“Can a narcissist fall in love?”
The question of whether or not a narcissist can fall in love is a fierce matter of debate. So before we delve too much into why they can’t stay in love, let’s address the above question.
The answer, per most experts, is an unequivocal “Yes.” Here’s what Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D., a psychotherapist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of various personality disorders, says:
“If you (exes of narcissists) thought that your romantic Narcissistic ex really loved you and wanted to marry you, you are not crazy. Even though he is now gone, your guy actually meant what he said when he said it to you. He was in love with you, or at least his own romantic fantasy of the two of you as the perfect couple.”
The problem is, of course, that it’s impossible for the “perfect couple” fantasy to materialize. Life isn’t a fantasy; relationships aren’t a fantasy, and narcissists can’t seem to grasp this elementary concept.
So, yes, a narcissist can fall in love – but why can’t they remain in love?
“My husband didn’t need to raise his voice or hit me, as his method of violence was the words that could cut through me sharper than a knife ever could, destroying any sense of self-confidence I previously had.” ~ Megan Holgate, Life & Divorce Coach
Here are five reasons why a narcissist falls in and out of love:
1. Idealism isn’t realism
The Fantasyland desires of a narcissist are not based on realism. The same can be said of any outlandish notion that lacks the means of transforming the idea into reality.
One may dream of a pristine mansion on the coast of the most beautiful beach; but unless you’re a multi-millionaire, it’s not going to happen. We innately know and accept such things – narcissists do not.
It should be noted that idealization of relationships isn’t the only “head in the clouds” feature playing in a narcissist’s head. They picture the perfect home, body, car, occupation, and so on.
2. They need constant “supply”
A user on Quora explained their experience of being married to a narcissist:
“Like an oxygen tank to a Scuba diver, we just give them the supply of what they need at that time, and, like the oxygen tank, once they have no more use for us, we’re simply discarded without a second thought.”
The term Narcissistic supply was introduced by psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel in 1938. Its definition is: “a type of admiration, interpersonal support, or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment and essential to their self-esteem.”
Once their ‘supply’ is out, it’s out. Unfortunately, so is the narcissist’s partner.
3. Their partner is only human
Simply put, if the narcissist doesn’t end the relationship, their partner may (and hopefully does.) A narcissist’s complete lack of empathy, manipulative nature, and verbal insults are not at all conducive to a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
Unfortunately, narcissists have a deviously charming way of “reeling” someone back in. Why would they want to do this? Because they’re afraid of their Narcissistic supply running out. Pretty twisted.
Hopefully, the other person will see the narcissist for what he or she is – and move on before their life is in shambles.
4. A person is not an island
If their partner can’t separate fact from fiction, someone else just may. Most of us have a support system – family and friends – who will provide thoughtful insight into a person. Sadly, too often it’s a therapist or an expert on personality disorders (which narcissists have) who convey the truth about the individual.
If there’s one piece of advice to give here, it’s to seek insight from “people readers” within one’s social circle. And, most importantly, listen for recurring opinions.
5. There’s always “something more”
“There’s always something more” explains a narcissist’s life in four words. “Nothing is good enough” is an appropriate second option.