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Do Narcissists Fall in Love?

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Narcissists can form relationships and experience what they interpret as love, but it often comes with significant caveats. Instead of showing genuine empathy or concern for their partner, their version of love is frequently self-centred and driven by their own needs, desires, and self-image. Initially, they may idealise their partner, but this often gives way to devaluation as they prioritise their own interests and seek validation.

Narcissistic love dynamics

In relationships, narcissists may struggle with intimacy and empathy, leading to difficulties in maintaining healthy connections. Their tendency to exploit others for their own gain or to bolster their self-esteem can create a toxic dynamic. While they may enjoy the attention and admiration from their partner, their love tends to be conditional and shallow. In the end, narcissists’ underlying personality traits and behaviours frequently make it difficult for them to form meaningful, reciprocal, and empathetic bonds.

When narcissists “fall in love”, it’s often more about fulfilling their own needs and desires than forming a genuine, empathetic connection. Their love tends to be self-centred and driven by a desire for admiration, validation, and control. Here are some ways narcissists might approach love:

  • Idealisation. Initially, narcissists may idealise their partner, seeing them as perfect and showering them with attention and affection. This idealisation phase serves to boost the narcissist’s ego and fulfil their need for admiration.
  • Self-centredness. Narcissists tend to prioritise their own needs and desires above those of their partner. They may expect constant attention, admiration, and validation, and may become resentful or dismissive if their partner doesn’t meet these expectations.
  • Lack of empathy. Narcissists often struggle to empathise with their partner’s emotions or perspectives. They may dismiss or invalidate their partner’s feelings, viewing them as insignificant compared to their own.
  • Control and manipulation. Narcissists may use manipulation tactics to maintain control over their partner and the relationship. This could include gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or other forms of emotional manipulation to get their way or maintain their sense of superiority.
  • Devaluation. Over time, the narcissist’s idealisation of their partner may give way to devaluation, as they become disillusioned or bored with the relationship. They may criticise, belittle, or emotionally distance themselves from their partner as they search for new sources of validation.
  • Cycle of idealisation and devaluation. This cycle of idealisation and devaluation can repeat itself in narcissistic relationships, creating a rollercoaster of emotions for both partners.

The superficiality of narcissistic love

Overall, while narcissists may experience intense infatuation or attraction to their partner, their love tends to be shallow and self-serving, lacking the depth and empathy characteristic of healthy relationships. Narcissists approach relationships with a self-centred mindset, often viewing their partner as an extension of themselves rather than as a separate individual with their own needs and autonomy. This can lead to unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamics characterised by manipulation, emotional abuse, and instability.


Narcissists handle relationships in ways that prioritise their own needs, desires, and self-image over those of their partner. Relationships with narcissists can be toxic and damaging to one’s self-esteem and well-being. It’s crucial for individuals in these relationships to recognise the signs of narcissistic abuse and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to navigate the challenges and, if necessary, to leave the relationship safely.

When in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s essential to understand the dynamics at play. Recognising the signs of narcissistic behaviour can help individuals protect themselves and seek the necessary support to manage or exit the relationship. Understanding that a narcissist’s version of love is often self-serving and conditional can provide clarity and encourage healthier relationship choices in the future.

Dina Relojo is a social media manager at Psychreg. She is a high school teacher from the Philippines.

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