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Can Narcissist Truly Love?

Uploaded 11/10/2010, approx. 4 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Narcissists are incapable of truly loving, and yet they experience some feeling, a modicum of emotion, which they insist is love.

So what gives?

Well, narcissists love their spouses or other significant others as long as they continue to reliably provide them with narcissistic supply, in one word, with attention.

Inevitably, narcissists regard others as mere sources, objects, functions, or extensions of themselves. Lagging empathy and emotional maturity, the narcissist's so-called love is pathological.

The precise locus of the pathology depends on the narcissist's stability or instability in different parts of his life.

There are two types of narcissistic love, pathologicalize as it may be.

One type of narcissist loves others as one would get attached to objects. He loves his spouse, for instance, simply because she exists and is available to provide him with narcissistic supply. He loves his children because they are part of his self-image as a successful husband or father. He loves his friends because, and as long as they provide him with narcissistic supply and as long as he can exploit them, as long as they are exploitable and gullible. So these are objects, sources in his life. He doesn't really regard them as three-dimensional human beings with their own needs, preferences, wishes, and priorities.

To him, they are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. They are representations of functions, of his needs, of his priorities, of his wishes.

Such a narcissist reacts with alarm and a rage to any sign of independence and autonomy in his charges. He tries to freeze everyone around him in their allocated positions and assigned roles. His world is rigid and immovable, predictable and static, fully under his control.

Such a narcissist punishes for transgressions against disordained order. He stifles life as a dynamic process of compromising and growing. He renders life instead a mere theater, a tableau vivant, a cult.

The other type of narcissist abhors monotony and constancy, equating them in his mind with death.

He seeks, actually, instability, chaos, upheaval, drama and change, but only when they conform to his plans, designs, and views of the world and especially of himself, only when they conform to his false self.

Thus, such a narcissist does not encourage growth in his nearest and dearest. By monopolizing their lives, he, like the other kind of narcissist, also reduces them to mere objects, props, and the exciting drama of his life.

This second type of narcissist likewise rages any sign of rebellion and disagreement, but as opposed to the first type of narcissist that we describe, he seeks to animate others with his demented energy, grandiose plans, manic and megalomaniacal self-perception.

He is an adrenaline junkie. His world is a whirlwind of comings and goings, reunions and separations, loves and hates, vocations adopted and discarded, schemes erected and dismantled, enemies turned friends and vice versa. His universe is equally a theater, but a more ferocious and chaotic one.

So where is love in all this? Where is a commitment to the loved one's welfare, the discipline, the extension of oneself to incorporate the beloved, the mutual growth?

Well, in the narcissist world, this kind of mature love is nowhere to be seen. The narcissist's love is hate and fear disguised. The narcissist's so-called love is fear of losing control and hatred of the very people is precariously balanced, personality so depends on.

The narcissist is egoistically committed only to his own well-being. To him, the objects of his love are interchangeable, replaceable and therefore by definition inferior to him.

The narcissist idealizes his nearest and dearest and closest not because he is smitten by emotion, not because he loves them, but because he needs to captivate them and to convince himself that they are worthy sources of narcissistic supply. He is aware of their flaws and mediocrity, but he lies to them and to himself about these.

In order to elevate them into high level, high octane, high quality sources of supply.

Once he deems his sources of supply, his nearest, his closest, his dearest, useless, once he deems them useless, he discards and devalues them cold-bloodedly.

The predator, always on the lookout, always on the prowl, he debases the coin of love as he corrupts everything else in himself and around him incessantly and inexorably.

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Giving Narcissist Second Chance

Narcissists do not provide closure in relationships and will stalk, cajole, beg, promise, persuade, and ultimately succeed in doing the impossible to get you back. The narcissist will cast all interactions with you in terms of conflicts or competitions to be won. If you have resumed contact because you are manifestly dependent on the narcissist financially or emotionally, the narcissist will pounce on your frailty and exploit your fragility to the maximum. Ultimately, the narcissist will write the inevitable cycle of idealization and devaluation.


How Narcissist's Victims Deceive Themselves

Narcissists cannot be cured and are a threat to those around them. Victims of narcissists often confuse shame with guilt and attribute remorsefulness to the narcissist when they are actually feeling shame for failing. Narcissists are attracted to vulnerable people who offer them a secure source of narcissistic supply. Healing is dependent on a sense of security in a relationship, but the narcissist is not interested in healing and would rather invest their energy in obtaining narcissistic supply. Narcissists lack empathy and cannot understand others, making them a danger to those around them.


Narcissist's Romantic Jealousy and Possessiveness

Narcissists experience anxiety when they become aware of their possessive and jealous tendencies. Anxiety characterizes all their interactions with the opposite sex, especially in situations where there is a possibility of rejection or abandonment. The narcissist's envy of their female mate is a result of an unconscious conflict, and they exercise their imagination to justify their negative emotions. Narcissists often strike an unhealthy balance by being emotionally and physically absent, which drives their partner to find emotional and physical gratification outside the relationship.


Narcissists Hate Women, Misogynists

Narcissists view women as objects and use them for both primary and secondary narcissistic supply. They fear emotional intimacy and treat women as property, similar to the mindset of European males in the 18th century. Narcissists frustrate women by teasing them and then leaving them, and they hold women in contempt, choosing submissive partners whom they disdain for being below their intellectual level. The narcissist projects his own behavior and traits onto women.


Don't Waste Your Love on the Narcissist (Conference Presentation)

The narcissist is incapable of both loving and being loved due to the presence of a bad object at their core. Love triggers feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy in the narcissist, leading them to reject and push away any attempts at love. They view love as a threat and seek to control and manipulate their partners to avoid feelings of weakness and potential abandonment. The narcissist's inability to separate others from themselves and their deep-seated trauma from childhood further complicates their ability to engage in healthy, loving relationships.


Breaking Through the Narcissist's Indifference by Becoming a Psychop

Narcissists have three essential demands from their partner: sex, supply, and services. If the partner provides any two of these three, the narcissist is pacified and ignores her. The partner needs to escalate, dramatize, and render herself unpredictable to attract the narcissist's attention. As our civilization becomes more narcissistic, both men and women adopt and emulate grandiose psychopathic men as role models, gurus, and guiding lights. The situation is so bad that many people are choosing simply to stay alone, to remain single in the fullest sense of the word.


Can You Love the Narcissist and Rescue Him?

Victims of narcissists often resort to fantasies and self-delusions to cope with their pain, believing that they can rescue the narcissist from their misery and misfortune. However, loving a narcissist is difficult, and any attempt to relate to them emotionally is doomed to failure. Narcissists are addicts in pursuit of gratification through the drug known as narcissistic supply, and they hone in on potential suppliers like cruise missiles. Victims of narcissists can become bitter and self-centered, lacking in empathy, and become more like the narcissist over time.


Remain Friends with the Narcissist?

Narcissists are only friendly when they need something from you, such as narcissistic supply, help, support, votes, money, or sex. They also become friendly when they feel threatened and want to smother the threat with pleasantries. Narcissists are also over-friendly when they have just been infused with an overdose of narcissistic supply. Some people prefer to live with narcissists because they have been conditioned to treat narcissistic abuse as background noise and are compensated for the abuse by the thrills provided by living with a narcissist. However, inverted narcissists are typically unhappy and in need of help, which suggests that they are victims who experience the Stockholm Syndrome.


Narcissists Hate Love

Narcissists hate being told "I love you" because it threatens their sense of uniqueness, they believe love is an all-consuming and dangerous pursuit, and they know deep down that they are a con artist and a fraud. They also hate seeing love demonstrated between others, such as a spouse and children, and view it as an assault on their emotional welfare and balance. Attempting to cure a narcissist with love and acceptance is futile, as only a severe narcissistic injury or life crisis can bring about transformative healing.


Cope with Vindictive Narcissists

Narcissists are often vindictive and can be dealt with by either frightening them or luring them. Frightening the narcissist is a powerful behavior modification tool, and one can identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated escalating blows at them. The alternative is to lure the vindictive narcissist by offering continued narcissistic supply until the war is over and won. Adulation, admiration, attention, sex, or subservience are the tools in coping with vindictive, dangerous stalkers and paranoia.

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