What Does Intimacy Look Like For a Narcissist in a Long-Term Relationship?

Man and Woman Holding Hands

Intimacy in relationships requires sharing your deepest selves with one another. Unfortunately, narcissists are incapable of doing this.

In fact, studies show that narcissists view sex as a means of sexual gratification rather than a vehicle for long-term intimacy.

It’s important to note that a person can exhibit these behaviors without having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). However, if you find yourself in a relationship with someone like this, it is important to recognize their behavior.

1. They are a people pleaser

Narcissists crave approval and validation. They see people who love pleasing others as sources of their supply, elevating them to the status of “best friend” or even higher. In return, the people pleaser provides the narcissist with a sense of self-worth that they may otherwise never have found.

However, a genuine relationship requires mutual sharing of feelings and vulnerabilities which narcissists are unable to do. Consequently, they tend to limit their relationships to sex and superficial gratification.

Early, sometimes subtle signs that they are finished with you include a lack of interest in sex and the silent treatment. They may start ignoring you altogether and delay texting back. Then they might switch to someone else for a quick fix of narcissistic supply.

2. They are a control freak

Intimacy requires emotional involvement and a strong bond. Unfortunately, narcissists see this as a threat. They view intimacy as codependence, suffocation and an end to their freedom. They often use gaslighting, manipulation and cult-like tactics to control their partners. This leads to a not-so-merry merry-go-round of ebb and flow in the relationship.

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While this is true for most people, it is especially the case in a long-term relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists crave a feeling of power over others. They are deeply insecure, despite what they may say to the contrary. They must have a partner to provide them with the praise and admiration that they need for their false self.

As a result, they may make you jealous. They also may become extremely defensive whenever you spend time with anyone other than them, including family and friends. Their goal is to manipulate you into believing that they are the only person who can satisfy you. They do this in order to maintain their status quo and avoid being exposed as the flawed, shameful true self that they are hiding from you.

3. They are a manipulator

In many cases, narcissists will use manipulation in long-term relationships to get what they want. They may lie, gaslight you, and make unfounded accusations to cause doubt in your mind. They will also use triangulation and shaming techniques to keep you in the relationship.

They may also engage in ludicrous behaviors that can include jealousy, competitiveness, or insecurity. These tactics are meant to create doubt in your mind and fuel your need for their approval. They don’t understand the value of closeness and emotional intimacy and instead focus on controlling their partner and gaining admiration.

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Empaths, who are often targeted by narcissists, can fall into their seductive charms. During the love bombing phase, they can be charismatic and charming as they shower you with attention, praise, and excitement. This is followed by an escalation of abuse as they demand control and attention from you.

It is normal to feel close to a romantic partner, but narcissists cross the line when they take your emotions hostage. You need to be firm and set boundaries — even if they threaten you.

4. They are a liar

Narcissists often use lies to manipulate others. They may tell you they aren’t narcissistic or that they have narcissism under control. This is called gaslighting, a tactic they use to make you question your own reality and sanity. This behavior can be extremely damaging to those involved in a narcissistic relationship.

Narcissist in long-term relationships can be very destructive to their partners’ mental health, and they tend to alienate them from their friends and family. This can make it very hard to reconnect with these people once the relationship is over.

A narcissist will also likely lie about their past. They will pretend they are struggling or that they have been through a lot. They do this for their own selfish reasons, like to look good in front of their partner and to build up their ego. They don’t actually care about their partner’s problems. Instead, they will take this information and later use it to tear them down. They are manipulative, and they will often use this manipulation to their advantage. This is why they can be so dangerous to their partners.

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5. They are a cheat

Researchers at the University of Florida found that narcissists often engage in “ludic love,” which is a form of romantic relationships where narcissists view sexual conquests as more important than enduring intimacy. Consequently, they are likely to cheat in a relationship once they believe that they have found an alternative source of sexual gratification.

Additionally, narcissists are known to tell stories about themselves that paint them in a negative light. They also may ask their partner about hard times that they have gone through in order to gain information that can be used against them later on in the relationship, which is why this behavior is considered toxic.

Despite the pitfalls associated with dating a narcissist, some experts do believe that narcissists can fall in love. However, their form of love is typically shallow and short-lived. In addition, their lack of empathy makes it difficult for them to maintain a lasting, meaningful connection. Ultimately, narcissists who are not treated for their mental illness will continue to view intimate relationships as dangerous and perilous.

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