When you think of intimate relationships, what sort of qualities come to mind? Likely things such as trust, love, vulnerability, honesty, and healthy compromise are some of them. This is precisely why narcissists can’t have intimate relationships: They lack the capacity for all of these traits. (1)
Narcissists Can’t Have Intimate Relationships
In order to have an intimate relationship with someone else, you need to have the capacity to truly care about someone else over yourself. In a partnership, the other person’s needs and desires are just as important as your own. Together, you find a balance between what each of you needs and wants to reach a happy equilibrium. This is why narcissists can’t have intimate relationships – they don’t care about anyone but themselves. (2)
Narcissists, or those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, have narcissistic traits that appear in all aspects of their lives, including intimate relationships. Sexual narcissists are slightly different. They tend to only present these traits in relation to their sexual behavior and sexual relationships. Either way, having a meaningful and lasting relationship with either is next to impossible. (1)
Why Can’t Narcissists Have Intimate Relationships?
Imagine trying to be in a relationship with someone who is highly self-absorbed and always preoccupied with their own self-interests. This person will never show up when you need them to, and if they do, it’s for their own reasons and not purely because of you. Even in the bedroom, your pleasure is always secondary to theirs. (1)
This person is not who they appeared to be when you first met them – you will often be left feeling confused like you were somehow tricked. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t present itself until a later stage of the relationship – after you’ve already moved in together or are married. Over time, your emotional well-being is drained. (3) This is because a true narcissist (3):
- Lacks empathy
- Claims to be superior or that they always know the truth (they are always right)
- Has a sense of entitlement and things should always go their way
- They never take responsibility for their actions or apologize
- View vulnerability as a weakness rather than a path to deeper intimacy
Before you know it, you have internalized their negative and degrading comments until you believe them to be true. They are masters of manipulation.
Typically, narcissists show passion early on in a relationship, however, this has more to do with their own fantasies than the actual person they’re involved with. This beginning part of a relationship satisfies their sexual needs as well as inflates their ego and sense of self. They tend to “love-bomb” their victims with praise, attention, gifts, and more. Then, when they feel they have “won” or the relationship gets to a level where the other person starts needing more from them (picking them up from the airport, meeting their family, showing up to a graduation ceremony), everything changes. (4)
Vulnerability is the crux of intimate relationships: Both partners must make themselves vulnerable in order to truly love and partner with the other. Narcissists despise this and view it as a weakness rather than a strength. They also prefer to keep themselves open to other partners, always on the lookout for the next best thing. Typically, their relationships don’t last more than six months to a year, tops. Often, they become cold, critical, and even angry. The only person who sees this side of them, however, is their partner. (4)
Narcissists can’t have intimate relationships because they are completely self-serving and lack all of the basic qualities that one needs in order to have a healthy relationship. They, in essence, are incapable of loving anyone except for themselves. (4)
- “Is there a difference between sexual narcissism and regular narcissism?” Healthline. Crystal Raypole. March 1, 2021
- “An Intimate Relationship in the Shadow of Narcissis.” Springer. Kaarina Määttä, Satu Uusiautti.
- “Five Narcissistic Traits That Harm an Intimate Partner.” Psychology Today. Carol A. Lambert, MSW. May 19, 2019.
- “Can You Tell Whether a Narcissist Really Loves You?” Psychology Today. Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT. July 31, 2018