Do Narcissists Like Other Narcissists – Unravel The Paradox

Do narcissists like other narcissists, or is it a game of volatile power struggles? Explore the psychology of narcissist-narcissist relationships (and their long-term impacts).

Some people always want to be praised, and they don’t really listen or care when others are upset or need help. This is narcissism.

These people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. You might identify a narcissist by these twenty signs.

They have a hard time forming and keeping relationships because they need to control, manipulate, and exploit the other person.

While most narcissists are harmless as long as you keep them at a distance, can these personalities attract each other?

Do Narcissists Really Like Other Narcissists

Do Narcissists Like Other Narcissists?

Yes, narcissists tend to like other narcissists. They often feel drawn to each other since they share similar traits, such as a need for attention and praise, a lack of empathy, and a sense of entitlement. However, there are some potential benefits and drawbacks to being in a relationship with another narcissist.

  • The narcissistic-tolerance theory (Hart and Adams, 2014) suggests that narcissists are more tolerant and fond of their narcissistic peers due to a perceived similarity. This means that they are less likely to be bothered by or envious of other people’s self-promotional behavior.
  • The narcissistic-tolerance hypothesis is based on the idea that narcissists have a high need for attention and admiration. They are constantly seeking out ways to boost their self-esteem, and they often do this by engaging in self-promotion.

1. The Power Dynamics

Narcissists are characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for praise, and a lack of empathy.

Narcissists often feel isolated because people see grandiosity, entitlement, and self-importance as toxic features.

So, they are often drawn to others who mirror their values, beliefs, and interests.

They think being similar means there will be a high level of understanding and connection, helping them become long-term friends or partners.

However, as time progresses, a relationship between two narcissists often becomes a battleground for power, control, and admiration, with both striving to maintain their position of superiority.

You may never see two narcissists get along peacefully with each other for long. Each needs to have the spotlight and be in control, making clashes frequent.

Even when in a romantic relationship, two narcissists struggle to maintain the same level of admiration and adoration that they crave. Their needs are constantly competing, leading to conflict and struggles.

Narcissism is linked to lower levels of commitment in current romantic relationships.

This study found that people who score higher on narcissism are less likely to be committed to their current relationships. They are more likely to think that they could find someone better than their current partner. They also tend to pay more attention to alternative dating partners. This makes them put in less effort to maintain the relationship.

So, while some narcissists may initially be like other narcissists, sustaining a healthy relationship is a low possibility.

2. The Emotional Costs

Narcissists crave emotional validation and constant attention and admiration from others.

Relationships between two narcissists can be highly competitive in terms of giving these to each other.

Their relationship is more often filled with jealousy and drama than peace and love.

Each focuses primarily on their own needs, pushing back emotional intimacy, genuine romantic feelings, and mutual trust. As a result, the mutual need for validation and attention remains a void.

The absence of emotional fulfillment and the destructive nature of their interactions can lead to sizable emotional damage to their psyche in the long run.

These hurt narcissists may stop interacting with others, fearing more harm to their fragile egos.

Or, they may choose non-narcissists and those high on empathy to exploit them with a greater vengeance that may exceed personal gain.

3. The Stressful Volatility

Narcissists often seek out relationships with other narcissists since they feel that a mutual understanding of each other’s traits will reduce friction and dislike.

They are drawn to those who not just just understand but also appreciate their narcissistic behavior, expecting to have fewer power struggles and competition for control.

However, beyond the initial period of peace, there is increased tension and conflict, as both struggle for dominance every time they talk to each other.

When both are talking to a third person, the stress shows up as both compete to draw more attention to themselves.

The narcissist-narcissist relationship is marred by a constant battle for control that often results in an unstable and volatile relationship.

4. The Control Factor

Narcissists approach other narcissists with two assumptions:

  • One is that they are the smarter one among the two narcissists.
  • Two is that they can peacefully adjust to another narcissist, giving them occasional control in the relationship.

We see everyday narcissists in love with the big narcissists who rule over them. Every dictator seems to have a huge fan following.

So, the question, “Do narcissists like other narcissists?” has been answered with a resounding “yes” over the years.

People think that two narcissists can balance the power-play in the relationship.

However, narcissists get annoyed when the mirror that reflects their values, beliefs, and interests also wants them to serve them selflessly.

The competitive need to look successful, charismatic, and confident, bores them out soon.

This control factor becomes even more pronounced when two narcissists date.

They come to hate each other’s need for praise, grandiosity, self-importance, and lack of empathy. Bickerings start as each strives to gain more power, control, and admiration from their mutual relationships.

“Hey, kid, who loves you more, mommy or daddy?”

In essence, narcissist-narcissist relationships often serve as a means to an end, and they can do whatever it takes to maintain their position of superiority.

So their fights are bitter, each resistant to back out of their stand.

Ultimately, their neighbors can better attest to the climate of the relationship between the two narcissists.

5. The Jealousy Angle

Narcissists’ relationships with other narcissists can become a source of envy, jealousy, and drama.

In a narcissist-narcissist coupling, a volatile mix of competition, jealousy, and drama turns the relationship into a breeding ground for toxicity.

When narcissists become jealous of your success

Narcissists lack empathy, meaning they struggle to understand or share the feelings of others. This makes no one soften their stand to understand the other’s pain.

This results in frequent misunderstandings, arguments, and high drama.

The inflated sense of self-importance makes both hell-bent on maintaining they are right and the other as wrong, amplifying their negative aspects

Since both vie for validation and admiration, a complaint both have in these relationships is, “She/He does not even praise the troubles I took for him/her.”

The continuous need to outshine the other and claim the upper hand can create an environment ripe for jealousy and envy.

If one perceives the other as gaining more attention or admiration, it can trigger a power struggle.

Moreover, their relentless pursuit of superiority leads to manipulation and game-playing in the relationship.

This can create a cyclical pattern of drama, as each party continually tries to assert dominance over the other.

6. The Weak Spots

Narcissists are often known to gather other people’s weak spots so they could attack them at places that hurt the most.

As narcissists often guard their own vulnerabilities tightly while seeking to exploit those of others, the knowledge of mutual vulnerabilities can sharply influence the relationship’s dynamics.

Both know that the other’s vulnerability lies in their fragile ego. What remains is collecting the points in each other’s past that will sting them when they are least expecting it.

When both know each other’s vulnerabilities, it can lead to insecurity, defensiveness, and even rage.

Each may go to great lengths to deny or hide their vulnerabilities, even more since they know their partner is an expert in exploiting these vulnerabilities.

So, narcissistic relationships soon escalate in terms of raised voices.

These people are so obsessed with keeping themselves safe from being hurt that their high-tempo voices upset other people to avoid them.

Narcissists are more focused on their own needs and less concerned with their partner’s needs. This makes them more likely to engage in exit, voice, and neglect behaviors in their romantic relationships (Campbell & Foster, 2002).

  • Exit refers to the tendency to withdraw from conflict or to end the relationship altogether.
  • Voice refers to the tendency to express one’s needs and concerns in a direct and assertive way.
  • Neglect refers to the tendency to ignore one’s partner’s needs and concerns.

Moreover, in a narcissist-narcissist relationship, each one’s lack of empathy means they will not respond with understanding or support when faced with the other’s vulnerabilities.

Instead, they may dismiss, ignore, or take advantage of these vulnerabilities, leading to an absence of emotional safety and trust in the relationship.

As the likelihood of manipulation increases and trust diminishes, these relationships seem to end in bitter splits.

[Find out 10 Facts About Narcissistic Love: Can A Narcissist Love?]

7. The Dance of Symbiosis

Symbiosis is a relationship of mutual benefit.

Narcissists tend to have relationships with other narcissists because they start out with the feeling that each will be defended by the other, as both are in traits, opinions, and beliefs.

When two narcissists enter into a relationship, they often form a unique, complex, and volatile symbiotic bond.

It’s a dynamic that can be seen as mutually beneficial while being more destructive for their mutual enemies.

A narcissist-narcissist relationship can be viewed as symbiotic in the sense that both parties understand and mirror each other’s desires for admiration, dominance, and control.

They recognize their shared need for validation and often provide it for each other, at least initially.

They appreciate the grandiosity, charisma, and self-importance reflected in each other. This mutual understanding and validation can lead to a deep connection, where each narcissist feels seen and appreciated for their true self.

The symbiotic element is based on their shared narcissistic traits rather than a genuine emotional connection or mutual respect.

However, this type of relationship can also be highly toxic as both partners may be more interested in teaming up to harm their mutual enemies.

And when all against them have been dealt with, they get to assert their own dominance, threatening the other’s sense of superiority. The relationship can then quickly devolve into conflict and power struggles.

Over time, the symbiotic relationship can become a zero-sum game, where the success or dominance of one narcissist is perceived as a threat by the other, leading to jealousy, resentment, and a cycle of mutual manipulation and retaliation.

Some studies on narcissism:

  1. Watson et al., 1984. Narcissism and Empathy: Validity Evidence for the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.
  2. Bradlee & Emmons, 1992. Locating Narcissism within the Interpersonal Circumplex and the Five-Factor Model.
  3. Bushman & Baumeister, 1998. Threatened Egotism, Narcissism, Self Esteem, and Direct and Displaced Aggression.
  4. Campbell & Baumeister, 2001. Is Loving the Self Necessary for Loving Another? An Examination of Identity and Intimacy.

8. The Long-Term Harms

When two narcissists end a relationship, the aftermath can be particularly destructive and harmful for both.

One of the worst harms that narcissists may face post-breakup is an erosion of self-esteem and a crisis of identity.

Narcissists often derive a large part of their self-worth and identity from the validation, admiration, and dominance in their relationships.

When a relationship ends, especially in a competitive or hostile manner, it can pose a direct threat to their inflated self-image and lead to a deep sense of loss and insecurity.

The breakup of a narcissist-narcissist relationship can also lead to a lot of psychological distress and repercussions.

The intense power struggles, competition, and emotional manipulation common in these relationships can cause lingering feelings of anger, betrayal, resentment, and guilt.

These acerbic emotions can worsen existing mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, and lead to harmful coping strategies, such as substance abuse or self-harm.

When two narcissists break up, they move away without closure and with memories of many unresolved conflicts.

Since narcissists do not take responsibility for their actions, it is difficult for them to process the end of a relationship, accept their role in the breakup, and achieve closure.

The lack of closure and unresolved conflicts can lead to a long period of bitterness, blame, and a refusal to move on. This can further block their emotional growth and their ability to form healthier relationships in the future.

As they say, “Hurt people hurt people.”

Finally, the end of a narcissist-narcissist relationship can reinforce their toxic patterns of behavior and make them become more harmful in future relationships.

Takeaway: Narcissist-Narcissist Equation

Overall, there are both benefits and drawbacks to a narcissist being in a relationship with another narcissistic person.

Two potential benefits:

  1. Each may feel understood and validated by the other. Both realize that society looks down on narcissists, so being a narcissist is difficult in a normal world.
  2. Both partners can give each other the constant attention and admiration they crave.

Two potential drawbacks:

  1. The relationship may be highly competitive and conflictual, as both partners are constantly vying for attention and control from each other as well as from others (like mutual friends).
  2. The relationship may lack emotional intimacy and trust, as both partners are primarily focused on their own needs. Emotional aloofness and envy complicate things further.

“Narcissists are often fans of other, bigger narcissists. However, staying together in a relationship is often impossible.”

– Dr. Sandip Roy

The term narcissist usually refers to individuals with clinical narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and those with elevated scores of the personality trait of narcissism (NPT).

Final Words

Narcissists rarely do self-reflection, so they do not see the need to mend the wrongs in their behavior.

How to spot a narcissist? There are 20 signs to indicate that a person is narcissistic. Some main ones are a need for excessive admiration, a lack of empathy, and a sense of entitlement.

When two narcissists end their relationship, they are more likely to seek soft targets who are kind and empathetic, and in need of emotional care.

Despite their grandiose sense of self-importance, they can do better in life and society if they seek psychological counseling to manage their challenges in working/cohabiting with others.

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Read more on narcissists:

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Author Bio: Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy. His expertise is in mental well-being, positive psychology, narcissism, and Stoic philosophy.

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