
- They can be very competitive, making you feel bad about yourself if you’re in the same field as them.
- They view you as a means to satisfy their entitlement since their relationships revolve around them.
- You may find it hard to end your relationship with them because they instill a neediness in you that is known as narcissistic codependency.
A narcissist in love can make you think, “He has followed me across three continents to gift me a Gucci and a Rolex. I’d be a fool to turn him down.” With that, you are one step deeper into their world of abuse.
Moreover, it is often painful to choose between staying and leaving them.
It is so because they keep you tied in a trauma bond, which they create through occasional gestures of love in between abusive behavior.
“A narcissist in love is truly amazing, until it isn’t. At some point, they will conflict entirely. You cannot love the way that they love, and they cannot love the way you do.”— PHILLIP JOHNSON, QUORA
Will a narcissist cheat on you?
Yes, narcissists can be dishonest in relationships due to their need for admiration and disregard for their partner’s emotional needs. Their lack of empathy and ego can cause them to get bored with the same narcissistic supply and seek new people to manipulate, often causing pain and hurt feelings.
Can you trust a narcissist in a relationship?
Despite their charm and confidence, narcissists find it difficult to genuinely love others. They cannot maintain emotional intimacy for long, even when they may appear to be committed to the relationship.
Can a narcissist love you unconditionally?
Narcissists don’t love unconditionally, as they view people as objects. They seek validation and use their love as a tool to boost their ego. Their intense love-bombing is superficial and short-lived, and they blame others for relationship failures.
Do narcissists ever love their partners?
Narcissists love their partners for control and ownership, not genuine affection. They need attention and admiration and view their partner as a source to fulfill these needs. Their love is conditional and dependent on their partner meeting their needs. However, positive narcissists may form real connections with others.
Can a narcissist ever find true love?
Narcissists may find true love coming from the other person. Some people can love them despite their selfish nature and may choose to make personal sacrifices despite their constant abuse and narcissistic rage.
Can a narcissist fall in love with you, as an exception?
It is rare that a narcissist can do anything else than appear, claim, and behave like they are in love with you, but it is not true love. They might even believe themselves that they are in love. Their entitled egos will always demand praise and validation from you to keep up their show of affection. Their conditional love for you often lacks the generous spirit of giving, caring, and sacrifice.
Pathological narcissism has 3 hallmark narcissistic traits:
- inflated self-importance,
- a constant need for praise, and
- a lack of empathy.
But most narcissists have cognitive empathy, which helps them read your mind but not feel like helping you.
Can a narcissist fall in love with a high-empathy person? No, not in the way we perceive love, despite those people going all out to meet the narcissist’s needs and demands.
People with high empathy (popularly called empaths) often have a “fatal attraction” to narcissists. The narcissists lure them with their sob stories while they are moved to fix the narc.
Such relationships seem mutually compatible. The narcissist provides security to the insecure empath while the empath boosts the narcissist’s low self-esteem.
Finally, even if you think ta narc has fallen for you, your falling for them is almost always a bad idea. They need psychotherapy instead of a person willing to love them despite their unrealistic attitude to love.
• • •
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.
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