Relationships involving an individual with narcissistic personality disorder come with many challenges.
Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by inherent selfishness. Individuals with NPD are known for getting what they want by any means necessary, often at the expense of others. This can cause a lot of dysfunction in a relationship, creating one-sided dynamics where the narcissist takes and the target gives.
If you have ever been in a relationship with an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder, you know how demanding they can be, always looking for admiration, attention, or validation. In relationships, the other person is seen as a resource and nothing more; when the supply runs out, the narcissist will quickly look for a replacement.
NPD can cause many direct and indirect problems in any relationship. In this article, we will delve into narcissism and long-term relationships.
Do Narcissists Have Long-Term Relationships?
Yes, narcissists will have long-term relationships if they continue to benefit by getting a constant influx of admiration, validation, and praise. However, it is doubtful that the narcissist can feel real love, even if they have been in a relationship for a long time.
Individuals with NPD struggle with having feelings of love for anyone but themselves. They lack the emotional capabilities to connect genuinely with other human beings. Because of this, they can never really appreciate their partner in the relationship.
Their concern for their partner’s happiness and well-being is about how it affects them. They will not go out of their way to make their partner happy but expect the partner to jump through hoops to make them happy.
Here are some reasons a narcissist may be in a long-term relationship:
They Feel Like They Need The Other Person For Something
Although a narcissist may not be able to feel real love, they often seek out relationships for various reasons. Firstly, they rely on others as a source of supply, meaning they count on others for attention, admiration, and validation in a desperate attempt to boost their self-esteem and elevate their self-worth.
Secondly, they love having a source of narcissistic supply readily available to give them the validation and admiration they crave. Having a constant source of supply inflates provides a sense of security to an individual with narcissistic personality disorder.
Thirdly, individuals with NPD are expert manipulators; they may enter a long-term relationship, so they always have somebody close by to manipulate and exploit for personal gain. They do this to get emotional support and material resources, fulfilling their selfish desires.
Lastly, narcissists may rely on empathetic individuals who offer emotional support, validation, and sympathy. They cannot emotionally regulate independently, having problems processing their emotions correctly, leading to many relationship problems.
They Want to Impress Others Or Elevate Their Status
Narcissists surround themselves with individuals who contribute to the grandiose self-image they desire. They strategically select partners and friends who possess desirable qualities, achievements, or connections that can help boost their image. Narcissists aim to gain credibility by association by accompanying themselves with successful individuals.
In romantic relationships, narcissists seek partners who can serve as trophies. They may choose partners based on physical attractiveness, social status, or accomplishments, as these attributes can elevate their image. By being in a relationship with someone they perceive as exceptional, narcissists hope to gain admiration from their peers, elevating their social status.
Also, narcissists use their relationships as a platform to showcase their superiority and achievements. They frequently engage in self-promotion, taking every opportunity to brag about their accomplishments, talents, or possessions. They may constantly boast about their partner’s achievements, attempting to lay claim to their success.
They Want Someone To Take Care Of Them When They Are Older
Narcissists may strategically choose to be in long-term relationships to have someone to care for them in their old age. They actively seek out nurturing partners willing to provide support and assistance when they can no longer do it themselves. By cultivating a relationship with a dependable caregiver, narcissists ensure their needs are met as they age. This approach allows them to secure a support system for their future.
They Want Access To Sex
Narcissists may enter into long-term relationships to have a steady source of sex available to them. Their self-centered nature often makes them prioritize their desires and pleasure above their partner’s emotional connection or well-being. They view relationships as a means to fulfill their own sexual needs and may seek partners who are willing to provide regular sexual gratification.
Maintaining a steady source of sex within a long-term relationship can serve as a way for narcissists to feel desired and validated. It gives them power over their partner as they manipulate the sexual dynamics to fulfill their desires.
As you can see, a narcissistic individual may enter a relationship for multiple reasons other than love. Relationships provide a steady supply of validation, sexual gratification, and security and boost how narcissists are seen by others. Protecting yourself in a relationship with a narcissist is important so you don’t end up being used and abused.
Do Narcissists Cheat?
While not all narcissists cheat, infidelity rates are higher among individuals with NPD. Narcissists exhibit self-entitlement, impulsivity, control issues, and a lack of empathy. Their selfishness drives them to seek new sources of admiration and validation, leading them to become serial cheaters.
Narcissists have a toolbox filled with manipulative tactics that enable their deceitful behavior. Identifying these patterns sooner than later can shield you from additional consequences of being in a relationship with a narcissist while protecting your overall well-being.
At Choosing Therapy, they say the following behaviors can indicate that a narcissist is cheating:
A common sign of narcissistic cheating is lying. Narcissists are masters of deception and lie about even small things to maintain their image of perfection. If you notice your narcissistic partner consistently lying about small things, it suggests they may lie about bigger things, such as infidelity.
Defensiveness is a common sign of narcissistic cheating. Narcissists often deny or deflect blame when confronted, turning the focus onto their partner. They may even accuse their partner of cheating to avoid accountability.
- Lack of reassurance
Narcissists cannot often provide reassurance in a relationship. They are incapable of empathizing with the concerns of their partner. They deflect suspicions of infidelity and rarely feel guilty about their actions. They disregard requests for reassurance, leaving their partner confused and even more suspicious.
- Requesting space
Narcissists often start relationships with intense love bombing, but their interest can fade quickly. They may suddenly request more space and pull away. This behavior change indicates they have grown tired of the relationship and seek new sources of excitement elsewhere.
- Suspicious Online Activity
Social media can be gratifying to a narcissist because it provides them with constant validation and opportunities for self-promotion. Narcissists tend to spend an excessive amount of time in the digital world. An indicator of infidelity is when the narcissist is leaving flirtatious comments on others’ posts, shares personal details with strangers, or creating online dating profiles.
- Increased Spending
Narcissists often believe their wealth and material possessions increase their attractiveness and desirability. As a result, they often make impulsive purchases, such as fancy cars and clothes, to impress others. They may be spending excessively to seduce someone into an affair.
- Risky Sexual Conduct
Narcissism is linked to risky sexual behaviors. Individuals with NPD often have multiple partners, frequent one-night stands, and unprotected sex. Their sense of entitlement and impulsiveness make a dangerous combination, often leading to infidelity.
While not all narcissists cheat, clear patterns and behaviors are associated with narcissistic cheating. Understanding these signs can help individuals identify potential infidelity in their relationships to prepare a strategy for dealing with the situation.
Recognizing these signs early on can protect one’s emotional well-being and enable them to make informed decisions about their relationship. It is essential to prioritize self-care and seek support when dealing with the complexities of a relationship with a narcissistic cheater.
What To Do If A Narcissist Cheats On You?
You should approach the situation cautiously and consider your emotional well-being first. Dealing with a narcissistic partner suspected of cheating can be challenging and emotionally draining. There are steps you can take to navigate this situation effectively.
Before you do anything, allow yourself time to process your emotions; suspecting your partner of infidelity can cause a strong emotional reaction. This self-reflection will help you clarify and decide based on your needs and feelings.
Knowing narcissistic partners may respond defensively, ensure you aim for a calm and planned conversation which expresses your feelings and concerns while avoiding personal attacks, as they may further upset the narcissist making things more difficult for you.
If none of this impacts you, you may need to consider ending the relationship. At some point, you may realize that it is impossible to save the relationship, or it may not be worth saving. If this is the case, take precautions, as confronting a narcissist about ending a relationship can be potentially dangerous.
If you decide to save the relationship and your partner is willing to change, it may be in your best interest to seek professional help. Help can come in many forms, such as group therapy or couples counselling. The effectiveness of professional help will depend on whether or not the narcissist is willing to do the work necessary to make positive changes.
Remember, every relationship is different, and some cannot be saved. Your happiness and well-being should always be a priority, and if the relationship becomes toxic, it may be necessary to decide to move on. Trust your instincts and seek support from friends, family, or professionals to help you navigate this difficult time.
Being in a relationship with a narcissistic partner comes with its challenges. Narcissists are driven by self-interest, seeking admiration, validation, and personal gratification. While they may engage in long-term relationships for various reasons, such as fulfilling their need for narcissistic supply, impressing others, securing future support, or ensuring a steady source of sex, their motivations are self-centered.
It is important to recognize that narcissistic partners often struggle to form genuine connections, lack empathy, and prioritize their needs over their partners’. Their tendencies toward lying, defensiveness, and lack of reassurance can be signs of potential infidelity. Understanding these patterns and behaviors can help individuals identify and address the possibility of cheating in their relationships.
If you suspect your narcissistic partner has cheated, it is essential to approach the situation cautiously and prioritize your emotional well-being. Taking time to process your emotions, planning your approach for a structured conversation, and considering your safety are important steps in dealing with this challenging situation. Seeking professional help, such as couples’ counselling or therapy, can provide guidance and support during this difficult time.
Ultimately, your happiness and well-being should be paramount. If the relationship becomes toxic or irreparable, it may be necessary to make the difficult decision to move on. Trusting your instincts and seeking support from trusted individuals can help you navigate the relationship with a narcissistic partner. Remember, you deserve to be in a healthy relationship where your needs are valued and respected.
A resilient writer who has emerged from addiction, depression, and anxiety with a renewed sense of purpose and a powerful voice. His journey has shaped his writing, allowing him to explore the complexities of the human condition intimately. Also blogging about mental health at www.medium.com/@Patrickmeowler