Can a narcissist have a healthy relationship? (5 reasons)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Can a narcissist have a healthy relationship?” and explore the various aspects of a narcissist and their personality to help understand the answer. 

Can a narcissist have a healthy relationship?

A narcissist cannot have a healthy relationship because of the following 5 reasons –

  • Narcissists are obsessed with themselves. 
  • Narcissists subject their partners to psychological and emotional abuse.
  • Narcissists can’t be cured. 
  • Narcissists lack the emotions and skills needed for healthy relationships. 
  • Narcissists are manipulative and lack empathy. 

These 5 reasons why a narcissist cannot have a healthy relationship will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at who a  narcissist is.

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 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.

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder –

Narcissists are frequently characterised as arrogant, self-centred, demanding, and manipulative. However, the degree and scope of these symptoms might differ from person to person. Early adulthood is the onset of narcissistic personality disorder.

If you have five or more of the following characteristics, you may be labelled with narcissism:

Grandiosity.

  • Narcissists have an excessive feeling of self-importance.
  • Narcissists feel superior to others and think that they deserve preferential treatment.
  • A narcissist’s feelings are frequently accompanied by illusions of boundless prosperity, brilliance, power, beauty, or love.

Excessive need for admiration.

  • It is necessary for a narcissist to be the centre of attention.
  • Narcissists frequently monopolise conversations
  • Narcissists, when neglected, feel slighted, abused, drained, and angered.

Superficial and exploitative relationships.

  • Narcissists’ relationships are built on superficial characteristics rather than the unique features of others.
  • People are only appreciated by narcissists to the extent that they are perceived to be useful.

Lack of empathy.

  • The ability to care for the emotional needs or experiences of others particularly loved ones is severely limited or completely absent in narcissists.

Identity disturbance.

  • The sense of self of a narcissist is relatively shallow, extremely inflexible, and frequently weak.
  • Maintaining the belief that one is extraordinary is necessary for self-stability for a narcissist.
  • A narcissist’s grandiose concept of self is easily jeopardised.
  • Narcissists avoid or ignore realities that call their grandiosity into question.

Attachment and dependence problems.

  • Narcissists depend on environmental feedback.
  • Narcissists’ relationships exist solely to support a healthy self-image.
  • Narcissists’ interactions are fleeting.
  • Intimacy is forbidden by narcissists.

Feelings of emptiness and dullness on a regular basis.

  • When narcissists do not receive attention and appreciation, they feel empty, bored, sad, or restless.

Vulnerability to life changes.

  • Narcissists have difficulty sticking to realistic personal and professional objectives throughout time.
  • Compromises demanded by education, work, and relationships can be excruciating for narcissists.
  • Narcissists may experience “failure to launch” in young adulthood.

Suicide and suicidal ideation. 

  • Narcissists have increased tendencies for suicide and suicidal ideation due to narcissistic personality disorder.

What are these 5 reasons why a narcissist cannot have a healthy relationship?

Narcissists are obsessed with themselves. 

The response would have to be ‘no’ if we’re talking about someone who satisfies the above-mentioned criteria for NPD. It’s impossible to establish a true and loving relationship with someone who is obsessed with themselves. 

Narcissists subject their partners to psychological and emotional abuse.

People in relationships with someone who has NPD are frequently subjected to persistent psychological and emotional abuse — forms of domestic violence – by their partners.

Narcissists can’t be cured. 

Narcissists are unable to create healthy relationships, and the narcissist’s psychology and disease cannot be reversed. Being in a relationship with a narcissist — whether romantic, professional, or platonic — may be a highly laden, but disorienting scenario. 

When faced with problems such as having to be accountable, apologise, be honest, let their guard down, cope with hardships, and having a mirror held up to their dubious actions/mistakes, they deflect, act out more, blame others, get defensive, and so on. 

It is quite unlikely that there will be any change if difficult situations expose genuine colours of unavailability, a lack of empathy, dishonesty, and selfishness.

When they are confronted with the same situation/trigger that generated the pain, friction, drama, etc., their habits/patterns do not alter. They won’t accept wrongdoing until the proof is unmistakable. However, the same thing keeps happening over and over again.

Narcissists lack the emotions and skills needed for healthy relationships. 

“By and large, narcissists lack the skill set that makes for strong relationships. Namely empathy, consistent compassion, consistency in general, compromise, kindness, mutuality, and reciprocity,” says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist.

Relationships are a long-term investment that needs mutual respect, attention, comprehension, and trust. Things that narcissists can reflect from the person with whom they are interacting, but it’s not always true, thus it’s not tenable.

The truth is that they seek to feed off of the individual, giving only enough to elicit adulation in order to maintain their inflated sense of self-importance. Everything they do or say in a relationship is planned with grandiosity and performance in mind, even down to the inflexions in their words.

As a result, true emotional closeness and connection with a narcissist are impossible. Still, they’re masters of deception, which is why they appear to be functioning in relationships – until they aren’t.

As a result, partners in narcissistic relationships may feel lonely, uncared for, and unheard, and may become sad. It’s natural to over-analyze everything and blame yourself for not keeping them engaged.

Narcissists are manipulative and lack empathy. 

The reason they’re so difficult to deal with is that narcissists may be helpful, supportive, and appear to care about you at times. In actuality, they’re merely being nice and flexible for their own profit. 

In essence, narcissists use your relationships to feed and fuel their egos. The utter lack of empathy and the ability to sincerely care about others is one of the most poisonous features of a narcissist. 

Researchers are looking at provoking emotional reactions in narcissists to determine whether they may be taught to have empathy because of this element.

The researchers administered the NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory) and then had participants read a vignette about a woman who had gone through a break-up; they manipulated the severity of the break-up as well as how much control the woman had over the outcome in an experiment (in which 81 percent of the participants were female).

Even when the consequences were severe — such as when the imaginary person was depressed — a test of empathy revealed that the narcissists in the group lacked empathy.

All female participants in another trial were required to see a film depicting domestic abuse and a horrible breakup. Researchers prompted them to watch the film ‘personally,’ and the narcissist’s empathy grew as a consequence.

Another study looked at whether narcissists experienced physiological changes associated with empathy, such as an increase in heart rate while listening to a five-minute narrative of a breakup. They don’t, according to the results, although they can if trained. 

The narcissist’s low arousal of emotion and empathy turns out to be instinctive and physiological. As science learns more about what makes a narcissist tick, these findings appear to demonstrate that transformation may be achievable with different therapy methods in the future.

However, unless they are willing to give up their grandiose sense of self-importance and defensiveness, the narcissist’s character is permanent. Only then will they be able to get expert treatment approaches to assist them to change their behaviour.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Can a narcissist have a healthy relationship?” and reviewed the various aspects of a narcissist and narcissistic personality disorder to help determine if a narcissist can have a healthy relationship. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Can you have a healthy relationship with a narcissist? Relationships Australia NSW. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.relationshipsnsw.org.au/can-you-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-a-narcissist/#:~:text=Is%20it%20ever%20possible%20to,everything%20about%20him%20or%20her.

Bedford, N. Can Narcissists Have Healthy Relationships? (2019, December 3). Retrieved from https://medium.com/candour/can-narcissists-have-healthy-relationships-d8fad416fcf5

Can you have a healthy relationship with a narcissist? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Can-you-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-a-narcissist

Dodgson, L. All the sacrifices you’ll have to make for a relationship with a narcissist to work. (2018, September 2). Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/how-to-make-a-relationship-with-a-narcissist-work-2018-8

Greenberg, E. Can a Narcissist Have a Happy Marriage? (2020, July 2). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/202007/can-narcissist-have-happy-marriage

Sontakke, A. 7 reasons why narcissists can’t maintain intimate relationships. (2021, October 27). Retrieved from https://www.bonobology.com/reasons-narcissists-cant-maintain-intimate-relationship/

Shaw, E. Can you have a happy, healthy relationship with a narcissist? (2021, April 19). Retrieved from https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/relationships/can-you-have-a-happy-healthy-relationship-with-a-narcissist/news-story/219f24c7bc25dcf806a7d04888c26007

Shull, M. How to Cope When You Love a Narcissist. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.maryshull.com/blog/how-to-cope-when-you-love-a-narcissist/

Firestone, L. In a Relationship with a Narcissist? What You Need to Know About Narcissistic Relationships. PsychAlive. (n.d.).  Retrieved from https://www.psychalive.org/narcissistic-relationships/

Idegbere, J. 3 Toxic Attitudes That Can Break Any Relationship. (2021, November)Retrieved from https://tealfeed.com/3-toxic-attitudes-break-relationship-7f36z?gclid=Cj0KCQiAmpyRBhC-ARIsABs2EAqSGtneOE7j3xyXWi_kkI1uqz5mrqY2Md2HUOhmuXN2r0d-7OT1COkaAs4mEALw_wcB

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