Can a narcissist and a borderline stay together? (3 reasons)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Can a narcissist and a borderline stay together?” and explore the various dimensions of narcissism and borderline personality disorder and their relationship to help understand the answer. 

Can a narcissist and a borderline stay together?

Yes, a narcissist and a borderline can stay together. Narcissists and a borderlines could form a strong, dynamic and co-dependent bond that holds their relationship together. However, according to Lachkar, unhealthy narcissists and borderlines would not be able to maintain intimacy over time.

A narcissist and a borderline can stay together because of the following 3 reasons – 

  • Narcissists and borderlines complement each other.
  • Narcissists and borderlines lack a basic sense of self. 
  • Narcissists and borderlines idealise people before devaluing them.

These 3 reasons why a narcissist and a borderline can stay together will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at who a  narcissist and borderline are.

Who is a narcissist?

A Narcissist is a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder in which persons have an exaggerated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, difficult relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. 

It is one of the numerous forms of personality disorders. But underneath this confident front hides weak self-esteem that is easily shattered by the least criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder can create issues in a variety of aspects of life, including relationships, employment, school, and finances. 

When they aren’t offered the particular favours or adulation they feel they deserve, people with a narcissistic personality disorder may be generally sad and disappointed. Others may not enjoy being around them since they find their connections unfulfilling.

Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is used to treat narcissistic personality disorder.

Who is a borderline?

A Borderline is a person with Borderline Personality Disorder. Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that affects how you think and feel about yourself and others, making it difficult to function in daily life. 

Self-esteem concerns, trouble controlling emotions and behaviour, and a record of unstable relationships are all part of it. You may have a strong fear of abandonment or instability if you have borderline personality disorder, and you may find it difficult to tolerate being alone. 

Even if you wish to have meaningful and enduring relationships, improper anger, impulsiveness, and frequent mood swings may push people away. The onset of borderline personality disorder is generally in early adulthood. 

The issue appears to be worsening in young adulthood and may improve with age. Many persons with this disease improve with treatment over time and can learn to live happy lives.

What are these  3 reasons why a narcissist and a borderline can stay together?

Narcissists and borderlines complement each other.

When there are personality problems involved, opposites frequently attract because the diseases complement one other in a complex dance. Each person has a shattered sense of self that helps the other in ways that healthy selves can’t. 

One person’s unfulfilled demands exactly matched the unmet requirements of the other. Each envies the aspect of the other’s personality that they don’t comprehend or have shunned.

Both of these personality disorders are caused by attachment trauma and complex trauma in early infancy. Individuals with these personality disorders will try to compensate for their own flaws by imitating the traits of others. The other person is referred to as “their other half” by both partners. 

That half, on the other hand, is one they’ve chopped or split in themselves, so they’re essentially drawn to the item they’ve rejected or disliked. This may happen in healthy relationships as well, but it’s far more likely in people with personality problems. 

What makes things worse is that each partner brings out an unresolved element of the other’s psyche. Both partners are usually developmentally stalled.

Narcissists and borderlines lack a basic sense of self. 

Both the Narcissist and the Borderline are missing a basic sense of self. Both of their early connection scars are at the root of their relationship pattern and dynamic. As the Narcissist’s need for withdrawal grows, so does the Borderline’s emotional reactivity and fear of abandonment.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, according to the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM), tend to perceive their own unwanted sentiments or impulses in other people rather than in themselves. 

The individual will have a tendency to express conflicting sentiments or views without being bothered by the contradiction and may idealise people in unrealistic ways before devaluing them. 

The Borderline frequently causes conflict or enmity among other individuals, and they are able to arouse in others sentiments that are similar to their own (e.g. when angry, acts in ways to provoke anger in others). 

The Borderline has an internal sense of insecurity and emotional lability, as well as trouble regulating affect and mood. They lack a strong sense of self underneath the surface, and their sentiments about themselves appear unstable and ever-changing. 

The person is also prone to intense sensations of emptiness and is frequently unable to settle into life roles (e.g. career, occupation, lifestyle, etc.). 

Someone with Borderline Personality is terrified of being abandoned, and their emotions fluctuate swiftly and unexpectedly. Their relationships are often tumultuous and turbulent. 

Borderline personalities are prone to episodes of anxiety or sadness, as well as substance addiction and other addictive behaviours. 

Projective identification occurs when a person with Borderline Personality fails to notice unpleasant features of their own personality but is confident that another person has those bad traits and treats that person appropriately.

The Narcissistic Personality Disordered person, on the other hand, has an unstable sense of self and compensates for it with a lack of empathy, self-aggrandizement, a grandiosity pattern, a desire for praise, and a lack of empathy for others. 

The term narcissism alludes to the fact that these people structure their life around sustaining their self-esteem by seeking reinforcement from other sources. 

Narcissism may be healthy, yet we’re all damaged narcissistically in some manner. However, it becomes more pathological when an individual gets preoccupied with getting acceptance and has an acute sensitivity to criticism. 

Preoccupied with their appearance in the eyes of others, “narcissistically organized people may privately feel fraudulent and loveless”.  

Narcissists and borderlines idealise people before devaluing them.

Narcissists, like Borderlines, have a tendency to idealise people before devaluing them.“Despite the importance of other people to the equilibrium of the Narcissistic person, his or her consuming need for reassurance about self-worth leaves no energy for others except in their function as self-objects and narcissistic extensions”.

Romantic attraction, according to Borderlines, reflects an absolute perspective of the other as all good when conscious needs are satisfied and all evil when they are not. No spouse, of course, can maintain this idealisation. 

Furthermore, the Borderline person’s proclivity to project unfavourable characteristics of their own personality onto people around them will eventually shatter the idealised picture of the Narcissistic spouse, whom they would then despise and attack. 

This devaluation is as devastating as self-object failures in childhood and produces great agony if their spouse has a Narcissistic personality structure. The Narcissistic person may retaliate with wrath or withdrawal, triggering the Borderline partner’s feelings of abandonment.

The Borderline feels abandoned, worried, and emotionally unregulated, and the loop repeats itself, as the Narcissist’s scars and need to retreat are triggered by the Borderline’s anxieties. 

Individuals employ manipulation and control of others to fulfil their own emotional demands, both instinctively and intentionally. Whole object relations refer to the ability to regard someone as more than just nice or negative. 

This is a problem for both narcissists and those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Each finds it equally difficult to perceive both a person’s excellent and terrible traits at the same time and to accept that both exist. 

They also battle with “object constancy,” in which they can still perceive a person in a good way after they have been injured by that person. 

When someone has solid object constancy, they may keep their favourable sentiments for someone even when they are hurt, disappointed, annoyed, or furious with them.

According to Elinor Greenberg, PhD, “Borderline and Narcissistic individuals often fall in love because they are at approximately the same level with regard to their “Intimacy Skills.” 

They both are likely to be in the early stages of learning how to successfully maintain intimate relationships. In the beginning, everything may seem blissful because they both share the capacity for making fast, intense romantic attachments without looking very closely at the other person’s real personality. 

They are both likely to believe that they will get exactly what they have been longing for from their new romantic partner. Each sees the other like a dream come true.”

Unfortunately, as the relationship develops, each individual’s lack of “whole object relations” and “object constancy” make their relationship extremely unstable and emotionally volatile.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Can a narcissist and a borderline stay together?” and reviewed the different dimensions of a Narcissist and a Borderline and their relationship to help determine if a Narcissist and a Borderline can stay together. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Joan, L. The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (Book Review). (2011). Retrieved from https://www.apadivisions.org/division-39/publications/reviews/narcissistic#:~:text=This%20bond%20between%20the%20abuser,to%20maintain%20intimacy%20over%20time.

Can narcissism and borderline personality exist together? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Can-narcissism-and-borderline-personality-exist-together

Perina, K. Why Do Narcissists and Borderlines Fall in Love? (2017, November 28). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201711/why-do-narcissists-and-borderlines-fall-in-love

Salters-Pedneault, K. Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality. (2021, November 28). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/narcissistic-personality-disorder-425426

THE NARCISSIST – BORDERLINE ATTACHMENT. (2018, February 18). Retrieved from https://www.courtneyhamlin.com/the-space-between/2018/02/19/the-narcissist-borderline-attachment

Zwolinski, R. Narcissistic And Borderline Attraction. (2014, March 25). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/therapy-soup/2014/03/narcissistic-and-borderline-attraction#1

Spelman, B. Why Are Borderlines Attracted to Narcissists? (2020,  September 10). Retrieved from https://theprivatetherapyclinic.co.uk/blog/borderlines-attracted-to-narcissists/

Pace, R. The Endless Struggles and Dramas of Borderline Narcissistic Couples. (2021, January 20). Retrieved from https://www.marriage.com/advice/mental-health/borderline-narcissistic-couple/

Collins, M. Can A Narcissist And A Borderline Stay Together? (2022, January 27). Retrieved from https://richyevents.com/qa/question-can-a-narcissist-and-a-borderline-stay-together.html

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