Can Narcissists Love? or Is 'Narcissistic Love' really a contradiction in terms?

Can narcissists love? Or is 'narcissistic love' an oxymoron - a silly contradiction in terms? You'll rarely find yourself questioning such basic and obvious human needs such as love. Then again ... it isn't exactly business-as-usual when you find yourself enmeshed in a relationship with a malignant narcissist. 

In previous relationships you may have wondered whether or not your partner still loves you. But to question whether or not a person is capable of love, period? That's another matter entirely!

Can narcissists love? Is a narcissist at all capable of love? Rest assured that within the bizarre space of a 'romantic' relationship with a person with narcissistic personality disorder - these questions aren't only legitimate - they're absolutely essential.

Love At First Bite?

Just like the body needs food - our heart and soul needs love, does it not? It's a dark soul indeed that has given up on all forms of love or has traded it in for something else. Such a state of affairs is damn near incomprehensible to most of us.

The word soulless comes to mind.

Narcissistic personality disorder and romantic relationships are not exactly a match made in heaven. While falling in love with a narcissist may very well start off as a hot and bothered affair - the scorching temperatures of the rest of the relationship will have little to do with the heat of love.

Fire and brimstone is more like it.

Love Is Always Fun At First

People in relationships with narcissists often recount that they were fun to be with - at least at the beginning.

With my narcissistic ex it was the same. In the initial idealization phase she was exceedingly charming, witty and fun to be with. She was quick to laugh - even (or especially) at herself - and seemed to refuse taking anything too seriously.

I thought she must be one of the happiest, lighthearted women I've ever met. I loved that about her. Love is not only fundamental. It is fun-da-mental. The mind, heart and soul sing. It is easy to confuse this state of affairs for the beginning of a genuine, enduring love.

Narcissists Love Turned Sour

Narcissistic relationships aren't founded on love.

Narcissists may be fun at first, but as the relationship turns the inevitable corner, the narcissist becomes anything but fun - providing a stark contrast to the early days.

It isn't that fun has completely disappeared from your relationship.  It's just that the narcissist seems to be having all of it! Your narcissistic partner is finding plenty of reasons to be as happy as can be - while giving you the distinct message that none of their happiness is thanks to you in any way.

In fact, they're having fun and finding joy in spite of you!

So while the fun for you rapidly evaporates, the narcissist's fun has only just begun.

A Narcissist's Love means Getting High On Your Emotional Lows

As time goes on ... your own joy or lack thereof appears to be of little consequence to the narcissist. In fact, you could almost swear that your narcissistic partner is actually getting high on your emotional lows. The lower you go - the higher they seem to rise - their happy-go-lucky attitude soaring on the wings of the confusion and emotional turmoil they deliberately stir up in you.

You are supposed to be their partner in love, yet somehow you find yourself treated as an obstacle, an imposition, a burden - someone to put up with. Forget about love for a minute - you've now barely become tolerable as a human being.

In the meantime ... the narcissist is besides themselves with how they're handling the whole situation. They're self-honored for having the wherewithal to rise above it all - staying upbeat and carefree in the midst of all the turmoil and chaos (caused by them of course)! 

Roll out the red carpet folks ... someone here deserves a medal!

But that can't be right; because that can't be love, right? And what you have with your partner at this point is still supposed to be love. 

A Narcissist's Love - Fixing What Can't Be Fixed

So you keep moving forward, doing your best to extend your lover the benefit of the doubt - although the term 'lover' at this point is probably a misnomer. You put on your best pair of coveralls and work hard to paint the narcissists misplaced reactions and inexplicable twists of mind in the brightest colors you can find.

After all, that's what lovers do right (and who wants a house painted in bizarre shades of black and green anyway...;-))?

Yet your instincts keep telling you something's horribly wrong - something that'll need a little more than a rainbow paint job to fix.

The Black Hole of Affection that's narcissistic love

If the sun were love - then affection would be its rays. Love quite naturally extends affection. Narcissists, however - rather than freely extending their affection - feel the compelling need to receive it, hoard it and/or take it away (this is an important part of their narcissistic supply).

This is not apparent at the beginning of the relationship.

During the idealization phase a malignant narcissist is very generous about showering attention on you. They lavish you with it - in spades. This generosity is short-lived however. In an impossibly short span of time the deep well of their positive regard and affection dries up like a mirage in the Saharan desert.

What appeared to be a replenishing source of deep riches and abundant life has now turned into quick sand - sucking back everything it so 'generously' gave - and then some. The mirage of an 'affectionate sun' has turned into the reality of a black-hole - sucking all positive regard back into itself where it disappears without trace - for none to enjoy it.

So where's the love?

Love, to a narcissist, is a one-way street - flowing to them. Little to nothing is allowed to flow back in return. A narcissist doesn't see 'love' as a mutual affair. You are the giver and they are the taker - 'love' to a narcissist is nothing more than a reliable and secured source of narcissistic supply.

Try to question or in any way 'sabotage' this one-way flow of energy and you'll be treated to a heavy dose of narcissistic rage. After all, it's their narcissistic supply (their life-line) you're messing with. To their mind, you'd be threatening their life. How dare you!

How Can Narcissists Love yet Detach So Easily?

Narcissists are notorious for their silent-treatments. Their ability to 'detach' and drop you like a hot potato is callously breathtaking. This ruthless narcissistic trait becomes apparent at the discard stage of relationships with abusive narcissists.

Like a computer that has just been rebooted with new software, they drop you - without second thought or rumination. For all intents and purposes you cease to exist for the narcissist. 

Yes, narcissists move on quickly.

But how can this be? How can this happen?

Real emotional ties are never uprooted in the blink of an eye. We aren't machines, although we like to sometimes pretend that we are. Yet, what if the emotional connection was never there to begin with?

Then detachment comes easily. It is now a non-event which is exactly how the discard stage of a relationship is handled by a narcissist. Not only is there no emotional upheaval, there is no emotion at all.

Whatever you've been through together; whatever trials and tribulations you shared; within the blink of an eye you shudder to realize, that for the narcissist this has all been a true non-event.

Relationship? What relationship? There never was one.

Detect A Heartbeat? Let Me Know!

You may have been reduced to a bumbling emotional mess by the careless antics, spectacular callousness and subtle mental torture so cunningly and ferociously visited upon you. But to the narcissist the ending of the relationship is a non-event. And for non-events no closure is necessary.

This is when you realize that your dear loved one is hopelessly incapable of anything resembling love. The realization that hits you like a ton of bricks isn't that love was lost - it's that love was never there to begin with. 

You may have brought plenty of love to the relationship. But there was never any real love offered in return. Only a shadow of it, a phantom, was presented. A lure - to reel you in.

To a true malignant narcissist, you are there to love (actually serve) them. They feel absolutely no obligation to reciprocate. In fact, they will take great offence to any suggestion that they do. In their twisted world, you are lowly and they are mighty. You are the servant and they are the queen. How dare you talk, act, feel or behave above your station! Who do you think you are, deserving of love and all? Pathetic.

That's a narcissist's idea of love. How pathetic indeed.

Trying to change the narcissist - narcissists must love ...

The emotional roller coaster typical of relationships with abusive narcissists can be so offensive to your sensibilities and way of being that you find yourself railing. You can't accept it. You won't accept it.

Before you know it, you're trying to change the narcissist. You try to make the narcissist feel - you desperately want them to feel. You want to see them come to life to those aspects of human emotion the rest of us take for granted.

Big mistake.

Just because you and I naturally expect feelings to be present doesn't mean that the narcissist has an inkling as to what feelings you're talking about. As incredible as it sounds, the sooner you accept that you can't even relate to (let alone change) the alien emotional landscape of a person with narcissistic personality disorder - the sooner you break free of the emotional hold they have on you.

A narcissist's 'love' is a far cry from anything you or I would even remotely associate with love. To a narcissist, relationships aren't mutually nurturing affairs - not even within family. It isn't a give and take - it's use and abuse - however lovingly attired.

Predatory 'love'

Whether it's a female narcissist or a narcissistic male you're in relationship with - you can count on the relationship turning predatory (if it hasn't already). You'll need to protect yourself and/or those you love.

Trying to appeal to the predator's 'sensibilities' - as you may very well discover for yourself - won't be the sensible thing to do.

Narcissists prey on emotional energy and feed on attention.  Narcissists 'love' you for what you provide - not for who you are. They'll guard their place by your side and keep you around so they can toy with you and take bites out of you when hungry.  As consummate emotional vampires - they'll suck you dry if you let them. Then they'll be merrily off on their way to find another vein to tap into.

Ain't a narcissist's love just grande?

Romantic Relationships Are Unpredictable...

... but not with a narc.

No matter who you are or what your life experience has taught you this far - if you're in a long-term relationship with a pathological narcissist the course of your relationship is clear.

You'll be...

  • Idealized at the beginning.
  • Devalued 'in the middle'.
  • And Discarded in the end.

These are signature stages of relationships with abusive narcissists. They're the sign posts on the path of a narcissist's love. Visit the three stages of a narcissistic relationship for more on these.

You may wonder how relationships with narcissists can be so predictable? How can any relationship be so predictable? After all, love is wild, unpredictable - an unknown quantity. That's what gives love its power, its beauty, its magic is it not? With love anything is possible except a sure thing.

In love we never know how a romantic relationship is going to unfold.

Where is this unpredictability in relationships with narcissists? Everywhere you turn - every account of narcissistic relationships you come across - they're all the same.

The formula of narcissists love is - use and abuse - without exception. Do you seriously think you'll be the one to change them? Do you think you'll be the one to 'break the cycle'?

There are no happy endings in these 'romantic' sagas. Whatever love exists in a relationship with a narcissist - rest assured it is you who brought it there. You are the source of love and that's what you get to carry with you as you and the narcissist go your separate ways.

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