Narcissists Cannot Love You

Updated on November 15, 2017
SinDelle profile image

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach and specialist in cluster B personality disorders.

Many people have been through the hell that is a relationship with a pathological narcissist, and something that is on a lot of people's minds is whether or not the narcissist is capable of loving other people. We will explore that here.

The Truth is...

Can narcissists love? The short answer is no. The narcissist does not love you. The narcissist doesn't love anybody, not even themselves. Especially not themselves. This can be hard to hear and a lot of people don't want to believe it, but sugarcoating things is not the right thing to do here.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you are likely the only one in the relationship with any genuine feelings for the other person. That's not to say the narcissist has no genuine feelings at all. They do. They just don't have any genuine feelings for you.

We've all heard that old adage, "If you don't love yourself, you can't love anybody else." It may be old but it's also true, and the narcissist is a perfect example of it. They don't love themselves and because of that, they cannot love anyone else. They also can't believe anyone can love them, either (regardless of what they may say to the contrary). Loving a narcissist is the same as loving a character on a TV show. This is not a real person and can never reciprocate. It is of course up to the individual if they choose to pursue a relationship with someone who is likely not capable of loving them back, but they should at least know what they are getting into.

The Reality of The Situation

It's one thing to understand that a narcissistic partner is not able to love you. It's something else entirely to really understand and internalize what this actually means in practical terms. This is not a 'normal' relationship that is respectful and considerate but simply devoid of affection. This is living in a war zone with someone who is actively and purposely trying to sabotage and destroy your life because not only do they not love you, they are pathologically, even obsessively envious of you and everything you have. Why should you have things that they don't have? They endeavor to take those things away from you. If they can't have it, nobody can.

Narcissists are not just cold and empty. They are white-hot infernos of rage, hatred and jealousy. Most of that is actually directed at themselves, but they often project it outward in a vain attempt to get some relief from it. And the people they direct it at are the people closest to them.

The Cold, Hard Facts

Not only does the narcissist not love you, they don't really consider you a person at all. Not in the way they consider themselves to be a person. That's why they behave the way they do. Some people have punching bags that they take their anger and frustration out on. Narcissists often use other human beings this way. This is because they don't see them as people. It's not malicious, exactly. They're just not built that way.

The only reason narcissists get into relationships in the first place is to validate themselves: "If someone loves me, I matter. If someone has sex with me, I matter. If someone cares about me, I matter. If someone pays attention to me, I matter. I exist. I am important." They don't care about sharing their lives, or happy Christmases with the family or what you did at work today or anything like that at all. They would be happiest if you simply did not exist until they needed you to. Again, this in and of itself is not malicious. They just have no real interest in anyone but themselves. They're focused on what they're doing and what they're thinking and what they want. That's basically it.

Of course, you do exist. You have needs and you have goals and plans and things you want to do. If these do not involve the narcissist, the narcissist is not interested. If it does involve the narcissist but the narcissist doesn't want to do it, the narcissist is not interested. There is no give and take in this kind of relationship. There is only take. There's no understanding, no support. It's all about what they need, what they want. Try to take the focus off of that, and there will be very big problems. Nothing you say really matters and nothing you do really matters unless it has to do with the narcissist. This is what the disorder is.

Anyone who has dealt with a narcissist knows these things are the truth. In fact, the truth is really a lot worse than is being stated here. It's not a pretty picture at all. The abuse, the lies, the emotional blackmail, the constant disruption of people's lives, the destruction of their peace, the nonstop creation of disasters and catastrophes, the complete lack of stability, the never-ending drama, the triangulation, the splitting, the irresponsibility, the childishness, the endless arguments over nothing and vicious attacks for no reason, the total lack of respect, the complete disregard for other people's feelings... It's ugly. Dealing with a narcissist is ugly. It's torture.

Conclusion

Narcissists more than likely don't have the capacity to love at all. They can feel infatuated and they can become obsessed, but these things are not love. Narcissists often think they love others, but if you ask them why they love someone or what they love about that person, the answer will often be a list of things the person does for them. It is generally not be a list of things about the person themselves.

For example, a non-narcissistic person might say, "I love my wife because she's so strong" or "I love how my husband is so passionate about things." A narcissist might say things like, "I love her because she makes me feel smart" or "I love the way he gives me stability." It's all about what someone is doing for them. There's no recognition or understanding of the person as an individual. People only matter to the narcissist if they can do something for the narcissist. Once someone's usefulness goes away, the "feelings" the narcissist had for that person usually go away, too. Feelings for others are superficial and really only extend as far as the person relates to the narcissist. Anything beyond that does not matter. To the narcissist, it doesn't even exist. They are like the center of a wheel, and people are the spokes. They see everyone and everything as an extension of themselves in some way or another. Everything flows from them, and toward them. They are the Sun that every other thing revolves around. Not just the brightest star but the only star.

There are many people right now suffering in relationships and holding onto hope that things will change. The reality is, the chances are 1000 to 1. Because of the unique and damaged way they see and relate to other people, it isn't really possible for narcissists to love others. There can only be one Sun. Narcissists are just too focused on themselves and their problems. There is no room for anyone else.

Sound Off

Do you think it's possible for narcissists to love?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Rockysroad 

        8 weeks ago

        I have been fascinated, ever since I read it, by a throw away line Scott Peck wrote in one of his books, something like: "in classic fashion, the narcissistic mother and the schizophrenic daughter". My older sister, now deceased, developed schizophrenia in her early twenties when she became pregnant with an unwanted child. That's when she started hearing the voices say: "Kill the child". Being her younger brother, I, sadly, had a ringside seat to her psychological unravelling over the years. Thinking back, I can see mom never allowed her to develop a strong sense of who she was, separate and distinct from herself, and that made her vulnerable and overly dependent on the kindness of strangers. In a curious way, she knew it. I remember in high school some guy played a trick on her. He snuck up behind her and tickled her face with a long stalk of grass with seeds on the end. She immediately got alarmed, furrowed her brow, eyes darting around looking for an explanation, and then got the joke when he burst out laughing. In response, she said something to the effect of "that's not fair - you know I don't have a strong sense of reality" and all the eavesdroppers exchanged knowing glances. At the same time, she had an IQ of 165. She graduated Valedictorian of her high school class and then Sarah Lawrence. Her Valedictory address was published in the New York Times she told me. She aced her GRE exams and got into Harvard grad school. She was beautiful - voted May Queen in High School. She was really talented in music. She studied piano at Julliard School of Performing Arts as a child. She could sing - she played Fiana in a high school production of Brigadoon. (I remember telling myself as I was still struggling to accept her fate, "She's not crazy. She just lives in Brigadoon.") It still breaks my heart to remember no one had a brighter future than my sister, that is, until she met her future husband. He basically finished off the job of dismantling her personality that my mother had already started. I watched him do it. In one of our first conversations he told me, "When I met your sister, I thought she was the craaaaziest person I ever met." (When he was finished with her some twenty years later, she was the craziest person I ever met, too). He told me being with her was like two race horses galloping along side by side, neither one able to pull ahead of the other, so they eventually slowed to a canter and then a trot and then a saunter. But he never stopped trying. I never met anyone who needed to be the smartest guy in the room more than him. He was all ivy, went to Brown University in the 60's when it was still a serious institution of learning, not the fainting couch for entitled social justice wannabes it is today - talk about narcissists! At any rate, he saw his chance when, right at that time, my sister had a minor surgery to remove a benign cyst on her ovary. My father told me he went to the doctor afterwards and convinced him to tell my sister she didn't have to worry about birth control because of the surgery, so she didn't - and got pregnant. That son of a bitch caught her in a classic Bateson double-bind no way out scenario with predictable results. There were other problems. He was the older brother of a younger sister and she was the older sister of a younger brother so they both were used to being the boss - a very unstable and untenable basis for a relationship never mind marriage even under the best of circumstances. When she finally left him, that same week he went out and bought a round dinner table to replace the one they had and then pretended my sister had never been there - as if her children would somehow forget. They didn't forget. When they were older and established, they took over her care and found her the perfect location, a beautiful home with two devoted Filipino caregivers who adored her and took such good care of her. After my sister died, every time my niece would return for a visit they would cry and give her a hug - such sweet people! My nephew turned out to be a very successful hotshot business consultant with a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters, wrote a book and even did his own TED talk. My niece is an accomplished therapist with a masters degree and a full client load plus a brood of three kids of her own and a very understanding and supportive and successful husband. She said she survived and eventually thrived by asking a simple spiritual question: How is all this perfect? I have asked myself the same question many times since she told me that. Listening for the answer has transformed my life.

      • profile image

        Julie 

        2 months ago

        After 41 years I am not crazy and I get it now. I didn't walk away, I ran. No contact.

      • profile image

        Brian 

        2 months ago

        Wow...

        As someone diagnosed with narcissistic tendencies, that is all I can say.

        Thanks for robbing me of all hope of recovery.

      • profile image

        Susie 

        2 months ago

        Very helpful and insightful - never come across toxic or irrational before and it makes you question your own sanity. But really it’s just a pattern of behaviour that has nothing to do with the unlucky person they purport to love. I do feel foolish, duped and unloved but your article has helped me focus on ending this as there is only a future of continuous hell otherwise. Thank you

      • profile image

        Mary Its all my f 

        3 months ago

        I agree with mark totally. My mother never saw who i was. When i entered the relationship with my ex, i was continuing that battle. Why could my ex never see i was a good person? Never realizing it was unfinished emotional business i had with my mother. Now i really see why i stayed.. So really we both had emotional problems. Now through thearapy, and insight i am healing. I have moved on from that 10 year relationship that was almost the end of me. I have compassion for him, sadly i had to leave him behind and i know his suffering will never end. He is a child trying to live in an adult world. At least i was able to grow and it was because of the relationship i had with him. I have no resentment for the suffering, in a way he helped me, i am 10 times the women i was when i met him. When after 10 years in desperation, i decided to give myself what. I could not get from him. When i really started to protect myself, i developed self respect, and so much more! He could nevet "see" me.

        It was when i could really see him that i understood. He is a sad little boy that lives in fear and lonlieness. And its hard to just

        leave someone to suffer. But i will suffer with him mo more. I have moved on!

      • profile image

        Mark 

        4 months ago

        I agree with everything, with one rider. No person is 'a narcissist'. This is an unhelpful label, which fails to humanise their condition. These are people who were not seen by their own parents. Usually rejected, disregarded or dismissed when being vulnerable infants.

        They had to construct a strong false (grandiose) self to survive. So, they are developmentally arrested (just like a 3 year old child). It's important to state this because those 'used' by such people, tend to feel like victims. Rather than unfortunates who were objectified by severely wounded adult children, living in the world, stuck at an age of 3-6. Knowing this, sets us free to heal from the wounds we have suffered, caught up in the web of their dysfunctional way of relating. By the way, I have suffered all my life trying to be 'seen' by others, because I was not really seen by both my parents (now deceased). So, I'm not making glib assumptions. If our parents were ego centric, it sets us up to either be like them, or be addicted to those who have the same narcissistic character traits and disorders. We repeat the cycle. If we are courageous enough to admit, we are attracted to them, because the wounded child in us, is determined to be seen by them, so we can feel alive. No one else seems attractive to us. Of course, this is a rather depressing and destructive cycle to be in. But with understanding, we can see what we are doing and hope to find healthier people to relate to, who can help us find real love in this world. Keep up the good work, you make a lot of sense. Just try to humanise the narcissistic disorder/condition. I feel sorry for them.

      • profile image

        Melanie 

        8 months ago

        These were excellent writings about the malignant narcissist. Very important information to know. Thank God for Google and all that I have read and learned for the past 3 years.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pairedlife.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pairedlife.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)