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Can a Narcissist Love?

How is love defined?
           Real love is more than a passionate feeling. For Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, it’s “to will the good of another.” This implies that we know the other person and appreciate his or her wants, needs, and feelings. In The Psychology of Romantic Love Nathaniel Branden states that “To love a human being is to know and love his or her person.” (1980, p. 50) Love combines both feeling and actions. In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm (1945) points out that love is an art that takes dedication and practice, not something you win or “fall” into. Rather, the ability to love is a faculty to be cultivated. It entails effort to develop knowledge, responsibility, and commitment.

When we love someone, we show active concern for their life and growth. We try to understand their experience and world view though it may differ from ours. Caring involves offering attention, respect, support, compassion, and acceptance. We must desire it and find it worthy of our effort to devote the necessary time and discipline. Romantic love can evolve into love, but narcissists aren’t motivated to really know and understand others. They lose interest as the expectation of intimacy increases or when they’ve won at their game. Even if they marry, they’re unlikely to support their spouse’s needs and wants if it’s inconvenient.

The Challenge for Narcissists
          For both Brandon and Fromm, essential to love is the motivation to understand and know someone. It may be true that love requires empathy. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) lack empathy, meaning they’re “unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.” (APA, 2013) Research shows that narcissists have significantly impaired emotional empathy, which is an ability to appropriately respond emotionally―to mirror other people’s emotional state and express care and concern. They do, however, possess cognitive empathy, which is an ability to take someone else’s perspective, but they’re not motivated to do so―unless it serves their needs. (Ritter, et al., 2010)There is also evidence of structural abnormalities in brain regions associated with emotional empathy in NPD patients. (Schulze, et al. 2013)

           Freud believed that we have a limited amount of libido energy, the more we’re invested in ourselves, the less we are in others, like mythical Narcissus, who was so consumed with his own reflection that he was oblivious to Echo who loved him. This is the crux of the problem. Narcissists see neither themselves nor others clearly. First, they experience other people as extensions of themselves, rather than separate individuals with differing needs, desires, and feelings. Second, they overestimate their emotional empathy (Ritter, et al). Third, in order to self-regulate their emotions and self-esteem, their defenses distort their perceptions of others and interactions with them. They engage in self-promotion and withdrawal to control closeness and vulnerability, project onto others the unwanted, negative aspects of themselves, and use denial, entitlement, and narcissistic abuse, including blame, contempt, criticism, and aggression to ward of shame.

Perfectionistic narcissists are the hardest to please. They callously put down others and may attempt to destroy adversaries in order to sustain their illusion of perfection. (Lancer, 2017) All these issues impair narcissists’ capacity to accurately take in another person’s reality, including that person’s love for them. In fact, narcissists emotional intelligence helps them manipulate and exploit others to get what they want, while their impaired emotional empathy desensitizes them to the pain they inflict.

           For example, although Richard expressed deep love for his wife, he was numb to her grief when she discovered his affair. Incredibly, he was dismayed that she wasn’t happy that his paramour was giving him such joy. I had to explain that no wife would react as he’d expected, but quite the opposite. He was capable of insight, and in analyzing his feelings, he realized that he had unconsciously confused his wife and narcissistic mother. He had wanted his wife to be happy for his choices, unlike his mother who never was. He also feared his distraught wife would be vindictive, again confusing the two women.

           Real love is a union of two individuals. It’s not romance, and it’s not codependency. It requires that we see another person as separate from ourselves and that we are motivated to know, encourage, and support them. We take pleasure in their happiness, and we try not to hurt them.

           How is love measured and expressed?
           Love is difficult to measure, but there are accepted indicators. Research shows that people feel love expressed by: 1) words of affirmation, 2) spending quality time, 3) giving gifts, 4) acts of service, and 5) physical touch. (Goff, et al. 2007) Note that empathy is not on the list. An earlier study came closer., In addition to the above five ways, participants felt loved by a partner who: 1) showed interest in their affairs; 2) gave them emotional and moral support; (3) revealed intimate facts; 4) expressed feelings for them, such as “I’m happier when I’m near you;” and 5) tolerated their demands and flaws in order to maintain the relationship. (Swenson, 1992, p. 92)

           People who love narcissists are starved for many of these expressions of love. Because narcissists’ perceptions and emotional regulation fluctuate, sometimes they’re remote, dismissive, or aggressive; other times, they show care and concern and are helpful. Research studies don’t take into account their fluctuating emotional states. Nor do they measure their reaction in situations that involve loved ones.

           I believe the critical motivating factor is the impact on the narcissist, presumably less in a test situation. It’s not that narcissists are incapable of feeling or even intellectually understanding someone’s feelings. The problem appears to be rooted in childhood trauma and physiological deficits that impact emotional assessment, mirroring, and appropriate empathic expression. (Unconscious or unexpressed: “I love you, but”); Expressed: “I’m too busy to come to the hospital,” sounds pretty cold, but may not reflect the narcissist’s love for the person hospitalized. When the importance of a visit is explained to them, they might make the trip.

           Because their identity and emotional system is unstable, they may show love when they’re motivated or when their needs and projections are satisfied. Narcissistic love is conditional. My book, Dealing with a Narcissist explains in detail how to use that beneficially for people involved with a narcissist. Remember that NPD exists on a continuum from mild to malignant with sociopathic and cruel behavior. The more severe it is and the greater the demands of the relationship, as when cohabiting or raising children, the more apparent is their selfishness and inability to express love. Dating or long-distance relationships that have fewer expectations may be easier.

           Bottom line: Wondering whether a narcissist loves you is the wrong question. Although it’s wise to understand a narcissist’s mind, like Echo in the myth of Narcissus, partners overly focus on the narcissist to their detriment. Instead, ask yourself whether you feel valued, respected, and cared about. Are you getting your needs met? If not, how is that affecting you and your self-esteem and what can you do about that?

How is love characterized?

Genuine love is in excess of an enthusiastic inclination. For Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, it's "to will the benefit of another." This infers we know the other individual and value their needs, needs, and sentiments. In The Psychology of Romantic Love Nathaniel Branden states that "To adore an individual is to know and love their individual." (1980, p. 50) Love joins both inclination and activities. In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm (1945) points out that affection is a workmanship that takes commitment and practice, not something you win or "fall" into. Or maybe, the capacity to love is a personnel to be developed. It involves exertion to create information, duty, and responsibility.

At the point when we love somebody, we show dynamic worry for their life and development. We attempt to comprehend their experience and world view however it might contrast from our own. Minding includes offering consideration, regard, backing, sympathy, and acknowledgment. We should want it and think that its deserving of our push to dedicate the essential time and order. Sentimental love can advance into adoration, however narcissists aren't propelled to truly know and get others. They lose enthusiasm as the desire for closeness increments or when they've succeeded at their game. Regardless of whether they wed, they're probably not going to help their life partner's needs and needs if it's badly designed.

The Challenge for Narcissists

For both Brandon and Fromm, basic to love is the inspiration to comprehend and know somebody. The facts may prove that adoration requires compassion. As indicated by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, individuals with narcissistic character issue (NPD) need compassion, which means they're "reluctant to perceive or relate to the sentiments and necessities of others." (APA, 2013) Research shows that narcissists have fundamentally impeded passionate sympathy, which is a capacity to properly react emotionally―to reflect other individuals' enthusiastic state and express care and concern. They do, be that as it may, have subjective sympathy, which is a capacity to take another person's point of view, however they're not roused to do so―unless it serves their needs. (Ritter, et al., 2010)There is likewise proof of auxiliary variations from the norm in cerebrum areas related with enthusiastic sympathy in NPD patients. (Schulze, et al. 2013)

Freud accepted that we have a restricted measure of charisma vitality, the more we're put resources into ourselves, the less we are in others, as legendary Narcissus, who was so overcome with his very own appearance that he was absent to Echo who adored him. This is the essence of the issue. Narcissists see neither themselves nor others plainly. To start with, they experience other individuals as augmentations of themselves, as opposed to isolate people with varying needs, wants, and sentiments. Second, they overestimate their enthusiastic compassion (Ritter, et al). Third, so as to self-manage their feelings and confidence, their barriers twist their impression of others and associations with them. They take part in self-advancement and withdrawal to control closeness and helplessness, venture onto others the undesirable, negative parts of themselves, and use refusal, privilege, and narcissistic maltreatment, including fault, hatred, analysis, and hostility to ward of disgrace.

Perfectionistic narcissists are the hardest to please. They unfeelingly put down others and may endeavor to decimate enemies so as to continue their dream of flawlessness. (Lancer, 2017) All these issues impede narcissists' ability to precisely take in someone else's world, including that individual's adoration for them. Truth be told, narcissists passionate knowledge encourages them control and endeavor others to get what they need, while their debilitated enthusiastic compassion desensitizes them to the agony they incur.

For instance, in spite of the fact that Richard communicated profound love for his better half, he was numb to her melancholy when she found his undertaking. Fantastically, he was terrified that she was upset that his lover was giving him such bliss. I needed to clarify that no spouse would respond as he'd expected, yet an incredible inverse. He was fit for knowledge, and in breaking down his emotions, he understood that he had unwittingly befuddled his significant other and narcissistic mother. He had needed his significant other to be glad for his decisions, not at all like his mom who never was. He additionally dreaded his troubled spouse would be noxious, again confounding the two ladies.

Genuine love is an association of two people. It's not sentiment, and it's not codependency. It necessitates that we consider another to be as discrete from ourselves and that we are propelled to know, empower, and bolster them. We enjoy their bliss, and we make an effort not to hurt them.

How is love estimated and communicated?

Love is hard to gauge, however there are acknowledged pointers. Research shows that individuals feel love communicated by: 1) encouraging statements, 2) investing quality energy, 3) giving blessings, 4) demonstrations of administration, and 5) physical touch. (Goff, et al. 2007) Note that compassion isn't on the rundown. A prior examination came nearer., notwithstanding the over five different ways, members felt adored by an accomplice who: 1) demonstrated enthusiasm for their issues; 2) gave them enthusiastic and good help; (3) uncovered cozy certainties; 4) communicated affections for them, for example, "I'm more joyful when I'm close to you;" and 5) endured their requests and blemishes so as to keep up the relationship. (Swenson, 1992, p. 92)


Individuals who love narcissists are famished for a large number of these declarations of affection. Since narcissists' discernments and enthusiastic guideline vary, once in a while they're remote, contemptuous, or forceful; different occasions, they show care and concern and are useful. Research studies don't consider their fluctuating passionate states. Nor do they measure their response in circumstances that include friends and family.

I accept the basic rousing variable is the effect on the narcissist, apparently less in a test circumstance. It isn't so much that narcissists are unequipped for feeling or even mentally understanding somebody's emotions. The issue has all the earmarks of being established in youth injury and physiological shortfalls that effect passionate appraisal, reflecting, and proper empathic articulation. (Oblivious or unexpressed: "I love you, yet"); Expressed: "I'm too occupied to even consider coming to the emergency clinic," sounds really cold, yet may not mirror the narcissist's adoration for the individual hospitalized. At the point when the significance of a visit is disclosed to them, they may make the excursion.

Since their personality and passionate framework is temperamental, they may show love when they're spurred or when their needs and projections are fulfilled. Narcissistic love is restrictive. My book, Dealing with a Narcissist discloses in detail how to utilize that gainfully for individuals associated with a narcissist. Keep in mind that NPD exists on a continuum from gentle to harmful with sociopathic and merciless conduct. The more extreme it is and the more prominent the requests of the relationship, as when living together or bringing up youngsters, the more clear is their childishness and powerlessness to express love. Dating or long-separation connections that have less desires might be simpler.

Primary concern: Wondering whether a narcissist adores you is an inappropriate inquiry. Despite the fact that it's shrewd to comprehend a narcissist's psyche, similar to Echo in the fantasy of Narcissus, accomplices excessively center around the narcissist to their drawback. Rather, ask yourself whether you feel esteemed, regarded, and thought about. Is it true that you are getting your needs met? If not, how is that influencing you and your confidence and what would you be able to do about that?


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