A Narcissist’s View Of Love
You start a new relationship. Unbeknownst to you at its onset, your new found friend is a narcissist. At first, the time the two of you spend together is all rainbows and unicorns. You came to believe early on that you have met your soulmate, the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Then after a while things start to change and not for the better. The changes you begin noticing in your lover leaves you wondering what is going on. Then, as you evaluate events that have transpired between the two of you a more serious and potentially dreaded question comes to the surface, “Does he love me?”
The Lifecycle Of A Narcissist
If you are unfamiliar with narcissism or being in a relationship with a narcissist, you might be surprised that these individuals interact in all of their romantic relationships the same way. Their relationship goes through three distinct phases, idealization, devaluation and finally discard.
The Idealization Phase
Any relationship with a narcissist starts in the idealization phase characterized with the concept of Love Bombing. You may find yourself captivated by the charm of your narcissistic suitor during this phase. They will lavish you with their attention. They will seduce you with flatter you and make you feel like you are the most important thing in the world to them. They will overwhelm you with their verbal, physical, and material expressions of love. They will profess their undying love for you and make promises of commitment early on. Their behaviors will seem real and sincere, leaving you to believe that you have finally met Mr. Right.
The wonderful feelings you experienced during the honeymoon phase can quickly end once a narcissist feels secure in the relationship. As time goes on, you might challenge your significant other on a decision or decide to focus some of your time and energy on yourself. Work, illness or other life issues may come between you and your lover.
The Devaluation Phase
All narcissists, if you are unable to give them the attention and admiration they desire, will feel deeply rejected and hurt. His kind and loving words can quickly become cold, critical and angry. At times, you will get to experience the caring person you fell in love with. At other times you might end up feeling unimportant, inadequate or ignored.
This change is his behavior often indicates that you have now entered into the devaluation phase. During the devaluation phase you may find yourself torn between love and pain, between staying and leaving. This is often when the question of their true feelings for you bubble to the surface.
The Discard Phase
Before we delve into what a narcissist is really thinking when they say I love you, the final phase of any narcissist relationship is discard. If a narcissist, through manipulation and confrontation, is unable to maneuver you back into submission, they will move on. It is during the discard phase that a narcissist will be on the look-out for someone new to fill the once glorified spot you held in their lives.
Healthy Love Verses Narcissistic Love
Love is a subjective experience. Your thoughts about what love is all about can be a very different from how a narcissist views it. When we love someone we show care and concern for their life. We offer our partner moral and emotional support, respect, attention, compassion and acceptance. These feelings come from a deep-rooted place within us. This kind of love often develops out of romantic love where we initially feel intense emotions and the sparks of passion for our companion.
Most narcissists do not see love and relationships in the same way. A narcissist can seem to love you and make it look like they love you but what they experience as love is not a healthy form of love. A romantic relationship with a narcissist is an end to a means. They will offer their love to you as long as it makes them feel good or they are getting something from you in return.
A relationship provides a narcissist with the positive attention and potentially sexual satisfaction that fills the emptiness they feel inside. They seek out partners who will to support their fragile egos and boost their lacking self-esteem. If you are beautiful, talented or admired by others, the more enticing you are to a narcissist.
What Love Is To A Narcissist
Love for some narcissist comes from the heightened feelings of passion they have for you. They may be infatuated with you. The emotionally charged feelings they have can cause them to idealize you. If they discover your flaws, they can become disillusioned and may want to move on.
Others are addicted to the thrill of the chase. These same individuals will quickly lose interest when they have won you over. Then the game is over.
Some narcissists are very pragmatic in their approach to relationships. Instead of focusing on the excitement of the hunt, they look at relationships from are more practical point of view. Their self-serving motives tend to focus around the concept of “what do I need from this person” or “what can this person offer me”. They may develop a relationship based on friendship and shared goals, especially if the shared goals match their personal agenda.
What Does A Narcissist Mean When They Say “I Love You?”
Love for a narcissist is extremely conditional. They will experience their version of love when you are doing something that services their needs. A narcissist may believe they are in love but what they are really experiencing is lust. They may crave you or admire you. They may want to have sex with you or in the aftermath felt that the sex was amazing. They may assume they are in love, but are actually feeling lonely or bored and want your attention. They may also believe they love you, but what they really love is the fact that you are stroking their egos or boosting their self-esteem.
They may express the words “I love you” to manipulate you. They may “love you” because they enjoy the fact that you will do whatever they want. They may also use it to get you to sacrifice yourself in order to get something for themselves. They will only express love to you when they feel motivated, especially if those words will get them what they want, if there is something in it for them or if they get something in return.
Chemistry And The Narcissist Mind
According to neuropsychologist, Dr. Rhonda Freeman, there may be a reason narcissist misconstrue the meaning of love. Dr. Freeman believes all narcissists are highly sensitive to reward stimulation. When a new romantic interest enters our lives, neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin are released into the blood stream. These hormones leave us feeling good, excited, and vibrant about our new friend and ourselves. As the relationship deepens and the infatuation stage of the relationship ends, the brains neurotransmitters return to baseline. By this time, in a healthy relationship, a wholesome attachment and investment has formed between the participants.
Not so for the narcissist. For them, instead to allowing the relationship to deepen, they often get bored or begin to resent their partner. It is not that their partner has done anything wrong. They mistakenly miss the excitement the heightened neurotransmitters offered. This causes them to go out in search of situations, which will stimulate the release of these feel good hormones.
For a narcissist, there is nothing worse than having their experience of love mysteriously disappear.
Changing Brain Chemistry Can Influence A Narcissist
The drop in the feel good neurotransmitters is often when they break out their devaluating tools. They will hurt, criticize or shame you in an effort to change your behavior. They will play a game of cat and mouse which stimulates the brain chemistry of both partners, where they vacillate between pleasure and pain. This manipulation of brain chemistry is often why the victims of a narcissist have a hard time walking away. This phenomenon is called ‘Trauma Bonding’.
If their games do not work, if they are unable to get the biochemical rise they want from you, they will move on and find someone who will offer them the subjective feelings of love they desire.
Can A Narcissist Love
Returning to the original question can a narcissist love me, the answer is simple. They are not lying. They do know how to love. The love they may feel is real in their minds. Where the problem arises is that their definition of love is a distorted view of what true love really means.
The Dysfunctional Dance Of The Empath And Narcissist may also provide you with some additional insights into the role of trauma in your life and ways to heal it.
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About Dr. Rita Louise
A gifted and talented clairvoyant medical intuitive, Dr. Rita Louise helps people identify the root causes of their concerns. She is a naturopathic physician and the founder of the Institute Of Applied Energetics that trains students in the art of medical intuition, intuitive counseling, and energy medicine. She has authored six books and produced several feature-length and short films. Dr. Louise has appeared on radio, television and in movies. She lectures on health and healing, ghosts, intuition, ancient mysteries and the paranormal. Her books and articles have worldwide circulation.