You must have heard about Narcissus – the young man who was so consumed by his reflection in the water pond that he fell and drowned in it. Did he not have any friends or perhaps a lover to make him realise of the world around him? Can someone be so consumed by the love for themselves that they do not understand how poisonous it can get in the long term?
Narcissists can’t maintain intimate, long-lasting relationships, primarily because they are left with no energy to love anyone else other than themselves. Narcissists and relationships are not a happy combination as you would see in this article.
Narcissistic Relationship Pattern
Table of Contents
Narcissists and relationships are always at a clash. Because narcissists love themselves so much that it is very hard for them to love anyone beyond themselves. Narcissists can get into a relationship but they lack empathy. They are incapable of putting people before themselves in any way, this includes even their children. They manipulate, control, command and abuse their children as well because a narcissistic relationship pattern is about control.
Narcissists fall within the definition of the Dark Triad people. According to Psychology TodayDark Triad People are people who use others to their own advantage and are defined as a set of traits that include:-
the tendency to seek admiration and special treatment (otherwise known as narcissism)
being callous and insensitive (psychopathy) and
manipulating others (Machiavellianism).
So, if we are looking at a narcissistic relationship pattern, it firstly comes with showing of “supposed love”. This an implausible kind of care and attention that is often called love bombing and can seem abnormal. They find out the kind of person you would want to be in a relationship with and start exhibiting those personality traits.
Their next step is emotional manipulation. Here they will gradually try to make you do what they want through subtle psychological manipulation. This mental abuse may be followed by physical abuse and heartfelt apologies later.
This is a narcissistic relationship cycle and it is very hard to break away from this cycle.
So, it all boils down to
Can You Have A Relationship With A Narcissist?
Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a narcissist? Not really. The idea of a healthy relationship is different in the minds of different people. Needless to say, what a healthy relationship is to a narcissist, is the most selfish and controlling relationship to any normal person.
The diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder happens clinically. An article published in Sane says:
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – between 0.5 and 1 per cent of the general population are diagnosed with NPD. 50 to 75% of these are men. The same article also states that:
although people with NPD experience high self-esteem, it is also fragile and insecure. Their self-esteem fluctuates from moment to moment and day to day.
Yet, people with NPD are more likely to state their self-esteem as high rather than low. This suggests that although people with NPD describe themselves in positive terms, their subconscious feelings are not necessarily positive.
According to these statistics, it is very hard for a person to maintain a long-lasting relationship with a narcissist.
While in a relationship, people expect several things from their partners. Majority of successful relationships function on the sacrifice and selflessness of partners. They are successful because partners put the needs of their better half before their own. However, this is close to impossible for a narcissist to do this due to no fault of their own. So, as much as we would like to understand their predicament, we are but human. Our expectations always let us down which is why it is hard to date a narcissist.
So, let us take a look at the why of it all. What is the reason behind their inability to maintain relationships?
Narcissists can’t look beyond themselves and their world revolves around them. Their looks, achievements, importance, ego are always the priority. That’s why the sharing, sacrifice, nurturing that is the fuel for a close relationship is something they can’t offer. No wonder they are incapable of intimate relationships. Narcissists and relationships do not thrive because of the following reasons:
1. A narcissist has no friends
A narcissist usually grows up as a loner. He/she has no friends and even if they do, most of them are superficial, merely acquaintances. Our friendships teach us a lot about building and maintaining relationships.
Sadly, most narcissists, do not befriend many people because they rarely find anyone worth their friendship. It is therefore evident that such people are poor at displaying their emotions. They don’t know what it takes to make relationships work and find it hard to care for others.
2. They have a huge ego
Narcissists are also full of themselves. This leads to numerous ego clashes. In an argument with their lover, they often do not apologise. They are comfortable with living alone should their partner decide to stop talking with them. In such cases, how can one expect to have an intimate relationship? They are unapologetically more in love with themselves. Their ‘I am the best’ mindset sets them on a turbulent ride when it comes to matters of love.
It’s ‘I, me and myself’ for a narcissist. Their ability to empathise is almost nonexistent. They can never put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
In order to connect emotionally with your spouse, it is very important to understand your better half. Unfortunately, narcissists lack this trait.
Lack of empathy is the main reason why narcissists and relationships are at loggerheads. It is precisely, for this reason, that narcissistic relationship abuse also occurs.
5. They have a superiority complex
Narcissists consider themselves a class above the rest. It does not matter if you are their partner. They will still think you aren’t as good as them. Can you imagine having an intimate relationship with a person full of attitude and pride? They can be condescending and snobbish. Due to such traits, their relationships tend to fall apart. However, they remain unaffected. Narcissists are unabashedly arrogant people. Therefore, they never compromise and always consider themselves to be the superior one in the relationship.
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6. Narcissists are hungry for praise
Narcissistic people want to be at the receiving end of all the compliments. They want credit for everything. To fulfil their selfish need to look the best, they might end up hurting their partner’s emotions. This is also why they are rarely ever satisfied.
Their expectations from their partners can sometimes be unrealistic. This puts a lot of stress on their partners. They want to maintain a particular image for themselves in the eyes of the society. Hence, they end up prioritising this “image” above their relationship. They spend their energy on making the relationship fit this idealistic standard. If it doesn’t, it frustrates them to no end.
Loving oneself is essential, but anything in excess can have adverse consequences. As emotional and intelligent beings, we should be in a position to give the same amount of love, respect, care and attention to our partners that we expect from them.
Ajinkya is a hospitality professional living and working in Bangalore for more than 3 years now. He has headed the entire operations of a hotel and also been a program leader and top hotel management colleges in Pune and Bangalore. He lives with his partner for the past 5 years which he calls a marriage and they both are parents to 2 loving dogs \"Hugo\" and \"Chanel\".