Anyone who’s loved a narcissist wonders, “Does he really love me?” “Does she appreciate me?” They’re torn between their love and their pain, between staying and leaving, but can’t seem to do either. Some swear they’re loved; others are convinced they’re not. It’s confusing because sometimes they experience the caring person they love, whose company is a pleasure, only for that to be followed by behavior that makes them feel unimportant or inadequate. Narcissists claim to love their family and partners, but do they?
Romance vs. Love
Narcissists may show passion in the early stages of dating. But that sort of passion, according to Jungian analyst Robert Johnson, “is always directed at our own projections, our own expectations, our own fantasies . . .. It is a love not of another person, but of ourselves.” Such relationships provide positive attention and sexual satisfaction to support a narcissist’s ego and self-esteem. For most narcissists, their relationships are transactional. Their objective is to enjoy uncommitted pleasure. (Campbell, et al. 2002) They’re playing a game, and winning is the goal. They’re engaging and energetic and possess emotional intelligence that helps them perceive, express, understand, and manage emotions. (Dellic, et al. 2011) This helps them manipulate people to win their love and admiration. They brag to be respected, loved, and gratified. Additionally, their good social skills allow them to make a good initial first impression. They can show great interest in romantic prospects and seduce with generosity, expressions of love, flattery, sex, romance, and promises of commitment. Amorous narcissists (Don Juan and Mata Hari types) are adept and persuasive lovers and may have many conquests, yet remain single. Some narcissists lie and/or practice love–bombing by overwhelming their prey with verbal, physical, and material expressions of love.