Can a narcissist love?
No matter who the narcissist is in your life, be it a family member, partner, friend or someone you work with, it can be an extremely negative, daunting, hurtful, confusing and painful experience. It can literally drain everything out of you, ending up with emotional overload and cognitive dissonance as well as numerous health problems. One of the questions I get asked a lot is, did they ever truly love me? A lot about recovery is getting the answer to all the whys? What ifs? And did they? So you can forgive yourself, remove any guilt, learn from the past, let go and move on to your future. The did they ever truly love me depends on the narcissist you were dealing with.
The narcissist personality disorder is on a spectrum, and it is a disorder. It’s who they are, and they can not change. If they wanted to, they could learn coping strategies to manage the disorder, yet as most don’t want to look too deeply into who they are, this will most likely not happen.
Narcissistic behaviour or trait is something that people have. Most people have at least one trait of narcissism in them, most people have healthy narcissism, yet when around people with negative, unhealthy narcissism, it can bring out that negative narcissism, those not on the disorder can and most often do love and care for you, sometimes the relationship gets so toxic that some people just stop loving and caring to protect themselves, others no matter how negative the experience was will still care for the narcissist on some level, we are human, and either way is normal and right for you, so long as you are happy with who you are.
The nine traits of the narcissistic personality disorder and to have the disorder, the person you are dealing with needs at least five of these traits.
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance. Exaggerating achievements and talents.
2. Preoccupied with ultimate success. Lives in a fantasy world of power, control, dominance, brilliance.
3. Superiority. Believing they are special and above all others.
4. Entitled. Feels entitled to have all their own needs met, demanding, manipulative and controlling.
5. Excessive admiration. A constant need for excessive admiration.
6. Exploits others. Takes advantage and manipulates others to get their own needs met.
7. Lack of empathy. Can not truly connect with how others are feeling.
8. Envious and jealous. Hate people who have something they want, also believing others are envious of them.
9. Arrogant. An exaggerated sense of their own abilities and behaviours.
So your parents of your partner, even your boss, might just have three of these traits. They could take advantage of others to meet their own needs, yet not in a harmful way unless someone gets in their way. They might have a great job and feel entitled because they worked hard to achieve this, people can put their own needs first and be confident, people need to put their own needs first in positive ways to give the best of themselves, people can seem to lack in empathy. Yet, they show empathy towards those they genuinely care for, just like when we cut narcissistic people out because they bring out the worst in us, it doesn’t mean we don’t have empathy, or we don’t care. It just means we’ve learned to walk away from those who seek to bring us down. People can come across as selfish, and people can think they look good and take lots of selfies. In fact, we all need to learn to love ourselves for who we are, not to be a narcissist, just to bring us inner happiness, so we give the best of ourselves to those worthy of us and walk away from those who wish to harm us, so we no longer people please just to be liked as we like ourselves, be who you want to be with good intentions towards others, there is no wrong way or right way to live your life, and you will find the right people.
Now you can have someone in your life with three or four of these traits, and you just bring out the worst in each other. A toxic relationship is formed. You can have someone with three or four of these traits, which are controlling and demanding. When you’ve stood your ground, all hell broke loose, you can suffer narcissistic abuse from someone who isn’t actually on the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum, therefore if needed, if you can not go no contact, you can, with the right support, find new ways to communicate, or how to handle yourself around them, so you bring the best out of each other, these people can genuinely love and care for you, even if they don’t always show it.
Yet if you’re with someone with at least five of these traits, you have most likely suffered the most hideous form of narcissistic abuse at the hands of someone who has the disorder.
Can someone with narcissistic personality disorder love you? I believe yes, that is my own personal belief. Others believe no, I believe in their own way, conditional love, at that moment when you are meeting all their wants and needs, they love what you are serving them, at that moment in time, they care that you are making them feel good at that moment in time, and while you stay in that places of serving their every need all will be alright. Yet it’s not alright as you are slowly losing who you are, losing your boundaries, your beliefs, your self-worth, your dignity, your happiness, your values, and as soon as you stand you for yourself, they wreak havoc within your life, they no longer love and care for you, and they seek to destroy you. They are no longer interested in you, as you are no longer meeting their needs. They are only interested in loving and caring for you in their own unique way. When it suits them, when it no longer meets their need, they just cut it off. They don’t love you for you. They love you for what you can provide them.
So some people can be so full of anger and resentment towards someone they can learn to switch off any feeling they had for them at that moment. People on the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum are lacking a few things, so they can just stop loving and caring.
Empathy is humans’ ability to identify with another person’s thoughts or feeling so that we can respond in an appropriate way. Empathy is when you can think about how you would feel if something bad happened to someone. A narcissistic person most often can simply just not have the emotional empathy to see what another person is feeling. They just don’t understand it. They can not relate, put themselves in another’s shoes to genuinely care, some have cognitive empathy, this is to think emphatically and is used in a negative way, they only see how they can use others empathy for their advantage and not how they can help others.
They have little to no guilt or remorse. Without that empathy, they don’t feel bad when they hurt someone. They can see how others would perceive them, so they do carry shame. However, they quickly remove this shame by blame-shifting it onto others, projecting their own thoughts and feelings into others, then telling stories to those who do empathise of how badly they were treated as they’ve learned this gets them attention. Often believe their own stories as reality.
They don’t have to the attachment to others. An attachment system is usually formed in early childhood with a baby and its primary caregiver, either this never happens, or something happens to them in childhood that they turn to fight mode to protect themselves cutting of their attachment, healthy emotions like joy, happiness and love to protect themselves, meaning on a deep level they can never genuinely connect with others.
They lack a conscience, meaning they are unaware within themselves of the true differences between right and wrong, they believe they are special and superior, and rules don’t apply to them.
They lack object consistency. This is usually formed around the age of 2-3, meaning they develop aside to caring for others even if they are not around that person at that time. Those of us who have this means even when someone hurts us, we can still care about them. A narcissist in any moment can just stop caring if their needs are not being met.
They lack whole object relations. They are unable to see that others have good and bad qualities that humans are not perfect and come with flaws. So once they realise they don’t like something about someone else, instead of seeing them as perfectly imperfect, with different thoughts and feelings, who make mistakes, they see them as damaged and hurtful and just don’t care enough or have the ability to understand and find a middle ground.
They lack cognitive reflection. Therefore they can not reflect on how their own personal behaviour has caused and issue. They believe it’s your fault for any problems they are having. They blame all others for their own failing, rarely to never reflecting on their own behaviour, mistakes or errors in judgment.
So if you are dealing with someone who has some narcissism, they most likely did love and care for you, and the relationship was toxic and broke down. This can be with friends, family, or a parent.
If you’re dealing with someone on the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum, they love in their own way. That’s primarily self-serving at that moment in time. If they believe you have something to offer, most will come back to take from you again, only to walk again once their needs have been met.
Someone with traits you can learn to build awareness and understanding of each other. Find a way to communicate.
Those on the disorder will never listen to reason or your point of view, so learning how to handle your own emotions and your own responses around them, I do recommend no contact as the best approach.
Click on the links below to join, Elizabeth Shaw – Life Coach on social media, for more information on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse.