Intimacy with a narcissist
- Narcissists prefer second hand relationships, where they can feign intimacy with another person because they have harvested information about them through a third party, but they don’t actually have to have any direct contact.With a narcissist it is always all about drama and in this way, they feel involved but do not feel like they are “under scrutiny/threat” like they would do if they had a genuinely intimate relationship.
- This “scrutiny” manifests itself as a potential risk to the narcissist as they interpret it as them being judged which could pose a potential threat as the person might not admire/like them or might expose them in some way, other than the image of themselves that they want to project. Which could be seen as narcissistic injury, and can create fear of abandonment or narcissistic rage.
- There is also the risk that the narcissist could be held accountable for their behaviour and that would be unacceptable and another threat to them.
- If you have grown up in a narcissistic family of origin, it might well be that it will be very easy for a narcissistic partner to shame you and the easier it will be for them to attack you and the harder you find it to be to defend yourself against their emotional attacks. If you are vulnerable with a narcissist they will be constantly harvesting information to use against you and the more vulnerability or sensitivity you show the more aggressive their attacks will be. This might cause an emotional flashback and make you want to pull back into your shell (remember that narcissists are cowards and the more they feel they have upset you, the stronger the attack will be)
The more “intimate” you get with a narcissist the colder and more aloof they will get. This is because they see intimacy as an attack and will start to be abusive to keep you at arms-length, this can happen in three ways:
- By attacking you directly by using various forms of verbal and other types of abuse
- By comparing you negatively either directly or by insinuation to other people
- By moving into a state of emotional unavailability and disassociation after a period of being very keen. They will deny your emotional needs and will tell you how you should or should not feel and will not tell you how they feel themselves – so there are absolutely no foundations in the relationship with which you can work on.
- The expression “familiarity breeds contempt” is very appropriate here, as the more the narcissist feels like they have “hooked” you, the less effort they make. You are no longer a valued audience and so they will drop the pretence of their projected image and show up for who they really are.
- Another way that they will avoid intimacy is to put their potential new friend or partner (you) up on a pedestal (in the beginning) and they will categorically deny you any vulnerabilities or flaws and so they will not let you climb down from the limb that they have placed you. This is a very effective tool to avoid intimacy because it manifests itself as admiration but it is really just a means of blocking any emotional connection.
What “normal” intimacy looks like:
- Your partner does not constantly and consistently lie to you.
- Your partner can discuss issues in rational terms and not react in instant rage, change the subject or storm off in a huff over something minor.
- Your partner will listen to your point of view without viewing it as an attack and will aim to come to some sort of mutual agreement.
- Your partner will not start to slander you in the middle of a discussion.
- Your partner will consider your emotional and practical needs and will try to support you.
- Your partner will take responsibility for their actions and behaviour and will make a sincere apology if they have hurt or offend you.
- Your partner does not try to get revenge if they feel that you have injured them in some way.
- Your partner will have the ability to ask you for what they need in a clear, honest and direct manner. No “guess what I am feeling” games.
- Your partner is actively engaged in creating a loving, caring and healthy relationship.
- Your partner cares about your physical and mental well-being and would not use either any of your vulnerabilities as a whip to hit you with.