Empathy in a Relationship with a Narcissist

Anyone who has ever been in love with a narcissist or has lived with them has wondered, “Do they really love me? Do they value me?” Such people are torn between their pain and love of a narcissist, between the desires to leave and stay, but they still can’t make the final choice. All this is not easy because today, they enjoy the care and signs of attention from an important person, and tomorrow, this very person behaves indifferently and even cruelly.

Love is a subjective experience. It is difficult for an outside observer to truly comprehend other people’s experiences. Whose point of view is true – the one who gives love or the one who accepts it? Narcissists swear love for children, spouse, parents. For them, this love is very real. But is a narcissist’s love really love?

How do Narcissists love?

Except for the early stages of relationships, most narcissists are motivated by completely non-passionate emotions and experiences. A partner supports their ego and self-esteem with their positive attention and gives sexual satisfaction. Narcissists often look for a partner in people of exceptional beauty, talent, and achievements, who would admire them. The more valuable “prize” they receive, the higher their opinion of themselves.

Charisma, self-confidence, status, and authority of narcissists attract partners to them. Good social skills help them make a good first impression. They are active, energetic, with a well-developed emotional intelligence, which allows them to recognize, express, and control emotions that they successfully use to manipulate people. The easiest of people to attract for them are those with low self-esteem, prone to co-dependence, who will idealize a narcissist, endure their antics, and take care of them.

Some narcissists treat relationships pragmatically, as a way to achieve their own goals. But most of them practice love without obligation. They do not devote themselves to relationships and always consider other options (for example, the opportunity to meet someone online on the side). This is why it is unlikely that a male narcissist would ever be interested in single mom dating, as they will not get all the attention of a woman that has a child. They play a game with a partner and win it. Narcissists are very persuasive and skilled in seduction. Their tools are generosity, gallantry, flattery, sex, romance, and grand promises. At the courtship stage, narcissists are happy to discuss the prospects for the development of a relationship; they can even aggressively impose themselves on their “victim” (extravagantly express sympathy and

quickly reduce the physical and emotional distance in a relationship). But over time, their partner begins to doubt that all this was just a beautiful facade, which hid selfish goals.

Narcissists give priority to power over a partner, not closeness to them. Vulnerability and openness are considered signs of weakness. They try to maintain control over a relationship and avoid criticism in every way possible. This game allows them to simultaneously satisfy their own needs and remain open to polyamory or flirting.

When a narcissist loses interest in their partner, they cannot understand what went wrong. A breakup after the phase of the aggressive expression of sympathy leaves a victim in a state of shock.

Narcissists can sincerely experience positive feelings towards a partner, but nevertheless, it is difficult for them to maintain a relationship in the long term (usually more than six months). If a union has developed into marriage, over time, a narcissist loses interest even in maintaining a beautiful façade of love. As soon as romantic feelings evaporate, they begin to put pressure on the partner’s guilt and become cold, detached, aggressive, and critical, especially when faced with an open confrontation.

After depreciating their partner, a narcissist ceases to feel that the love they receive is worthy of their bloated ego. They begin to seek confirmation of their significance elsewhere. They must look elsewhere to prop up their inflated ego. If the relationship can be maintained, the narcissist can develop parental or pragmatic love for the partner, that is, love-affection or love for the sake of common goals.