A relationship is designed for mutual expression of romantic emotions and feelings and it can easily be observed through concern, attention and care for one’s spouse or partner. But in a situation where one partner is not living up to this expectation, it could be that such a partner is a narcissist.
No one will ever be comfortable having a mixed feeling about whether their spouse or partner truly loves them or not.
In 1945, Erich Fromm, in his work, The Art of Loving, affirmed that love requires the development of knowledge, responsibility, and commitment. When we claim that we love our partner, it is better proven when we love their personality.
What is narcissism?
Narcissism is simply the possession of excessive love for oneself. It is a disorder in which an individual possesses an inflated and exaggerated sense of self-worth or importance over any other person.
The definition of narcissistic love varies. Narcissism could be a situation where a spouse thinks more highly of himself or herself over their partner.
Narcissism is commonly associated more with themale gender. The reason for this is not known but traceable to a combination of inherent genetic factors, as well as environmental factors.
What a narcissist is, is simply a person with a personality disorder and mentality of selfishness, arrogant behavior, excessive desire for admiration, and less consideration for their partner or spouse.
So are narcissists capable of love and can a narcissist be faithful?
To answer this question, we have to first know the characteristics of a narcissist.
Characteristics of a narcissist
Narcissistic tendencies in relationships involve:
The possession of an elevated sense of self-worth.
Overrating of potentials and achievements.
Engrossed with fantasies about personal knowledge, brilliance, beauty, power, and success.
Holding grudges for the long term.
Lack of empathy for others.
High sensitivity to criticism.
Overwhelmed with self-love, self-centeredness, self-obsession, self-adulation, self-regard, etc.
Can a narcissist love? Do narcissists feel love and do they desire to be loved? Deep inside of them, narcissists hope and desire to be loved and cared for, but usually, they feel uncomfortable when the love and care they desire begin to manifest. All they know is self-love; hence, they doubt the authenticity of the love, respect, and attention their partner, spouse, or others may show them.
Hopefully this answers the question, can a narcissist love?
It is important to know however, that a narcissist in love is not a rare sight. Love is beyond self-admiration or appreciation. It is better defined in its expression from one person to another, a spouse to a partner, etc. While love is interpersonal, narcissism is intrapersonal.
Although love is fundamental, beyond love is the practicality of life. Some of these practicalities are; financial differences and personality differences. We must be ready to understand suitability as we focus on love. Love plus practicality is equal to a strong relationship. Love can exist without practicals, but it will be challenging in the long run.
The Challenge for a narcissist
Can a narcissist love?
This is dependent on the person in question and if they are willing to address their character. A narcissist is faced with several challenges concerning love. Some of those challenges that influence narcissistic love patterns are as follows.
Absence of empathy
Narcissistic behavior in relationships involves withholding affection from their partner. It takes the possession of empathy to love. Empathy is the intellectual identification of the thoughts, feelings, or state of another person. But because narcissists are focused on self-love, self-centeredness, etc., they lack the empathy to express love entirely.
A selfish character
Rather than being selfish, selflessness is one of the foundational characteristics of love. True love is defined by how much we are willing to give and not just to receive. A narcissist is mainly focused on himself and will rarely make sacrifices for his partner
High sensitivity to criticism
If you wonder, “Can a narcissist love?” You must understand that narcissists strongly desire admiration and adoration for the satisfaction of their ego. Hence, they are cautious not to be criticized in trying to make an effort to love another person.
Inability to provide companionship
We all need a shoulder to lean on. Love creates an atmosphere for fellowship, where we have someone to rely on during hard times and share our burden without feeling ashamed. Everyone looks forward to a partner who will be there in good times and bad.
However, a narcissist doesn’t focus on the people around him or a partner but rather wants to be the sole focus of attention.
When companionship is established, then communicating or expressing your feelings to your partner becomes easy. Communication is vital. It requires humility to display. A narcissistic partner may not see the need or want to communicate.
Can a narcissist love? Do narcissists love and how to know if a narcissist loves you?
Since narcissists find it difficult to love, there are strategies to deal with people with this personality disorder. The narcissist is likely to be attracted to the following kinds of people, thereby making it possible for them to change in the long run.
Remember, the only constant phenomenon is change.
What does a narcissist want in a relationship? People who know how to massage the narcissist’s ego, thereby making them feel good about themselves. Making them feel good can be achieved through gestures and compliments.
People who will validate their feelings and disregard their weaknesses or flaws. These kinds of people are those who possess the ability to endure the characteristics of a narcissist.
What does a narcissist want? People with high and impressive standards, either in their personality, beauty, talent, status, or career. No matter how narcissists tend to be egoistic, they recognize their hard work and high standing in society.
If you want your relationship with your spouse or partner to progress. Love makes you vulnerable, but the presence of trust assures us that your vulnerability will not be taken for granted by your partner. However, a narcissist finds it hard to be vulnerable around the person they love which can create problems in the relationship.
Narcissists usually come with good social skills and they try to manipulate people by displaying their qualities. They will brag about themselves and win people with their sweet talks and gestures
Narcissists tend to believe in ludic love where they see winning the person as a goal. For them, it’s just about reaching the goal and that is why, they escape commitment.
One of the ways of how narcissists love is by putting power over intimacy. They avoid being vulnerable as this will expose them to failure and their hedonistic goals of keeping their prey under control will be futile.
Even if narcissists develop feelings for their partner, they will find it difficult to keep it for the longer run because of their negative tendencies. So, they try to discard such feelings of anger and being cold.
Can a narcissist love permanently, or when a narcissist says “I love you,” do they mean it? Watch this video to find out!
A relationship is both a choice and putting in the effort to ensure that it works out no matter what. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is challenging because you may not tell what can unveil their narcissistic rage. However, narcissistic tendencies can definitely improve.
People change if you can be patient enough in working things out with them to ensure that the desired change is actualized in the long run. But this kind of work is not for the faint heart. It takes the willingness to be patient, resilient, selfless to deal with a narcissist.
You must continue to build people skills, to manage different people and their different approaches to life. But can a narcissist love? Well, a narcissist in love relationships may be able to love, but it depends on the effort they are willing to put into changing.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.